A life of love, music and dance

PERU — Love fills Johnnie Kaye’s life and perhaps that’s only natural since he was born on Valentine’s Day 84 years ago.

“I always said he was a born lover and he is,” quipped his wife, Rita, as they sat in the living room of their comfortable Peru home last week. In June, the Kayes will mark their 60th wedding anniversary.

But there’s another love in Kaye’s life and it’s one he has shared with countless numbers of people who enjoy ballroom dancing for more than six decades.

He is the leader of Johnnie Kaye and His Orchestra and on Saturday, Feb. 21, he will headline the “Dancing Into My Heart” Dinner Dance to benefit Peru Catholic School. The event begins with a social hour at 6 p.m. at the Oglesby Elks Club and dinner will follow at 7 p.m. A special Valentine’s dessert is also promised.

Kaye will get the big band music started at 8:30 p.m. and keep standards like “Stardust” and “People Will Say We’re in Love” coming until 11:30 p.m. Joining him and his 14-piece orchestra will be vocalist Alicia Hamilton.

Carrie L. Brown, a Peru Catholic parent, said Kaye was a perfect choice for the fundraiser, which is the first of its kind, because he has a large following not only in central Illinois but across the Midwest. The popularity of TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” has stirred up interest in ballroom dancing again, she added.

“This is a way to involve parents, but it’s also a way to reach out into the community,” according to Brown.

Tickets are $50 per person and must be purchased in advance. For more information, contact Peru Catholic School at (815) 224-1914 during the day or (815) 224-2733 during the evening.

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