They dressed like Jackie O, Madonna and Dr. J: Northwest Philly elected officials as promgoers

As part of this week’s series on the Northwest Philadelphia prom experience, NewsWorks asked various elected officials for their remembrances of that special high-school day. Their responses were eclectic and, in some cases, surprising.

Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass:

“I remember shopping for my dress with my mom at the Gallery, and the excitement leading up to that night. I remember my date, Ron Jackson, [former] community relations officer at the 35th Police District, and I remember the post-prom which was held at a restaurant/club on East River Drive. My outfit to post-prom was very punk-rock; very Madonna. After all, it was 1985.”

Stephen Kinsey, 201st District state-representative primary winner:

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For Kinsey, senior prom at Germantown High was about showing off his school spirit.

That meant making sure to incorporate his alma mater’s colors, green and white, into his attire. His date’s too. His buddy’s and his date’s, as well.

Inside a Smalls tuxedo shop in Center City, Kinsey found what he was after: a mint green tuxedo jacket.

“I had to look around, but I knew that’s what I wanted,” recalled the 53-year-old.

Kinsey, a standout member of the school’s track and football team, also remembers that he had to talk his good friend Floyd Smith into going along with the eye-catching color scheme.

But sure enough, the foursome was paying homage to their school when they exited Floyd’s Ford Shelby outside of the former Holiday Inn on City Line Avenue.

“We looked like clowns now,” said Kinsey, who, like many men in 1976 also rocked a “Dr. J”-style Afro. “Back then, though, it was ‘hey that really looks nice.'”

J.P. Miranda, 197th District state-representative primary winner:

“I recall seeing a large amount of family, political folks at my Mom’s house and waiting their to see me off with my date. There was a bunch of love and excitement in the house.

“The actual [William Penn High School] prom was at the First District Plaza hall, 3801 Market St. I was just never really interested in many non-athletic high school activities. I was more interested in what college life had to offer and learning in a much different environment that included various sorts of personalities.

“The primary reason I attended the prom was because my Mom wanted pictures and my best friend was attending, so we ended up doing a double date sort of night with our dates. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it, but I actually had a great time!”

Mayor (and former Fourth District City Councilman) Michael Nutter:

“I went to both my junior and senior proms at the Prep. I don’t remember the prom themes, but they were both a great time. I was wearing a light pastel suit, a suit that kids today would laugh at me for. Had the Afro. The 70s-requisite platform shoes. I was hot.”

Asked about the prom experience as a father, now that his daughter Olivia attended hers earlier a week or so back, he said, “It was a nerve-wracking expereience. She looked spectacular, and she had a great time. Despite the worries as a parent, that’s what it was all about.”

Ninth District City Councilwoman Marian Tasco:

“I was in North Carolina this past weekend for a commencement and found out my date had died. His girlfriend came up to me at a luncheon and asked if I’d heard, and I hadn’t. …

“The prom itself was uneventful. I grew up in North Carolina, Greensboro, and proms were fun, but in those days, we were really restricted. No drinking or hanging out afterwards. We were just glad to have a prom. The only thing was, my boyfriend didn’t dance. He didn’t dance. The theme was ‘Under the Sea,’ it was all fish and nets and whatever. I wore a frilly net dress that they don’t even make anymore, and I thought I was cute. He thought I was cute, and I thought he was cute. Gosh, it was a long time ago.”

198th District State Rep. Rosita Youngblood:

“I was really excited to go to prom, to get really dressed up in a gown, to be around all my classmates. It was exciting at the time to do that. I don’t remember whether it was at the Philadelphia Athletic Club or the Sheraton Ballroom, but both have been knocked down now.

“The theme had to do with John F. Kennedy. He had just gotten killed that November. I looked back into the yearbook and saw it was to ‘new beginnings.’ You’ll never guess who designed it: [former editor of the Daily News and current Committee of Seventy President and CEO] Zack Stalberg. There’s a picture of him on the Overbrook [High School] steps; we’d taken a class trip, ‘ask not what your country can do for you.’ Everything was about Kennedy.”

Asked whether she went to prom with Stalberg, she said, “Nooo. No. No.”

“I wore a white gown, all inspired by Jacqueline Kennedy, bell shaped gown. All of our hair was done up like Jackie Kennedy, a bouffant.”


A spokeswoman for Fourth District City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. said he was unable to provide a quote earlier this week.

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