There were no ballgowns or tuxedos at Jim Kenney’s inauguration party. There was legendary DJ Jerry Blavat who danced on stage with the Philly Phanatic and the rest of the city’s sports mascots.
There were also sausage and pepper sandwiches, fried chicken and waffles, tater tots and mini cupcakes served from food trucks. There was a tribute to Philadelphia music, played by the city’s high school for Creative and Performing Arts band.
And there was the cheerleading squad from West Philadelphia High who performed their own personalized cheer for the mayor: “Let’s go Kenney, go … It takes a mighty man, yeah, to do what Kenney do. It takes a mighty man, yeah, to work how he work.”
After a day of pomp and circumstance that involved dragging desks from Philadelphia City Hall to the Academy of Music, Kenney’s block party was a time to let loose before the real work begins.
And other than being a unique choice compared to inaugural bashes of mayors past, the event set the tone for the next four years.
The “Geator with the Heater” summed it up as he warmed up the crowd:
“We welcome the brand new mayor with a brand new agenda,” Blavat said to the beat. “Music, dancing. Neighborhoods. Schools, bring it back to all parts of Philadelphia.”
Apart from the politicians, political operatives, union heads and other boldface names in the crowd of roughly 1,500 invited guests, there were also many community activists like Aldo Siahaan, a pastor and Indonesian immigrant who works with that community in South Philly.
“Great food, great people and I like it,” Siahaan said of the block party idea. “This is something that’s really representing who is Jim Kenney. He wants to be close with his people.”
That’s something West Philly community activist Melissa “Ma Dukes” Taylor is betting on.
She said Kenney has promised her a meeting with his new Police Commissioner Richard Ross to talk about her ideas for preventing youth gun violence by creating a new community center in her neighborhood.
“We have to start with our kids,” she said. “We keep closing down the city schools, we keep shutting down our recreation centers. The kids have nothing to do.”
Taylor, who supported Kenney’s Republican challenger in the general election, said she’ll judge the new mayor by whether he keeps that promise.