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May 6, 2014 at 3:13 PM

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Saving the Darrington prom, one dress at a time


ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Senior Elesha Forrest helps unpack the dresses while checking for one she might choose for the Darrington High prom. Seattle's Ruby Room and Arlington's Kids' Kloset helped outfit 33 girls for free.

There are a couple of unspoken rules for the girls going to the Darrington High prom.

Their dates have to be taller than them, otherwise "it would just be weird."

And the dress has to have "bling, something that sticks out," says Elesha Forrest. It has to have something a little different than everyone else's.

Marissa Pennington, a junior, wants one that "makes me feel like a princess."

Fundraising for the annual event was under way when the Oso mudslide happened March 22. Efforts immediately shifted to slide relief, helping the victims.

With that money diverted it meant many high-schoolers in the blue-collar community would not have the clothing and accessories expected for the prom this Saturday.

And with Highway 530 still blocked, the planned venue in Arlington was no longer an option.



ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Shoes for the prom were also provided by the Ruby Room for the Darrington High event. There were 50 pairs of shoes from which to choose.

Heidi Cousins, whose daughter is a senior, said, "We felt canceling was not an option. It's a lifelong tradition."

The event was moved to the Darrington Community Center, where the school's Loggers girls and boys basketball teams play. But to ease financial obligations, it might have become a school dance, not a prom.

That fallback wasn't necessary after the Ruby Room in Seattle and the Kids' Kloset in Arlington stepped in, bringing more than 150 dresses and 50 pairs of shoes for the choosing, free of charge.

Mainly during their lunch break, 33 girls got outfitted.

Sara Blake with the Ruby Room advised one student, "Gym socks off" while trying on high heels. They'd be in those shoes for hours of dancing.

Antoinette Weary, a junior, chose a "long ruffley, flowing and very silky" dress.

Most chose the first dress they tried on.

Blake says, "You should not miss your prom because you don't have a dress."

More than 55 couples plan to attend.

Most of the boys were outfitted for free by the Men's Wearhouse & Tux shop in Burlington.

Darrington High junior Emmarae Reuwsaat is thankful. "It opens our eyes to how generous people can be."



ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Delana Hadaway, right, chose her blue prom dress because it "sparkles and stands out." Darrington High girls changed into dresses in the town's community center to try them out. The prom will be held this Saturday.

For more photos, visit the gallery.

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