Like Cinderella, a Salt Spring Island grocery store was transformed into the belle of the ball, or more like the hall for the ball, on Wednesday evening.
There were flowers and plants and ribbon, and of course in the era of COVID-19, also physical distancing lines, sanitizer stations and even ‘bubbles’.
The final preparations were underway as the special guests began to fill the parking lot by the dozens, donning their finest suits and gowns as they waited in a socially-distant lineup as you might at a Costco on a Saturday morning.
They were there to celebrate their high school graduation and with COVID restrictions, organizers say a grocery store seemed like the only way to make it happen.
“We realized that the only safe way to gather in groups of 50 was through shopping so that’s how we came to ask Country Grocer if we could have the store for a grad shop,” said Safe Grad 2020 Executive Committee member Karin Beviere.
Armed with carts, the grads sauntered through the store impeccably dressed, picking out their favourite treats, not for themselves but for the local food bank.
The grad committee took the money it was planning for the original party and gave each of the nearly 100 graduates $15 to spend on whatever items they wanted to buy for the food bank.
“We turned a bad situation into a good one. There was going to be no after-grad, then Country Grocer volunteered to do this, and then we’re getting food for the food bank it’s a win-win,” said Wyatt Sawchuk, a Grade 12 student at Gulf Islands Secondary.
‘The whole island has taken great care of us over the past few years so it’s nice to be given this opportunity to give back and contribute a little bit,” said Grade 12 student Aramis St-Gelais.
But it wasn’t all just business—there were prizes, the most coveted among them a set of ‘air pods’, as well as plenty of photoshoots as you might expect from a group of teenagers.
In the parking lot party outside, social distancing was a bit of a challenge for the nearly 100 excited teens but organizers said most were sticking to the friend ‘bubbles’ they had before.
“The parents were asking kids to keep their distance but a lot of these kids hang out together these are their bubbles so it was a bit difficult,” said Beviere.
But if the number of smiles and giggles were the judge, the evening was a massive success and a night to remember as the group of grads signed off on this chapter of their life with great memories and, of course, plenty of pictures.