Instead of crowning a king and queen, the Fort Cherry prom has been dealt a crowning blow.
NOAH’s Event Venue in Southpointe, where the 2020 prom was scheduled for May 15, closed suddenly over the past few days. NOAH, based in Lehi, Utah, also shuttered its other 27 venues nationwide, including one in Cranberry.
Several reports stated that the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. FOX 13, a Utah television station, reported on its website that a state judge on Thursday shut down NOAH’s “remaining reception places following months of declining revenue” – costing future brides, promgoers and other event planners thousands of dollars.
A telephone call from the Observer-Reporter to NOAH’s headquarters was answered by only a recorded high-pitched shrill.
For now, Fort Cherry High School is out its $3,420 deposit and out of a venue for a prom slated a mere three months down the pike. And the kids could very well be out that money, said Katie Nemec, a senior and president of the prom committee.
During a phone interview Monday, Nemec said another committee member told her Saturday morning that NOAH’s was closing. Nemec said the committee had sent two checks to the company totaling $3,420, and that when she checked on the status of the checks, they were listed as “pending” on Saturday and on Sunday.
“They were deposited (Monday) morning,” she said. “We haven’t heard from them directly. We gave them all the money we raised. It may not seem like much, but it took a lot of work to do this and we’re in a small district.”
Fort Cherry’s superintendent, Dr. Jill Jacoby, said the district will attempt to recoup funds. “We will work with our solicitor to attempt to recover anything we can,” she wrote in an email.
Fort Cherry, Nemec said, wasn’t done paying NOAH’s. She said students had to raise a total of $5,700 for the company’s spiffy venue at 2000 Town Center Blvd., in the mixed-use Cecil Township park. That cost does not include food, music and entertainment.
As head of a committee of 20, Nemec realizes the clock is ticking on saving the prom. The committee has to book another venue, a disc jockey and a caterer, and surmount other hurdles.
She said the committee will attempt to raise funds again, and was encouraged by word that one school district parent was setting up a GoFundMe page. Nemec, who resides in Midway, added that “a couple of venues” the committee had approached previously have reached out to the school, offering discounts. “But we have nothing. We don’t have money for a down payment, let alone the whole amount.”
The superintendent is angry as well. Jacoby said in a statement Monday morning:
“Our students take pride in fundraising as a class in order to offset the cost of the event, so anyone from the student body is able to afford a ticket and attend a memorable night with friends. As a district, our students, staff and parents are disappointed to hear the news related to the closing of this venue.
“At this time, we are unsure of the ability to gain our deposit back, but will be diligent and try our best to recover our students’ hard-earned money while a new venue is being chosen.”