EAST MACHIAS, Maine — People came from as far away as Lubec and Bar Harbor to check out the free new or nearly new prom dresses offered by National Honor Society students at Washington Academy.
Over the past few months, the students have been collecting dresses for the prom dress boutique held April 11 at the school.
“I would have to say that it was a huge success,” said Washington Academy teacher Mathy Terrill, who organized the event with the National Honor Society students. “We ended up giving away 67 dresses. … My NHS kids are the best, most helpful students. They did a really great thing today.”
“We’re trying to get the word out that it’s cool to be frugal,” said Andrea Guerra, owner of the local consignment shop, Posh. “We only wear these dresses for a couple hours, realistically.”
Parents were appreciative.
“I think it’s awesome,” Carla Savage of Lubec said. “By getting a dress here, it’s going to save $100 to $150.”
She brought five girls with her, including her daughter, Faith.
“Had I known about this before I would have donated,” said Angie Bachman of Addison, who came with two daughters who are preparing for June proms.
“Oh, my god, this is amazing,” Lisa Farris of Bar Harbor said. “It’s great. It’s a big help.”
She came with Kayla Cox of Edmonds, daughter of her boyfriend, John Cox, who agreed saving money was “always” a boon.
“Trust me, it helps,” Tracy Kafka of Milbridge said. “With having four girls, it helps.”
Kafka brought three of her four daughters — the fourth was working — and some of their friends.
“All I’ve been doing is standing in line for wrapping,” she quipped as she stood, dress slung over her arm, waiting for her turn to have it bagged.
“You know this dress is 100 percent free,” Terrill told Kafka as she prepared to put it in a large plastic bag with a knot at the bottom. Terrill said that students planned to do another prom dress giveaway next year, adding “Feel free to bring this dress or any dress back.”
As she bagged the dresses, Terrill gave each customer a raffle ticket. Local businesses had donated prizes, such as makeup and hairstyling. Winners would be drawn at the conclusion of the event and notified by phone.
Guerra, whose niche is fashion and design, set up a small area with several mannequins, a rug and a full length mirror to give the girls the feeling of being in an upscale retail store.
She is also a hair stylist and gave free hair consultations.
“It’s really difficult to do a mock kind of thing,” she said. “We’re just giving suggestions.”
She actually did Lauren Wallace’s hair into a fancy bun with braids framing the Jonesboro resident’s face. Guerra commented it was difficult to do “an updo without curling irons or mirrors.”
Janie Towne of Whiting did alterations on the spot for free. She said her husband works in the school kitchen.
“So he volunteered my services,” she said with a laugh.
“It was super helpful to have a seamstress on hand,” Terrill said. “She did a lot of work and was so happy to do it.”
At another station, Mary Kay consultant Whitney Garner of Machias helped girls pick out makeup colors that would match their dresses and then showed them some makeup application techniques.
Even before the event opened to the public, Washington Academy students were shopping for dresses and taking advantage of the hair and makeup stations.
“The dresses are gorgeous,” said Washington Academy student Stefania Putzu, who is from Italy. “This prom will be the only one in my life.”