Payson Teens Dance Through A 'Starry Night'

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The restaurants, music, and people may be very familiar.

But add an evening gown and tuxedo, adorn with fresh flowers, a new hairdo or cut, and a specially decorated venue, and an otherwise routine date of dinner and dancing takes on a fairy tale ambiance.

Such is the anticipation of Payson High School students on the eve of the Junior-Senior Prom taking place this Saturday night.

"The theme is Starry Night," says junior class president Lisa Jackson, "and we're expecting about 250 people. We are decorating the place where Mario's restaurant was. There will be gossamer and strings of white Christmas lights, candles, and silver and blue balloons."

There will be a DJ spinning dance music, catered desserts, inscribed souvenir candle holders and a photographer to capture these magical teenage moments in memory and film.

The romance and idealism of prom night belies the effort and community coordination it takes to present the perfect evening.

"The juniors put on the prom for the seniors," Jackson said, "mostly with money raised from our concession booth at basketballs games. The four junior class officers are basically the prom committee, plus some parents and friends who helped. It's really very stressful to put this together."

Their stressful efforts are supported by a $3,500 budget which is the result of the concession booth, other fund-raisers, sponsorships, and last year's excess left in the coffers. That will cover the DJ, the caterer, lease on the room, decorations provided in a "prom kit," down-payment for the photographer, invitations to all the seniors and the faculty, admission tickets, and the souvenirs. Each couple makes their own arrangements for dinner and dress.

June Dudley of Flowers by June, one of several merchants in town who share the students' excitement, takes special interest in each of her young clients.

"Now that I see the dress is this shade of red," Dudley said, "I think we'll change the color of the flowers."

Jennifer Boyd had brought in her prom gown so Dudley could color-coordinate the dress with the wrist corsage.

"We're using roses," Boyd said, "and trying to decide if they will be red or white."

This attention to detail is necessary to create the perfect ensemble of corsage, boutonniere, gown and tux.

"Roses are popular, but we also use lilies, orchids a variety of flowers," Dudley said. And for Boyd, some "gems" will be added to the wrist corsage to bring out the sequins in her gown and complement the starry theme of the evening.

Robyn Lorentz of Payson Florist notes, "Roses are still the flower of choice, and we are seeing white and pastels this year."

Starting with the evening gown, the color of flowers and of the tux tie and vest are decided.

"This year the gowns are pink and lavender and yellow," Lorentz said. "And black and white is always classic. The tux look this year is more of a business suit look. Instead of a tux tie they are wearing a long tie with a vest. And some of the guys are having fun with a zoot suit style that comes with the chain and hat. "

Raylene Philips at Lemon Tree Beauty Salon is aware of the importance of this individuality in designing hair styles.

"I try to do something original for each, something that no one else will have," she said. With upward of 100 young women expected to attend the prom, that is quite a challenge.

Diane Scott at the New Ewe predicts there will be more "up-do's" this year.

Rim country's finer restaurants anticipate the gala evening. Some offer specials for those in prom gowns and tuxes, and off-the-menu meals are always a delectable choice.

How much does this prom tradition cost? Lisa Jackson guesses that a girl will spend $200-300 on her big night, and it seems her escort's expenses are comparable. Some young men opt for a suit rather than a tux, and there are some single tickets that are sold.

An unofficial calculation of the costs comes to about $520 per couple. How do they manage?

"Some parents are very generous," Jackson said, with an appreciative laugh, and some students put in extra hours of chores.

Compared to mom and dad's era, fashions and hairstyles are daringly fun, music is cutting edge for a new generation, and inflation has taken a toll. Contemporary cultural issues aside, this could be your parents' prom night formal attire, sophisticated coifs, fragrant flowers, elegant meals and photo shoots.

But this time, it is all under a Payson "Starry Night."

Prom Overnighter

High school students are invited to an overnighter at the First Southern Baptist Church, April 27.

If you're not going to the prom, or if you want to stop by after the prom, the event will run from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., and includes munchies, ice cream, music, videos, air hockey, ping pong and other games, and breakfast.

To learn more about the Prom Overnighter, call Patrick Wright of the First Southern Baptist Church, 474-3374 or 595-0383.

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