Costumes, red carpet treatment dress up party on Oscars night

As celebrities strutted down the red carpet Sunday at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, the Kiggins Theatre in Vancouver hosted a glamorous gathering of its own.

Club-style dance music pulsed from a DJ booth on Main Street as a black limousine turned the corner from Evergreen Boulevard and stopped at the red-carpeted sidewalk near Kiggins. As the door to the limo swung open, guests dressed in 1920s garb stepped out to make their entrance. They weren't celebrities, but they got the star treatment.

"Welcome to the Oscars," Jim Mains of the VancouverSide video blog said into a microphone.

His VancouverSide co-host, Gary Brock, followed: "You look wonderful, but we'll leave that up to the experts."

It was all part of the "The Great Gatsby"-themed Oscar-viewing bash sponsored in part by the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. For the second year in a row, the chamber helped put on the 21-and-older party as a way to support Kiggins and other downtown Vancouver businesses.

"We want it to become a tradition," said Susie Bauder, events director for the chamber, said. And, she added, "it's a lot of fun."

The event drew people from as far away as Salem and Eugene, Ore., and Seattle, she said.

After their brief limo rides from a nearby parking lot, guests were ushered along the red carpet for photos and an interview with local fashion police. They were asked for their Oscar predictions and were complimented on their outfits.

One guest wore a zoot suit. Others wore fur shawls, stiletto heels and headbands decorated in feathers and costume jewels. The film that inspired their outfits, "The Great Gatsby," ended up winning Sunday evening in the Oscars' Best Costume Design category.

Once guests stepped inside the theater's lobby, they were met with a coat check and a bar. Jazz and swing music performed by the Jenny Finn Orchestra flowed from the theater's auditorium, where other guests nibbled on appetizers and sipped wine near an ice sculpture of movie reels.

For Amy and Braden Hurt of Vancouver, the event also was a way to mark something special.

"We are celebrating our 15th-year anniversary," Braden Hurt said, "and it seemed like a fun little night on the town."

Amy Hurt found out about the event on Facebook and said she was not disappointed Sunday. "The decor is beautiful," she said. "I liked how they interviewed you outside at the carpet."

During that interview, the couple was asked which movie would win the Oscar for best picture. Braden Hurt guessed "Gravity," while his wife guessed "12 Years a Slave."

"I have a feeling about that one," she said. She was right.

There was a prize for the person who predicted the most Oscar wins. Guests also played Oscar bingo and competed for best dressed.

An estimated 140 people attended the black-tie Vancouver Goes Hollywood party, said Chandra Chase, spokeswoman for the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. Many guests were involved in the local entertainment or business community, while others were dignitaries, she said.

In addition to celebrating the Academy Awards, the event also gives a boost to Kiggins Theatre, which has had its recent challenges, Chase said.

Legislators recently passed a bill to allow the theater to host events with alcohol in its auditorium, and theater owners worked to move from film to digital movie projection.

"This event brings an opportunity to showcase the remarkable improvements at Kiggins Theatre, one of Vancouver's treasures," Kelly Parker, CEO and president of the chamber, said.

Drawing people to the theater also is helpful to other small downtown businesses, chamber members said.

"Small businesses are really our bread and butter," Chase said.

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