Prom planning underway, despite uncertainty

NOW: Prom planning underway, despite uncertainty

EDWARDSBURG, Mich. - It’s starting to get closer to a big event for high school seniors... prom. But how do you plan a prom that might not even happen?

Prom is smiles. It’s dancing. It’s a life moment many fondly remember. But the pandemic put this event on pause last year.

"When COVID shut down our schools," Leah Laura, a senior at John Adams said. “Secretly we all thought it would last two weeks. And so during that time, I figured out a prom date, and we figured out our prom group and then they really, and throughout summer we were like, there's still hope that we could have a late summer prom for junior year, and that hope went away but real fast.”

This year, although it won't be the same, prom is looking up.

"So, just recently, they announced that we were going to have a prom and everyone's just going crazy, like, trying to plan everything," she said.

Especially for Leah Laura who's on the prom committee.

“I do have a prom date. It's my good friend Ezra," she said. "I'm pretty sure we're set on century center but we have this idea of an outside and inside prom, so I'm pretty sure the DJ will be outside and we can like the students can walk inside, just to make space for them to roam around and actually social distance.”

But how do you plan a prom that may not even happen?

To answer that, I spoke to dress shop owner Mika Yonker who planned an outdoor prom last year.

"Well it started out because my own daughter was missing prom," Yonker said, who owns Oh My LLC in Niles. “She's like, mom, I really really want prom, you know, and she wanted to do it in the backyard and I'm like, no, I can't have 100 kids in my backyard.”

So Mika got volunteer photographers and a sponsored venue.

"We went ahead and got with Edwardsburg Sports Complex and they were like, yeah, you know, come on in," she said.

Although some schools made traditional inside venues work, others are sticking to outdoor spaces because of social distancing requirements.

Because of group gathering restrictions, Mika could only sell 100 tickets.

"We sold out," she said.

But this year….

"The restrictions right now, as they say, are up to 300 people so right now we're gonna sell about 275 tickets because we have to allow for the staff as well," she said.

With added attendees, COVID restrictions will still need to be followed.

"Socially distance and not to be with, you know unmasked with anybody that you didn't already arrive with or weren't already exposed," she said. "We actually have party favors that are designed to help the kids measure out that six feet.”

And of course, masks will be a part of the “prom look” this year.

"We have this ongoing joke that we're going to like match our masks with our dresses, so I guess that's a trend this year," Laura said noting that although masks are uncomfortable, they are needed to hold any prom this year. “I think there's nothing we can do about controlling what people do, before and after prom, but we can definitely prepare for what happens during prom.”

Making sure their special day doesn’t get dampened by anything...

“You know contingency plan a, b, b, all the way through z, that's been the most stressful part of it," Yonker said.

Even the rain.

"We do have a rain date set," she said. “If they, you know, tighten the restrictions, a little bit we may end up having to do like a segmented prom, where we're allowed so many kids for this hour and so many is because we definitely want to get it in. Doesn't matter how hard we have to work, we're gonna get it and make sure these kids have a prom.”

In the end, everyone is just grateful that some proms are happening this year.

“I think we will definitely go all out. We're planning a limo and stuff like that just to make it more fun to go like, go bigger go home for senior prom," Laura said.

"I had kids coming up to me in tears they had me crying, they were thank you so much and we didn't think we were going to get this," Yonker said. "It was absolutely wonderful. So when we had the opportunity this year, we jumped at it.”

This outdoor prom is open to all area schools and is even open to freshman and sophomores. Mika said she hopes to hold the event every year going forward.

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