Memories of a Magical Night

June 1st, 2000… the date had been saved on the calendars of almost every student at Lindenhurst High School for over a year. Normally, only seniors looked forward to a senior prom with such anticipation, but this would be no ordinary end-of-the-year event. This prom was going to be something special.

The members of the Class of 2000 had debated over where to hold their “prom of the millennium” for some time. It had to be unique, extravagant, simply the best. Manhattan was designated as the perfect setting early on, but it would be several months before a specific venue was determined. Cost was a major factor, but we could always fundraise. No obstacle was going to prevent us from creating the fairy tale we all dreamed of. And so, with the enthusiastic blessing of the school and the class, the date was set. On Thursday, June 1st, the Lindenhurst High School Class of 2000 would be at the top of the World Trade Center at the one and only Windows on the World.

The response from students was so immediately overwhelming that many were put on a waiting list. As the day drew closer, the excitement grew to fervor. Would the view really be as spectacular as we had all heard? Did the pedestrians on the street below really look like ants from up there? Was it true the buildings swayed in strong winds?

Well, June 1st came at long last, with droves of students leaving school early that day claiming to all have “dentist appointments,” but really just wanting to get a head start in preparing for the festivities. Who could concentrate on calculus at a time like this?  

When our limousine pulled up to the Twin Towers, it was hard to determine which building we were actually entering. Was it the one with the point on top, we wondered? Too tall to tell.

The elevator ride to the 106th floor was smooth and quick. We arrived in the lobby of the restaurant and were awed by the glistening marble floors and the wall-to-wall-to-ceiling-to-floor windows which greeted us. Of course, the first thing we did was to tentatively peer through the glass to see the view. One side of the building offered a glimpse of midtown Manhattan, while the other looked over New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. It was simply breathtaking; and, wouldn’t you know, the people really did look like ants!

I had brought a camera; and so, with fingers crossed, I attempted to preserve the image before me, but with little success. After the prom, we set sail on a midnight cruise around the Harbor, which offered still more priceless photo opportunities of the skyline - the true skyline - and Lady Liberty - right off a postcard. Again, my flash failed to capture the sight, though it has remained etched in my memory ever since.

Four years ago, September 11th, 2001, became another date of enormous significance, not only for me, but for the entire world, though not for so joyous an occasion. As I watched the collapse of the towers on live television, I couldn’t help but envision that magical night that now seems so long ago. I recalled the initial excitement and anticipation that we all felt and the ultimate thrill of it being everything we had hoped for. Our class had always wanted to go out on a high note and, by celebrating in the tallest building in New York City, we did just that. We took great pride in knowing that we were experiencing the chance of a lifetime – something no one could share in unless they had been there themselves.  

That night we said there would be nothing like it ever again… sadly, we were right.

 

{Published: September 7th, 2005}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment