Alternative prom allows area students to enjoy dance amid COVID-19

EDWARDSBURG — In early March, Brandywine High School graduate Ashlyn Farmer had picked out the perfect prom dress, a pink and purple number embroidered with cascading roses.

A week later, schools around the state of Michigan announced they would be closing due to COVID-19 precautions.

“I was definitely so sad,” she said. “For the longest time, I wouldn’t even think about it. I wouldn’t talk about it. I was so upset. I feel better now because a lot of time has passed, but I was really upset at the time.”

When it became clear that the shutdown would continue to last throughout the end of the school year, Farmer thought she would not be able to attend a prom her senior year. However, this past weekend, she was able to pull the dress out of her closet, though the prom she attended looked different than she planned.

Saturday, an alternative outdoor prom was hosted at the Edwardsburg Sports Complex. The outdoor dance, which was open to students across Michiana, saw more than 50 attendants despite rainy weather.

According to the event’s organizers, the outdoor event was meant to provide area students with a prom experience and memories that they could carry with them, despite COVID-19’s impact on their year.

“My daughter missed prom this year,” said Mica Yonker, the event’s organizer and owner of Oh My LLC in downtown Niles. “My daughter wanted to have prom in the backyard, but I thought, ‘why don’t we see if we can find something better and open it up a little bit and include more kids.”

As the owner of a dress shop, Yonker said she has seen many teens come into her storefront, disappointed as they returned their prom dresses. She said it was hard to watch area students miss out on what she believes is an important school event, which is when she got the idea to host the prom.

“My whole idea for doing this was helping the kids get out of the house, out of quarantine and do it safely, and see some friends they may not have gotten to see otherwise,” she said.

Many of the teens who attended Saturday’s event said they enjoyed themselves and were excited to have a prom still to attend after COVID-19 canceled many of their high school traditions.

“I think this is actually really cool,” Farmer said. “Think it is really cool that they are doing this for us.”

“This is different, but it’s fun,” added Chloe Westfall, a junior at Edwardsburg High School.

Yonker said she hoped that every student who attended Saturday’s event left feeling like they had participated in an actual prom.

“A lot of kids didn’t realize that when they left school [in March] that those would be some of the last memories they would be making with their friends,” she said. “We tried to offer them a chance to get in a few more memories before everybody goes off to college.”

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township Edwardsburg Police Log: Feb. 15-22

Dowagiac

SMC graduate experiences Super Bowl

Dowagiac

Dowagiac women aim to create change through local government

Dowagiac

SMC COVID task force leader talks with Dowagiac Rotary Club

Business

Niles roller rink reopens following legal battle

Berrien County

Michigan Works! announces community wide survey to learn about COVID-19’s impact

Cass County

Cass County prepares to adjust to criminal justice reforms

Berrien County

Michiana Family Center seeks mentors for foster teens

Business

Nobo Michigan opens Edwardsburg location

Cassopolis

Businesses battle over land use in Cassopolis’ Industrial Park

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: Feb. 19-24

Berrien County

Mount Calvary Baptist to host COVID-19 vaccination clinic March 5

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien County reports new COVID-19 death

Berrien County

Berrien County Health Department, Spectrum Health Lakeland give vaccination updates

Cass County

Applications open for Cass County Sheriff’s Community Scholarship

Berrien County

Berrien County commissioners send message to state on regionalizing COVID-19 approach

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD to host superintendent interviews Monday

Cass County

Michigan Works! to open office in Cass County administration building

Business

Dollar General, marijuana microbusiness, Iron Shoe expansion coming to Niles

Dowagiac

Silver Creek Township Planning Commission tables short-term rental ordinance draft vote

News

New SOS online, self-service options coming soon

Business

Niles restaurant week to showcase 18 restaurants

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 583,964 cases, 15,405 deaths

Cass County

Cass County GOP censures Congressman Fred Upton for vote against Marjorie Taylor Greene