Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Prom Day in Port Jefferson

Fifty years ago there was a horrible accident after the Port Jefferson Prom, and parents vowed to keep their kids safe by holding the prom at the High School....but to make it something the kids would like, the parents work from October to June to transform the gym into a themed wonderland. The theme is chosen in October (different each year and kept top-secret) and after much planning, work is started in January on the painting. Work is done in a room in the basement of the HS, so the kids can't see anything. I ran this prom in 1995 (Manhattan Magic was our theme), so I know well what is involved....it is a true (hard) labor of love! These two pictures are the outside front of the gym....these are painted cardboard flats.
Graduation was last Friday, and Saturday morning set-up starts and goes till Monday at 4 pm....when the community can come and go through to see the results. The theme was "The Pirates of Port Jefferson Harbor". Terry and I went to see, waited in line and walked on to the "pirate ship"...with cannons sounding and pirates everywhere.

These two pictures show some of the painted flats that line the gym walls...all themed. The girl's and boy's rooms are also decorated. The main painter is Peter Hahn (of Port Jefferson) who did his first prom in 1995 with me...and has worked on every one since...even though he doesn't have a child in the class...he just loves it...and the prom parents feed him every night! And that is the spirit of this small village.

The ships line the back wall...this is always the most spectacular scene since it is so long and high. Above it all is a HUGE lace canopy that requires so many people to install each year...but it blocks out all ideas of being in a gym...and transports you to the themed setting. There used to be a lace mill in PJ and the owners (PJ residents at that time) donated the lace for the original canopy 50 years ago...it disintegrated after 49 years and had to be replaced this year.....so the son of the original owner, who is now at a mill in RI, donated a new one in honor of his parents.

Crowds of people then go back to the school at 8pm to watch the limos and carriages and buses and fire engines (yes, if one of the kids is a member of the PJFD, they get to ride in with the sirens blaring escorted by the FD...everyone LOVES that!) arrive...the kids are announced, applauded, and then walk in to the prom. If they arrive under any influences (limos are checked at the entrance to the school driveway, away from the crowds), they are not allowed in. They have to stay at the prom until at least 2...if they leave they can't return. And a breakfast is served at a site nearby at 5am. And the parents do all of this for their graduates...and the kids absolutely love it and make their parents continue the tradition.


Mrs. Mel said...

Incredible! This should be on the tv news. Amazing.

Priscilla Kibbee said...

How absolutely wonderful. This is why I love living in a small town.

Anonymous said...

What was the tragedy?

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