Couple gets married on a real love train
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- When people ask Krisy Plourde and Tom Golden where they got married, their answer will be a rough estimate: somewhere around 46th Street.
Plourde and Golden said their vows aboard an elevated train on Sunday, just ahead of Valentine's Day.
The nuptials, performed by Mayor Michael Nutter, took place on a special train from City Hall to west Philadelphia. While Plourde and Golden, both 28, were being wed in the first car, about 360 other riders were getting a narrated tour of the "Love Letter" series of rooftop murals that parallel the tracks.
It was perhaps the most memorable Love Train in the city since the early 1970s, when Philadelphia International Records released the O'Jays' hit song by the same name.
Operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, the Market-Frankford line train was decorated Sunday with red hearts on the outside and white garlands on the inside. It was a sharp departure from the couple's original plan to wed on an ocean liner.
"People get married on cruises all the time," Golden, an engineer, said after the ceremony. "Who gets married by the mayor of Philadelphia on the SEPTA El?"
The Love Train was sponsored by the city's Mural Arts Program to promote a mammoth project by artist Steve Powers. Mixing graphics with funky, bright lettering, Powers painted on upper-story row house walls about 50 larger-than-life love notes, such as "Forever begins when you say yes" and "Holler and hear my heartbeat."
The murals, which run along 20 blocks of El track, are a tribute to what Powers has called the lost art of sign painting. He also describes them as his love letter to west Philadelphia, where he grew up as a graffiti tagger before going legit.
The art already has a reputation for romance. A few months ago, Mural Arts officials arranged an on-board serenade for a man who wanted to propose to his fiancDee as they rode out to see the murals.
Mural program executive director Jane Golden, no relation to the groom, called Sunday's Love Train event "a combination of public art, romance and the incredible spirit of Philadelphians."
Plourde and Tom Golden met several years ago on their first day as freshmen at Drexel University in Philadelphia. They became friends but didn't date, and they lost touch after graduation. They reconnected through mutual friends in 2008 and have been together ever since.
Plourde, an event planner who regularly commutes on SEPTA from suburban Springfield, said entering a contest to be married on the El was almost a whim. But she said that it was based on a true passion for the city and that friends and family were supportive.
One slight problem: Her formal beaded ivory gown, accented with red, was bought long before she knew where she would be wearing it.
"Had I known I was going to be married on the subway, I probably would have chosen a smaller skirt size and shorter train," she said.
Performing a marriage on the train was a first for the mayor. Yet perhaps it brought him full circle: Nutter said he started dating his now-wife after an unexpected meeting on the El about 21 years ago.
She wouldn't give out her phone number, he said, but she told him where she worked.
"I had to track her down a little bit," Nutter said.
Jessica Geoghan and Mike Patkus, who were among the El riders on the mural tour, had won tickets for the trip from SEPTA because of their own transit-based love story.
When they started going out more than a year ago, Geoghan lived in northeast Philadelphia while Patkus lived several miles away in west Philadelphia. All their early dates ended with them running to the 30th Street Station so Geoghan could catch the last train home.
Geoghan, 24, said she'd board the train and press her nose against the window as Patkus, 25, blew kisses from the platform.
"I know it's super-cheesy," Geoghan said, "but that's how it started."
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