Like many high school seniors, Morgan Blackinton had her prom outfit picked out long before the pandemic hit. When the coronavirus forced Newport High School to postpone prom indefinitely, Morgan wondered if she’d ever have the chance to wear her gown, a white frock with gold embroidery on the bodice.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do with my dress,” said Morgan, 17, who lives in Newport.
Unbeknownst to Morgan, her parents, Jeff and Brandy Blackinton, were already working to make sure that Morgan’s dress wouldn’t just be collecting dust. Last Saturday evening, Brandy told Morgan to go up to her room and change before dinner. There, Morgan saw her dress laid out. One top was a framed note from her dad: “Will you help me fill this picture frame? Put on this dress and meet me on the porch. Prom 2020?”
“I was like ‘oh my goodness,’ ” Morgan said. “I was surprised, and I thought it was a little, kind of goofy at first.”
Brandy had some worries that Morgan would find the idea lame and not participate. But, Morgan was a good sport. She donned her dress while Brandy did her makeup and her sister Peyton, 13, did her hair. Then, she walked downstairs to meet Jeff, who was waiting in the kitchen with a corsage.
“She had that dress, and when she put it on and walked downstairs I was amazed how beautiful she looked,” said Jeff.
The back porch of the Blackinton home had been transformed. There were balloons, a white tablecloth and champagne flutes, which Morgan drank ginger ale from. Morgan and Jeff dined on a high school favorite — mac and cheese — and even danced a bit.
“We discovered we both have two left feet,” Jeff said.
Awkwardness aside, the evening was sweet.
“I was sad that we had to miss the actual prom,” Morgan said. “So I was super happy, that I could at least have somewhat of a little prom.”
Jeff and Brandy were glad to provide that opportunity.
“They missed so much this spring,” Jeff said. “The whole senior spring is built around the kids graduating, and all that was taken away. So it was good to do something like this and give her a little happiness about senior year.”
Brandy enjoyed seeing Jeff and Morgan spend quality time together.
“Just watching it from the kitchen was magical for me,” she said. “Normally, she may not remember who she went to prom with, or wish she didn’t go with him, but she’s never going to have that problem with Jeff.”
At the end of the night, Jeff and Morgan took some silly pictures, thinking they would be great keepsakes.
“Ten years from now, when we look back we’ll have some good memories,” Jeff said.
When Brandy shared the images on Facebook the story got lots of attention, with more than 2,500 likes.
“These are the two in the family who do not love being the center of attention,” Brandy said. “This is totally out of their element.”
After prom, Morgan has a bit of extra appreciation for her parents.
“My friends were like ‘you’re so lucky, my dad wouldn’t do that for me,’ ” she said.