Saugerties School officials are mulling holding the 2022 junior/senior prom outdoors in the Village of Saugerties as opposed to a more traditional banquet facility.
“We want to keep the kids in Saugerties,” Saugerties High School Principal Tim Reid said at a recent Village Board meeting. The plan would involve closing a street, possibly part of Partition Street with families able to pick up food at tents catered by Village-based eateries. Officials also proposed a band playing from a bandstand on the street like the ones used at the Sawyer Motors Car Show in July.
The evening would start with students having their photo taken by the historic 18th-century Kiersted House where they would also check-in and check-out, senior class advisor Veronica Stein Mire said at last week’s meeting. Students would then go to a portion of a Village street where the main celebration would be held. Mayor Bill Murphy suggested the portion of Partition Street at the top of the hill as a possibility, but said that closing Main Street like during the Sawyer Motors Car Show would not be the cards.
Reid said school officials are proposing a radically different type of prom in part because current COVID-19 restrictions calling for mandatory masks and six-foot distancing whenever possible would make a traditional prom impossible. He said contact tracing and testing requirements would also present a hurdle. “If we had someone test positive, we could possibly have half of our student body out,” Reid said.
On top of the virus-related restrictions, which he hopes will be loosened by next spring, the principal wants to see the money families spend to stay in Saugerties and to avoid the safety concern of teens driving to another town for prom night.
Reid admitted the plan is still in very early stages and he’d need to run it by students who may decide they prefer a traditional prom experience.
He envisions Village restaurants catering a wide range of different courses promgoers and their families could pick from. He cautioned that school officials would need to gauge business’ support for the proposal.
Village officials expressed support for the plan.
Murphy called the plan an intriguing idea while acknowledging officials would have to clear a number of logistical hurdles including getting approval by the state Department of Transportation for the closure. Both U.S. Route 9W and state Route 32 traverse the portion of Partition Street below Main Street. He said they would also need to get the green light from Saugerties Town Police Chief Joseph Sinagra.
The mayor said he feels the plan would be good for the Village and help to strengthen the ties between the Saugerties Central School District and the Town and Village of Saugerties.
Murphy cautioned that some eateries might be concerned that such an event might keep regular diners away.
Reid said school officials would keep everything on the closed portion of the street, leaving the sidewalks for regular diners. And he said any catered food would be served outside. “We do not envision students going into the restaurants,” the principal said.
And school officials envision this special evening becoming a memorable evening far beyond the student body.
“It would encourage families to come out and use the restaurants and shops, including both students and parents,” Reid said. “The whole community is invited.”
Murphy said he looks forward to the Village working with school officials as they finalize plans more. The mayor suggested if the district decides to move ahead with the plan, a committee could be formed with Village and Town officials, Sinagra and possibly a couple of business owners to help plan the evening.
Village officials also praised the 2021 Saugerties High School graduation which included a parade through the village.
“Let’s keep it annual,” Murphy said, speaking of the parade.
Trustee Terry Parisian liked the move to Friday night on the football field.
“I hope they never do it Saturday morning again,” Parisian said. “People could sit up in the stands or on the ground.”