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Never mind formal wear and high heels: For Minneapolis South High School students, Saturday’s prom is all about Crocs.

Cornelia Lutz is a huge fan of the brightly colored, clog-like shoes, but she never dreamed she’d get 300 of her classmates to wear them at the big event Saturday at the Commons Hotel on the University of Minnesota campus.

All it took was a Facebook page, an article in the school newspaper and the magic of Google alerts. A donation of 41 boxes of the footwear arrived this week from the Boulder, Colo.-based company.

“This could be our legacy: Crocs to prom,” a beaming Lutz said Friday afternoon. “It’s crazy. I’m just pumped.”

It all started with a conversation Lutz had with longtime friend Lilly McLaughlin about wearing Crocs to prom “because I like to be comfortable when I dance.” The two started a public Facebook page to promote the idea, where they lightheartedly encouraged those who don’t own Crocs to crochet their own or just poke holes in their shoes.

Things were slow to take off and drew more scoffers than supporters. A reporter at the student newspaper, the Southerner, didn’t think much of the idea but wrote a column about it anyway.

“I thought it was kind of tacky, but also outside of the box and social prom norm of heels and dresses tuxes and Oxfords,” said senior Sera Mugeta. “I thought it was really funny, and it was just an article about wearing Crocs.”

Little did she know that the online article triggered a Google alert that went to Crocs’ chief marketing officer, who was traveling in Bangkok. He sent word back to headquarters, and Katy Michael, vice president of communications, took it from there.

Michael left a note in the comment section of the article saying she’d like to donate the footwear. Southerner adviser Corinth Matera responded back, got the school’s prom advisers in contact with Michael, and soon the shoes were on their way to Minnesota.

“Crocs is about finding fun, and what would be more fun than 500 kids at prom wearing classic clogs,” Michael said, noting the company has never made a donation like this. “This will be the first prom with 500 pairs of clogs on the dance floor. We are really excited.”

Once dismissed as a crazy and almost sacrilegious idea, the sentiment about wearing Crocs at prom has turned drastically. The clogs in eight colors and various sizes showed up at South this week. Many students were more excited about getting a free pair of the $35-footwear than going to prom itself, said prom adviser and history teacher Erick Taggart.

“It’s is going to make prom a really memorable experience for the students,” he said. “I’ve been doing this four years, and this is definitely unique.”

But in all the fun, Taggart said there has been some valuable lessons learned.

“It’s showing the power of the press. It’s showing individually you can do things,” Taggart said. “It seems kind of silly, it’s Crocs, but it is an accomplishment, something impressive, and students will get to see that. It’s a teachable moment.”

For others, such as McLaughlin, it will give them their first pair of Crocs and a place in South High history.

“We never expected it to be this big,” said Lutz, who plans to wear pink Crocs for the big night. “As seniors, this is our last hurrah.”

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768