All-Night Graduation Party Returns For Second Year

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Sumo wrestling, munchies, pingpong games and some pretty cool prizes are coming back for a second year to Payson's Graduation Party.

On May 24, from 10:30 p.m. until 5 a.m., each graduating senior from Payson Unified School District is invited to the all-night party in the Tonto Apache Recreation Center.

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During the 2006 all-night graduation party, students took part in mock boxing and sumo wrestling matches. The last one standing was declared the winner. Organizers of the 2007 graduation party are looking for volunteers to set up the event and chaperone on the night of May 24.

Each senior may bring one guest. The guest must be as young as a high school freshman or as old as 20.

"There was lots of fun, entertaining stuff to do, but the height of last year's event was the sumo wrestling," Carlan Pontious said.

Teens who want to sumo wrestle put on large rubber suits and face off. They can bounce against each other or just lean. The last one standing upright is declared the winner.

In addition to the games, there will be a dancing machine.

"I just enjoyed hanging out with friends," said Casey Griffin, who came as a guest last year and stayed until 1 a.m.

It is OK for attendees to check out of the party early, but once a teen leaves, he or she cannot check back in.

There will be pizza, submarine sandwiches, soda, water, cookies and other snacks for teens to refuel with throughout the night.

Graduates must be present to win prizes.

The prizes will only be awarded to 2007 graduates.

A Dell laptop computer, a television and an iPod were just some of the prizes in 2006.

The first two people drawn for the computer had already left.

Phil White Ford donated the grand prize, a used car, which was given away in the early hours of the morning.

Permission slips for the graduation party will be mailed to parents in the first part of April.

Holding the party all night serves another purpose.

Graduates who have family in town to see them will not be missing family time. Most likely, those out-of-town guests will be sleeping.

Local mother Eileen Daniels organized the first annual party last year with the help of Chris Schwind.

"Last year was very successful with 80 seniors and about that same number of guests," Daniels said.

This year, Cherie Griffin is helping Daniels to pull the event together.

"We stress that the party is drug- and alcohol-free," Griffin said.

"My son graduated last year and I want the tradition in place, so when my daughter graduates there will be a fun, safe place for her and her classmates to make memories, say goodbye to friends they may not see again, and have a great time," Daniels said.

Prizes, volunteers to set up the event and chaperones are needed.

"We usually schedule our chaperones in two-hour shifts," Daniels said. "But they are usually having so much fun they wind up staying."

For more information, contact Daniels at (928) 474-6645 or Griffin at (928) 474-9535.

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