BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ, MAY 23, 2022 – If you happened to pass by Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights on Friday evening, May 20, you might have wondered what the limo, gowns, suits, crowns, paparazzi, and hundreds of happy smiling faces outside the Berkeley Heights YMCA were up to! As after a two-year hiatus, the Summit Area YMCA was proud to host its annual ‘Extra Special Prom’ for 39 special needs teens and young adults (ages 14-21) and their families from surrounding areas in New Jersey.
"This is the third prom event at the YMCA, the first after two years of being in isolation from the pandemic. We could not be happier to see these kids have the time of their life, dressed to the nines, spending time with friends, meeting new people, and socializing in ways they don't get to on a regular basis," said Tiffany Escott, Mission Advancement and Development Director of the Summit Area YMCA. "It's also amazing to see the parents enjoy a night to relax from taking care of their children, to hang out with other parents and see their kids have fun."
Upon check-in, our stylish guests received corsages and boutonnieres from Anything Floral and were then paired up with a buddy who helped ensure a safe and enjoyable prom experience for all, by accompanying and assisting their guests through the events activities. Thanks to Paul Ippolito Memorial, our guests were escorted back to the red-carpet in a classic white limo and in true Hollywood fashion.
Before making their red-carpet debut, our guests were honored with crowns, tiaras, and a large entourage to cheer them on like the true prom royalty they are as they made their grand entrance onto the dance floor with big smiles and pure confidence. Our gymnasium was completely transformed by Taylor Rentals and the notably mesmerizing balloon decorations graciously donated and created the Balloon Design Studio. Local DJ, Thoro, played upbeat music for everyone inside the Y to enjoy and keep busy as they danced the night away.
For diner, our guests located their personalized golden trophies for a decadent sit down dinner donated by Delicious Heights who have been a staple of our communities for decades. Sweet Nothings also donated an assortment of treats for everyone to enjoy and drinks were provided by Peerless Beverage Co. to quench our party-goers' thirst in between dancing and having fun. The parents lounge gave parents the opportunity to socialize, relax, and have a good time too with free chair massages complimentary of Charlie Behm and Aiken Edwards, local certified massage therapists as well as an open buffet catered by La Pastaria and personal pies donated by Pizza Vita.
In the Quiet Room, guests were greeted by adorable service animals who were also dressed up in prom attire, with the help of Creature Comfort. This room allowed for guests to have a safe space to decompress if needed. As the night began to come to an end, everyone cleared the dance floor to allow a special slow dance between the teens and their parents. It was no secret that this was the highlight of the night for all in attendance.
After Summit Area YMCA staff and event coordinators shared personal thank you messages to all attendees, volunteers, and sponsors for an amazing evening, we closed the night out with a last dance (queue the Village People!). Our departing guests left with big smiles and goodie bags filled with products and gift cards graciously donated by Beauty Counter, L’Oreal, Magic Fountain, and Sweet Nothings.
The 2022 Hollywood themed prom was our largest yet, and we’re so grateful to for the enthusiastic support received from over 150 Y amazing volunteers, sponsors, partners, and staff whom without, this event would not be possible. A special thank you to our event cosponsor the Summit Elks Lodge #1246 for their gracious donations and assistance in helping make this night extra special. We'd also like to thank our Summit High School Photography Club volunteers for serving as 'paparazzi' to help us capture and document this memorable evening and the Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad who were also present to ensure our safety in the event of an emergency.
The Summit Area YMCA is committed to serving the community by creating safe and welcoming programs and spaces for all. As a member of the Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovation Network, the Summit Area YMCA is committed to bridge building and encouraging a welcoming atmosphere within the community. The Y is made up of people from all walks of life who are joined together by a shared commitment to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Supporting families and the community in their efforts to spread awareness, appreciation for diversity and a sense of inclusivity for everyone in the community is core to the Y’s mission to help every individual reach their highest potential.
“It might not seem like much to some,” said Paul Kieltyka, President and CEO of the Summit YMCA, “but for others, especially families with special needs children, having a safe, welcoming place to bring their kids to have fun means a lot... that’s where the Y comes in. You can come here, have fun together, make friends, enjoy the pool. We provide a space for people to relax, connect, and be happy. It’s wonderful.”
Our Special Needs Programs are thoughtfully designed for youth with communication, social, behavioral, and learning differences to thrive in a safe, friendly, and supportive environment. Our mission is to encourage, help, build and strengthen healthy physical activity, confidence, social skills and more. Participants can enjoy a variety of activities that promote health, wellness, creative enrichment, socialization, and independence, like our free Fridays in Motion events hosted monthly at the Berkeley Heights YMCA & Summit YMCA. To learn more about Fridays in Motion and other special needs programs at the Y, please visit www.theSAY.org/FIM.
Summit Elks Lodge #1246
Balloon Design Studio
Ippolito Funeral Home
Adam's Fine Clothing
Peerless Beverage Co.
Alfonse & Beverly Marcantuone
Summit High School Photography Club
In 1886, we were founded as the Young Men's Christian Association, but today, we are The Y. An association that values, and is made stronger by, its diverse people. We stand for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility — For a better us. We are committed to creating equal opportunity for all regardless of gender, age, disability, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. We strive to create a welcoming and inclusive culture in which our four core values — responsibility, honesty, caring and respect — are integral to everyday operations.
Each year, as one of the area’s leading 501(c)3 charitable organizations, the Summit Area YMCA serves more than 15,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the New Jersey communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Our history is rooted in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those in need.