The Prom's the Thing

No afterparties or hotel-room flings here. These kids bring it all to the dance hall.

A conga line spontaneously comes to life somewhere in the crowd, each segment walking, hobbling on crutches, or rolling in a wheelchair. The dancers on stage are so numerous now that the DJ admonishes them.

The line of dancers stretches across the assembly hall, but off to the side, an offshoot has formed, a microstorm led by the Hooter's partiers. Rosario and Russell are bouncing on the frame of Naranjo's electric wheelchair, shaking their butts, whooping and howling. Rosario smiles broadly, steering the listing mass toward a prom-picture photo shoot set up by a New Times photographer.

The five cram together in front of the lens before a blue tinsel backdrop.

The image captured by the camera isn't much different from anyone's cheesy prom photo, the five friends obviously enjoying themselves and the silly revelry.

By 9:30, the prom is winding down. A line of sedans, minivans, and SUVs is already snaking through the church parking lot, waiting for the assembly hall to disgorge exuberant teenagers.

In the end, none of the organizers who toiled behind the scenes delude themselves that the event had been the equivalent of the mainstream proms that the elite volunteers in attendance would go to soon. For a few hours in a Davie assembly hall, though, it didn't seem to matter.

Said Olivia Rico, one behind-the-scenes Best Buddies organizer: "I was surprised how much it was like a regular prom. And actually, it was better."

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