KOKOMO — For the last few months, employees at Banner Flower House have had their own personal performer put on a show every morning just outside the shop door.
His name is Max Shanks. He's a 76-year-old U.S. Army veteran and retired Chrysler worker.
And he loves to dance.
Every morning, Shanks takes six laps around the block from his house on Washington Street to get some exercise. And on every lap, he stops in the parking lot of the flower shop at 1017 S. Buckeye St. and busts a move just outside the door.
Shanks starts with the electric slide, moving through the shuffle-and-slide motions, and then practices his line dance routine, which ends with three claps. The only music accompanying him is the sounds of chirping birds and passing cars.
After he finishes his routine, Shanks silently leaves the parking lot and makes another lap around the block before he ends up in the parking lot again, where he starts the dances all over.
"I just love it," Shanks said. "I just love to get out there and dance. If I have a halfway decent morning, I'm out here doing my laps and doing my dance."
But that hasn't always been the case.
Shanks said dancing is actually a new hobby for him. He started taking classes at the Kokomo Senior Citizen Center near Foster Park just a little over a year ago. It didn't take long before he became a certified dancing machine.
Shanks soon became a faithful attendee to every class and every dance hosted at the center. In just a year, he's learned the waltz, the tango, the foxtrot, the rumba, the cha-cha and all kinds of other dances.
But that all came to an abrupt end in March when the center closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
But it didn't stop Shanks from dancing.
Instead, he started incorporating his favorite routines into his daily walks around the block. The Banner Flower House parking lot made for the perfect dance floor.
Anna Berry, a sales associate at the shop, said everyone there has always known Shanks from his laps around the block. He also goes to the same church as the owner of the business.
But the dance routines were something they never expected from their elderly neighbor.
"When I first saw him dancing, I thought 'Is he okay out there? What's he doing?'" Berry said. "But then we realized. Oh, he's dancing!"
Soon, Shanks was stopping in the shop to chat with the workers on his daily trips. He even started buying flowers there to give to his dance partner from the senior center.
That led to the shop giving Shanks a free Banner Flower House t-shirt. Now, he wears that shirt every day when he makes the rounds and practices his moves, which have become so routine that the shop employees worry if they don't see him out and about every day.
"That's just his exercise routine now, and he likes our big open lot for his dance practice," Berry said.
But for Shanks, it all goes deeper than just doing the electric slide and a few line-dance moves.
When his wife passed away over two years ago, Shanks ended up sitting at home, alone, for nine months. But after so much time, he decided it was time to start living again.
So he went to the senior center and learned to dance.
"It got me out of the house," Shanks said. "Since then, I've had lot of fun and met a lot of great people."
Shanks said he loves doing his daily dance routine at the shop, but he's really looking forward to the day when the senior center reopens and he can head back to dance with his friends.
Until then, he'll be at the flower shop, dancing in the parking lot like no one is watching.
But employees at the flower shop do watch, and every day, without fail, it puts a smile on their faces.
"It's quite a lovely start to our day," Berry said. "He's very pleasant and kind and it's very good to see him every day."