You can never be too old to perform, or too refined to feel young and energetic. This is the mindset of life-long performer, 66-year-old Cherilynn Paris-Lemmons, who continues to score big on the pageant circuitThe McDonough resident is boasting of a recent win in the Ms. Georgia Senior America 2011 Pageant, where she demonstrated her talents in authentic Hawaiian dancing, and reiterated her views on the importance of exercising and being active in life.
"I've enjoyed it, and I love being active," said Lemmons. Lemmons has performed, the past two years, in the Georgia Senior Follies. The large production musical variety show is held each year at the Cumming Playhouse, in Cumming, Ga.The pageant winner's credits also include titles from several pageants as a young woman, including Miss Teenage Atlanta in 1961, Miss Georgia Peach in 1964, and Miss Salute to America in 1968. She said she also won gold medals in ice team dancing and speed skating in international competition 24 years ago.
Lemmons, an Atlanta native, said she has resided in Henry County since 1973. But she quickly made a home in the small rural county when neighbors approached her, calling on her expertise in dance to help instruct their children.
"My neighbors found out that I had a performing arts school in Atlanta, and they wanted me to teach their children," she said. "So, I started teaching out of my home, and I was overrun with children. That's when I opened the Paris School of Performing Arts." The performing arts school, she said, was the first of its kind in Henry County, offering lessons in dance, baton, gymnastics, modeling, acting, and karate. She said she helped train the county's first national champions in baton and dance. Lemmons said she further enveloped herself in the community by organizing what may be the first night-time Christmas parade in Henry County in 1976. "I wanted to have one at night, and they thought I was crazy," said Lemmons, who attends a much larger night-time Christmas parade these days on the McDonough Square. Lemmons later complemented her active lifestyle with a daughter, Ashlee Williamson, now a 34-year-old professional dancer living in Sarasota, Fla.
Within the time she has spent raising her daughter, being involved with her community, and operating her performing arts school, she said she also managed to have published "Randolph's Wonderful Adventure," a children's book."It's an inspirational book to get young children inspired to be what they'd like to be, inspiring them to reach for their goals," said Lemmons. Lemmons teaches youth gymnastics and baton at J.P. Moseley Recreation Center, in Stockbridge. She also teaches tap and jazz to adult seniors at the Broadway Performing Arts Center, in Stockbridge.
Additionally, she choreographs a senior dance troupe called Paris Dancers. It is composed of senior citizens who perform show-style dance numbers at retirement centers, assisted living homes, churches, military bases and hospitals throughout metro Atlanta.