A different kind of prom: Patients step out as “Enchanted Tiki” party-goers

Enchanted Tiki Prom

For high school students in communities large and small, prom is a rite of passage. Amid wins and losses on the athletic field, studying for exams, hanging out with friends and other every day activities, prom is a time to indulge in some well-earned fun and look forward to the next year with anticipation.

At Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, prom is a day of celebration – and normalcy – during an otherwise often challenging time.

On Friday, May 18, the Packard Children’s community opened its “Enchanted Tiki” doors to hundreds of patients and their families for an evening of tropical splendor, “Aloha” and light-heartedness.

Enchanted Tiki Prom

The 14th annual prom at Packard Children’s was the first prom held in the hospital’s new Main building. Patients of all ages who have attended the hospital’s K-12 school left worries about doctor’s visits, procedures and treatments behind as they danced, laughed, played casino games and celebrated with family and friends. Former patients who have “graduated” from the hospital school also attended, reuniting with friends made while receiving care at the hospital.

Enchanted Tiki Prom

The hospital school’s teachers and Child Life team spent weeks planning and creating an atmosphere that evoked an enchanted tiki oasis; palm trees, grass huts, bursts of flowers and tiki torches lit the way as patients entered the prom. In the new hospital cafeteria, decorated as an exotic tiki forest, volunteers served fruit-flavored shave ice, popcorn, cotton candy and pizza to patients wearing leis, Hawaiian shirts, and grass skirts, as well as pink princess dresses, tiaras and cowboy boots. Meanwhile, kids young and old enjoyed the dance floor. Some of the littlest patients arrived in red wagons. Young patients donned Viking helmets, proudly displaying their bravery and posing in front of festive backdrops. Teenage girls sparkled and glowed in carefully chosen prom dresses.

Enchanted Tiki Prom

Kathy Ho, a high school teacher with the Palo Alto Unified School District and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital School Program, enjoyed seeing kids who have been discharged from the hospital return for prom, excited and happy to be back in the hospital as normal kids. From her perspective as prom co-organizer, the Packard Children’s prom offers young patients, especially those still in the hospital, the chance to experience what they otherwise would miss:

“My favorite thing is seeing the faces of the kids in the hospital who take a break from being a patient to become party-goers. We put a lot of time and effort into transforming the space, because we want these kids to forget about being in the hospital. I think this is important because we want kids to just be kids—to experience those milestones in life that every healthy kid takes for granted.” – Kathy Ho, high school teacher with the Palo Alto Unified School District and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital School Program

While a DJ spun tunes inside, outside in the Dunlevie Garden, musicians strummed ukuleles under the setting sun, and sang of Hawaii and the seaside as hula dancers swayed. A group of 49ers—Brock Coyle, JP Flynn, Mike McGlinchey, Earl Mitchell, Pace Murphy, Joe Staley and Raheem Mostert—visited with patients, posing for photos and bringing smiles to their faces. Carnival games including coconut bowling and pineapple ring toss also provided entertainment for the evening.

Enchanted Tiki Prom

Just as at a “regular prom,” teens sat together on the sidelines, joking and smiling in unison. Others, who had entered the prom with a sense of trepidation, shed their inhibitions by the end of the evening, surrounded by a circle of friends, who jumped and bopped to the upbeat rhythms.

Enchanted Tiki Prom

On a balmy spring evening in Palo Alto, the kids at Packard Children’s were ordinary party-goers, not patients.

Nothing could have been more remarkable.

This event would not be possible without the contributions of our generous volunteers and donors, including First Feet Entertainment, Ambassadors for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford Athletics, Weir Catering, AG Entertainment, DPR Construction, Out of Envelope, Na Hoaloha and many others. Thank you for your support!

Check out our gallery for more photos from this year’s prom >


One Response to “A different kind of prom: Patients step out as “Enchanted Tiki” party-goers”

  1. April

    The prom looked amazing! The pictures totally gave me happy tears. I’m so grateful for Packard! 🙂 Thanks for making such special memories in these children and their families lives!


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