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Promgoers shell out big bucks

April 05, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

The sharpest threads and the most stylish rides - hallmarks of prom season - require the biggest bucks.

Start with clothes:

A tuxedo rental at Formal Den at Valley Mall in Halfway will run $49.95 to $99.95, owner Sue Geyer said. A colored vest to match a date's gown is an extra $15. Add about $14 for shoes.

Gowns, which can't be rented, start at $100 at Formal Den. The fanciest ones cost about $400. Alterations cost another $20 to $45.

Geyer said girls can figure on $5 for earrings and $50 for a rhinestone necklace. Girls need to go elsewhere, though, for shoes and undergarments.


Skip ahead to transportation:

At $60 an hour for a minimum of five hours, Fantasy Limousine Services in Hagerstown will supply a white stretch Lincoln Town Car, company treasurer Marco Alvarez said. A gratuity is extra.

The car is big enough for eight passengers.

For something more cavernous, promgoers can try A Touch of Class Limousines in Frederick, Md., for a 10-, 12- or 14-person stretch Lincoln Town Car or a 22-person stretch Ford Excursion.

The minimum rental is six hours. The 10-passenger Town Car would cost $600, plus a 20-percent gratuity, for six hours, said Randy Hively, the company's owner and president. The Excursion would cost $1,320, plus 20 percent.

For some of the other prom extras:

A wrist corsage for a girl might cost around $22 to $25 and a boy's boutonniere is about $5 or $6, said Cheryl Cannon, manager of Chas. A. Gibney Florist in Hagers-town.

A prom hairdo at Personal Hair Designs in Halfway can run between $25 and $40, depending on the extent of the curls and ringlets, said Sue White, an administrative assistant there.

Manicures there are $20, while a full set of nails is $50. Eyebrow waxing costs $9. A pedicure goes for $40.

Boys, though, don't usually do anything special with their hair for the prom, White said.

Hair, dinner and, of course, prom tickets - it all adds up.

Here's how a pair of South Hagerstown High School seniors did the math as their April 24 prom approached:

Eric McPherson was counting on spending about $125 for a white tuxedo ensemble, with pants, a jacket, a silver vest and shoes.

Two prom tickets: $18.

A corsage: $15 to $20.

Dinner: $35 or $40.

McPherson said he, his date and another couple were thinking about getting a limousine for about $200 for two hours.

Ashley Wharton had slightly bigger designs.

Her white strapless dress - form-fitting on top, big and poofy below - cost about $329, not including alterations.

She figured on $50 to $60 for her shoes, $30 for a necklace, $30 for nails, up to $60 for styled hair and $10 for a boutonniere for her date.

She said the couple also expects to pay $22 for two prom tickets, $30 for pictures at the prom, $60 to $100 for dinner before the prom and possibly about $100 for their share of a limo.

But before the dream evening plays out, much of the bill will come due.

Ashley is responsible for part of it. Her mother, Sharon Wharton, paid half of the cost of the dress up front. She and Ashley will work out an arrangement for the balance.

Ashley will pay for alterations, shoes, accessories and everything else, Sharon Wharton said.

That might have been news to Ashley, who earlier thought her mother would pay for the hairstyling.

Regardless, Ashley has been preparing herself by working as a supermarket cashier. She gives her mother part of her paycheck.

Four weeks before the prom, she still was gaining on her goal. "I'm still saving," she said.

It isn't easy, though, because there are distractions. "I like to shop," Ashley said.

Sharon Wharton said she's glad to help Ashley have a memorable senior prom, but she wondered if gown prices aren't hiked up just for the season.

"If it was more reasonable, the kids could afford it without needing so much from their parents," Sharon Wharton said.

Sharon Wharton has experience with gowns. Ashley has had a new one each year for homecoming.

Last year, Ashley was on the homecoming court. Sharon Wharton bought Ashley a dress and Ashley bought herself a second one.

South Hagerstown High School Principal Michael Shockey said cost is a legitimate worry, which is why the prom is held at the high school, not somewhere swank. Decorating the gym the night before is a nice tradition, he said.

During the school year, the junior class sells concession stand items at sporting events and uses a percentage of the proceeds to help keep the cost of prom tickets down, Shockey said.

The early discount was $10 per person and $18 per couple. The amount went up after deadline to $14 per person and $22 per couple.

"We kind of like to take into consideration there's a lot of kids that don't need that pressure of trying to keep up with the Joneses," Shockey said.

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