July 15, 2009 / Idea File Supplement

Change in venue makes prom night a matter of seniority

Written by Idea File Staff

There was no room in the inn. The Holiday Inn, that is. And no room at the Sheraton or Marriott either. In fact, when a fire damaged the ballroom of the Old Town Country Club, reserved for the prom since last June, every ballroom within 80 miles was already booked for the evening.

“That left us two options,” said William Smithson, junior class president. “We could either move the prom two hours away or change the date.”

The junior class had already paid the $1,000 deposit for Winterstar, its band of choice. Since Winterstar had no other open weekend dates in the spring, no one wanted to change the date. But, neither the parents nor the school administration liked the idea of students driving two hours to and from the prom.

The mood of the prom committee was glum until Tracy Jones came up with a suggestion.

“My grandmother lives at a really nice retirement home on the outskirts of town,” she said. “It has a gigantic dining room where they socialize and play bridge. Why not have our prom there?”

When the prom committee visited The Manor, the members loved the dining room with tall ceilings, deep stage, hardwood floors, and crystal chandeliers. Most of all, they liked the attitude of the senior residents who understood their plight.

“I was afraid the people who live there might not want us running around or wouldn’t like our loud music all night, but they were even more enthusiastic about the idea than we were,” said Williamson. “One resident told me she has the rest of her life to catch up on sleep.”

On the first Saturday in May, senior citizens, some in wheelchairs and walkers, dressed in semi-formals and white tuxedos to greet the Senior class. With the help of 1,480 boxes of tissues, The Manor dining room looked like the prom theme, “Under the Sea.” As 241 couples walked by a 12-foot waterfall into the makeshift ballroom, the senior citizens sitting on the sidelines applauded.

“I had to miss my senior dance because of World War I,” said 97-year-old Opal Jones. “I never dreamed I’d be attending one almost 80 years later.”

Couples kept the floor crowded as Winterstar played mostly old Motown tunes. When the spotlight turned on Prom King John Miller and Queen Liza Moore, they slow danced to “Our Hearts Will Go On.” Then, Miller asked Mary Ellis to be his partner.

“I am 17 and she is 70-something, but I had a hard time keeping up with her on the dance floor,” he said.

“My grandmother’s friends were talking about our prom for weeks,” said Jones. “I’ll never forget the people who saved our prom either. For a while, I was afraid that when prom night came, I’d be all dressed up with no place to go.”

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Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.