2023 Special Needs Prom Kicks Off Saturday

Photo courtesy of the Clinton County Autism Support Group.

The Clinton County Autism Support Group will host the 2023 Special Needs Prom on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Frankfort Moose Lodge at 2880 Wabash St. in Frankfort with activities and music for all ages.

With approximately 100 attendees every year, the Special Needs Prom continues to be a sought after addition to the autumn events calendar in Clinton County. This year’s theme is “Giddy Up,” a play on a Western theme with country music, saddles, western decorations and a “horse” drawn carriage ride for the Cowboy, prom king, and Cowgirl, prom queen.

“They’re going to bring saddles, we’re going to decorate kind of a Western theme, and we even have one of our autism dads–it’s so funny, it’s fun, it’s funny, but it’s fun–we are going to purchase a full horse body suit, and so he’s going to be the horse of the event,” Organizer Gena Carson said. “We are going to give the king and queen a horse-drawn carriage ride around the property, which is his golf cart. So, they’re going to take a golf cart ride around the property in this horse-drawn carriage. It’s just fun little quirky things like that, but they love it. They will love it.”

Carson stated that the group held a meeting where a question was posed to members of the community, “if your kid had the ability to set the theme of the prom, what would it be?” After an in-depth conversation, the organizers elected for a western theme filled with numerous surprises for the guests.

“We really want the special needs community to be involved, and we want to hear what they think, and what they want, and what they say and what they recommend,” Carson said. “This is about them, so let’s do what they want.”

The attendees are asked during the event to approach the stage if they yearn to be elected the king or queen of the prom, and each candidate is asked to state their name and introduce themselves to the audience. Following the introductions, every attendee is provided a slip of paper to vote for the king or queen of their choice.

Aside from the large events surrounding the king and queen, the prom will also host a photo booth for prom pictures and a dance floor where the attendees can scuff their boots and square dance through the night.

Carson stated that the idea for a prom was influenced by the common occurrence where community members may have missed their high school prom. Carson commented that her daughter did not attend a traditional high school prom, and Carson realized that she may never be able to experience the thrills of prom night unless the community came together to support a prom for all ages. Carson stated that while the premise is sentimental, the main goal of the prom is to engage the community and provide a memorable experience for families and individuals with special needs in Clinton County.

“It’s really not about being a prom,” Carson said. “It’s really just about having a good time. If we get to the point where people don’t want to call it a prom, we won’t call it a prom. We’ll call it just an annual dance.”

The 2023 Special Needs Prom is open to the public and accepts members of the community of all ages for a night of fun at the Frankfort Moose Lodge. For more information, contact Gena Carson at 765-650-1220 or follow the Clinton County Autism Support Group Facebook page.