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Prom an all-day, all-night event

With the west stands of the Detroit Lakes High School gymnasium packed to the gills with family and friends looking on, close to 400 students started off the prom with the traditional Grand March.

It wasn't the start of the day for many, as festivities started earlier in the day with lunches, pictures, sending off get-togethers and then formal dinners.

"It started at 4 o'clock with a dinner at a family's house, with 14 kids" said Kristen Branden, parent of two attendees at the prom. "Then we took pictures and then went to the lake and took pictures, and then we come here. So it's an all-day event. Hair started at 8 o'clock this morning."

With the sun finally peeking through for the first time in almost a week, principal Steve Morben said the weather cooperated for the big event after a dreadful April when record amounts of snow fell in Detroit Lakes.

"It's good to see that we didn't get snow," Morben said. "This is fantastic. It's chilly, but the building is hot. So it was nice for the kids to get outside for a bit."

The large crowds on hand put some students off-kilter, including senior Josh Wolff.

"It was a little nerve-wracking," said Wolff of all of the pomp surrounding Grand March. "I really didn't know anyone, so it was a bit weird."

Rushing quickly and then waiting around, with the cycle repeating, wore down students. Especially since it took almost three hours from when students started arriving at school to the actual start of the dance.

"It's basically full of prom all-day," said junior Ashley Anderson. "By the end, it does get a little tiring."

The dance isn't the only attraction. Students flock to after-prom parties, which may offer alcohol or other activities that parents wouldn't approve of.

That's one of the reasons that the Sixth Annual Post Prom Party was held at the Castaway Club lasting from 12:30 a.m. until later that morning.

"It's a good deal for the kids that will go," Andersen said. "They have karaoke, hot-tubing and dancing."

Before the dance even starts, Morben said his staff is making sure the students are free from the influence of drugs and alcohol at the start of the night. He said all students who line up for the Grand March were tested for the presence of alcohol before being allowed through.

"We have a passive unit that works quickly," Morben said.

All students who took the Breathalyzer passed, Morben said. In addition, two drug-sniffing dogs were on the floor to make sure the prom was chemical-free.

Hopefully, all of the measures to detect alcohol and drugs, and then giving kids a safe place to wind down gave parents the peace of mind that their kids would be safe in a night that most would remember for the rest of their lives.