The mom who saved prom: North Bend family rescues evening with emergency generator

Joy Hoffman-Baunsgard and her family (clockwise from top)

Twenty-six years after high school sweethearts Roy Baunsgard and Joy Hoffman were crowned Mount Si High School’s Prom King and Queen, the couple again became prom celebrities, at the 2011 Mount Si prom.
There were no crowns this time, but it was very special to Joy Hoffman-Baunsgard, prom photographer and hero.
“Sunday I went to the Dairy Freeze, and this cute senior girl behind the counter said ‘are you the lady who brought the generator to prom?!'” she said. She said she was, so then the girl said “‘Thank you! You saved our prom!’ So that was nice to be thanked by the kids,” Hoffman-Baunsgard said by phone last week.

Hoffman-Baunsgard credits her husband Roy, with actually saving the dance, held Saturday, May 21, at Union Station in Seattle. He was the one who brought the couple’s emergency generator from their North Bend home back into Seattle to power both his wife’s photography equipment and the DJ’s music and light show after the electricity went out, minutes into the dance.

“Prom started at 8:30 (p.m.) and we lost power at 8:40,” said class advisor Christi Wright.

After a few moments of not knowing what to do, the group rallied and started thinking of solutions. Hoffman-Baunsgard called her husband, who’d been helping her set up her camera equipment earlier and was on his way home with their two boys, and asked him to bring in their home generator.

“Since it can power our whole house, I figured it could handle most of the DJ’s stuff,” Hoffman-Baunsgard said.

With the help of a friend, Kevin Aman, who “flew down the hill from Wilderness Rim,” he loaded the generator into Aman’s truck and sped back to the darkened prom.

Meanwhile, the prom-goers waited, sitting at tables in the soft emergency lighting (powered by battery backups), and talking. Some students left right away, Wright said, but about 200 couples stayed for the evening. Hoffman-Baunsgard was impressed with the class officers, who did their best to keep everyone at the dance.

By 9:54 p.m., the generator was in place, Hoffman-Baunsgard was photographing couples, the music was playing, and no one was complaining.

“I think that they were so, so excited that we made it kind of work,” said Hoffman-Baunsgard. I didn’t see anybody that was mad.”

“They really saved it,” Wright said of the couple. “I will be forever grateful.”

A little tension remained throughout the night, though, as fire safety concerns loomed.

“The kids probably didn’t know this, but the facilities manager was very concerned that he would lose the battery backups,” said Hoffman-Baunsgard. If the backups had failed, the fire safety precautions would have shut down, and the building would have been evacuated.

Luckily, prom proceeded for everyone, and 9 year-old Troy Baunsgard got his wish, to stay for the whole dance, since his ride was with the generator. Usually, only his Mom stays to the end, “because the royalty pictures are done pretty late.” This year’s King and Queen are Chad Stetson, and Kassidy Maddux.

Prom ended near midnight, but the work was far from done for the family. The generator had to keep running to give them lights to pack up all of the photo equipment, and they had to use flashlights once they took down the last light-stand. Both Troy and Macoy, 6, were sound asleep by the time the family got home, around 3 a.m.

Hoffman-Baunsgard and her husband were tired, too, but happy to have played an important part in the school that holds a special place in their hearts. Looking on the bright side, she adds, “Now they have this amazing story to tell!”

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