When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the fabulous story of "The Great Gatsby," in 1925, he didn't realize just how timeless his story of the ever-so-decadent Jay Gatsby would really become; approaching a century since the book was written, it is still very present in popular culture today and is considered one of the greatest works of American literature. But when it was written, Fitzgerald thought himself a failure. He couldn't have been more wrong.
Having become such a staple in American history, it was only obvious to members of Preservation Williamsport to use it as a theme for an event, "A Gatsby Affair," which will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 at 522 W. Fourth St.
Preservation Williamsport is a unique group devoted to preserving the past in order to sustain the future. They own and operate the Rowley House Museum, which is a Victorian house museum on 707 W. Fourth St. They also have a board that is dedicated to protecting and preserving Williamsport's historic assets.
Preservation Williamsport will hold “A Gatsby Affair” dinner and dance Sept. 28. Shown with a 1929 Ford Model A, clockwise from left, are Preservation members Dante Miele-Elion, Scott McNiell, Liz Miele, Lena Yeagle, Edward Lyon, Jennifer Johnson, Ruth Grieco and Nan Young.
"You'll soon consider that the key to Williamsport's future lies right here in its past. Showcasing our historic district attracts tourists and tourism dollars to Williamsport ... it is our goal not only to preserve and protect Williamsport's heritage, but to increase preservation awareness," their website, www.preservationwilliamsport.org, says.
With the recent theatrical and subsequent DVD release of Baz Luhrmann's visually-stunning version of the age-old story, Gatsby was on the forefront of people's minds, so why not hold a Gatsby Affair of their own? Preservation Williamsport generally hosts a large fundraising event once a year.
"Gatsby was a bootlegger, and Williamsport has had bootleggers in its past. We want to do things that are consistent with that era," said Edward Lyon, chairman of Preservation Williamsport, who initially thought of the Gatsby Affair idea.
"The movie recently came out and it's a movie and novel that everyone knows about, so, Gatsby was a perfect fit. We usually do Victorian events, but we wanted to try something from the '20s," he said.
The affair will take place in the yard, under the stars, at a beautiful home located on Williamsport's famous Millionaires' Row.
The home, 522 W. Fourth St., belongs to Bob Elion, a member of the board.
"Gatsby could have lived there," Lyon said.
Since the theme is the Roaring '20s, men are asked to wear their most elegant suits and women are suggested flapper dresses, feather hats, classy heels and the like. Lyon suggests checking online for period clothing, stating that if you simply Google "Gatsby," it "brings everything up," or, attendees could visit a vintage clothing store and see what's in stock.
Lyon will be wearing a seersucker suit and a straw hat, and thinks that seeing what others are wearing might be the most fun.
For $60, attendees will indulge in a night of 1920s-style music, a "Great Gasby dinner menu" provided by the Peter Herdic House Restaurant, '20s-style drinks, dancing, party favors and more.
"All of the funds will go to Preservation Williamsport to help forego our mission," Lyon said.
Two hundred lucky folks will get to enjoy the event; Lyon said he expects that the event will sell out, with more than 100 tickets having been sold already.
Live entertainment includes performances by a group called Terry Wild and the Gatsby Boys, created specifically for the event, and ragtime piano music performed by Tom Wetzel.
To purchase tickets to the Gatsby Affair, visit the Community Arts Center box office or call 326-2424. To learn more about Preservation Williamsport, visit www.preservationwilliamsport.org or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Preservation Williamsport.