Some Hershey parents, plus an entertainer from Lincoln, were shocked to find a $100 parking ticket on their car window when they left a post-prom party early Sunday morning at the North Platte Recreation Center. Hershey High parents rented the Rec Center for the party, which lasted from midnight to 3:30 a.m.
During that time, the Rec Center was closed to other business. The parking lot filled up and some people parked in handicapped parking stalls, the parents said.
The North Platte police issued parking tickets around 2 a.m., working for about 20 minutes, said one of the parents, citing the times on the tickets.
Police did not respond to a request for comment on Monday afternoon. They issued a statement Tuesday morning:
An officer issued five parking tickets to vehicles parked at the Rec Center, Police spokesman Rodney Brown said.
Brown said the five vehicles were found to be in violation of North Platte Municipal Ordinance. According to city and state law, handicap parking is enforceable 24 hours a day.
"Our Officers routinely patrol in the area of scheduled events throughout the community to ensure the safety of both the public and participants," Brown said.
One ticket went to the featured entertainer, hypnotist Jeff Martin of Lincoln, who drove to North Platte and parked near the entrance to unload and load his gear.
The North Platte police did not respond Monday afternoon to a request for more information, while several parents called the Bulletin to say the tickets were over zealous and unnecessary.
They said they knew of no complaints from anyone at the party.
The prom itself was held at the Holiday Inn Express in North Platte. Some students went home after the prom, changed clothes and drove back to North Platte for the after-prom party. They were told to arrive before the doors were locked at 1:15 a.m.
Mark Crow, whose son was at the party, said some kids parked in handicapped spaces because the lot was full and they were running out of time to get in before the doors were locked.
Crow said the officers did not take time to ask anyone to move the cars, which would have taken only few minutes. Instead they spent nearly half-an-hour writing tickets.
“It wasn’t like it was an emergency to get those cars moved,” Crow said. “No one was towed and the Rec Center was not open to the public at those hours anyway. The whole thing has left a bad feeling with the kids of Hershey about the North Platte Police Department.”
Shawna Davison of Hershey, one of the organizers, said the initial reactions to tickets on the cars were, “Are you kidding!”
“We were there to take care of the kids with a party that included no booze or drugs so they could avoid troubles,” Davison said.
Davison told the Bulletin that the Rec Center manager that night called the officer who wrote the tickets but got no relief for the after-prom-goers.
It was already an expensive night, said Crow and another parent Suzanna Klaasmeyer, who helped at the party.
“There was a lot of money spent on the night,” Crow said. “Most of the kids bought dinner at North Platte restaurants. The boys rented their tuxedos in North Platte and most of the girls bought dresses there.”
Plus, the Holiday Inn and the Rec Center were rented.
Crow said that right now, “there’s an attitude among the kids and the parents that we’ll not have our prom in North Platte again.”