CoronaVirus

Long Island community comes together to host memorable prom for high school students

PATCHOGUE, Long Island (WABC) — An entire community on Long Island is coming together to give high school students a prom to remember this year after the pandemic canceled many of their school events.

Students at Patchogue-Medford High School will celebrate their prom with an entire evening of games, food and entertainment in downtown Patchogue.

A portion of Main Street will be shut down for the event. Local restaurants and entertainment venues are coming together to make the event a memorable night for the students.

“They deserve something,” said David Kennedy of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce. “They lost out on prom last year. We couldn’t let that happen again.”

Students began thinking about the prom in November and how they would hold it with the COVID restrictions.

“We had to pull this prom literally out of thin air,” senior Madelynn Schumann said.

Assistant Principal Garrett Comanzo thought of downtown Patchogue and the idea developed from there.

“We knew we had to do something and work to sort of find our way to do it safely and do it within the guidelines,” he said.

Kennedy and Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri jumped onboard right away.

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“They missed everything from homecoming to every other event that typically happens in senior year,” Pontieri said. “So we want to end the year with something for them to remember.”

Local restaurants have pitched in to cook the food for the students and the owner of Perabell Food Bar is opening up to allow the restaurants to stage the food from his restaurant.

The restaurant is usually closed on Mondays, the day of the event.

“This was a no-brainer for us,” Eric Rifkin, the owner of Bobbique Restaurant, said. “We all come together in times of need.”

Rifkin said he spearheaded getting the restaurants involved because he knows the struggles the students are going through with the pandemic. He said last year he had to watch his daughter graduate from college on television.

“So I really took the initiative to get us all together,” Rifkin said of the restaurants.

More than 400 student tickets have been sold for the event, which will take place on Monday, June 21 at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s so great to see everybody so excited for something,” senior Maddy Frascogna said.

“I’ve always had this idea of what prom is,” senior Stephanie Lally said. “I’ve seen it in the movies, I’ve seen it on TV and now, like that I actually get to experience it in like a greater version of it, it’s just so exciting.”

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The students will meet at Patchogue-Medford High School and will then board buses to go to a park in Medford. There they will have refreshments and take pictures by a professional photographer under a gazebo. A live musician will also perform.

The students will board the buses to go to downtown Patchogue. As they exit the buses, students will walk on a red carpet where parents can take pictures.

Students will process through Patchogue Theater before entering onto Main Street.

Main Street from Ocean Avenue to Maple Avenue will be shut down to traffic and the street will be lined with games, food and a DJ. The event will have private security.

“School’s just been so abnormal that having this event that is held in such a high regard in like your high school career that that’s the exciting part,” senior Giovanni Verdi said.

Kennedy said the owners of local hair salons and clothing stores have offered to do hair styling for and give dresses to students in need.

A fundraiser for the event on GoFundMe has raised more than $7,000 and includes $2,130 from a group identified as the Class of 1991.

“It’s Main Street USA at its best,” Michael White, the organizer of the GoFundMe campaign and founder of Greater Long Island Media Group, said. “People just banding together and looking out for the next generation.”

The public is being asked to avoid the Main Street Patchogue area the night of June 21 to allow the students to enjoy the event.

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