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Natick - Local Town Pages

Celebrating After The Prom Safely

By Sean Sullivan

With regard to refining one’s vocation, actor and comedian Steve Martin had some simple and succinct advice: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Martin honed his performative chops over decades, oftentimes in nearly deserted (or even empty) theaters, to create an act that became second nature. He sought whatever gig would put him in front of people, no matter how small the crowd or paycheck, until it became true. They could no longer ignore him.

Hosts of this year’s After-Prom Party (APP) are confident that theory will hold true for their annual celebration. The decades-old tradition was designed as a safe space for prom-goers, and has evolved into somewhat of an extravaganza.

Some students might scoff at such an event – chaperoned, substance and alcohol-free as it is. The prom is a rite of passage of sorts, after all, a gateway into college, adulthood and beyond.

But organizers have scripted and sold the party as an event not to be missed. They plan to put on a show, in other words, that students can’t ignore.

The APP will be held at Natick High School itself, a venue that will be familiar territory to students and some chaperones, and a space that offers acres of indoor square footage for activities. The price is right too (free), as renting out a comparable venue would put a significant dent in the APP’s budget.

Distributed throughout hallways, the café and gym, students will get to choose from a menu of activities at the APP. The event will feature laser tag battles in the school’s auditorium. A rolling raffle will be held throughout the morning, and the drawing of winners’ names will begin at 1 a.m.

“We try to make it big and beautiful so people want to come,” said Maureen Austin. “It’s a good show.” She is chairperson of Natick’s After Prom Party committee, and has worked with Natick’s Parent Student Teacher Organization to curate the event.

APP volunteers solicit donations from locals to fund theevent, which includes an array of rentals and prizes for the raffle. There are thousands of dollars of gift cards and other prizes to raffle off, the renting of skee-ball units, a bounce house and temporary tattoo station, a hypnotist and DJ  to hire.

The price tag for the APP is upwards of $25,000, all of which comes from donations. Bernardi’s auto dealer of Natick gifted $5,000 toward the cause, and Roche Bros. $1,000. Wegman’s, though the supermarket chain recently closed up shop in Natick, gave to the event as well.

“We try to go for bigger donors,” said Austin, but all are welcome and appreciated. “We will take anything, goods and services.”

Parents have donated televisions, microwave ovens and the like – necessities that might help furnish a dorm room some students are destined for. The event last year featured about $6,000 in prizes, and about 400 seniors attended.

“We want kids to say, ‘yeah, I want to go to that,’” said Austin. This will be her second year running the event. “I’m already thinking of next year.”

The After-Prom Party’s name divulges when the event takes place, but leaves space for who may attend. Seniors needn’t have gone to the prom to make an appearance at the party.

“We don’t want anybody to feel left out,” said Austin.

In addition to being too good to be ignored, hosts of the APP also designed it to go so late that prom-goers can’t stay awake. Held Saturday morning from midnight until 5 a.m., the event is meant to tire out even the most die-hard partygoers.

Just when the APP is winding down, the sun will be threatening to come up; students will be exhausted from the prior day’s prom prep, festivities and a morning of partying. Attendees can leave before 5 a.m., but only with parental permission.

“It’s a long night,” said Austin, one that organizers are still seeking volunteers for. 

The APP is free for students to attend, and was created to offer them somewhere safe to celebrate after the prom.

“We feel very strongly that this is something our community needs,” said Austin, who has a senior in college and a junior in high school. “It’s become a family event. To pay it forward, or pay it back. We feel very passionately that this could save a life.”