'Big weekend' includes animal park prom

MONICA PRYTS | Allied News fileAdam Guiher, owner of Keystone Safari, feeds Levi the giraffe in this photo from 2018, when the Liberty Township animal park opened.

Grove City-area teens will be dancing the night away at a prom venue with some very special guests.

The prom has a “carnival” theme and it is being organized by parents, who will host the event on June 5 at Keystone Safari Animal Park in Liberty Township.

“They were actually really open to it,” Carrie Martin said of the park staff.

Weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations have been held at the park, which is able to provide a large outdoor space.

The parents also like that the park itself is spread out, making social distancing easy to handle. Face masks will be encouraged, Martin said.

This is the third dance that the parents have organized with support from the community and donations. The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the Grove City Area School District prom and homecoming in 2020.

They learned a few months ago that the district would not be hosting a prom this year, and they knew they didn’t want juniors and seniors to miss out on the milestone event, said Martin, who has two kids in the district; her son Zack is a senior.

Tickets are $25 each, and the prom is open to GCHS juniors and seniors and their guests.

Tickets are being sold at the Joseph D. Monteleone Shelter at Grove City Memorial Park from 6 to 8 p.m. today, May 5; and noon to 2 p.m. May 8.

They must be paid for with cash, and tickets will not be sold at the door. Students will also be able to buy a $5 wristband to feed three animals at the park.

Prom attendees must sign a release form. Those under 18 will need a parent or guardian to sign the form when the ticket is purchased.

The event is being funded by ticket sales and monetary contributions. The more donations they receive, the more the parents can do for the students, Martin said.

“We could always use more help,” she said, adding that includes chaperones.

As of right now, the parents are providing decorations, music, carnival treats from a food truck, tents and commemorative T-shirts.

The grand march starts at 6 p.m. in front of the main building where the gift shop is located. Anyone can attend the grand march at Keystone Safari, which is located at 2284 Mercer Butler Pike.

The park will close to the public at 6 p.m. that day.

From the grand march, the students will head into the park, where they’ll have about an hour to visit with the animals.

The cost of the ticket includes entry to the park. Dinner will not be served.

Martin hopes that weather cooperates, and she can already picture some unique photo opportunities that will add to a memorable night.

Prom-goers can visit the butterfly garden and check out animals including giraffes, bears, lions, zebras, camels, pigs, birds and more.

The prom itself starts at 7 p.m. The parents have rented tents and will also have use of two pavilions. The sides will be rolled down if it rains.

Keystone Safari is beautiful and clean, and the staff has been very accommodating, Martin said.

She wants to thank the park and her fellow planning committee members: Penny Medve, Cherrie Reiber, Leslie Renick, Jen Howard, Alissa Blair, Karen Ketler, Allysen Byers, Denise Louise, Kristen Hovis, Kathy Breese, Jen Murawski, Paula Thomas, Nikki Peramble, Peggy White, Colleen Gubba, Laurie Lewis, Julie Montgomery, Robyn Hughes, Deb Hickley, Lori Dulaney and Charity Saunders.

They are also grateful for these community sponsors: Hovis Auto and Truck Supply, Hi Branding, MLH Distillery, Joden Jewelers, Henrick’s Auto Service, Transformation Church and Nikki’s Cookies and More.

And June 4 is commencement for GCHS, so there will be a lot to celebrate.

“It’s gonna be a big weekend,” she said.

For more information about tickets, volunteering as a chaperone or sending a donation, visit “Under The Big Top Prom 2021” on Facebook.

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