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Columbia HS Students Push for Prom Showcase

Columbia students hope the event will return to South Orange's Grove Park

The prom showcase could return to South Orange this year. Two Columbia High School students are taking the lead in that effort.

Seniors Candice Iheme and Asia Marche, the student body president, are spearheading the attempt.

"I understand that many people are afraid of having this event in fear of something going wrong," explained Iheme in an email.  "However, I think that people are overanalyzing this event and failing to realize that the seniors just want to be able to show off their attires before going off to prom. This is also a great opportunity for community members, SOMSD teachers and staff, as well as friends and family to bid farewell to the graduating seniors."

The showcase

was an annual event at Grove Park for at least ten years, through 2010. Students, friends and families gathered at the park to walk a red carpet, listen to music, and pose in their prom attire.  While the event precedes the prom, it is not connected to the school district. 

However, in 2010, ten different police departments and agencies were called to Grove Park to help with dispersing a crowd of about 300 people who came for the prom showcase, and seven arrests were made on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to possession of a weapon (brass knuckles) to possession of marijuana.

. Maplewood police joined South Orange, NJ Transit and numerous other law enforcement agencies to patrol the area and the event.

"Mass amounts of time are dedicated and large amounts of money are spent in preparation for this one night; then when everyone is ready, they can’t even show off their outfits, hair, makeup and etc. Many people in my grade have acquired jobs just so they will be able to afford to go to prom," explains Iheme. She notes that, "Two years ago, they held showcase at SOPAC. This did not go too well as it was very packed and many people were angered that without tickets, they were unable to see their beloved seniors off. That class had 300 kids, we have approximately 428."  SOPAC does not have the capacity for 428 promgoers and guests.

In 2012, the showcase was not held.

"Many of us did not get to see the dresses and tuxedos of our friends. That takes a lot of the fun out of prom, you get all dressed up and no one even gets to see you," said Iheme. 

Village Administrator Barry Lewis confirmed that a Columbia High School student completed the  paperwork for a Special Event Permit for the Prom Showcase  to be held at Grove Park.

"This would be the best place to be able to accomodate this event," explains Iheme. "However, in order for this to happen, we need the help of citizens (taxpayers) to speak up and say they want this to be enabled to happen."

In an email, Lewis said, "We met this week to review the application and the Police Department has now provided and estimate of the anticipated cost of this event and I have reached to the applicant to advise of the costs as well as the insurance and other requirements, but have not yet made contact."

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