HONOLULU(KHON2) — The Department of Education (DOE) officially canceled all large school functions for the rest of the school year. It is a decision that will keep students and staff safe, but one that will be felt far from school campuses.

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A number of businesses rely on some of those events to boost their sales. The prom — one of their biggest money-makers — has been called off for the second year in a row.

From the dresses, tuxedos, flowers and limousines to the make-up and hair, proms are big business.

The DOE is nixing the event again due to the pandemic, along will all large events for groups over 20 through June 1.

In a statement, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said:

“We understand that these are significant and meaningful events to our students. This decision was made to avoid planning and financial hardships that schools and families would incur due to potential last-minute cancellations.”

DOE Superintendent Christina Kishimoto

Jackie Segawa, co-owner of Do’s Formal, said they are not surprised that prom was cancelled.

“Last year, it was really unexpected,” Segawa said. “Everything was shut down without any warning or anything. But, this year, we did kind of expected that prom may not happen.”

Segawa said, they will lose about 60% of their annual sales without the prom.

They are offering huge discounts, selling some dresses as low as $10 to stay afloat.

“We’re doing the best we can just to generate income,” Segawa said.

Toko Sugaya, owner of Lidia Hawaii Dress Rentals in Waikiki, said she has pivoted from marketing to Japanese tourists to locals in the hopes that prom sales would help her.

“It’s definitely impacted my business and you still try to find a way to do something,” Sugaya said.

Now she is left with racks of dresses and no one to sell them to.

Segawa said, the kids have it much worse even though it is a challenge for businesses.

“A lot of times you think, oh, prom is, just a party, but it’s not,” Segewa said. “It’s such a memorable time.”

Monty Pereira, Watanabe Floral sales and marketing director, said, “As bad as it was for the 2020 class, this 2021 class has missed their entire senior year, which is really, really sad.”

He said, they are now focusing on graduations.

“For graduation, last year, we created these delivery packages of big booming balloon bouquets and armor arrangements, or haku — things that were extremely popular. And we did that at the last minute. So we’re preparing now, to figure out a way to make this special for these kids,” Pereira explained.

The hope is that schools will plan virtual events.

“We want our schools to be able to move forward in planning confidently for the best alternative virtual options for their students,” Kishimoto said.

The Department will make a final decision regarding limited graduation ceremonies by Feb. 26, according to the DOE.

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