Rosemary and I were lucky enough to get tickets to the sold-out New Year’s Eve celebration organized by the ever-active Made in Lowell group led by Tobi Marx and his team. At least 350 people converged on the majestic stone “cathedral” that was once St Jean Baptiste church (also Nuestra Senora del Carmen for a short time) on upper Merrimack Street in the borderland between the Acre and the old Little Canada neighborhood for the inaugural year’s end ball—an event that has all the makings of a holiday tradition for years to come. The “Great Gatsby” theme brought out award-winning retro outfits from the Roaring Twenties. Tobi and company transformed the voluminous church interior into a high-ceiling’d nightclub-dancehall with colored accent lighting, a central bar, a well-appointed VIP seating section for those willing to pay extra for admission, food stations, and high-energy bands, including an opening group consisting of UMass Lowell student musicians. By 10 p.m., the crowd was buzzy and the music plenty loud and energetic. Lowell’s Angkor Dance Troupe performed after the second music set by a different band (I didn’t get the name). Big banners touting event-sponsor Merrimack Valley Magazine hung from the choir loft on either side of a large portable screen that was showing a live feed from Times Square in NYC alternating with real-time on-site audience photos being posted online. While the enthusiastic attendees skewed toward the young and the restless, Rosemary and I were glad not to be the oldest people there. Made in Lowell drew a great mix of people, most of whom followed the fashion cue and got their Gatsby on. More music, a fashion show, and midnight reveling filled out the night’s menu.
Here’s just a taste of the scene from the start of the party.