By MADDY VITALE
On Saturday, Ocean City High School students went from dining and dancing at the historic Flanders Hotel for the prom to enjoying games, inflatables, snacks and prizes galore at the After-Prom celebration.
The free festivities ran from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. at the high school. It was made possible through the volunteers who gave their time to the event as well as local businesses that donated food, gifts, games and more.
Prom-goers got changed into casual clothes and an After-Prom T-shirt at the high school. Then they enjoyed an array of activities, including live entertainment, food and giveaways from local businesses — all in a safe and alcohol-free environment.
Amy and Bill Holmes, of Upper Township, and Jennifer and Charlie Bowman, of Ocean City, have co-chaired the event for a decade. They said Sunday that the event was enjoyed by hundreds of prom-goers and other attendees.
“It was a wonderful night. Six hundred teens arrived for a night of good, clean fun, all provided by those who love them most in the OCHS community, all volunteers, business owners, and OCHS school community members,” Amy Holmes said.
The theme of this year’s After-Prom was “Denim and Diamonds.”
The major event, in its 29th year, is a draw each year for teens who want to continue prom night in a fun and safe environment.
“Jennifer and I are grateful for the 10 years of service together pouring our hearts into this mission, to protect our teenagers from the devastating effects drugs and alcohol can bring,” Amy Holmes said.
About half of the teens stayed until the 3 a.m. giveaways, she noted.
Among the exciting games and activities were an Escape Room, mechanical bull, laser tag, games, live band, karaoke, a DJ, tons of snacks, inflatables, face painting, and photo ops galore, creating a memorable and safe space for all of the students.
Jennifer Bowman explained that “preparing a party for 600 students and 100 volunteers is a daunting task, one which my husband, Charlie, and I have been doing for 13 years, 10 of which co-chairing with Amy and Bill Holmes.”
“I always have extreme faith that the party will work out exactly how it’s supposed to because the mission is so powerful,” she added. “We celebrate our children and bring the community together to give all OCHS juniors and seniors an alternative on prom night. Prom is a childhood memory you never forget.”
Bowman noted that the time has come to turn the event over to other volunteers. Her hope is that the high school’s Parent Teacher Organization may pick up where the Bowmans and Holmeses left off.
“We will surely shadow and help because it’s in our Red Raider alumni DNA,” she said.
The Bowmans and Holmeses attributed much of the success of the event to the dedicated volunteers from parents and guardians to school staff, alumni and prom-goers.
Amy Holmes also wanted to give a shout-out to some volunteers who she said went above and beyond to make the night possible.
“I want to specifically mention Cathie Coppenbarger. She had a vision of Denim and Diamonds and outdid herself. Kirsten and Drew Fasy were on fire with gathering people and supplies to make this event happen,” Holmes said.
She continued, “Kristen Young and Denise Nilson along with Teri Calloway, Megan Plousis and Theresa Hart made the giveaways extra special.”
Alumni Madison Mack was the game coordinator “and went above and beyond for the kids,” Holmes said.
She added that School Business Administrator Tim Kelley, High School Principal Wendy O’Neal and teacher John Bruno’s dedication and presence year after year and support are amazing.
For anyone who wishes to donate to the After-Prom celebration for 2024, visit www.ochsafterprom.org for details.
Here are some more photos from After-Prom 2023 by Kerri J Photography: