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A prom that pops

by: Barbara Sherman, PROM-BOUND SKITTLES — These Sherwood High School guys headed to the prom are as colorful as a bag of Skittles: In the front row from left are Joseph Balfour, Chris Jackson, Danny Rice and Taylor Bonawitz; in the back row from left are Dylan Flannery, Connor Munro, Chase Krieger and Mitchell Kruse.

High school students wearing red, pink, yellow or purple outfits to their proms is a common sight in the springtime, but for eight Sherwood High School couples, it was the guys, not just the girls, wearing the bright colors to their May 11 prom, 'La Voyage á Paris,' at the World Trade Center.

Before the prom, eight guys in colored tuxes plus seven of their traditionally dressed male friends, all their dates and multiple parents gathered in the back yard of Jeff and Lori Munro for a photo opportunity and send-off for the big night.

Danny Rice, wearing a purple tux, credited 'Dumb and Dumber' friends Dylan Flannery (in red) and Connor Munro (in blue) with coming up with the idea of colored tuxes after an online search. They found brightcoloredtuxedos.com, whose website promises, 'From the bright yellow tuxedo to our classic black tuxedo, we have a tuxedo that will get you noticed at your next formal event, not only with your bold colors but your classic, sophisticated style.'

And the guys didn't stop at the tuxedos - they went all out, ordering matching shoes, top hats, and of course, canes, which is just what every 18-year-old needs for his prom.

Mitchell Kruse, who wore bright yellow and earned the moniker 'Big Bird,' added, 'The company also has a camouflage tux, which a friend got.'

Chris Jackson, wearing St. Patrick's Day green, pointed out that 'usually, the boys match the girls,' and indeed, Taylor Bonawitz, who wearing one of the more conservative colors - light pink, said his date Emily Snyder also chose pink, 'and she was perfectly fine with doing this.'

Emily added, 'I was glad he got pink. I chose my dress after I knew he was wearing pink, but I got it because I liked it, not because it matched his tux.'

On the other hand, not all the couples ended up exactly in synch with their color coordination.

Chris, in green, said of his date Stephanie Fulton wearing a coral-colored dress, 'We look like a watermelon.' And he admitted, 'Yes, I was called a leprechaun.'

Joseph Balfour, in Halloween orange with his date Cara Smurdon dressed in bright blue, admitted, 'We don't match.'

Cara said that their blue-and-orange outfits were Boise State's colors. 'Two of my friends are going there, so I know the colors,' she said. 'I thought he was kidding at first when he said he was wearing orange. I was mad for a while, but then I decided to let it go.'

Rounding out the group was Chase Krieger, dressed conservatively in dark brown, who said it took some practice to learn how to carry the cane and he was hoping not to trip anyone during the evening.

Chase's date, Alex Suttle, said, 'I wanted to know what type of brown he was wearing. I thought it looked really good. I think it's funny the guys went with all the colors. It makes this enjoyable, and it will make the prom memorable.'

To get the most mileage out of their investment, some of the guys wore their tuxes to school before the prom and got a variety of reactions.

'The critics were jealous,' said Danny, who was dubbed 'Willie Wonka' in his purple tux. 'Some thought it was weird. But we call ourselves trendsetters.'

The boys followed the old adage - 'If you've got it, flaunt it' - and Dylan did just that by appearing in his red tux in front of an all-school assembly to ask his date Jessica Creger to the prom. 'She was embarrassed,' he said.

While most of the girls gave their dates traditional boutonnières, Danny and Joseph sported huge purple flowers. 'They got their revenge on us,' Joseph said.

And those memories didn't end when the prom was over. Afterwards, the couples, who hired a party bus for the evening, were dropped off at the Munros' to change clothes and then went to the rural home of Julie and Aaron Flannery to spend the night sitting around a bonfire. They had previously set up tents for anyone who wanted to try and get some sleep.

'They call it 'Tent City,' and they're going to cook hot dogs and s'mores,' said Julie Flannery. 'They will get muffins for breakfast,'

Lori Munro, the mother of 'Corn Dog' Connor, said of her colorful son and his friends, 'They call themselves the Skittles. A core group of four of them has a bucket list, and wearing rainbow tuxes to the prom was on it. They have also done other things on their list, like staying up for 48 hours straight, and between the four of them eating one of everything on Taco Bell's menu in four hours. It cost them $100, and they videotaped it and put it on YouTube.

'They find silly ways to entertain themselves, and they enjoy laughing at themselves. All the families are friends with each other. We spend time together and support each other. It's been a good foundation for the kids.'

Munro said that each boy is going on after high school to community college or a four-year university or pursuing various careers such as firefighting. 'Some are playing sports at the college level,' she added.

According to Munro, the boys did everything themselves, from ordering the tuxes to making dinner reservations at Mama Mia restaurant for the 15 couples to hiring the party bus.

'It was touching as a parent after all these years of teaching them to see it coming to fruition,' Munro said. 'They will be able to do anything they want. That old saying about 'It takes a village' is so true, and we're just so lucky we landed in this village.'