Volunteers gear up for after-prom celebration

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— In an attempt to keep prom-bound students safe and sober, a group of nine women in Steamboat Springs have dedicated time and energy to giving students another option for the after-prom plans.

For the second year, the after-prom party at the high school presents an alternative to other after-prom house parties, giving students the opportunity to cash in until the wee hours of the morning.

"They bring in things that are fun. They make it better than whatever else we'd do," SSHS senior Andrew Litzau said.

This year's Monte Carlo theme will take students on a gambling frenzy, creating a casino-like ambiance with a craps, roulette, blackjack, wheel of fortune and chuck-a-luck tables, music, a cafnd blood-pumping activities.

"In the cafeteria, our head of food services is turning it into a French cafith street lights and those cafables and food donated by many restaurants," said Marilyn Simon, a member of the after-prom committee.

As students enter the commons area of the high school, a large fountain with goldfish will sit on the floor, accompanied by other wall-hanging fountains.

Fun Productions of Denver will provide the gambling tables and sport arenas.

Taking up the commons area, the cafeteria and the gym, the after-prom party will provide a sumo wrestling arena with costumes, an electric bull ride, bungee sports challenge and a Velcro wall.

And for those students who missed Polly Cade and her handwriting analysis, they'll get another chance to have their personalities assessed.

Whether it's Bingo, dancing or karaoke that the students fancy, the party will last from 12:30 to 5:30 a.m.

But the best is yet to come.

At 3:30 a.m., hypnotist Daniel James of Nevada was coaxed into coming back for the second year to put all the students into a deep sleep, making them do silly things.

Litzau said he went last year and he's eager to see the hypnotist at work again.

"He was awesome. He made people do crazy things," Litzau said of the trigger word that James uses to make people act like monkeys.

Students who stay throughout the evening are given $500 in play money. With every activity they participate in, students receive raffle tickets for the end of the evening drawing.

The catch?

Students need to stay the entire evening to receive the prizes.

Simon said the committee is trying to encourage students to stay for the entire party through the activities and raffles.

Although students can leave at any time, they cannot return once they have stepped outside.

Throughout the evening, or morning, students have the $500 to spend on the gambling, food and drinks. Money left over at the end of the night is used to buy more raffle tickets, creating more chances for a student to win.

This year, prizes include: TVs, a DVD player, a Sony PlayStation II, an electronic scooter and cash prizes up to $800.

Through local business, retail and fund-raising events, the after-prom party is funded to create a safe environment for students, Simon said.

Although the idea and process is not Simon's alone, she was elected in a Parent Information Committee to head the project.

"They all stepped forward and said, 'We can make this a reality.' They saw the vision," Simon said of Suzi Davenport, Sherry Kammerer, Valerie Donnley, Verla Percy, Cindy Carlson, Lisa Hottenroth, Kathy Ramsey and Tammy Adams, all of whom helped make this happen.

Simon said her vision for the party started when she moved here and found out that prom students were renting houses in the mountains and having parties.

"I knew I didn't want my kids doing that. They're obviously going to be unchaperoned and have alcohol," Simon said.

While Steamboat is fortunate to not have had a alcohol-related fatality among high school students in the past 20 years, Simon said she wants to keep it that way.

"I'd like to make that more possible. If we can do anything to keep that from happening, it's worth every bit of work," Simon said.

Of the 16 to 20 people in the group attending prom with Litzau, he said they're all going to the after-prom party.

Simon said last year about 98 percent of the registered prom students attended the party, and she's hoping this year even more go.

Litzau said the committee members make it worthwhile with the prizes and activities, at least he and his friends think so.

"There are still people that want to go out and party, but at least everyone goes for a little while so they're not drinking all night," Litzau said. "You can't reach everybody."

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