MIDDLETOWN, Calif. (KTVU) - Friday was a day that was long overdue for the Middletown community as the town’s high school finally held the homecoming celebration that had been postponed by the Valley Fire.
Sporting their Mustang Pride in purple and gold, the students and staff of Middletown High School were ready around noon as school let out for the day in preparation for homecoming.
"It's really good that we're like here together. Because since the fire, you feel the need to feel more like a community," said freshman Abigail Elder.
The annual event was supposed to be September 18th, but it was delayed by the devastating fire which destroyed more than 1,200 homes. 20 percent of the student body lost their homes.
"Moving, new home. My schedule's really bad. But, like, all my friends are here, so that's good. And we've gotten a lot of help, and that's good too," said freshman Andrea Garcia.
The administrators and several teachers lost their homes, as well including teacher Shaun Roderick, who is married to principal Bill Roderick.
"Losing my home, going through this, there's a reason. It will make me a better educator, a strong community member. Will it make me a better mom? It could be all of those things so that I stay strong to support those who need me," she said.
So more than a month and a half later, the school's homecoming finally arrived.
"Everyone's happy, more upbeat. The people that lost their homes, they're ok about it. They're getting back on their feet, so everyone's doing good," said senior Jacob Olson.
The boosters put on the party for the students. There was fun for all the kids. There were pies in the face, bounce-house boxing, and some seniors dressed like animals put on races around the courtyard.
"In general, it was really hard at first, it's still hard, people are still adjusting. But the way that everyone has been donating and being generous really helps out a bunch," said senior Jonathan Nance, who was dressed like a hippopotamus.
Senior Jacob Olson, who was dressed as a squirrel, was nominated for homecoming king.
"I'm also a boy scout so I get out there and so a lot of community service, and I've actually been helping at the Lions Club with donations and everything, so it would be a better way and reason for me to go out there and help more," he said.
The homecoming game was at 7 pm, but there was one wrinkle. It was a junior varsity game because the visiting team's varsity squad was out of commission.