Oscars hoopla, Westport style, spotlights theater initiative
Shake Shack rolled out the red carpet Sunday afternoon to local movie fans with an Academy Awards pre-party hosted by the Westport Cinema Initiative, a group working to bring a movie theater back to downtown Westport.
Aligning with the 84th Hollywood awards ceremony, the first 84 guests to attend Sunday's event also received "Non-Swag Bags" with area retail offers, and had the opportunity to fill out ballots guessing at Oscar winners in all the major award categories.
"We wanted to do an Oscars celebration and, with Westport being a little irreverent, we thought we'd do a pop-up event," said Marcy Juran, on WCI's marketing committee. "Shake Shack loved the idea and created a Red Velvet Carpet Concrete (frozen custard concoction) for the occasion."
The WCI has made progress toward its goal, according to state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, who is also president of the WCI's board. "Next month is the one-year anniversary since we started screening films," he said. "We've built a great group of talented volunteers and the next great milestone is to find a permanent site for a theater. We've identified potential spots in downtown and once we decide on a spot, we will kick off with a fundraiser and get design plans approved by Planning and Zoning. The commissioners have expressed their general support."
Granger, whose movie reviews appear in the Westport News, thought the n'Oscars event was a fun run-up to the real awards ceremony later the night. "Everyone goes to the movies and Shake Shack is an in place," she said.
Dave Yearwood, the manager of Shake Shack, which opened at its Post Road East site last year, said of the hoopla, "It's important to me to be involved in the community in which we are doing business ... We're happy to give WCI a platform for their cause."
While formal attire was not required at the event, two WCI volunteers donned black tie ensembles to welcome attendees.
Even patrons got into the act. Westporter "Sooo-z" Mastropietro wore movie clapper earrings, a necklace with an Oscar dangling from it and long red dress. "I wanted to have a little fun with the event, so came as a red carpet," she said.
Others, like Pertrinea Cash, from Bridgeport, dressed elegantly, while speculating about Oscar winners. "I think the best picture is `The Help,' " she said. "I was watching the previews last night. It got high ratings, and won the Screen Actors Guild award. It was also the highest revenue earner. I would say `Iron Lady' is a close second.
"I'm a fan of the ceremony and red carpet festivities," she added. "It's fun for the Shake Shack to offer this family-oriented event."