VICTORIA — The theme was “Rustic Romance,” but Victoria High School students had no idea just how rustic their 2016 prom was going to be.
The entire community was left without power from approximately 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday due to an issue with a Midwest Energy substation transformer. Students, teachers and parents were determined to carry on with prom activities despite the unexpected challenge, and the result was an evening no one is likely to forget, said Dylan Dronberger, one of two junior class sponsors at VHS.
“We had burlap on the walls and different flowers and everything on the tables. It really looked nice, and the lighting was great,” Dronberger said. “An act of God pretty much happened and changed our perspective on how prom was going to be.”
Dim lighting and candles on every table already were part of the ambience in keeping with the night’s theme. A local family donated use of their household generator, which provided enough electricity for the DJ’s music and lights.
Open windows helped cool the Knights of Columbus banquet hall, and parents managed to keep food warm for the evening meal.
Students and volunteers relied on cellphone flashlights if they had to leave the main room, Dronberger said.
Project Prom, an after-party planned and funded by a parent group, also continued as planned. Victoria Interested Parents had rented generators in case they were needed, but power was restored before the event began at 11 p.m.
“It was definitely an enjoyable experience,” Dronberger said. “But if I ever get the opportunity to do another prom, I would love to have power.”
The night proved to be enjoyable, and also a learning experience, said Ashlyn Hammerschmidt, a junior at VHS.
“I think some of us made the best of an unfortunate situation that we couldn’t control,” she said. “I learned when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”
The lengthy power outage affected approximately 1,000 residences. The issue likely was caused by a lightning strike during thunderstorms the week before, said Mike Morley, communications manager at Midwest Energy.
“Substation transformers failing is actually quite rare,” Morley said. “It’s the first one we’ve had in the four years I’ve been here.”
Necessary repairs were fairly complicated and required use of a crane and heavy equipment, he said.
Morley said Midwest Energy is grateful for the patience and understanding of Victoria residents, who were kept apprised of the situation Saturday via social media.
“The residents of Victoria were very gracious and understanding that this was a significant project,” he said. “They were very understanding it was going to take several hours. I would thank the residents of Victoria and the students of Victoria High School who endured their prom with high spirits in spite of having no electricity.”