By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The ballroom of the Bay Ridge Manor looked like the dress department at Macy’s on Tuesday, as scores of teenage girls arrived to pick out the elegant dresses they would wear to the senior prom.
Racks of dresses were standing against one wall. Nearby, a table filled with purses, jewelry, shoes, and other accessories were undergoing scrutiny by eager eyes. Another table was filled with cosmetics.
It was all part of “Operation Senior,” an event organized by Brooklyn resident Mary Beth Bevacqua to help high school seniors whose homes had been destroyed by Super-storm Sandy find dresses and accessories to wear to the prom for free.
Bevacqua had arranged with several companies, including New York Dress Company, Revlon, and the Jones Group, to donate dresses and accessories to the event and then booked the Bay Ridge Manor. Bevacqua also talked hair stylists and make-up artists into donating their services to provide free consultations.
“Every child deserves to go to their prom. It’s a right of passage in a person’s life,” she told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Bevacqua, whose mother lives in Breezy Point, Queens, said she knows several people in that community whose homes sustained devastating damage in the Oct. 29 hurricane. She wanted to do something for them, she said.
“I figured going to the prom is an expensive proposition. It could easily cost hundreds. That’s a lot of money at a time when you’re trying to buy furniture. So I thought I’d help out by helping girls find dresses for free,” Bevacqua said.
Bevacqua is a graduate of Fontbonne Hall Academy, a Catholic high school for girls in Bay Ridge. Dozens of Fontbonne students live in Breezy Point and travel to Brooklyn to attend school. Many of them lost their homes in the storm.
Bevacqua said she got a kick out of the girls’ reactions as they walked into the ballroom on Tuesday. “The girls were so sweet. They were a little shy at first. I told them not to be shy and to just go for the gowns they wanted,” she said.
By the end of the night, 62 girls had been outfitted from head to toe for the prom.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn), who helped Bevacqua secure the Bay Ridge Manor for the night, said “Operation Senior” was a big success. "I commend Mary Beth Bevacqua, who knows countless individuals who were affected by Superstorm Sandy, for organizing this event. Although I was in Albany, I am proud to have heard that this event gave many who have been through so much, something to smile about,” he said.
The businesses that donated to support the event included The Jones Group, MAC Cosmetics, Revlon, Synderela, Coloriffics, New York Dress Company, I Love Jewelry Auctions, Charles Elias Salon, Lucky New York Salon, Marine Florist and Classie Tuxedo.
The event was been billed as a “free night of fashion and fun.”