Prom Night Is Always Special

It was May 2, 1981.

It’s been a lot of years, but I remember my high school prom like it was yesterday.

My prom dress was borrowed from my cousin. My date was a classmate I’d known since kindergarten. And my corsage was a pink carnation that I later pressed in a book to save.

I curled my hair. Put on a little makeup. And a pair of dressy sandals.

Then I waited in the living room for my date to arrive. I remember when his car (I think it was a late 1970s-model Chevy or Pontiac) pulled into our driveway, and he got out of the car, dressed in a suit and tie, carrying my lovely corsage.

At that moment, I couldn’t believe that I was really going to my junior prom. I was such a nerd in high school. Not that I’m any less of a nerd now.

He drove us to a fancy Chinese restaurant in Chesterfield, Ind., where we had reservations for dinner. I think the name of the place was the White House Restaurant. I’d never eaten Asian cuisine, so it was a new experience.

After easy conversation and a nice meal, we drove to Shenandoah High School, where our gymnasium had been decorated for junior and senior prom-goers and their dates.

The theme was “A Night at Fantasy Island.” As everyone entered into the world of fantasy, two hosts — one a tall, slender man and the other a rather short man, portraying Mr. Roarke and Tattoo, if you remember the old television series that aired on ABC from 1978-84 — greeted prom-goers.

The entrance was decorated with colored lights reflecting upon raindrops, and grass carpet led the way into the gym-turned-ballroom, where each corner of the gym was decorated differently. A western scene with a saloon and a rugged fence with straw surrounding was one “fantasy.” There were palm trees, pineapples, a grass hut and scenery of the ocean in the Hawaiian fantasy area. In the world of make believe, there was a glowing rainbow with cartoon characters and a fountain. A background wall with a castle painted on it also set the mood as mints were served in small glass slippers. A glittering star was centered in another area, where walls were papered in stars and a lighted moon hung from above, taking prom-goers to outer space. It was such a fun night. There were five each of senior prom king and queen candidates and junior prince and princess candidates nominated. (I bet you thought it’s pretty good if I could remember all of those details. But I had to get out my old Raider yearbook.)

We had our photo taken in front of a tropical backdrop made by classmates.

Mostly teachers and some parents chaperoned. The only requirement to attend was to have your $4 class dues paid.

We danced to the 1970s and ‘80s cover music by Reelin’ Kite.

It was a night to remember.

Fast forward 42 years.

Tonight is prom night for Noblesville High School, where our daughter is a junior.

The concept of prom is the same.

It’s still a special night where juniors and seniors and their dates dress up in beautiful floor-length prom gowns and rented tuxedos. They pose for photos. They dine out. They dance at a rented venue. Some drive. Some take limousines, buses or trolleys with hired chauffeurs.

Prom is such a special occasion that our daughter’s been looking forward to for many weeks. We shopped for a prom dress as a family. She got a manicure and pedicure with a color polish to complement her dress. She found the perfect sparkly high heels and clutch. She’s doing her own hair and makeup. She and her date are going with a group of friends, who will meet early for photos at a picturesque location, dine at a fancy restaurant and then dance the night away with friends at the prom.

Yes, prom night tonight will also be a night to remember.

-Betsy Reason writes about people, places and things in Hamilton County. Contact The Times Editor Betsy Reason at I thought about publishing my old prom photo, but my prom date actually now lives in Noblesville with his wife and family. Small world.