CAPE at 30: Annual event marks three decades of safe proms

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–For high school juniors and seniors, prom night represents one of the most fun nights of the year. Since a group of parents first organized it in 1992, the Carnival After Prom Extravaganza, or CAPE, has allowed Muscatine High School students to safely extend their fun even after the dancing has ended. A highly successful strategy for preventing kids from getting into drunk driving accidents or other unsafe situations following prom, CAPE will return this year. Ahead of the big night on April 30, CAPE organizers need the support of local businesses and community members to make this signature event a success.

Typically, about 300 to 400 students attend CAPE. When they arrive, they find their school transformed into an entertainment complex. In the gym, they can play on giant inflatables. Those wanting to pretend they have gone to a casino can do so too, trying out slot machines, and playing roulette and blackjack. A temporary airbrush tattoo station lets attendees express their creativity with the help of a professional tattoo artist. Anyone feeling a little competitive can also go head-to-head with their friends with minute-to-win-it games, cornhole boards, and arcade games.

If kids work up an appetite from having so much fun, they can enjoy free food brought to them by some of their favorite restaurants. Last year, 10 restaurants provided tasty treats for kids including everything from Chinese food, to Mexican food, to Italian food, and even fresh barbeque. Organizers hope to have many choices again this year and may even have coffee and energy drinks available from the Black Pearl Café.

CAPE attendees always eagerly await the prize drawings at the end of the night. Each game students play gives them the chance to win popular items like PlayStation 5s, dorm appliances, AirPods, cash, and gift cards, just to name a few. One lucky junior will go home with a basket including a senior portrait photo session, gas gift cards, restaurant gift cards, and even a parking pass for a premium space on Senior Row. A beloved tradition for 26 years, one senior student will also win a gently used car.

To make CAPE work, it takes a lot of money, numerous donations, and many volunteers. In past years, the Muskie Booster Club would provide $5,000 to the event. However, because they only just began to build their funding back up after the difficulties COVID-19 presented them last year, they could not do so this year. If you would like to help CAPE financially, you may mail a check to Muscatine High School, Attn: CAPE, 2705 Cedar Street, Muscatine, IA 52761 or Venmo money to @MuscatineCAPE. Businesses that would like to provide a prize may contact CAPE Chair Karen Brookhart at 563-506-1668 or by emailing her. Parents who would like to volunteer at CAPE may also reach out to Brookhart.

A one of a kind event, Brookhart hopes many Muscatine High School juniors and seniors will come enjoy a night of festivities, regardless of whether or not they attend Prom. “Students should COME to CAPE because it is a super fun event that is only offered once a year, only for juniors and seniors, and is free of charge,” she emphasized. She also has faith that the community will come together to continue making this very special event possible.

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