Q&A with Gatsby Party organizer Missy Lay

Over the past seven years, the Gatsby Party has grown to be an integral part of Rutherford County’s social scene.

At the annual event, people from across the community dress to impress in their best prohibition attire and revive the roaring ’20s while raising money for a good cause at the same time.

Organizer Missy Lay attended the party for the first time last year, so she knew what a special night it can be.

“When I heard that it might not happen this year, I jumped at the chance to help keep the Gatsby going,” she said.

The Gatsby will be held Saturday, March 21, 2020, at the Stones River Country Club. Early bird tickets are $100 for general admission or $125 for a reserved seat at borogatsby.com. If you’d like a guaranteed seat, then $125 will reserve you a place. The price goes up to $125 and $150 on Feb. 1.

Lay took some time from polishing her sequined flapper dress to answer a few questions about The Gatsby Party.

What’s the Gatsby Party?

Lay: The Gatsby Party is inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” which was set in the Roaring ’20s. It was a decade known for decadence, flapper dresses, champagne towers, and glamour. We hope the 21-and-over party invokes the fashions and feel of the 1920s.

But it’s more than a party, it’s also one of the community’s most successful fundraisers. The proceeds will be divided between the Alzheimer’s Association and Amelia’s Closet.

What should patrons expect?

Lay: Get ready to swing back a century to the 1920s.

Like previous years, we will serve heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine and custom cocktails. We will bring back a killer silent auction, charity black jack, photo opps, and more fun than $100 should buy. We are working on securing a band to begin the evening to be followed by a DJ for foxtrotting the night away.

This year we are adding an option for reserved seating. We had several people comment that there was nowhere to leave their belongings while they dance the night away. So, we decided to offer reserved seats. For $125, you can have a designated seat to leave your things, eat your hors d’oeuvres and also to rest from all the fun.

Who does it benefit?

Lay: The Gatsby started as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, but with the change in leadership, we decided to expand its reach. This year we added Amelia’s Closet as a beneficiary, along with the Alzheimer’s Association. We will be dividing the proceeds between the organizations.

I chose Amelia’s Closet (or the organizing committee) because it is a faith-based nonprofit that helps reduce poverty in our communities by preparing women for sustainable employment.

Amelia’s Closet provides two free interview outfits, interview tips, inspirational scripture, and a head-to-toe makeover gift certificate. By providing clothes for interviews and jobs, Amelia’s Closet hopes to increase economic security and reduce financial vulnerability of women in our communities by helping improve their access to the workforce.

It has been documented that gainful employment helps empower women that are otherwise vulnerable to poverty, homelessness, human trafficking, domestic violence, and criminal activity. The No. 1 reason for homelessness is economic distress due to unexpected financial setbacks, and 84 percent of homeless families are headed by a single mom.

Amelia’s Closet is a great nonprofit with a great cause. With the donations from the Gatsby, it will be able to help even more women.

And, of course, the Alzheimer’s Association provides support and assistance to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and to their families and other caregivers through the chapter’s core services. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

Why did you take over?

Lay: The Gatsby is one of the best events of the year and such a good opportunity to help others in need. When I heard that it might not happen this year, I jumped at the chance to help keep the Gatsby going. Because I like to focus on organizing unique events for the community to raise funds for local nonprofits, it was a perfect fit.

I’d also like to thank the members of the Gatsby’s organizing committee – Bryan Dihigo, Roxann Deasy, Chelsea Fancher, Mary Fuggit, Melissa James, Meg Mueller, Dana Womack, Michelle Willard and LaTonya Wynne – for stepping up on short notice and getting the night planned.

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