Kay Milligan sauntered down the red carpet to cheers and catcalls from the audience members at Broadway Proper Retirement Community's fashion show.

"Are you wearing a swimsuit under that robe?" asked host Cheryl Olson of Old Pueblo Traders.

Milligan fumbled with the buttons on her yellow robe, eyeing the audience coyly. They erupted in applause as she flung the robe open, showing off a one-piece bathing suit.

She turned slowly, arms eagle-spread, the yellow wings of the robe trailing behind her.

She's 96, but the former Rockette also knows show business and how to work a crowd.

"That was kind of fun," said Milligan, who moved to the retirement community at the beginning of April. "I've never been a model before, but I liked it."

Olson, who has done other fashion shows for Old Pueblo Traders, usually does not get takers to model swimwear - unless someone very young volunteers.

"'Oh sure,' Kay said. 'I'll do it for you.' She did a bang-up job, and she had fun," Olson said.

Everyone was talking about that swimsuit and how good she looked in it.

"Dancing does that to you," Milligan said. "It keeps you young."

This is the third year that Broadway Proper and Old Pueblo Traders have teamed up to put on a fashion show in the lobby of this senior community.

Eight women modeled for the benefit of Big Brothers Big Sisters on April 13. The event offered opportunities to donate or volunteer. With the exception of Alex Trembley, the activities director at Broadway Proper, the models were in their 60s and older.

"This is a confidence booster for anyone," Trembley said. "It's something, I know for myself, it will be nice to say, 'Oh, I've been a model in the past.'"

Sporting dresses, pantsuits and casual wear - and that one swimsuit - the models walked, then flounced and finally strutted their stuff, confidence building by the third and final round down the red carpet.

"Could you tell I was a professional?" joked Lorene Hazzard, 88, stepping into the hall after her first whirl down the runway, sans walker.

A couple of the women had their hair done for the big day. Others spruced up their outfits, which they selected weeks before from Old Pueblo Traders inventory, with personal accessories.

Lois Brossart, 83, does not live at Broadway Proper, but has a granddaughter who works there. She didn't have much of a choice about participating.

Brossart remembers the persuasion tactic her granddaughter used: "'Come on, Grandma!,' she said. 'You owe me one.'"

Brossart signed up, new to the whole performance thing.

"I'm excited if I do well, but not if I don't," Brossart said before the show, laughing. "I walk in front of people naturally, but not down the red carpet!"

Nerves were high before the show started.

"We're all sitting here like we're going to the doctor's office," Milligan quipped.

The group tittered.

"Because we don't spend enough time in those," said Patricia Simons, 74.

The models waited in an empty apartment, which served as a dressing room. Instead of a room number outside the door, the placard read, "Frank Sinatra."

"No butterflies," said Alexandra Haskell, 65. "I did community theatre for years, singing musicals. This is different. You're not actually performing."

Simons, who traveled the world with her husband and has written everything from newspaper articles to poetry, was dared into stepping onto the runway.

"I'm looking forward to the rum punch afterwards," she joked. "But really it's doing something new. That's what I do. I've been here for two years, and I've been ill. ... If I'm well enough to do things, I'm going to take advantage of it."

Still, Simons wasn't too fond of her third outfit, a gauzy, pink skirt and top, which Olson convinced her to model.

"I'm putting that idiot dress back," Simons said. "It's pretty colors, but I wouldn't buy it. It is not my style."

Milligan disagreed.

"That's adorable," she said.

"I'm Kim Kardashian," Simons protested.

Milligan laughed, fingering it on the hanger.

"I'll wear it. It's cute."

The crowd agreed with Milligan.

"Pat hated that two-piece dress," Olson said after the show. "But she got such 'wows' out of it."

But it won't find its way into Simons' closet, though the two outfits she liked will: Her cousin purchased them for her as a gift.

"I didn't have anything new for the summer," Simons said. "I'm going to California this summer to visit my sister and a high school pal. Now, I can take my new clothes."

The colorful clothes also got the attention of one resident, who usually spends most of his day sleeping on a couch in the lobby. He watched the entire fashion show.

"He was making comments and was the most lively he's been in years," Trembley said. "I heard him from the red carpet."

This year's fashion show drew one of Broadway Proper's largest crowds.

"Some of (the residents) kind of feel like they're stuck here and forgotten about for the most part," Olson said. "They're beautiful ladies and there's nothing like that. They're special."

Johanna Willett is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at starapprentice@azstarnet.com