A peek at the decorations for Conard’s Class of 2016 Safe Grad party, enjoyed by the Class of 2016 Thursday night in West Hartford.
By Ronni Newton
The annual rite of passage after graduation from one of West Hartford’s high schools is the all night Safe Grad party – the theme of which is always kept top secret until the grads arrive at 10 p.m. on the night after graduation.
We-Ha.com got a sneak peek Thursday monring at the decorations for Conard’s “Games of Life” party.
Karen Presing and Deb Kranmas – co-chairs of the decorating committee, said their core group of 10-12 volunteers had been meeting four hours a week since November at Conard Safe Grad Headquarters – the basement of St. Mark’s Church – where their creativity led to inspired board game-themed decorations that have transformed Conard’s front several hallways, cafeteria, and gym into the “Games of Life.”
In addition to the volunteers who showed up at St. Mark’s, about 10 additional volunteers worked on project at home – including the giant “Operation” game created by the Scheid family. The game isn’t just a large cardboard facsimile; it actually works, making the authentic “Operation” buzzing sound when the tweezers hit the side as you attempt to remove the “Charley Horse” and other maxi-sized game pieces.
“This was the most talented group of parents ever,” Presing said.
Elements from previous year’s Safe Grad celebrations are typically reused from year-to-year, but Kranmas said that this year the entire front hallway, other than the Cash Cab (an actual car sans engine) was created from scratch.
The grads will enter the celebration through Chutes & Ladders – literally sliding down slides through a curtain of glittery streamers into the party.
Centrally located in the main hallway is “WeHa Monopoly,” which Kranmas herself created. A giant silver wheelbarrow and a silver version of those little red cars that all toddlers ride sit in the center as oversized game pieces. Stops along the board include places that grads likely frequented growing up like the Children’s Museum, elementary schools, Dunkin’ Donuts, and more.
Oversized versions of Jenga, ConnectFour, and other popular games fill the hallway that itself looks like a giant game board. At the end of the hall is what should be considered the “piece de resistance” – a huge Scrabble game. The game starts off with “CONARD” spelled out on the diagnoal.
“Everything’s playable but Monopoly,” Kranmas said.
For grads who need some quiet time, the “Clue” lounge has comfy couches and videos will be shown throughout the party.
Through a gingerbread house, grads will enter the cafeteria where they can snack on handheld food donated by local businesses (burgers, pizza, bagels, and more) on tables decorated with real candy centerpieces.
There’s an arts and crafts center, Minute to Win It game, ping pong, and henna tattoo artists. The back half of the cafeteria is a dance/karaoke zone which will be made festive with black light and DJ tunes.
Photos of every graduate can be found along “Memory Lane” leading to the gym where the grads expend their celebratory energy in several inflatables, an obstacle course, climbing wall, and an arcade. Included is a “cash cube,” where one lucky grad will win money every hour. The small gym is host to laser tag throughout the night.
Safe Grad co-chair Linda Blechman Busch said she was thrilled with how everything turned out. “People have worked so hard, and I think the kids are going to love it. I can’t believe how creative our decorating chairs have been.” Busch co-chaired Safe Grad with Beth Boehm this year.
For the last part of the evening – actually early morning – the grads will file into the auditorium where they will be entertained by a hypnotist. At 4 a.m., about $4,000 of prizes will be raffled off, a mixture of gift cards and some large ticket items like a 40-inch TV donated by SK Lavery. “You have to be here to win,” Busch said.
Safe Grad has been a graduation night event at West Hartford’s high schools for decades, and is attended by the majority of the graduating class who thoroughly enjoy the elaborate-themed, safe, and entertaining experience.
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[…] parents transform selected areas according to a secret theme. Past themes have included: “Games of Life,” “The Never Ending Story,” “New York, New York,” “Memory […]
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