The recession continues to rot America’s cultural core, this time by attacking one of our most cherished traditions: prom. Gone are the ice sculptures and $1,000 dresses. America’s children are now buying dresses off racks and trading limos for the family car. Imagine!
Girls spent a median of $750 in 2007, compared with $400 for boys, according to New York event-production firm Fame Media. But formalwear, flowers, fancy wheels and the like can reach $1,300, planning website PromSpot says.
“There are such high expectations that it keeps a lot of kids from enjoying what should be a highlight of their high school career,” said Debra Pankow, a family economics specialist at North Dakota State University.
Some schools are pulling the plug. Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsborough, Mass., canceled its junior prom this year because of anemic demand for tickets — even after admission was reduced to $25 a head from $40. The region’s jobless rate hit 8.7% in February, up from 4.8% in February 2008.
Other students are willing to suffer a few dings to their grown-up image to get to the prom. Some teens in West Virginia and Illinois are shelling out less than $10 a headto ride to the dance on school buses.
Others aren’t leaving school grounds. Until last year, about 75% of schools held their dances off site, said Shep Moyle, chief executive of Indiana-based Shindigz Party Supplies, which has clients nationwide. He estimated that as many as half were hosting cheaper dances on campus this year.
God, you’d think we were living in Canada or something.