(USATODAY.com) - Imagine your school rescheduling the senior prom and not telling anyone.
Saturday night in Southern California, imagination gave way to reality, which quickly turned into a nightmare for the 400 Bloomington High School students who arrived all dressed up for what they thought was The Big Night.
They were a week early.
Why the major fail? Miscommunication between the school and the event planner, according to news reports from the Inland Empire.
Though the school's invitations said April 27, the prom venue, Santa Anita Park, told students their night in the Chandelier Room was actually booked for May 5.
"We thought it was a joke: 'OK, that's not funny,' " student Selena Reyes told KABC-TV after she and classmates were told initially to go home and come back this Saturday.
The venue, a famous horse-racing track in with banquet facilities, then scrambled to put together a make-shift party for those who stayed - with a DJ and chicken strips.
They were the most expensive chicken strips - cold, according to one mother - the students would probably ever eat.
"On my tux, I spent like $200 I think, and it was just a rental so I had to take it back the next day," Michael Lupo told KCBS-TV.
Besides $100 tickets, students (and parents) spent bundles on dresses, shoes, corsages, photographs, limos, party buses and all the usual solid and liquid prom trimmings.
The stunned principal, Ignacio Cabrera, is taking responsibility.
"I've been the principal here for 13 years, and I've never had this happen before," he sid.
A semi-formal "make-up" prom is in the works for May 18.