The New York Times sent photographer Jessica Dimmock and reporter Julie Bosman to join students from Northwestern High School as they traveled from their hometown of Flint, Michigan, for a dreamy night on a Detroit riverboat.
Flint has been in crisis since 2014, when it was discovered that officials had switched from Lake Huron to the Detroit water system in order to save money. The water had long been unsafe to drink, but in combination with old lead pipes it became poisonous. Three years later, most of the population still has to drink bottled water.
The senior class at Northwestern decided as a group to take their prom night to a new location, leaving behind a negative history and a school that will be merged with another one across town in the Fall, ending its standalone athletic program. Prom king Treveyon Allen said it was an opportunity to experience something new and positive as a group.
“I’ve never been to Detroit,” said Treveyon. “Most of us haven’t been on a boat at all. That was a beautiful experience, to just get on a boat and say, ‘We’ve been here.’”
A student named Ny Stovall, who is dating another young woman named Christal, explained to Bosman that this is an event she’s been looking forward to for some time.
“The best part of high school for me was probably prom,” said Ny. “It’s like a milestone. You know you’re close to being done with high school. Everybody dreams of going to prom.”
Outfits are extremely important and festivities kick off with a literal promenade, or “the catwalk,” that is so popular the crowds have to be cordoned off. Couples usually color coordinate their looks, which are elaborate to the very last detail:
Corey Edwards, who surprised his date by wearing the beautiful pink shoes above to match her dress, told the NYT that he everyone seemed more mature and “had kind of a professional attitude” as they stepped onto the riverboat after a one-hour bus trip to the location.
“That’s the crazy thing about it—everybody was acting different,” he said. “It actually was nice. It was like we should just do it every day.”
You can read the whole piece here.