Watford City, North Dakota

Watford City, North Dakota. Population 6,027. Unless somebody died last night. You’re looking at a whole lot of rocks and dirt out here.

The town of Watford City is a fleck-on-the-map hamlet located within the Badlands of the Roughrider State. It’s your quintessential Western town. You’ve got everything here you’d need to be happy. You have a hardware store, a pharmacy, a beer joint, American Legion Post 29, and a phonebook with at least six pages.

And, of course, there is the giant eight-ton bust of Theodore Roosevelt standing outside the local motel, which attracts dozens of tourists each year.

Senior prom was last week, which is a big deal in a town like Watford City. And, thanks to the Internet Age, prom is an even bigger deal these days because of something called a “promposal.”

For those who have been living on planet Jupiter, today’s teens rarely just ask someone to prom. They “prompose.” This is like a marriage proposal for high-schoolers wherein a teen pulls an elaborate stunt to ask his date to prom. This is usually videoed or photographed for social media.

Promposals are meant to be cute, but sometimes they can get downright freaky. Some teens go all out for their promposals.

Some young men have organized streetwide flash mobs to propose to their dates.

One kid from Pennsylvania tandem-skydived for his promposal, wearing only his underpants, carrying a banner that read “I just ‘dropped in’ to ask you to prom.”

She said no.

One poor kid in Nevada videoed his promposal by bringing donuts to a girl’s house. In the video, a girl answers the door wearing a huge smile. She is clearly overwhelmed by the gesture when she excitedly says, “Oh my gosh!”

At this point, the 16-year-old nuclear physicist holding the donuts looks shocked. There is a long moment of awkwardness before the boy finally says something like: “Wait, this is the wrong house.”

Then, as if this poor girl wasn’t embarrassed enough, the kid posts this video online, the footage goes viral, and eventually winds up on the national morning show circuit where snappily dressed TV hosts dedicate a half hour to talking about it.

You have to worry about America.

Which brings us to Dakota Wollan. Dakota is a senior in McKenzie County who decided not to play the modern promposal game. No flash mobs, no private jets, no bungee jumping in thong underwear. Instead, the young man asked his 92-year-old great-grandmother to accompany him to prom.

His great-grandmother, Madeline Miller, is from a different America than the one we live in. She was born when Herbert Hoover was still in the White House. Booze was still illegal, and there was a Depression on.

Madeline never got the chance to go to prom because she didn’t finish high school. As a girl, she dropped out of school to help her family shovel manure and feed chickens on the farm.

“My grandma had this old truck, Dakota told KYFR-TV. “It’s a 1985 Dodge, and she handed that down to me, and I thought that would be a great way to ask her to prom.”

So Dakota crawled into his ‘85 Ram, swung by the store to pick up some flowers, then cruised to Granny’s house, wearing his nicest daywear Stetson.

“I was pretty nervous, yes,” he said.

Dakota presented his grandmother with a promposal poster-board sign that read: “Will you go to prom with me in this old truck?”

His grandmother was unable to speak.

“I was just wondering why,” said Madeline. “Why would he want a 92-year-old lady going to the prom with him when there are so many girls at school?”

So Dakota told her. He said that he wanted to make a memory together. He wanted to accompany her to her very first prom. He told her it would be an honor.

She said yes.

When the big night came, Dakota eased into Granny’s driveway with 140 horses rumbling beneath the hood. He leapt out of his vehicle and trotted to the door. A little nervous. He wore a silver dinner jacket, white tie, dress ropers, and a silverbelly Stetson.

His grandmother opened the door. She was wearing a pale pink gown, makeup, and her hair was coiffed to Aquanet perfection.

He extended a corsage to her. “I brought you something,” he said.

When they got to the school gymnasium, the school was done up in colorful balloons and twinkling lights, the parking lot was packed, and it was a chilly night in Watford City.

They entered the doors. Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon” was playing overhead. When Dakota and Madeline took to the dancefloor, they did not go unnoticed.

The applause started small. Then it got louder until it became a deafening roar. Many prom-goers were dabbing their eyes with napkins and sniffing their noses. Flashbulbs were firing like artillery.

Madeline said, “Walking beside my great-grandson, listening to all this music, as we walked, and people clapping, and hollering… That was… Yeah.”

They danced to one song. Then Dakota took his date home, and like a gentleman, he walked her to the door. No social-media frenzy. No skydiving. No big fuss. Just a kid and his grandma.

When asked how the night went, Dakota said: “It is one of the best experiences you will ever have.”


  1. Joanne - April 23, 2022 7:42 am


  2. 🇿🇦🇿🇦Norma Den - April 23, 2022 7:53 am

    Everyone should have a boy like Dakota. In these modern days he took the risk of being mocked by his peers, all to make an old lady happy. God bless that boy, he’s set an example to all.

  3. Sandi. - April 23, 2022 9:35 am

    What a memorable, heartwarming gesture on Dakota’s part. We all need more feel-good stories like this one. Thank you, Sean, for sharing it.

  4. Jocelyn - April 23, 2022 9:37 am

    This is what keeps humans real. Good to know we still have decent kids growing up in the Badlands.

  5. Sandi Krym - April 23, 2022 10:15 am

    What a wonderful story! I hope there were pictures made to go with the beautiful memory!

  6. Ann - April 23, 2022 10:26 am

    This young man “ gets it”!

  7. Connie - April 23, 2022 11:25 am


  8. Kathy Smith - April 23, 2022 11:44 am

    What a beautiful story this is! It brought a tear to my eye reading how sweet Dakota is. My youngest grandson, Joshua, did not participate in any school dances in high school because he thought the “promposal” way of asking a girl to a dance was ridiculous. In our area of the country you had to do that for the homecoming dance also. His senior year he finally went to prom with a group of friends. The boys all drew a girl’s name from a hat to see who they would buy a corsage for. The kids all had a blast!

  9. Dale Ann Watford - April 23, 2022 11:50 am

    I was dabbing my eyes too! A memory the whole town will always remember. Dale Ann Watford from Florida.

  10. Cathy miller - April 23, 2022 11:51 am

    What a lovely story. This young man will be a wonderful grown up.

  11. Aunt Tim - April 23, 2022 11:58 am

    I miss my grandma…

  12. Melanie - April 23, 2022 12:30 pm

    Guess I better change my zip code. What is it for Jupiter? Beautiful story, Sean.

  13. Marc Carter - April 23, 2022 12:32 pm

    Tears , my friend. Thanks.

  14. Edwin G Staples - April 23, 2022 12:40 pm

    I predict that, that young man will go far in this world.

  15. Janellen - April 23, 2022 12:51 pm

    Dakota did what every kid in that school wished they had the nerve to do. The good kids out weigh the bad by a million to one!

  16. Bob E - April 23, 2022 1:06 pm

    Dakota and Mrs. Madeline deserved the best and got it – congratulations and God bless them.

  17. oldandblessed - April 23, 2022 1:08 pm

    A case of bringing the multi-generational gap.

  18. oldlibrariansshelf - April 23, 2022 1:18 pm

    This is awesome. Maybe when I’m ninety-something one of my great grands might take me to my first high school prom!

  19. Cliff McCurry - April 23, 2022 1:22 pm

    Great story and start to this beautiful day in Savannah!

  20. Ann - April 23, 2022 1:32 pm

    Beautiful story. Still have tears in my eyes. I never got to go to a prom dance. We didn’t have them at our school. Would love for my grandson to take me to his prom. I am 80 years young!

  21. Penny Lozon - April 23, 2022 1:34 pm

    Thank you Sean. Thank you for sharing a heartwarming good hearted story. What an amazing memory that young man will carry with him for the rest of his life.

  22. Ruth Mitchell - April 23, 2022 1:40 pm

    If I had a Stetson, I’d take it off to this young man for his kindness and caring and to you for sharing it! ❤️

  23. LaurieMay in MN - April 23, 2022 1:54 pm

    I’m not a cryer but…tissue please! Thank you Sean for sharing real life stories.

  24. LauraD - April 23, 2022 2:13 pm

    Wonderful, feel good story for the day.

  25. Jan - April 23, 2022 2:19 pm

    Precious story. As a 75 year old grandmother, this really is a special story. Thank you, Sean, and thank you, Dakota! What a wonderful young man.

  26. Rachel Tarses - April 23, 2022 2:52 pm

    Once again, Sean, you’ve made me cry.

  27. Sean of the South: Watford City, North Dakota | The Trussville Tribune - April 23, 2022 2:55 pm

    […] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]

  28. Teka Pierce - April 23, 2022 3:27 pm

    This gives me hope for the future

  29. shirley c hill - April 23, 2022 3:27 pm

    Oh WOW thanks so much for sharing the best in America – not the crazies trying to get attention. Thanks to Dakota and his grandma.

  30. Sally - April 23, 2022 3:38 pm

    Hey I live in Manitoba want to stop by?
    I live close to the border even!

  31. Marilyn - April 23, 2022 3:44 pm

    Wake up America! Teach your sons n daughters highest respect for their elders! Kudos to those parents who have and may the practice continue.

  32. Jim Hudgins - April 23, 2022 4:20 pm

    First time to checks like or write a comment but read daily and pr int for wife . Loved“Will the Circle be Unbroken “ I am a retired CC president, I Recommended the book to several ok my CC friends.Proud of our graduate👏👍🎉

  33. Dale Parsons - April 23, 2022 6:13 pm


  34. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - April 23, 2022 6:25 pm

  35. Linda Moon - April 23, 2022 7:30 pm

    My Guy was almost transferred from the Deep South to South Dakota. Fortunately, he finished his working years Down South…not Dakota. We’ve grown old together and often listened and danced to “Neon Moon”. I suggest to all young guys that you dance with Grandma at least once, especially to that “Moon” song. Thank you, Dakota.

  36. Patricia Gibson - April 23, 2022 7:47 pm

    What a beautiful thing to do❤️❤️❤️

  37. Susan W Fitch - April 23, 2022 8:03 pm

    WOW, just WOW! Great story, Sean

  38. Olivia Grizzle - April 23, 2022 8:20 pm

    What a wonderful story. He must be an exceptional young man to do this for his great grandmother. We need more heart warming stories like this one. Thanks for sharing this one, Sean.

  39. Jenny Young - April 23, 2022 8:28 pm

    Oh my I do so hope my grandson loves me like this. I think we have a good start. He is 4 yrs old & I spend as much time with him as I can. A few weeks ago my husband was going to come home from work early so he could play with him but he ended up having to stay at work until after our boy went home.
    I told him that ‘I’m sorry but Papa can’t home & play today. He has to stay at work.’
    His reply….’That’s ok Grammy. I like you best anyway.’
    Poor Papa.

  40. Cathy M - April 23, 2022 8:34 pm

    Wow❤️ Oh Dakota, the places you will go! Thank you Sean and congratulations to the parent or parents raised this young man. I have a feeling that grandmother went to sleep with a smile on her face. I had four of the best grandparents a girl could ask for. I am 74 next month and tonight my husband and I are babysitting the youngest three. Pay it forward. What a privilege💕

  41. Merlyn Tidemann - April 23, 2022 8:45 pm

    Outstanding. Great young man

  42. Cynthia Russell - April 23, 2022 8:54 pm

    Thank You Sean!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. MAM - April 23, 2022 10:00 pm

    That was an outstanding story! Good for that awesome young man. I hope my granddaughter finds a guy as good as that one! All of us so appreciate you, Sean, and your wonderful stories! Thanks for sending one every day!

  44. Steve McCaleb - April 24, 2022 1:01 am

    What a great kid ! Now if we could get the other 80 million of his fellow teens to follow his wonderful example. Well, they probably ain’t enuff old people to go around. Hey….it was just an idea.

  45. Chasity Davis Ritter - April 24, 2022 2:39 am

    Never fails I end up up in tears. This was beautiful and such a wonderful gesture by this amazing young man. We had Prom here in my town last night I got to see lots of pretty pictures of pretty people all over Facebook today. I was a little nostalgic for my own prom 33 years ago and even posted my old picture with my bestie. It’s crazy how fast time goes because it doesn’t always seem that long ago. I’m proud of this kiddo for doing such a wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing the story with us.

  46. Ann Marie Bouchet - April 24, 2022 2:56 am

    This is a wonderful column. It made me cry and I am so, so glad you featured this exceptional young man and his great grandmother. How blessed he is to still have her…..thank you for sharing, Sean.

  47. Mary Douglas - April 24, 2022 5:00 am

    Awesomely beautiful! Truly touching! Thank you,Sean for this wonderful story of family love and devotion! Inspiring!

  48. Colleen Shabluk - April 24, 2022 12:02 pm

    Thanks for this beautiful story. Dakota set an example for his classmates and I’ll bet there will be more grandparents that attend future high school proms.

  49. Lauren Lopez - April 24, 2022 2:34 pm

    Absolutely beautiful!!

  50. Susan Mitchell - April 24, 2022 3:23 pm

    One of your best Sean! I’m just teary

  51. Erin W - April 24, 2022 6:09 pm

    Ok. I’m bawling! I want to adopt this kid as my own.

  52. Donna Ledford - April 24, 2022 7:10 pm

    As always – Thank You for sharing!!

  53. Dale Parsons - April 24, 2022 7:55 pm

    My first date when I was fourteen was with my mom. We went to the homecoming game.

  54. Robin Fitzhugh - April 25, 2022 2:01 am

    We took our 11 year old granddaughter downtown last night for pizza. Turns out it was prom night and our grandchild was enchanted by the gorgeous girls everywhere. Then she said “why are the girls so much better looking than the boys?” All I could say was “that’s high school for you!”

  55. Lesli Roper - April 26, 2022 1:57 am

    This young man will make some woman a great husband one day. Kudos to his parents also.

  56. Alice Grimes - May 1, 2022 8:46 am

    There is still hope for this younger generation! What a privilege to have a great grandson like Dakota. May God richly bless that whole family!


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