A Marilyn Monroe impersonator on four foot stilts circulates through the guests at the annual Urban Garden Party at the Mattress Factory last weekend. (Photo/Jeanette Lee)
The Mattress Factory opened its doors to more than 1,400 people clad in everything from evening dresses to loincloths for its 14th Urban Garden Party on Friday.
They were greeted by a Marilyn Monroe look-alike, complete with wavy blond hair and white dress, who sashayed effortlessly through the crowd on 4-foot-high stilts.
She and the costumed party-goers looked right at home amongst equally festive silver streamers and white paper lanterns that adorned the museum and contributed to the theme of the evening, “From Hollywood to Paradise.”
The Urban Garden Party is an annual celebration and fundraiser for the Mattress Factory, a unique and beloved Pittsburgh institution since 1977. Tickets ranged from $90 for general admission to $200 for V.I.P. and were sold out for the second consecutive year.
The V.I.P. party started at 6 p.m. with catering from All In Good Taste Productions and fruity cocktails from Bossa Nova. The main event began at 7 p.m.
The party guests danced to music from AndrewAndrew, a D.J. duo from New York, and Dr. Zoot, a 7-man neo swing band from Pittsburgh.
They also vied for the distinction of Best Dressed, an award which ultimately went to a 1940’s sailor couple, Gracie Schwartz and Daniel Hillard from Pittsburgh.
In keeping with the evening’s theme was a silent auction of artwork from local artists who either used the idea of the Oscar Awards or incorporated a model of one in their piece.
Public Relations and Marketing Manager Lindsay O’Leary said that social media and early planning were important factors in making the event such a success in the past few years.
The Garden Party Committee not only used a combination of blog posts, Twitter and Facebook to spread the word, but began planning the party 51 weeks in advance.
Most of the money that the Mattress Factory raises from the party comes from sponsors, but ticket sales and the silent auction also help.
“[Last year] we raised more than 10 percent of our annual budget on this one night,” said O’Leary.
Sponsors also donated food, entertainment and decorations, including free massages from Massage Envy in Squirrel Hill and an approximately 6-foot tall ice sculpture of an Oscar Award from Yes, We Cater.
“I love [the Garden Party],” said Sherry Jo Matt from Wexford, elegantly dressed for the occasion with satiny black gloves and a fancy hat from Martha’s Vineyard.
“I’ve lived in New York, Philly and Dallas and this is on par with anything in those cities.”
“You don’t feel like you’re in Pittsburgh. It’s just amazing,” said Jared Sadowski, who also attended the Garden Party last year.
The Urban Garden Party had unprecedented success this year and the committee is already thinking about next year’s bash.
“The biggest thing that we have to worry about is not doing the same thing twice. We want to stay fresh,” O’Leary said.
Jeanette Lee is a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University studying Professional Writing and Investigative Journalism.