OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City High School After Prom Committee looked west for its theme this year.
After holding the high school’s 2016 After Prom gathering with a beach theme that showed Ocean City through the ages, parent volunteers decided to roll out something different this year with a “country western” theme. The 23rd annual event follows the Ocean City Junior and Senior Prom on Saturday, May 20.
Students arriving at the school on Saturday night following the prom at The Flanders Hotel can treat themselves to five hours of food, DJs, live music karaoke, inflatables, face-painting, photo booths, caricature artists, contests with prize giveaways and more.
Organizers added laser tag to take place in the high school court yard, according to Amy Holmes, who along with her husband Bill coordinates the event with Jen and Charlie Bowman, Lisa Yiannos, Sarah Lee, Bill Heap, and Dave Gilhoulie.
They’ll also have the inside of the high school decked out to reflect the theme, Holmes said.
The students won’t recognize the school once they enter through the side entrance on Sixth Street between Atlantic Avenue and the boardwalk, she said.
“That entire hallway is transformed,” Holmes said. “We cover every wall with fabric so it seems like they’re somewhere really fancy.”
But a country western theme will necessitate a dirty look to complement the trimmings this time around, she said. Decorations include wagon wheels and cowboy silhouettes.
Parents and all other members of the community are invited to attend an open house to see the setup on Saturday night, she said. The free walkthrough takes place 7:30-9 p.m., and attendees can enter through the Sixth Street entrance.
The After Prom started in 1991 after a small group of parents wanted to give prom attendees the option of partying the night away with food, games and no alcohol or drugs. The event has grown both in numbers and extravagance since then, but the objective remains the same, Holmes said.
To attend, students have to register and sign a contract with the school.
“There are still kids trying to get rooms in Wildwood,” she said. “There are parents who still try to host parties. We know it. But the majority of parents in the community really want their children to do the right thing and to stay away from those temptations to drink too young and experiment with drugs.”
Officials and community members pitch in to support the After Prom, which Holmes said costs about $20,000 to put on each year.
Holmes said the Miss Night in Venice Pageant is a key contributor. In 2016, contestants in the pageant competition that coincides with the city’s annual Night in Venice boat parade on the bay raised $8,000 for the After Prom, along with donations toward the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign and the Ocean City Food Cupboard.
Support also comes from the Municipal Alliance Committee between Ocean City and Upper Township officials, as well as the Raider Nation Dance in February and other fundraisers.