It took a few years, but Elin Jones twirled her way to several winning combinations.
She rekindled her love of baton twirling from her school days and started her own group in The Villages, Florida; the "Prime Time Twirlers". Through this activity, she gets plenty of exercise and has formed many friendships.
“It was the one skill that I started as a kid,” said Jones, of the Village of Mallory Square. “Now I am in charge of a great group. It is so gratifying. To make up different shows and different routines is so exciting. The camaraderie, for me, is just so good. They are all my friends.”
Jones has noticed that her mind and body welcome the dual exercise possibilities with baton twirling.
“It is great for staying healthy,” Jones said. “There’s so much to remember.”
As captain of the Prime Time Twirlers, Jones choreographs the group’s moves that are set to various types of music.
The group recently worked on a routine set to the sounds of “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” which included a little do-si-do with the baton twirling.
“It is a new thing,” Jones said.
The Prime Time Twirlers specialize in using different props throughout its routines. The “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” set had the members going from tossing batons with silver and red pompoms on the ends to spinning batons attached to a hula hoop lined with frills.
Throughout its existence, the group has used batons, flags, rifles and hoops in its performances.
In 2007, Jones started the group with four people. It now has 21 members who perform mainly at different events on the town squares, as well as resident clubs and organizations.
The twirlers usually practice twice a week, sometimes adding an extra rehearsal if they have a big performance on the horizon. Those sessions last as much as two and a half hours.
“I feel refreshed (afterward),” Jones said.
The Prime Time Twirlers’ first public appearance came during the St. Patrick’s Day Festival.
“It was terrifying,” Jones said, laughing. “But it got better as we performed. I am very humbled to be able to perform to the Villages residents and their guests. They are so excited to see all that we can do.”
Jones started baton twirling when she was 8, and she kept it going until she was 19. Along the way she took home a few trophies for her twirling work.
The activity slipped into the background in her adult life, including when she worked as an area sales manager for the H.J. Heinz Company for several years.
After coming to The Villages in 2005, Jones decided to start her own baton twirling group.
“It was like riding a bicycle,” she said. “Some have not twirled in years, but it all comes back.”
Jones invites any Villages resident to drop in one of the Prime Time Twirlers’ rehearsals to see what the group is about. It meets 9 a.m. Mondays at Canal Street Recreation Center and 9 a.m. Thursdays at Lake Miona Regional Recreation Complex.
“Everyone is willing to help the new twirlers,” Jones said.