If you’re a history nerd like me, then you’ll appreciate the idea of an event that allows people to experience some of Detroit’s most celebrated and prosperous decades.
The Detroit Gatsby Lawn Party is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 13, at Palmer Park. The themed event hopes to honor the character – and characters – that made Detroit in the 1920s and 1930s. This is around the time of the industrial age when factories were coming online and some of the city’s biggest and most beautiful buildings were going up.
The day-long event (it starts at 11 a.m. and goes through 5 p.m.) looks like an incredible experience, mixing Jazz Age entertainment, activities for young and old as well as fabulous food. With its location, the Detroit Gatsby Lawn Party promises to bring history to life, according to organizer Alison Chevalier.
Chevalier is working rigorously to produce this inaugural event. It’s been fascinating (and tiring) to experience the ups and downs of planning such a large event through Chevalier’s eyes. There are great times, like when she meets someone new and has a great meeting that adds another facet to the event. Then there are the challenges, like when a roadblock is put in her way in terms of understanding the rules and regulations of party planning on a grand scale in this town.
All in all, Chevalier has retained her optimism, which makes me believe that this event will be one full of joy and a variety of memorable moments. The best part is that people are encouraged to dress to the age, wearing their best 1920s or 1930s finery. With Detroit’s creativity plus the dramatic background of the Palmer Park homes, gardens and Merrill Fountain, this will blow up Instagram. Plus, a judges’ panel will award prizes for the best getups.
Along with a kids’ corner (bring the little ones! Ages 12 and under are free to attend), there are a bevy of entertainment areas. You can try a new drink at the Speakeasy tent. You can have your photo taken swinging on a Paper Moon. Chalk artists will go to town in the Italian Sidewalk Painting exhibition. My personal favorite is the wood dance floor, where professional instructors will teach the Charleston and other Jazz Age dances.
Musical attractions include The Detroit Pleasure Society, The Planet D Nonet, Zander Michigan. Performers include the vaudeville duo Randym Cyrcumstance and the Lawn Party Follies. Local food and merchandise vendors will be on hand to sell their wares as well. More details will be available on these shops in August; I’ll update you as we get closer to the event.
A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the preservation of the Alger Theater in Detroit. The Friends of the Alger Theater are trying to renovate this 1935 Streamline Moderne beauty, a project Chevalier wants to see happen. “The goal of the Friends of the Alger is to create a thriving community arts center that will also act as an economic catalyst for Detroit’s East side,” she said.
Tickets are available now. Prices range according to the number of amenities you want and how big a group you want to bring. So there are tickets for as little as $25 to more than $100. There are some early-bird tickets still available, but they’re limited so get busy with your credit card.
Vendors are still needed for the Detroit Gatsby Lawn Party’s Outdoor Market; entry deadline is July 30. Selected vendors can sell their wares and keep 100 percent of the profit. All vendors must dress in 1920s/30s appropriate attire. Chevalier said the goal is to build lasting relationships through the years with all of the event’s vendors. For information, email hello@DetroitGatsbyLawnParty.com for more details.