If it's April, it must be national Mom Prom month.
That's right. That one enchanted, kooky night of the year when women of all ages get to dig out that old prom dress or bridesmaid's gown and strut their stuff with the likes of Fabio or Elvis ... or at least reasonable facsimiles thereof.
Already a national phenom, the Mom Prom concept was first dreamed up in 2006 by Michigan resident Betsy Crapps as a fundraising gimmick at her own St. Thomas a'Becket Catholic Church.
Conceived as a ladies' night out for charity, participants deck themselves out in their old prom gowns, bridesmaids dresses, or wedding gowns and "dance, dance, dance" the night away, according to the official website.
"We partnered with three women from St. Joseph's Hospital in Nashua, N.H., to pull this event together," said Kelsey McCormick, one of the organizers for this year's Nashua Mom Prom. "It is a real prom with a DJ, a tackiest dress contest, and a game to crown the new queen. This is a wonderful, hilarious night in which women can dance the night away, have fun with friends, and help a worthy cause."
First held in the area in 2011, the Mom Prom proved to be an immediate hit with the local ladies, with attendance growing by leaps and bounds each year since
"The first year we sold 90 tickets, last year we sold 250, and this year we are shooting for 500 attendees," enthused McCormick. "The first year, we raised about $7,000. The second year we raised $15,000 and this year should be much more.
"Proceeds from this year's Mom Prom benefit the St. Joseph's Hospital Breast Care Center," said McCormick, a resident of Groton. "Funds allow St. Joseph's Hospital to purchase state-of-the-art technology, such as digital breast tomosynthesis, to perform three-dimensional mammography for breast cancer screening and diagnosis.
"Breast cancer unfortunately touches nearly everyone somehow," explained McCormick. "My mother is a survivor and most everyone has a friend or relative that this horrible disease has touched. We want to win this fight together."
But as worthy as a cause can be, the Mom Prom event itself is intended as a night of fun, hilarity, and good fellowship as partiers share the horrors of proms past and recount tales that grow bigger as the years go by.
Then there's the food and entertainment!
"Hot and cold appetizers, DJ Don Shattuck, dancing, AJ Photobooths, and prizes," said McCormick listing the event's attractions. "Also, there will be pictures taken with cardboard cutouts of prom dream dates Fabio, Elvis, Patrick Swayze and a few other special guests and more."
The energy generated from the event has not gone unnoticed, with local media picking up on it wherever a Mom Prom is held.
"Passion for the cause and the need for a fun, girls' night out," is what captures the ladies' imaginations, said McCormick. "We could all use it, moms or not." The event has caught local and national media attention, including "Good Morning America," "Fox and Friends," "Saturday Night Live" and more. The idea caught like wildfire and women are planning their own Mom Proms around the country to raise money for a charity that is close to their hearts. In 2013, there are more than 40 Mom Proms planned across the country.
"The word has spread like wildfire, locally and nationally," McCormick said. "Facebook has become a huge platform for Mom Prom planning and talk. We have had repeat attendees each year and many ask questions in anticipation of the following year's event. Ticket sales grow every year due to marketing efforts, as well as word of mouth. The energy around the event has been amazing and quite contagious."
This year's third annual local Mom Prom will take place at the Alpine Grove Banquet Facility in Hollis, N.H., on April 20 from 7 to 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $50.
A ladies-only event, McCormick insisted that the men in participants' lives were simpatico.
"They definitely get it," McCormick said. "And better yet, they support us. The event planning takes a lot of time and energy throughout the year, and our husbands are very supportive. We have to make sacrifices to make everything come together. Additionally, the guys get a 'guys night out' (or 'in' with the kids) while all the girls are at Prom."
"But my favorite part of it is just being at the event and seeing everyone in their amazingly tacky, beautiful and/or hideous dresses, having a complete blast and all for such a great cause," said McCormick. "There's usually a ton of pink. The emotion and inspiration experienced that night is such a great feeling. We even had one woman last year shave her head for the prom in support of breast cancer patients and survivors.
"People either wear old prom dresses or bridesmaid dresses, or even wedding gowns," continued McCormick. "It's fun to have an excuse to wear something again that you only wore once. And it's even more fun to have an excuse to wear something that is out of style or tacky. Many women tend to go '80s style: bright colors, poofs, big hair, big jewelry, etc. It's a blast! Many women also choose to buy a tacky dress from a local thrift shop. There's always talk about attendees' fun times shopping together for their Mom Prom dress."
"With the Mom Prom, the point is to be silly, have fun and just enjoy a great night out with your girlfriends for a great cause," concluded McCormick. "And there are no guys there to judge; our cardboard cutout prom dates are very quiet and don't make any comments about our appearance!"
To buy tickets or learn more about the Mom Prom, visit mompromnashua.org.