By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
---- — GOSHEN — Goshen High School prom sponsor, Cathy Biller, had more than just the typical last-minute prom preparations Friday.
“It’s been a horribly busy day,” Biller said.
GHS seniors and juniors had been buying tickets for prom, which is to be held Saturday night at the Palais Royale on Colfax Street in downtown South Bend, when Biller heard on the news Friday morning that an underground fire caused an extended power outage in downtown South Bend.
“I looked at the WSBT Twitter feed and saw what streets were affected and sure enough, when I looked at a map, it was where we were going to be (at Palais Royale),” Biller said. “I got in touch with them right away and they had a generator for power, but the streets had no power.”
Because of the ongoing repairs, power in downtown South Bend isn’t expected to be fully restored until around noon on Sunday.
And that caused concern for school officials because the parking garage across the street from the Palais Royale would be dark with no lights.
Their only other option — hold the prom in the GHS gymnasium.
“This is prom and wedding season at places this weekend,” Biller said. “All the options in (Goshen) were booked. Many parents emailed me and offered to come and work all night to decorate the gym. The good news — they don’t have to come.”
Biller says GHS resource officer Mike Johnson contacted South Bend Police Department (SBPD) Captain Phil Trent about extra lighting and security.
“The resource officer will be there and two or three Goshen police will go along,” Biller said. “There will be lights in the parking garage and several dads will help between the garage and building to make sure the kids are OK.”
GHS Principal Barry Younghans reassured parents and students about the extra security.
“We have been assured by SBPD that they will have extra officers and temporary lighting,” Younghans said. “The mood is fine now, although a little tense earlier. We are in the middle of IB (International Baccalaureate) exams so many of our kids were not even aware of the problem.”
GHS senior Abbagail Fowler bought her prom tickets after school ended Friday.
“I was gone all day and just got back so I wasn’t aware,” Fowler said. “Yes, I’m excited (for prom.)”
Biller says the 1920s decor at the Palais Royale fits with this year’s prom theme — The Great Gatsby.
“We average 375 to 425 students,” Biller said of the prom’s attendance. We are on track for the highest number yet, having sold more than 400 and we typically have 25 or more students buy tickets the last day,” Biller said. “It could be our best prom yet.”