When officials at Jolly Roger Amusement Park in Ocean City learned recently that the covid-19 pandemic had robbed yet another group of high schoolers from having a formal prom, they decided to take action.

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Students from Parkside High in Salisbury enter an "Un-Prom" held May 28 at Jolly Roger Amusement Park on 29th Street in Ocean City.

The result was an “Un-Prom,” held last Friday for students at Salisbury’s Parkside High on the grounds of the resort amusement park.

“Overall it was just a great event,” said Dawn Dillon, the director of sales and marketing at Jolly Roger. “It was the community coming together, Jolly Roger really stepping up to the plate.”

The formal event was held primarily for the graduating class of Parkside, but Dillon said a total of more than 200 students attended, along with parents and other family members who donated gifts and hosted raffles.

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Students from Parkside High in Salisbury pose for a photo at an "Un-Prom" held May 28 at Jolly Roger Amusement Park on 29th Street in Ocean City.

Steve Pastusak, the vice president of the company that runs Jolly Roger, said in late April that the idea for the grassroots event came about while he was talking to some parents at a Parkside sporting event. He has kids that attend the high school and knows how important events like prom are to teenagers, and how devastating it has been over the last year with covid-19 cancellations.

Dillon said he rallied staff members and they got to work to create a magical venue on the back lot of the 35-acre, 29th Street property that she said trumped any prom she has ever known. Decorations included colored balloons, twinkling candles and a red carpet. Attendees posed for photos underneath the park’s welcome banner and had full use of the rides and attractions.

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Students from Parkside High in Salisbury pose for a photo at an "Un-Prom" held May 28 at Jolly Roger Amusement Park on 29th Street in Ocean City.

And despite the night’s forecast threatening rain, Dillon said they lucked out.

“The weather really turned out well,” she said. “It was Jolly Roger hosting an event and students, parents and grandparents were all attending and were watching this experience unfold.”

Worcester County schools also did not have official proms this year, but Trimper Rides stepped up for them by hosting an independent Hollywood Glitz and Glamour event on May 14.

Megan Petro, the social media coordinator for Trimper, said via email that anyone who missed out on their prom this year was invited to the event, and both local and out of state students attended.

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A group of high schoolers pose during Trimper Rides' recent Hollywood glam themed prom event on the Ocean City Boardwalk.

“Trimper's wanted to give all students a sense of [normalcy] after dealing with the ups and downs of a COVID year,” she said. “We were aware that many high school proms were canceled and wanted to take this opportunity to give back to the community.”

The event, which had a Hollywood glam theme, was held in Trimper’s park and included a live performance by DJ Taylor Senpai, raffles, photo-ops under a balloon arch, dinner under the stars and unlimited rides.

This story appeared in the printed version of Ocean City Today on June 4, 2021.

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