Say goodnight, Mickey

The sad demise of a hallowed Disney tradition: Grad Nite.

Disney canceled Grad Nite. Like New Wave music and Young Life orgies, another great trend is dead.

But let's mourn the passing of at least one tradition that doesn't make Floridians look like complete idiots. If anything, Grad Nite was a reason to envy those of us who went to school in the Sunshine State.

Now what else can we say that about?

Since the early 1970s, high school seniors have descended on The Magic Kingdom for a few hours of fun and frolic. One night, toward the end of April or beginning of May, from late in the evening until early morning hours, 17 and 18-year-olds from all over the state would put on their nicest clothes, take a few hits of acid, and perform embarrassing sex acts on random strangers while riding Space Mountain.

I, for one, am sad to see it end.

In addition to formal pictures that document ridiculous clothes and even more laughable hairstyles, the other takeaways from Grad Nite were the memories of tacky, unrefined and downright horrible music performances. For my particular Grad Nite (Class of 1987), we had Wang Chung. Others endured Exposé, Britney Spears and Nu Shooz. But for every Will to Power, there were some decent acts like Run DMC, PM Dawn and Goo Goo Dolls.

That's right. Goo Goo Dolls. I said it.

But those acts weren't fun. Fun is grooving to Bobby Brown in parachute pants knowing that one day you will look back and cringe (and, after that, laugh).

Grad Nite was a rite of passage, an evening to hang out with friends and avoid thinking about anything serious. A relatively safe event because teacher-chaperones filled the entire park, exuding a certain control with their authoritative stances. They usually pretended not to see our hidden flasks or rum-filled hairspray bottles, but would intervene if anyone acted really dumb. Then, at the crack of dawn, we crawled back on the bus and had our very own designated driver to safely transport us all home.

What could be better?

Disney reports that they are simply too busy accommodating guests to deal with thousands of kids each year. But aren't enough traditions dying out there without the need to kill any more? Today's generation will never know what it's like to get stoned in a giant teacup, watch the prom queen throw up in front of Cinderella's Castle, or dance with 900 other teenagers all night to music that never should have made it past a demo reel in the basement of some house in Jersey.

I'm not the only one disappointed with this news. Here are my friends' reactions to The End of Grad Nite:

"Is this another budget cut from Governor Scott?"

"Great. Where the hell is Kool & The Gang supposed to perform now?"

"Since implementing minimum teeth standards, not enough people were eligible to attend."

"This was caused by certain high school seniors who were fucking Goofy."

"Next year they'll cancel Gay Days and the Teabaggers will finally have the Florida they've always wanted: Germany."

"And yet Glee is still on. Where's the justice in that?"

Back when I was ready to kiss high school goodbye, I could not be bothered with most of the traditions forced upon us. I did not purchase commemorative T-shirts, plaques, or those gold-plated class rings now collecting dust in Memory Boxes everywhere. I didn't attend prom. I avoided the Baccalaureate Ceremony. And I skipped commencement altogether.

What did I do?

I bought a yearbook and went to Grad Nite.

By the time my kids get to the end of their senior year, yearbooks will be on some teeny-tiny hard drive that can fit on the head of a pin, instead of the giant books I passed around at keggers so football players could write about the early years when I had "tits the size of mosquito bites."

And Grad Nite will be an all-night rave in the garage of some local douchebag who thinks watered-down American beer and bad weed from Lutz make a party.

I weep for the future.

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