A guitar signed by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a dress worn by Taylor Swift and sunglasses sported by Ozzy Osbourne were all together in one place Monday night --- the gymnasium of Port Jefferson’s Earl L. Vandermeulen High School for yet another unforgettable senior prom.
As part of an annual tradition that began 58 years ago, parents of senior students, with help from the community, have been planning and building the themed set for this year’s prom since September. The theme is kept secret from the students every year, and this year, senior parent Dom Famularo pulled some strings to deck out the gym with memorabilia for the “Rock-n-Royals” theme, which included a red carpet entrance for students.
Famularo, a Long Island native, is a world-famous drummer and drum teacher whose students include Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and Nickelback drummer Daniel Adair.
“So I called them all up and said, ‘Guys, I want like posters and things,’ and they all said, ‘What do you need?’ so they’re all in there,” Famularo said.
He also loaned one of his eight drum sets to the prom, too, for students to play throughout the night.
Famularo moved to the Port Jefferson area 15 years ago and has helped out on committees ever since, regardless of whether his three children were graduating. This is the third prom Famularo has played a key role in building, and his last, as his youngest child Max is graduating.
Kathy Walsh, the lead prom organizer, is also sending off her third child. She stepped up into the leadership position this year after her experience helping out with two previous proms.
“It’s my last one, so I was going to go all out and get involved, but not as involved as I actually got,” she said. “It’s a community effort. Everybody comes to help, and it really is a great experience.”
The secret is one that the parents have to hold for more than eight months while they plan between 12 and 15 fundraising events and raffles, but Walsh said it is a well-kept tradition, even between her and her son.
“A lot of the kids don’t want to know the theme,” she said. “A couple times I almost slipped, but he wasn’t looking to see what it was or anything, so it was easy to keep it from him.”
But that doesn’t keep the rumors from flying, Port Jefferson senior Michael Spyrou said.
“I know it might have been one of two [themes], but I wasn’t sure which one,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Famularo’s son Dom, who graduated from Port Jefferson in 2012, also came to this year’s prom to help decorate. He and Julianna Pollian, a 2013 graduate, have been coming back every year, but this year, they dressed the part, him with eyeliner and her having dyed her hair blue.
“For my brother, we did the whole thing,” the younger Famularo said.
From the record-shaped plates to the red carpet, to the 30-foot guitar facade built at the outside entrance, Dom Famularo Sr. said the product is what the community put into it.
“This is what the community is about,” he said. “It really is a matter of what they want to do. … What other community can get together and work with each other, next to lawyers, electricians and construction people and musicians?”