When Courtney Black won a grand prize in an online prom dress contest, she threw its organizers for a bit of a loop.
The contest, offered through PromGirl.com, features a trip to New York City to pick out a dream prom dress, have a makeover and participate in a photo shoot.
But contest organizers couldn't figure out how to get her there.
They were pleased to learn that Bemidji had an airport but were surprised at the number of flights available. None met their timetable.
No matter, they'd just take her to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.
"They were surprised it was four hours away," Courtney recalled.
Really, though, it all worked out in her favor.
The prize package includes limousine transportation from the winner's home to the airport - and Courtney lives just 2 miles from the Bemidji airport. That would have been one short ride. Now she has four hours in the limo with her mom and best friend in anticipation of the two-day New York City visit, which will be her first.
The one downside is that to make it in time for the 7 a.m. flight Sunday morning, the limo is picking her up at 1 a.m.
Has she ever ridden in a limo before?
"Once," she said, laughing, "for Girl Scouts, in second grade."
Courtney, 16, a Bemidji High School junior, was on the PromGirl.com website last month looking at potential dresses for what will be her first prom in May. An ad popped up for the Ultimate Prom Giveaway through PromGirl.com and Sephora, a beauty retailer.
So she entered. It didn't require anything. And, even though you could get your name in the bag more than once by doing extra, like creating a video stating why you deserve to win, Courtney opted against it.
"I just entered once," she said. "I didn't do any of that."
Then, three weeks ago, after a weekend shopping trip to St. Cloud to look at prom dresses, she got a phone call saying she was the grand prize winner for the month of February.
It took a bit of convincing before she realized it was for real and not a scam; they sent her an email from a personal email account.
"I was really surprised," she said. "It was hard to believe."
The grand prize includes an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for Courtney, her friend Brianna Neumann, and Courtney's mom, Denise Black. They will fly into New York on Sunday and stay at the Hilton in Times Square until Tuesday.
During that time, Courtney will pick out her dream prom dress and accessories form PromGirl.com's warehouse, undergo a Sephora makeover and take part in a photo shoot.
"I'm excited to try on all of the dresses," she said, "and the shoes. Shoes are my favorite things ever."
She likely will miss out on one of the prize package components, much to organizers' frustration.
Not only does she get a New York-based Sephora makeover, but she is supposed to get a day-of-actual-prom makeover at a Sephora store.
Rosedale Mall in Roseville, Minn., is way too far away and the closest Minnesota location is St. Cloud in a JCPenney.
But that's OK, said Courtney, who said she has never tried Sephora products before. She will have plenty of opportunities now: The prize package includes a Sephora makeup basket, $100 Sephora gift card and $100 cash.