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Maine Prom 2012

Old Orchard Beach Prom Night
Students celebrated at Mariner's Church Banquet Center in Portland on May 11.

Fashions on Parade

Sacopee Valley High prom attendees showed off their style at the annual Grand March.

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    Prom Through The Ages
    Proms go way back. Like, to the 1890s. They originally began at elite universities in the American Northeast, and they were meant to mimic the debutant balls of the rich.
    The word "prom" actually comes from the word "promenade," which refers to the march of guests into a ballroom at the opening of a formal ball. In short, the first proms were extremely formal affairs - and they were heavily chaperoned.
    In the early 20th century, proms were adopted by high schools around the country. Students wore their Sunday best, but no one bought new clothes for the occasion.
    Then the 1920s and '30s came along - as did the car - and prom turned into a lively annual banquet, with seniors showing up in party clothes and getting down on the dance floor.
    Prom really grew in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Girls made special shopping trips to scout out and buy just the right dress and the dances were moved out of the high school gym and into fancier locations. This era also saw the rise of the illustrious powder blue tuxedo.
    These days proms have lost much of their original formality. Students are free to get creative with their attire (duct tape, anyone?) and many do. But prom is elaborate, too, with limos, pre-prom dinners and after-prom parties. A guy's tuxedo is expected to match his date's dress - and he's also expected to come up with an elaborate way to ask his date to prom in the first place. But it's all still worth it. I mean, it's PROM.

    Prom, Old School

    Prom is something you never forget - even though you might shudder at the memory of your big '80s hair or brown bell-bottomed tux. Luckily, some folks generously shared their old prom photos with us.

    Share yours with us! Email your photo to Karen Beaudoin at and include your name, the year and high school prom you attended.