McCabe's Tavern owner Greg Howard will be the first to admit he's never watched the Oscars. After talking to many friends who said they usually stay home to watch the awards show, he decided to host the tavern's first-ever Academy Awards-themed bash Sunday.
"There aren't many occasions to dress up and party in Colorado Springs," said Howard, in a black suit and bright red tie. "We figured, instead of sitting at home, why not make a night of it?"
The downtown tavern started filling up Sunday afternoon with men handsomely attired in suits and women showing off their glitziest getups, walking on a red carpet to the front entrance. Attendants were encouraged to make the most of the Oscars theme and "dress up to the nines," or as their favorite celebrity.
Howard's wife, Ari Howard, stole the show when she arrived wearing a copy of Bjork's infamous "swan dress" from the 2001 awards show.
"I haven't had a television in my house for about eight years, so when we decided to throw an Oscars party, I had to do my homework," Ari Howard said. "I found out this is the most popular Oscars dress in recent history, and a friend of mine who's a costume designer had made one for Halloween a few years ago. She let me borrow it and I love it!"
Although none of the partygoers seemed that concerned about who got an Oscar, they all agreed the awards show was the perfect excuse to dress up, go out and have fun.
Patsy Buchwald, president of Colorado Springs Balloon Classic Inc., hung up her trademark black hat for a more elegant, feather-adorned headdress and form-fitting black dress she described as "Colorado chic."
"Everybody wants an excuse to dress up, mingle and have a good time," said Buchwald. "This is a great setting to meet people. You don't have to stay in your seat all night."
Buchwald and Ken Tadolini, from Rocky Mountain Hot Air, met a couple who were also showing off their best Oscars fashion sense.
Audra Mater channeled old Hollywood glamour in a classic black cocktail dress, long satin gloves and long pearls reminiscent of 1960s Audrey Hepburn.
"This is the perfect excuse to dress up and show off, but not in an upitty way," said Mater, a 46-year-old accountant from Colorado Springs.
To add excitement to the event, ballots were passed around so those attending could vote for their Oscar picks. The winners, Greg Howard explained, could win prizes, including McCabe's Tavern merchandise and free bar tabs.
"We'd really like to see '12 Years a Slave' or 'American Hustle' win best movie," said Michael Mater, a fire inspector at the U.S. Air Force Academy. "For best performances, we liked Jennifer Lawrence a lot, and Jared Leto in 'Dallas Buyers Club,' but we're here for the fun."
Even if he's not an Oscars fan, Greg Howard said he'd like to make the annual celebration a tradition for McCabe's, maybe one day moving the event to a larger venue with live music and more elaborate programs.
"Tonight's party really is just about giving everyone who wants to join us a chance to dress up and have fun, make some new friends and great memories," he said.