This year’s 7th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island proved that New Yorkers will make any excuse to picnic in the park on a beautiful day! Though Saturday’s torrential morning downpour turned out to be not-so-fabulous for an outdoor event, the beat marched on and there was still a strong turnout. We chose to hold out hope for sunny skies on Sunday, August 19 and were rewarded with picture perfect weather.
Hoping to catch the best views and wait in the shortest lines, we headed downtown early in order to catch the ferry and arrived just as the fun began. Nestled amongst the historic island’s officers’ quarters and 18th century stockades was a large grassy area beckoning guests to partake in the Gatsby-style setting.
It was so interesting to people-watch because everyone truly got in the spirit of the jazz age with their costumes and accoutrements. Long floral dresses, perfectly coiffed fingerwave hairstyles and a bevy of flapper-inspired attire helped the ladies stand out, while the gentlemen sported their finest vests and bowler hats for the wildly popular lawn party.
Because the event allows attendees to bring their own picnic, this made for even more ways to get into character. Some of the more genteel spreads included candelabras, depression era tableware, crystal vases with floral centerpieces, and lavish displays of food. Some even flaunted bottles of bubbly in silver ice buckets!
We chose to visit the food tents for our lunch and were not disappointed with the gourmet options and reasonable pricing (which was a lot cheaper and healthier than Yankee Stadium). With plenty of picnic tables available for those who didn’t bring a blanket, there was room for everyone. Guests were encouraged to “leave the hooch at home” but could purchase freshly squeezed lemonade, refreshing St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur cocktails and Brooklyn Brewery beer.
Keeping the crowd entertained was Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra. Musical guests Gelber & Manning also performed on the real-wood dance floor set up on the lawn, which was put to good use during Charleston dance lessons provided by Roddy Caravella. Even authentic records from the 1920’s were played on antique phonographs by Michael Cumella of WFMU’s Antique Phonograph Music Program.
As the afternoon wore on, we witnessed a dance contest and pie recipe contest, a “Bathing Beauties & Beaus Promenade” fashion show, a spirited game of tug o’ war, and a 10-girl dance performance to the sounds of The Dreamland Follies. You can’t argue that with general admission being only $15, this is one of the best bangs for your buck all year long.
For those who wanted to stock up on Vintage clothing for next summer’s shindig, there were several boutiques and milliners on hand peddling their wares. And we are guessing that based on the extra-long lines we saw in the late afternoon, there will be many a feather headband waiting to be worn next year. This event continues to get bigger and better, so mark the middle weekends of June and August on your 2013 calendar and start designing your outfits now!