When a group of elderly women from Aventura, Florida heard about the new movie "POMS," a comedy about women their age who formed a cheerleading squad, they wanted to make sure that South Florida knew they were the original cheersquad.
The "Viva Girls" have been chanting cheers and dances like the "Macarena" and the "Hokey Pokey" in Aventura for years. The women live at the senior living community Vi at Aventura and range in both age and experience. The group is made up of nine women, ages 80 to 98, and they cheer monthly at birthday celebrations and visit members of the assisted living center.
Sundial's Luis Hernandez spoke to squad members Rosalie Lewen and Nancy Siegel about what it is like to be a “Viva Girl.”
To see the movie POMS, find a list of showings across South Florida here.
This has been edited lightly for clarity.
WLRN: Why did you want to be part of the "Viva Girls" cheerleading squad?
LEWEN: We thought it would be a lot of fun, it would bring people together, bring some cheer, lift up their spirits and for us it's exercise, it's camaraderie, it's doing things for the community. We took everybody who wanted to be on it.
Nancy, when you were in high school you wanted to be a cheerleader but you weren't.
SIEGLE: That's right. I wanted to be a cheerleader my entire life. I just didn't qualify for being one in high school.
What was it like back then when you were trying to become a cheerleader?
SIEGLE: It was kind of a clique and the clique were always the cheerleaders. It was really hard for an outsider to get in. So when I found out there was a cheerleading squad at the "Vi" I decided that I would fulfill one of my life's dreams and become an actual cheerleader. We don't do all the regular cartwheels and things that the cheerleaders do nowadays, but we have different songs we sing, different cheers and do some dances like Macarena, the Chicken Dance and the Hokey Pokey.
These are classics.
SIEGLE: Oh yes definitely. When we first started people were saying, 'Oh this is ridiculous' but we are still going strong.
Nancy, for you what does it mean now (to be a cheerleader)?
SIEGLE: I have come more out of my shell. I used to be afraid to even stand up and speak in front of my classroom at school, but now being here at the "Vi" I have changed like 180 degrees my lifestyle. It feels like we're on a cruise and being in Florida to me means being on a permanent vacation.
Nancy, where some of the places you guys go?
SIEGLE: We perform every month at the "Vi." They have birthday lunch, which is normally the third Tuesday of the month and whoever's birthday is within the month comes in there and they could bring a guest. We go in and wish them a happy birthday. We have a happy birthday cheer and they look forward to it.
Nancy, what's it like when you show up? What's the reaction from people?
SIEGLE: Oh everybody is very happy. They start clapping right away and it's just all smiles and people who are walking by in the hallway are waiting to go in. They can't wait to see us.
Watch host Luis Hernandez dance "La Macarena" with the "Viva Girls" cheerleading squad.