MARION -- When COVID-19 first appeared, it quickly became apparent that many things would cease to be normal.
As schools shut down and distance learning began, it also meant the end of activities. It quickly became apparent that juniors and seniors in schools throughout southern Illinois would not have a prom.
Seniors were especially affected because this was their last chance to celebrate with their classmates at a high school dance before embarking on the next leg of their future journeys.
That's when Michelle Holmes, owner of Joyce's Bridal & the Pageant Room, stepped up.
When Holmes heard that prom was to be canceled, she knew she had to act. She partnered up with the city of Marion and The Pavilion of Marion to create the Southern Illinois Prom of 2020.
With the these "An Evening Under the Stars" and decorations by Linda Byassee, SI Prom 2020 was planned to be an outdoor event, but a chance of rain for the event to be moved indoors.
Students were advised to wear masks and practice social distancing. Refunds were offered to any student who felt uncomfortable attending an indoor event.
The event was open to students from any southern Illinois school, making it a once in a lifetime event for the community. Tickets were $25 per person, with any proceeds to be used for a scholarship to be given to one of the attendees.
There were about 300 students in attendance.
Holmes' employees chaperoned the event and worked providing students with free food, drinks, and even ice cream.
Between the elegant decor, amazing lighting, great music, and the overall sense of unity between students from school across southern Illinois, the evening was a success.