COLUMBIA — On Saturday afternoon, behind the Shelter Insurance building on Broadway, a colorful annual phenomenon unfolded.
In the shade of Shelter Gardens, one young woman in a neon orange gown leaned against a railing, waiting for her photo to be taken. Another in a sparkly red dress stopped to let her tall, tuxedoed date stoop to remove her strappy sandals. Still another in a gauzy powder blue getup tiptoed quickly toward a gravel path to avoid aerating the lawn with her stilettos.
This rainbow of tulle, silk and sequins means prom season has hit Columbia once again. Every year, groups of high school students flock to Shelter Gardens to meet and take photos before heading to dinner or the dance. The Hickman High School prom is Saturday night at the Holiday Inn Executive Center; the Rock Bridge High School prom is May 12 in the Kimball Ballroom at Stephens College.
Parents and students don’t know when photos at Shelter Gardens became a pre-prom tradition, but they do know the gardens are the place to be.
"Everyone else is here," Hickman senior Maggie Moore, 18, said. "You’re sure to find someone to take photos with.”
Moore was leaning against a small bridge near the center of the gardens with her best friend, Hickman senior Patricia Glay, 18. The two didn’t come to the gardens together and aren’t in the same prom group — they just ran into each other while taking photos with their families.
“The pretty flowers make the dresses pop,” Glay said, explaining why so many prom-goers pose for pictures at Shelter Gardens. Glay was dressed in an iris-purple gown, the bodice fitted, but the skirt flowing with layers of tulle and matching sequins. When she saw it in Teen Vogue, she knew it was the one.
“I thought, ‘That’s the one I want. I don’t care what the price is,’” she said. It was the only dress she tried on.
Moore had a different look and a different story. Her vibrant pink, old Hollywood-inspired gown was the result of a lot of searching and trying on. When shopping, she had a style in mind and finally found the dress she had been looking for. She kept with a vintage look by pairing the dress with a cascading diamond necklace.
The girls were planning to part ways and head to dinner. Moore was part of a group of 24 bound for Room 38 in downtown Columbia, while Glay was off to try Red Lobster for the first time in a group of 12.
Supervising editor is Kellie Kotraba.