Prom Showcase May Return to South Orange

The pre-prom showcase event, held in Grove Park and in SOPAC, has attracted crowds and controversy

The prom showcase may return to Grove Park in South Orange this June. Village Administrator Barry Lewis confirmed that a Columbia High School student completed the  paperwork for a Special Event Permit for the Prom Showcase  to be held at Grove Park. 

The prom showcase was an annual event at Grove Park for at least ten years, through 2010. Students, friends and families gathered at the park to walk a red carpet, listen to music, and pose in their prom attire.  While the event precedes the prom, it is not connected to the school district. 

However, in 2010, ten different police departments and agencies were called to Grove Park to help with dispersing a crowd of about 300 people who came for the prom showcase, and seven arrests were made on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to possession of a weapon (brass knuckles) to possession of marijuana.

. Maplewood police joined South Orange, NJ Transit and numerous other law enforcement agencies to patrol the area and the event. At meetings held prior to the event, administrators, including John Gross, noted that donations and fundraising would pay for most costs after the fact, while SOPAC space was donated. There is no word on how much the payment totalled and whether that payment was received by the Village.

In 2012, the showcase was not held.

After 2010,  John Gross, then the South Orange Village Administrator, said, “We determined that we could not allow thus event to occur in Grove Park any longer because of security concerns related to our inability to restrict attendance to the participants of the event at this location.” 

This year, the Village didn't comment on those concerns.  In an email, Lewis said," We met this week to review the application and the Police Department has now provided and estimate of the anticipated cost of this event and I have reached to the applicant to advise of the costs as well as the insurance and other requirements, but have not yet made contact."

There is no word on what those cost estimates are. Patch will pursue this story, including a student perspective on the event. 


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