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Tanya and Adam Waxler, and Pamela Conway have been busy crafting decorations for the "Wizard of Oz" themed Special Needs Prom, to be held April 15.
East County Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2016 4 years ago

Prom heads to East County

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The Yellowbrick Road leads to Woodland Community Church for the Night with the Stars.
by: Amanda Sebastiano Staff Writer

For one special night, somewhere over the rainbow can be found at the Woodland Community Church.

The annual Night with the Stars Special Needs Prom will be held beginning at 7 p.m. April 15 at the church, which has adopted "A Night at Oz" theme for the event.

The prom is open to local special needs individuals, ages 16 and older, along with their parents and/or caretakers. The event typically draws a few hundred attendees, but this year, the prom is booming.

Event organizer Mary Anne McDevitt is expecting 470 attendees. The church will transform into Oz, with 100 feet of yellow brick road leading to a dance floor. Other decorations include a 70-foot rainbow, 13 flying monkeys, two hot air balloons, three tornadoes and a slew of characters from the film.

East County resident Tanya Waxler, who has volunteered for four years, is dressing as one of two Glinda the Good Witch characters. There will also be a lion, tin man, two scarecrows, up to three Dorothy characters and a not-so-wicked Witch of the West.

"We're going to have at least one character in every room," McDevitt said. "The attendees love it."

Braden River High School senior Trisha Cooper dressed as Elsa from the movie "Frozen" a year ago. Cooper owns her own business, Pristine Princess Parties, and is hired to portray characters from "Frozen." For Night with the Stars, she donated her services.

"Last year, I played Elsa," Cooper said. "Some people cried they were so happy, because they love the character so much. That made me feel amazing, like I did a good job."

Due to her business, Cooper only portrays "Frozen" characters so she hasn't decided whether she will portray Elsa again this year for an event aimed toward the "Wizard of Oz." However, she plans to at least volunteer in any way she can.

"The prom was really special," Cooper said.

At Night of the Stars, more than 140 people volunteer, including Waxler, who has been crafting decorations for months with the help of high school volunteers, such as her son, Levi.

She has turned her garage and driveway into a workshop to create props out of cardboard, paper, paint, toilet paper rolls and other recycled materials.

"I like to use recycled products and turn them into something new," Waxler said. "I think, 'What can I use that for?' This year's theme is going to be really cool. We've been working really hard on these decorations, so this will be an event to remember."

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