The Manhattan Town Center was transported back in time Saturday night to a time before the stock market crash and the dust and depression that followed for Manhattan High School’s junior/senior prom.
This was the gilded age when the Industrial Revolution reached a full sprint, the rich got richer, almost anyone could afford the millions of cars rolling off the new Detroit assembly lines and life… well, life was a party.
Using “The Great Gatsby” as the theme, the MHS junior class set the stage for the event at Manhattan Town Center with shimmering chandeliers, black and gold feathers, a jazz band to open the night, and to top it all off, the wheels, too.
Dale and Nancy Burton of Wamego donated their 1929 Ford Model A roadster for the evening to complete the Roaring Twenties motif. The car was owned by Nancy’s dad before it was passed on to her. (Students were told not to touch the automobile, but pictures in front of it were encouraged.)
“We came up with the theme because of the new movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, and it was a big hit,” said Xavier Hayden, who’s a junior and on the prom planning committee. “I think a lot of people liked how the 1920s wasn’t boring and how it had a lot of spice to it. It seemed fun.”
DiCaprio’s “Gatsby” premiered in theaters almost exactly a year ago and was inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 landmark novel of the same name, which took a magnifying glass to the decade through the lens of millionaire businessman and extravagant party-thrower Jay Gatsby.
Hyden said planning for prom — no matter the theme — is a very labor-intensive endeavor.
“We’ve been having weekly meetings with the junior class, who’s in charge of it, every Monday, every week, since the beginning of school,” he said. “We’ve spent hours in concession stands for football games and basketball games, raising money for this, and started officially planning three or four months ago.
“It’s been a lot of work, and it’s been hectic.”
Fellow junior and prom committee member Megan Ochoa was happy with their final vision — especially about the Model A.
“Oh the car!” she said enthusiastically, “We didn’t know we were getting that at first, but then someone had friends of friends and it worked out. But I really like (the theme), and I really like the gold and glitter.”
MHS English teacher Kristal Kleiner, the junior class sponsor, said an environment of high taste was the goal for the committee this year.
“They wanted to go classy with it,” said Kleiner, who has helped oversee the MHS prom for the past five years. “We had a jazz-age art display at school this year, so some of the students’ original art is here, too.”
While a jazz band welcomed students into prom, a DJ was used inside.
“In the last few years there were more neons with the decorations, and it was a bit more colorful,” Kleiner said. “This is more of a classy, elegant look.”
Kleiner said there were more than 60 parent volunteers for prom this year and more than 550 students in attendance.