PHOTOS: Dîner en Blanc a la South Jersey
Collingswood, land of the best Farmers Market, award-winning restaurants and chefs, the infamous Michael Landon controversy of 2012, Cruise Nights, the Mayfair, numerous eminent domain issues, and an extraordinary rate of growth and extraordinary amount of volunteerism, held its first-ever Pop Up Gala on Sat., Sept. 7, 2013.
Sure, major cities like Paris and Philadelphia can hold similar events, but would a much smaller town like Collingswood be able to pull it off such an undertaking? Folks purchased tickets and received a list of rules. A very long list of rules. I was intimidated by the repetition of the word “elegant” (I drink my wine out of mason jars on stems when imbibing outside); I have a huge aversion to white clothes on anyone but brides. I camp and cook like a pro, but the rules said no disposable plates, cups or dishes, and oh, yeah, bring an elegant centerpiece.
Well, Collingswood residents and others took the challenge and blew it right up. Two-hundred and forty people descended on the venue as soon as the surprise location was announced, and transformed a strip of W. Browning Road into a beautiful spectacle and dare I say it—an elegant space.
Mayor Jim Maley (below, right) visits with popular duo She Hates Me before the party gets started.
Below: People took their tablescapes very seriously: Collingswood resident Gretchen Seibert puts the final touches on her group’s table.
Fascinators, hats and fingerless lace white gloves were de rigueur for many, though outfits went from classy to campy.
The dinner started with hoots and hollers as everyone stood and twirled their elegant white napkins. (And some people yelled, “Go Phillies!”)
People sat and drank and enjoyed the fruits of their labor.
Below, from left: LeAnne Lindsay of Tinsel and Tine food blog, Liz Braden, Debbie Kirsch and Denine Gorniak.
What evening of dressing in white and eating on the street would be complete without strolling accordionist Bruce Phero (below).
Or fashion sketch artist Denise Fike (below).
After the elegant picnic under the stars, the dancing started with sparklers, but of course.
Most of the people I spoke to that night were Collingswood residents, though plenty of out-of-towners tagged along. The strip of street shows off some of Collingswood’s most majestic and grand homes, as well as lush Knight Park. Andrea and Louis Fendo (below) were lucky to not have to truck their stuff; they walked straight across their front lawn to dine with friends. Residents for 39 years, Andrea told me they have not regretted a day.
It was easy to lose your friends on the dance floor, due to the monochrome dress, but that hardly mattered. The pavement was packed for at least two hours; the popularity of “The Electric Slide” may have created potholes. The mayor and his wife danced past the town’s ordinance, the DJ chose David Gray’s “This Year’s Love” to close the evening, and everyone kind of floated home, dispersing through Knight’s Park, dressed in white.