Megan Flaherty arrived at Pennsauken High School’s junior prom in New Jersey on Saturday in the back of a hearse.
The doors opened, and the driver, wearing a tuxedo and top hat, and Megan’s date slid the coffin out.
Megan, in a pretty blue dress holding a bouquet of flowers, lay inside the open prop coffin, smiling, having no idea that she would become a viral social media star in that moment.
One person dubbed the moment “fresh to death.”
Others considered the stunt dead on arrival.
“I like being different,” Megan, 17, told NJ.com.
She said her brother also took the hearse to prom but didn’t do the coffin bit. She did because she wants to be a funeral director someday like the family friend — the guy in the top hat — who helped her with the stunt.
The whole thing was a little too far outside the box for some people who criticized the high-schooler on YouTube, where a video of her arrival was posted.
“Classless, tasteless, and insensitive,” wrote one woman. “I am not surprised her goal is to be a funeral director. When she applies for the job, I am betting more than one funeral home will reject her for mocking the dead.”
“Attention seeking at its worst,” wrote another.
“This is how ‘Elvira Mistress of the Dark’ went to prom. Except it was Elvira,” snarked another.
The backlash grew so heated Megan’s mother, Susan Flaherty, posted an explanation to Facebook, saying her daughter meant “no disrespect.”
Flaherty told NJ.com that her daughter comes from a family of theatrical performers who have “that ability to put on a show.” They are costumed entertainers known as mummers who perform in the famous New Year’s Day Mummers Parade in Philadelphia.
“Some agree that it is all in fun ... others don’t understand the meaning behind it,” Flaherty wrote in defending her daughter on a Facebook community forum.
“Megan decided about a year ago that this is the profession she will enter into. She has already made her choice of a school. She has already donated her time to helping in funeral services. The hearse driver is her mentor.
“No disrespect meant ... just a celebration of knowing what she wants to do with her life after graduation and of course, celebrating Junior Prom.”
Even before her moment went viral, Megan knew that some people wouldn’t get the joke, but she shrugged it off.
“Anything people do these days, people judge it,” she told NJ.com. “People have opinions.”