Minnesota students and businesses hopeful for prom, graduations this summer

Hopes are high for a prom season this year after COVID-19 ruined it last year. (FOX 9)

The loosening of more COVID-19 restrictions in Minnesota comes at the perfect time for many high schoolers as they prepare for two big traditions.

After the pandemic led to the cancelations of proms and graduations last year, they are now hoping for a season to remember.

Friday, Governor Walz announced a new series of COVID-19 changes as the vaccine rollout continues at full speed. Among the rule changes are increases to capacity for event venues. And the progress of the vaccine rollout has Governor Walz hopeful that proms and graduations could look close to normal by May and June.

For many high school students, prom is a rite of passage. Cannon Falls twins Lexie and Ana Learmann will finally get to experience one firsthand.

"It's just something you look forward to as part of the high school experience, and the thought of not having this be a part of it would suck," said Ana.

The Prom Shop in Byron has been able to stay afloat because some of its customers come from Iowa and the Dakotas, which allowed proms last year. But with Minnesota's governor rolling back some COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings like proms and high school graduations, business at the shop is booming again.

"It's always an exciting time, but because so many of these people didn't get to prom last year or had friends who didn't go to prom, they are having a riot" said The Prom Shop owner Pam Bessler.

Especially seniors - who have been in distance learning for a full year - are excited about the prospect of donning both a prom dress and a cap and gown over the next couple of months.

"It's definitely nice to have things back to normal," added Byron High School senior Rylie Nelson. "Our school has made the best of things while they've been bad, but now that we can actually have things back again it feels so normal and so nice."

The Learmanns will probably have to wear masks along with their dresses and corsages. But the spring high school tradition is an event they don't want to miss.

"I hope it’s as normal as possible within reason," said Ana. "There are going to be safety precautions set in motion."