A successful GoFundMe launched by district administrator Francesca Amato to pay for prom costs reached $3,005 of its $3,000 goal in four days. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki was behind the fundraising idea.
The new prom will be held on the Spirit of New Jersey yacht, leaving from a pier in Weehawken. Students will not have to pay for it. The money that was raised will go towards any additional clothing and supply costs.
On May 24, the Cornucopia Destiny yacht carrying the high school students collided with the Cornucopia Sundancer as the Destiny was leaving a Hoboken pier. No injuries were reported.
Police safety evacuated the 95 passengers on the prom boat.
The students were given the option to continue partying at the Weehawken Elks lodge.
Fortunately, the company that owns the yacht not only reimbursed each student’s ticket, but gave each another $50 towards needed items for the new prom.
That same evening, Zywicki met with Board President Richard Barsa and Mayor Richard Turner to plan a makeup evening.
They started making calls to local restaurants and hotels to ask to use their banquet halls. The next morning, cruise company Spirit of New York and New Jersey left a message for Zywicki, offering to hold the prom on their boat, which the district happily accepted. Cornucopia will contribute to the prom cost as well.
Amato soon launched the GoFundMe account. The Weehawken High School PTO and the Weehawken Women’s Club donated $500 to the effort, respectively.
In addition to monetary donations from concerned residents and officials, local businesses and organizations donated goods and services.
The Weehawken Patrolman’s Benevolent Association donated corsages and boutineers to students. Hoboken’s Artist Makeup Academy offered makeup services to up to 50 girls. Hair Cult, also located in Hoboken, offered to do students’ hair for free. Parents also offered to do hair at no extra charge.
North Bergen’s European Bridal and Tuxedo offered large discounts on tuxedos. More resources came from the Weehawken Police Department.
“I hope the kids have a great prom themselves.” – Franchesca Amato
On the GoFundMe page, donators left brief messages of support for the students.
“Rooting for you, Seniors! Have fun!” wrote Maria Mongelli on Monday.
“Prom 2.0!!!!” wrote Mark Perry.
Local blog Weehawken Life also posted a link to the fundraiser on its Facebook page.
“It’s really nice,” Amato said, of the outpouring of support. “I’m just really proud of the community, and I hope the kids have a great prom themselves.”
Amato was on the boat during the crash, but wasn’t scared. “It was just more frustrating that the night was messed up for the kids,” she said. “We wanted them to have a good time.”
Since they were so close to land, and near emergency responders from Hoboken and Weehawken, they felt safe, she said.
The North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue also responded to the scene.
“Once again, as is typical of the Weehawken community, everyone immediately pitched in and it was overwhelming,” Zywicki said, of the support. The super personally donated $100 to the fundraiser.
“There’s so many people that have been so generous,” Barsa said. He and his wife donated $100.
Developer Landsea also donated $1,000 towards the new prom costs, he said.
“It was an unfortunate event,” said Turner, who donated $100 with his wife. “But it was a great effort between the school board, administrators, and township.”
According to the mayor, Spirit usually only does two-hour events on its yacht, but is extending that to four hours for the students. “Many people joined together to make sure the students have a great prom.”
For those interested, video of the boat crash can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7zwsl5ItBQ.
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