This is a dusty, grimy little river town with mostly dirt roads and wooden boardwalks. To say that the dress code here is “relaxed” is an understatement. I would wager that well over half the adult men in
A formal event is a rare occurrence here, and requires extensive planning.
Preparations begin months in advance. Rented tuxes are ordered online and mailed out from
In my day (granted, a few years ago), not to have a date for the prom was a social black mark of the highest order. If you didn’t have a date, you spent the last school day before the event talking widely about how prom is nothing but a stupid and juvenile social ritual and a huge waste of money and you wouldn’t go even if someone had invited you. What you did NOT do, under any circumstance, was show up without a date, either alone or in a party of your same-gender friends. It just did not happen.
What also did not happen at prom in my day was the appearance of parents. There were a handful of chaperones—favorite teachers, invited by the Prom Planning Committee to serve that function—but no other adults.
This is where
The prom starts at 8:00 pm, and only the attendees are allowed in the door. By 8:30 the community starts lining up at the door—families, little kids, neighbors, anyone who wants to come. At 9:00 the doors are opened and the crowd surges in. The focus of the prom decorating committee has been the creation of a stage-type backdrop and runway. Once the crowd has gathered around the runway—cameras ready—the Grand Promenade begins. An announcer introduces each couple individually and they walk “onstage”, pause for photos, and then proceed down the runway with several more pauses for photos. Dozens of flashes going off at once, it resembles a Hollywood Grand Opening. And this year’s prom theme is “
Those attending without a date are introduced alone. Several girls were introduced as pairs; not that they are lesbian (though they could be, and that would be fine), they just decided to come together since they didn’t have dates. Plenty of girls were dancing together, too. The mores of the 70’s (at least in the
The Promenade lasted about an hour. Afterwards there was much milling about and more photo-taking. Then the non-promers were invited to leave so the kids could get on with their Big Event. Dutch and I were quick to skedaddle, and left hoping the rest of the adults would do the same.
Not having kids in the school system here, I have not previously attended the Grand Promenade. This year our young friend Michael, son of Joan, was attending for the first time (he’s a junior), so of course we had to go. Now we will probably show up every year, just to see the kids dressed up. In
All photos by The Tundra PA. Michael is that handsome dude in the next to last photo.
Labels: Life in Bethel