Lisa Marschall describes a trick about making Gambol 2017, the Paul D. Schreiber High School equivalent of a senior prom — and one of the biggest high school prom events on Long Island — work out as “making sure no one notices the failures… there are many more successes, but there are always failures, but mostly nobody catches those.”
What the 52-year-old mom of a graduating Schreiber High School and Gambol committee co-chair means by “failures” aren’t really massive issues; the humidity that permeated the air Friday left some posters slightly drooping off walls, and there was an unexpected shortage of cups. These problems were made clear as those volunteering to help staff the event kept turning to Marschall, whether in person or by way of push-to-talk phones, to bring such dilemmas to her attention.
As the problems came her way, she dealt with them as necessary, whether that meant keeping a close eye on the progress of the heat-affected decor or arranging a run to buy more cups.
“It takes a tactical approach to get this organized, and to make it work,” she says.
The Gambol celebrated its 65th anniversary Friday inside Castle Gould in Sands Point Preserve. As guests strolled down the red carpet, parents and other curious community members filled bleacher seating along the route, taking photos and clapping — much like what would be seen at a gala for the rich and famous.
“Kids growing up in this town know from kindergarten that Gambol will be something in their lives to look forward to," Marschall explains. “It’s such a thing in this town, and the students grow up knowing they’re in for something extraordinary.”
Marschall, along with her co-chairs, school board member Beth Weisburd and Lauren Egna, a member of the nonprofit Schreiber HSA, a school-related volunteer organization, started working on themes, donations, adding volunteers to staff and other necessities.
The 2017 Gambol theme was “Coachella,” the noteworthy arts festival, and aside from a large dance floor backed by a movie scene featuring a variety of flickering images, smoke machines and a light show, dinner was served in a food court-like arrangement, with several types of edibles presented as various types of fast food. Taking advantage of the size of Castle Gould, an adjacent space held a casino night with tables and dealers.
Gambol started at 7:30 p.m., but due to the time it takes to have each student announced as he or she walks in along the red carpet, the event didn’t launch until after 9. The entrance wasn’t disturbed despite some rain throughout the evening.
“We’ve been tracking the weather all week,” Marschall explains.
“I’ve been thinking about my Gambol for at least two or three years,” says Chris Pietrantonio, a 17-year-old who just graduated. “Although, as I have older siblings who went to this, it’s been something I’ve been aware of for like eight or nine years.” Was he prepared for a red carpet entry? “I’ll admit, it was intimidating,” Pietrantonio said, laughing. “I’m like, ‘don’t fall,’ but it was nice… it felt good.”
Then again, Pietrantonio’s mother wasn’t involved in producing Gambol, unlike 17-year-old Jacob Marschall, Lisa’s son, who admits having his mom so tied to the school’s premiere social “is a little awkward, but we don’t talk about it much… and I’m having a lot of fun tonight.”