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Y chromosomes aren’t allowed at Abby’s Closet’s annual April event at the Oregon Convention Center, where high school girls line up before dawn to find their free prom dress.

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Abby’s Closet held a thousand dresses in its first year (2004); by 2009, the collection had grown to 4,500.

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Left: Ciara Lynn, who graduated from Beaverton’s Southridge High School in 2009, shows off her gown—and her smile. Right: Wilson High School grad Becky Titchnell picked this green number to go with her hair.

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So many dresses, so little time! Girls are let into the event in groups of about 50 and given about 30 minutes to shop. That was plenty of time for the 1,800 girls who walked away from the Convention Center with their dream dresses last April.

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Priscilla Seiler, now a Clackamas High School graduate, found the perfect little black dress for her three (yes, three) proms in 2009.

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More than 200 volunteers help to put on the annual event, including seamstresses who make minor alterations like adding hooks and buttons or fixing zippers.

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