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Dancing under the stars

Dancing under the stars
Dancing under the stars became a reality at the prom for CSHS and CTA last Friday. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

We’ve often heard the phrase “it takes a village…” And sometimes, it even takes a neighboring village. 

That saying was put to the test last Friday evening, May 21, when the Village of Sand Lake closed off Lake Street for several hours and hosted a prom outdoors for both Cedar Springs High School and Creative Technologies Academy.

“I was so glad to be able to do something for the kids,” said Mollie Doerr, President of the Village of Sand Lake. “I’d hate for them to have to go another year without one.”

And by all accounts, the kids really seemed to enjoy themselves. “I’m really glad they could pull it off,” said senior Sarah Chenowith.

“This is awesome,” said another student, when asked what they thought of the prom.

According to organizer Katy Austin, the Nelson Township treasurer and mother of a senior at Cedar Springs this year, she wanted to do something to help the students get a prom this year, since last year’s was canceled due to Covid-19. She said she reached out to school officials in February to find out if they would be able to have one. She said that at the time, the place the school had booked only had a capacity of 25 percent, so it looked like a no go. So she began to plan one herself, starting in March. She got the idea to have it outdoors, where the capacity could be greater. But she also wanted to bring business to the struggling restaurants. “I just thought we could pack these restaurants full,” she explained.

Austin said she talked to the City of Cedar Springs, but they couldn’t shut down Main Street, and if they held it in the Heart of Cedar Springs, it would need to be a public event. So she approached the Village of Sand Lake. Skinner Field officials also offered but ultimately, Austin opted for Dancing Under the Stars on Main Street in Sand Lake. “Both the Village and the Cedar Springs Chamber approached me and asked me to please consider Sand Lake,” she said. “They really wanted to do it.”

 So Austin and three others—Heidi Greenland, Tami Elliston, and Shannon Cooper—got to work. Donations came pouring in from both private citizens and businesses to make the event happen. Tickets were $10 each. For that $10, the teens got a $6 voucher for Rosie’s, and a booklet is being bought to give to the students with memories of the night. 

About 300 attended the event. 

Main Street was beautifully decorated with lights, a tent, balloons, and various spots to get photographs taken. There was a vintage truck from Dean’s Excavating; Phil Harrison donated a vintage car for kids to take pictures in; a flower wall; a starry night backdrop with 8 foot moon; and a balloon garland in the VFW hall. Kids were also able to get free pizza thanks to generous businesses. They also had a DJ to play music.

Austin said people came out in droves to help set up, including the Village employees and their families; the Sand Lake Chamber and their families; the Sand Lake Fire Department and families, and their own families as well.

Austin was overwhelmed at the generosity. “Thank you to everyone,” she said. “It truly takes a a village. I could not have done it without everyone’s help.”

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