Prom night is the most important of any high school senior’s life up until that point – however, it is always the most dangerous.
In June of 1988, a Kennedy High School senior died in a car crash on her way home from a night of partying in the Hamptons after her prom. After nearly two decades in the making the Community Wellness Council of the Bellmores and Merricks formed a 12-member committee in 2005 to develop plans for a post-prom party, which is now called the "Midnight Madness" party.
The party is open to students from all three high schools in the Bellmore-Merrick CHSD.
Upwards of 400 students were expected to attend this year’s post-prom party, but budget cuts by former State Gov. David Paterson have left the Wellness Council without any of the funding it had received in previous years.
When the Wellness Council held its first post-prom party in 2008, it was certainly a work in progress. But over time, it has blossomed into a well-organized, well-attended event.
In its first year, the event was held at Sportime in Lynbrook. The Wellness Council had to provide the food, tables, chairs and had a number of other things donated. Approximately 125 students attended.
“The next year we decided, let’s find another venue,” said Fran Licausi, director of the Wellness Council. “They provided the food, the DJ and drinks.”
In 2009 the event was held at Zachary’s in East Meadow. The success of the first year’s party had spread by word of mouth and 190 students attended. The following year, 300 students attended.
“The kids want that atmosphere,” said Emilio Manzo, president of the Wellness Council. “They want to feel like adults.”
The attendance numbers were expected to reach 400 this year, but Paterson’s budget cuts saw the $15,000 that is normally spent on the Midnight Madness party evaporate into nothing.
The $15,000 was funded in part through a grant secured by State Sen. Charles Fuschillo, R-Merrick, State Assemblyman Dave McDonough, R-North Merrick, and County Leg. Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick. The money goes toward the venue, prizes for the students and their dates, security, advertising and various acts and entertainment at the party, such as an illusionist, an airbrush tattoo artist, a money drop and a photo booth.
“We’re possibly saving a child’s life,” Manzo said.
Midnight Madness is a drug and alcohol free event. It is monitored by security, so that the students cannot sneak in alcohol or drink while they are there.
This year’s location has yet to be decided, but the Wellness Council will be holding fundraisers in an effort to raise the $15,000 and throw a post-prom party that will be fun, but more importantly, keep the students safe.
“How much is a child’s life worth?” said Anna Marie Gilley, secretary and program coordinator of the Wellness Council.
The Wellness Council said that the various PTA’s will donate money, but more money will be needed to hold an appropriate party for the students. The Wellness Council is looking for donations from businesses around Bellmore for potential prizes and other things that would help cut costs for the party.
“It’s so important for child safety,” Manzo said of Midnight Madness. “… We know that they are safe and that’s what we’re most concerned about. It’s the most important night of a child’s life up to that point, you want them to be safe. “
The first Midnight Madness fundraiser will be held on Friday, March 25, from 7:30 p.m. – 12 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus hall on Bellmore Avenue. The event is for those who are 21 and older. There will be a buffet, open bar and music for $30 per person. Please submit checks to “Community Wellness Council” or for further details contact Emilio Manzo at (516) 532-3738 or Fran Licausi at (516) 992-1073.