HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — It was no ordinary dance — an event in Huntington gave people who had never experienced a night at the prom a second chance.
Nearly 200 people attended the “Almost Paradise” prom Friday night at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
Angela Clay organized the event along with Huntington City Councilman Rick Simmons. Along with welcoming disabled people, she said the dance was a second chance for people who never went to the prom or had bad experiences.
“I’m hoping they make a lot of happy memories and that I see a lot of smiles walking out of the door,” Clay said. “It’s good to be able to come here and socialize with people you know and some of your city leaders when it isn’t all about business. This is a special night.”
Among those in attendance were Huntington Mayor Steve Williams and his wife, Mary. Although they’ve known each other since their days at Huntington High School and had a short courtship one spring, he never took her to the prom. In fact, he wanted to take her, but she told him she wanted to go with someone else.
“It’s not every day you get a second chance to experience a lot of opportunities, especially getting to come out to something like this and have a good time,” Steve Williams told The Herald-Dispatch. “This is a wonderful way to reach out to individuals who, for one reason or another, thought the opportunity to experience something like this was long gone.”
While second-chance proms have popped up across the country in various forms, admission to Friday’s dance in Huntington was free. It was the first event funded with one of several “exceptional city grants” allotted in this year’s Huntington budget.
Under the grants, City Council members are allotted $2,500 apiece to distribute among neighborhood associations, community centers or other groups that use the money to encourage development in their respective districts.