By Maureen Sullivan
Executive Director, Bedford Chamber of Commerce
The first Senior Prom Stroll was held on a cloudy May day in 1998. I had to bribe 60 Bedford High School seniors to come over Bedford Common to have their picture taken. After the photo, I lined them up and said, ”Now we are now going to promenade.” One of the boys looked at me and said, “What? You didn’t tell us we had to do that!” I smiled and said, “Get in line. You are making history, and you will be the first of what I am sure will become a long-standing Bedford tradition.”
Twenty-one years later, the Barrett Sotheby’s Senior Prom Stroll is an event that warrants a Reverse-911 call to the residents and businesses to warn about increased traffic, and it has become a tradition that hundreds of people turn out to watch.
Click these links to view hundreds of images of individuals and couples on Facebook ~ Bedford Snapshots and Creative Images Boston. (Editor’s Note: How fortunate are we to have a pair of great photographers working this event!)
If you have never watched the Prom Stoll, you’ll find something right out of Norman Rockwell (or Star’s Hollow!), a cross between the glamour of young people dressed to the nines in tuxedos, splendid gowns, and very high heels.
The class picture is taken on the steps of Old Town Hall, which seems fitting as it was built as a school in 1856. Following the picture, students’ names are called out as they promenade through an arch of flowers and along the red-brick path across Bedford Common.
Standing five-deep on both sides of the path, parents try to catch those quintessential pictures of their children as they stand on the brink of adulthood.
One of the best things I like about the stroll is how the couples have changed over the years. All have always been welcome, but in recent years students have truly embraced their individuality, in both partners and dress code as they march proudly down the path.
I find the acceptance of their personal choices a reminder that someone is doing something right in Bedford. The little girls sit on the grass right up front mesmerized and very often at least one of the seniors will tell me she was once that child in the front row. This year, which will be my final prom stroll, I handed over the microphone to a BHS student to announce the names, as anyone who has had a kid at the stroll knows, pronunciation has never been my strong point.
Next year the Prom Stroll is being moved from Bedford Common for a myriad of reasons. We are not sure yet if it will be held at the high school or Middlesex Community College, but what we are sure of, is that it will always be one moment in time when everything is good.
Families, friends, and the members of the Bedford Chamber Commerce will again gather to celebrate the Class of 2020 on their special night.
On behalf of the Bedford Chamber of Commerce, I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to all those that made the Barrett Sotheby’s Senior Prom Stroll such a huge success: Laurie Cadigan of Barrett Sotheby’s, Ken Brown of New England Nursery, Winnie & Rich Callahan of Callahan Karate, Chuck Duran of Carlton & Duran, Caitlyn Campopiano of Middlesex Community College, Adam Schwartz of CouponSurfer, Shannon Dillon of Creative Images, Maria Porto of Hanscom Federal Credit Union, John Gibbons of First Parish, Jane Patterson, Chief Bongiorno & the Bedford Police Department, Chief David Grunes & the Bedford Fire Department, David Manugian and the DPW, Jeff Hoyland/Bedford Snapshots, and Katie Duval of Bedford TV.
And a further shout out to all those that helped pay for the police detail for the 2019 Prom Stroll. Leading the way were Dan Carroll of Revise Energy, A Place for Words, Callahan’s Karate Studio, Kristen Marcus, Patriot Pediatrics, Michael O’Shaughnessy, Lisa Marino Hafer, Marc Hamilton, Lisa Gedaminsky, Margaret Doyle, Laura Shine, Derek Yeradi, Tracy Gray, Allison Kristen, Christine Greaney, Suzanne Johnson, Elizabeth Ioffredo, Maureen Eliason, Ellen Ryan, Caroline Ennis Fedele, Claire Anderson, Gina Stephan, Brenda Wynters, Joan Driscoll Bench and Francine Hennessey