Mid-March in a normal year is the time when high schoolers would start planning for prom. The Department of Education (DOE) canceled all large, in-person social gatherings for the remainder of the school year in January, 2021, including proms.
Some local vendors are working to give students a similar experience on Oahu since prom was canceled in 2021.
It is called “HIPROM 2021.”
Six venues are opening their doors to recreate the prom experience. They include, Wolfgang Steakhouse, Queen Kapiolani Hotel, Pearl Country Club, Gyu-Kaku, Chef Chai and 53 By the Sea, which already had its a red carpet ready to go for the event.
“We wanted to be able to give the kids their own experience,” said Julie Aragaki, HIPROM 2021 organizer. “Prom is just as big as graduation … When we heard that they weren’t going to be offering that to the students in the state, we just thought what can we do even if it’s just a little bit.”
Each venue has a certain fee and what is provided varies by venue, but students generally will be given dinner and have their photos taken. Some venues even have a DJ. There will be no dancing or mingling and everyone must follow safety rules, however.
Aragaki said, additional staff will be brought in for the night and will come by tables ensuring rules are being followed. The staff can also help take pictures around the tables.
“We encourage them to you know make sure they stay seated. You know, when they’re not eating or drinking, that their masks will be on,” said Aragaki.
There will temperature checks when entering and contact information will be taken down. Tables must be 6 feet apart must stick to a maximimum capacity of 10 people.
The DOE said, the events are considered private functions and parents should contact event organizers to ensure that adequate health and safety measures are in place.
Aragaki said, all guidelines are being followed.
“This is probably no different than you going to a restaurant you know with your family and friends.”
JULIE ARAGAKI, HIPROM 2021 ORGANIZER
She said, they are asking parents for additional help after the event even though there will be additional staff on site.
“We’re hoping that the parents can you know help us with that to make sure that the kids are not running off,” said Aragaki, “Maybe have that Cinderella curfew of 10 o’clock, so kids can’t go out and have their own after party … We want the kids to have a good time, but we also want to make sure that we keep them safe.”
KHON2 reached out to the City and County of Honolulu on the protocols for this kind of event and is waiting to hear back.