LEWISTON — Lewiston High School students Katie Laslie, Haley Jackson, Ariana Vallee and Kimberley McLaughlin were doubtful that they’d have a prom this year, or that it would be worth attending.
“I was skeptical,” Vallee said.
When the Lewiston High prom was announced weeks ago, “COVID guidelines hadn’t changed much. We haven’t had much normalcy,” Vallee said. “Everything kept changing.”
But, on Saturday, students’ skepticism turned to excitement as prom night became a reality.
Mindful of CDC guidelines, the prom was held outside the school under a tent in a parking lot with promgoers masking up.
That might not sound glamorous, but there was glamour.
The 120- by 40-feet white tent was a beautiful, wedding-styled structure with a scalloped top and decorative windows. The theme was “Night Under the Stars.” White lights, decorative stars and clouds were suspended inside the tent.
There were girls in long dresses, boys in sharp-looking tuxedos.
Tables were covered with black tablecloths. A black and white tiled dance floor covered the asphalt.
Edward Little and Lewiston high schools joined together to rent the same tent for their respective proms; Edward Little went to prom Friday night, Lewiston High on Saturday night.
“I loved it, it was really nice,” said Edward Little student Caelan McGuigan, 17.
“The glamour effect was still there, the decorating, everyone all dressed up,” McGuigan said. Some Auburn students were worried a prom in a tent wouldn’t be ideal, “but it was better than what we were expecting,” she said. “It was a fun time.”
On Saturday afternoon the four Lewiston friends — Vallee, Laslie, Jackson and McLaughlin — said they would start getting ready at 1 p.m. for the 7 p.m. prom. With so many girls gathering together to get ready at one home, they needed plenty of time for everyone’s hair and makeup.
“It’s a process,” Vallee said with a laugh.
In 2020 there was no high school prom for Auburn or Lewiston students as the pandemic slammed shut normal rituals.
“Last year it was really sad. Everything had to be canceled,” said Katie Morin, 17, Lewiston’s senior class president and a prom committee member.
Like others, she had already bought her dress. The venue was booked, decorations purchased and students were just about to start selling prom tickets when it was announced there’d be no prom.
This year, several high school students said they were fortunate that Lewiston High School and Edward Little came up with a way to hold a pandemic prom.
“We are so lucky to be able to have the prom outside,” Morin said. “It’s really exciting to see things get a little back to normal.”
Lewiston High Assistant Principal Jay Dufour said he and Athletic Director Jason Fuller proposed the outdoor prom.
“We did some research to see what we could do. We were able to pull it off,” Dufour said Saturday afternoon as he passed paper stars to Fuller, who was on a ladder hanging the decorations.
“I’m an interior decorator,” Fuller said.
Administrators were worried about an uptick in COVID cases in Androscoggin County, Dufour said. And they kept an eye on the weather.
The weather held, which is good since there were no rain dates.
Students accepted they’d have to wear masks with their gowns and tuxedos, Dufour said. “They’ve been wearing masks all year. They’re used to it. The kids adapt way quicker than you and I do.”
Elgin Physic, 17, a senior, wore a black tuxedo, black mask, a blue vest and bow tie. The outside prom “is pretty good,” he said.
Benita Muke, 17, said she was nervous about attending her first prom, and that this year’s unusual prom “is the best they could give. Kids at other schools didn’t get the opportunity to have a prom. We greatly appreciate it.”