In late April, a group of Catoosa County citizens took on the task of trying to put together non-school-sanctioned proms for each of the three high schools in the county after COVID-19-related shutdowns forced all three proms to be canceled.
Those proms, slated to have been held at venues in Chattanooga, had to be canceled shortly after schools were closed. The cancellations were due to executive orders from Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, signed on March 24, which prohibited mass gatherings of 10 or more people through May 11, which fell after the scheduled prom dates.
The Catoosa Prom group had been hoping to host three separate proms at The Colonnade in Ringgold on June 2, 3 and 4. However, these proms have now also been canceled.
The group posted a message on its “Catoosa 2020 Prom” Facebook page around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20, announcing the decision.
“I hate it,” said Jeremy Jones, one of the group’s organizers. “We really wanted to do something for these seniors.”
The post began by saying that from the day the plans were publicly announced, the proms would only be able to be held if they could done in accordance with federal, state and local rules and laws and within guidelines put in place by the CDC.
“We also know people must plan things like limos, hair appointments, dress fittings and such,” the post stated. “With all of that in mind, the unfortunate decision has been made to cancel the proms.
“Current guidelines, which expire on May 31, do not allow for groups of more than 10 people. While we could wait until June 1 to make a decision, in case they lift the large gathering ban, every official willing to speak with us has told us they anticipate the next phase will still cap gatherings such as ours to less than 100 (people).
“Obviously, a prom would have more than that. Even if the ban on gatherings was completely lifted, the CDC guidelines still suggest not having large gatherings such as proms until the end of June.”
The post thanked Southern Charm and Alydots in Ringgold for their willingness to sponsor the events and that all previously purchased tickets will be refunded. Eventbrite was used for ticket sales and the prom organizers stated on the post that they had notified Eventbrite to issue full refunds.
The post went on to say that the “Catoosa 2020 Prom” Facebook page would stay active “for at least one more month” to help people in the event of any problems obtaining their refunds.
The post also added that they “hoped everyone would be able to participate” in the senior dances that each of three county schools are planning for later this summer.