By Barbara Tetreault and Kirstan Knowlton
ANDROSCOGGIN VALLEY — Prom night — it’s one night some remember long after their high school days are over. Dressed in semi-formal attire, prom night is a magical evening full of dancing and socializing as students take a major step toward adulthood.
This year, Berlin and Gorham seniors and juniors sought out different venues for their proms that captured the mood and theme of their festivities.
First up was the Gorham prom on May 13. Organized by the junior class, class officer Riley Fitzmorris said a committee is set up to plan the event. She said the committee decided on “Enchanted Forest” as the theme of the prom and set about looking for a place to hold it.
The committee looked at a number of potential sites but some were too big or did not fit with the theme.
“We wanted kind of a rustic look,” Fitzmorris said.
When they checked out the Service Credit Union Heritage Park in Berlin with its replica logging camp, they were sold.
Owned by the city, the park is managed by the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce and chamber officials were excited to host the Gorham prom there.
“I think it was awesome. We want to attract more events,” said Chamber Executive Director Paula Kinney. She noted that since the city and chamber partnership took over the park, a lot of work has been done to improve it.
“The park has come a long way,” she noted.
For the students, it was perfect. The log structure of the cookhouse and bunkhouse fit perfectly with the theme. Fitzmorris said the strings of lights the students strung all around showed off the beauty of the wood. A black carpet was laid down in the dance floor area in the bunkhouse. The cookhouse was decorated with flowers and lights and the tables had flowers in vases.
“It was beautiful. Everyone loved the place this year,” said Fitzmorris.
With 70 people attending, she said the students liked the smaller space of the logging camp because it made the place feel full. Dinner was catered with food from the Gorham Dynasty Buffet in Gorham.
Outside, photographers Dennis and Kari Wade set in front of the horse hovel to take the formal prom pictures. After the obligatory parent and child dances, the students were left to dance the night away.
Fitzmorris said many students said this year’s prom was very memorable.
“One of the best in ages,” she said.
Berlin High School Prom 2017
Berlin's prom night, Saturday, May 20, was a night that Berlin High School senior Brianne Morneau and her classmates won’t soon forget.
Pulling up to the historic Brown Company Barn on East Milan Road in Berlin, it was clear this wasn’t your typical cookie-cutter prom.
With the barn doors open wide, students could see the softly lit dance floor, and rustic charm of the post-and-beam structure.
With everything perfectly in place, from tabletop centerpieces, a country style photo booth, and a dance floor begging to be used, it’s hard to imagine that the prom would be held anywhere else.
Beginning back in her freshman year, Morneau knew that she wanted something different out of her prom experience. Although she wasn’t formally on the student council yet, that didn’t stop her from keeping the idea alive.
Entering her junior year, Morneau was finally elected class president and quickly went to work putting plans in motion for the 2017 prom.
Several of her classmates began approaching her asking for a rustic barn atmosphere for their function, and Morneau knew the perfect place — the East Milan Road barns.
Knowing that there could be some challenges to securing the location, Morneau did plenty of legwork before her meeting with the board of the historical society.
Morneau spoke to her father and other members of the board to see what concerns they might have so she could properly prepare for the meeting.
Among the main concerns were students parking on the lawn and the liability that comes with using the space. Morneau was able to make arrangements with Tri-County Community Action Program to use its buses to shuttle students from a nearby parking area.
Tri-County CAP ended up donating its time and two buses to help with evening, and stayed until everyone had left.
Along with securing the perfect venue, Morneau also wanted to make it a priority to use local vendors for the evening. Rudy’s Market in Berlin did the catering for the event, and Berlin High graduate Sam Aldrich provided music for the evening.
The location was not equipped with bathroom facilities, but Morneau was able to work with Go Time restrooms to bring in portable units for the prom.
In total, 78 couples attended prom this year, and Morneau felt that the evening went well.
“Overall, it went really well. Once people arrived they could take pictures at the photo booth and carriages,” said Morneau.
This prom also marked a milestone for the barn, as the first formal event ever to be held there. In honor of the prom, the historical society wanted to keep a sign that had been handmade by Berlin student Sarah Clark.
The wood-burned sign, which reads “Prom 2017,” will remain in their permanent collection as part of the city’s local history.
“It’s nice to have something different. It was really a representation of Berlin,” said Morneau.