FORT KENT, Maine — Limos are so 2014.
This weekend a group of Fort Kent high school students traded in the standard mode of transportation to their prom in favor of something a little more in keeping with the traditions and culture of northern Maine.
And by all accounts, you could certainly hear them coming.
On Saturday Trenton Daigle, Tyler Theriault, Kole Walker, Mitchell Rioux and Nick Theriault picked up their dates in freshly washed and waxed big rigs and with air horns blaring, joined the line of vehicles arriving Saturday night at Lonesome Pine Ski Lodge in Fort Kent for Prom 2015.
“I grew up around trucks and thought it would be cool to do this,” Tyler Theriault said Sunday. “My date was pretty excited about doing it, too.”
And lest anyone think the young men were all about big rigs and not the ladies at their side, rest assured that was not the case.
“I got my tux and then asked [Shyla Bouchard] if she’d go with me and asked what she was wearing,” Tyler said. “When she told me I decided to take a truck that would match her dress.”
All the students borrowed the trucks from local logging contractors and were pre-approved to drive the large trucks by the owners CNA Trucking & Theriault Boys and Rioux Trucks Inc.
“I really did not think twice about letting them use a truck,” Rudy Rioux, truck owner and Mitchell’s father, said Sunday. “I told them, you wash it, you can have it.”
Tyler said he spent a great deal of time leading up to the event doing just that.
“I washed it, waxed it and it rained,” he said. “So I washed and waxed it again and it rained again. After third time, I just said the heck with it.”
Looking at the shining rig, Rioux said, “I think that’s as clean as it has ever been.”
The theme for Saturday’s prom in Fort Kent was “Black Tie,” according to Shiann Haggenmiller who went to the dance with Mitchell Rioux.
“It was really an elegant party,” she said, adding she was all in for the idea of arriving in the logging truck.
“It was cool,” she said. “It was something really different.”
That is not to say it was without some risk, however.
Like Tyler and Shyla, Haggenmiller wanted to make sure her ride and gown matched.
“I had a purple dress and I told [Mitchell] I am not letting you take me in a truck that clashes,” she said with a laugh. “He wanted to take the yellow truck, but we ended up taking a white one.”
But Haggenmiller had one more hurdle to pass. With the trucks’ doors about five-feet off the ground, each of the young women had to negotiate the rigs’ running boards and steps while wearing high heels and long gowns.
“I had to be really careful stepping up and out that my heels did not get stuck in one of the holes on the running boards,” Haggenmiller said. “I had to hold my dress up and walk on tippy toes [but] it was worth it.”
Sadly, her dress did not come out of it unscathed and did rip down the back as she exited the truck.
“I stepped on it,” she said. “But a woman at the prom sewed me back into it right there.”
Kole Walker took more of a hands-on approach as he assisted his date, Abby Pelletier.
“Do you see the height on that kid,” his aunt Tina Jandreau joked on Sunday about her 6-foot-4-inch nephew. “She just wrapped her arms around him and he lifted her right down and out.”
Chivalry, it appears, is not dead.
As the students and adults gathered Sunday afternoon in a grassy field to admire the line of trucks, it was hard to tell who had more fun.
“It would be a good business renting these out,” Rudy Rioux said with a laugh. “It would beat driving in the woods.”
Lee Jandreau said he never thought twice when his 17-year-old nephew asked for the keys to his new 2015 Western Star rig, valued at $160,000.
“He’s qualified to drive it, why not?” he said.
“He’d have done the same thing in high school if he’d had the chance,” Tina Jandreau said of her husband, Lee.
For the adults, it was a treat to see their sons, daughters, nieces and nephews dressed up for the event.
“These are northern Maine girls and boys,” Tina Jandreau said. “Most would rather be ‘muddin’ in pickup trucks or at bonfires.”
Kole’s mother, Lisa Jandreau, agreed.
“It’s hard to get them in tuxes,” she said. “So when we can, we really enjoy it.”
Lisa Jandreau said watching her son pull up Saturday at the ski tow was a source of pride, given the young man had earned his commercial driver’s license at 16.
“My heart was just so full,” she said.
As for Kole, next year he will be a senior and has one more prom to look forward to.
“The closest limos are in Presque Isle,” he said. “These trucks are our limos.”