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Crescenta Valley seniors take the fun of Prom Plus seriously

Getting dolled up for prom is the beginning of a memorable night for many students, but seniors at Crescenta Valley High School can’t wait to ditch their tuxes and gowns for their regular clothes and an activity-packed after-party.

For the past 20 years, Prom Plus has been promoted as a safe option for teens looking for something fun to do once the last slow dance of the night is over.

For this year’s chaperoned event on Saturday, the Crescenta Cañada YMCA will be decorated with a “roaring ’20s” theme and, like every year, will have no shortage of activities such as a mechanical bull, casino games, rock climbing, Dance Dance Revolution, a gyroscope and magicians until 5 a.m. on Sunday.

Aimee Beck, who graduated in 2012, remembers her Prom Plus fondly and has been a volunteer for the event for years and serves as board member with the Prom Plus Club.

“There is not much to do after prom,” she said. “You can go to the beach, but after an hour or so, it gets boring. Every year, we have kids that try doing something else and realize it isn’t what they thought, so they come to us.”

About 400 people show up each year for Prom Plus, including some who skipped prom altogether.

Despite being on the verge of adulthood, students still enjoy acts such as stilt walkers and a tarot card reader as well as activities such as face painting, bouncing on trampolines and, most of all, wearing their own personalized balloon hats.

“I think it’s more of a reflection of their childhood because, while they’re able to stay up late, they’re able to do kids’ stuff,” said Robin Goldsworthy, who has headed Prom Plus since 1999.

The history of Prom Plus began with a tragedy.

On prom night in 1991, Crescenta Valley High student Berlyn Cosman was shot and killed by Paul Crowder at an unsupervised post-prom hotel party. Crowder is currently in jail.

Goldsworthy said Prom Plus came about soon thereafter thanks to concerned parents and community volunteers.

Since then, more and more people have donated to the event, which costs about $25,000 to put on.

Students start arriving at the YMCA around 11:30 p.m. To make sure their night stays safe, students cannot re-enter the party once they leave, Goldsworthy said.

Also in attendance each year are about 60 parents, business owners and civic leaders who serve as chaperons.

“It gives (students) an opportunity for a safe place to go where they have the freedom and fun of staying up all night if they choose,” she said. “At the same time, they don’t have to worry about getting into trouble.”

Toward the end of the night, there’s a raffle drawing where students can win items they might need for college, such as a microwave or gas cards.

Several fundraisers, such as the Taste of Montrose, are held throughout the year to benefit Prom Plus.

At the fundraisers, Beck often bumps into Crescenta Valley High grads with similar sentimental feelings about the prom after-party.

“I have people coming up to me saying that they do not remember their prom at all, but they do remember Prom Plus,” she said. “The fact that we’re helping create those positive memories makes all of the work worthwhile.”

Entry to Prom Plus comes with prom tickets or students can pay $20 at the door.

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Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.

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