Locals gather for Oscar viewing party

Catch, Santa Monica Hotel Casa del Mar’s seafood restaurant, organized and hosted a live viewing party of the 85th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night where cocktails, food from the new lobby lounge menu and complimentary popcorn were served at all tables.

The guests were invited to test their Oscar knowledge in a ballot competition where whoever had the most correct predictions of Oscar winners won an A-list package dinner for two at Catch.

Although the starting time was supposed to be 5 p.m., the hotel’s social media coordinator, Nick Soriano, was surprised to see people showing up as early as 4:15 p.m.

“It definitely got more jam-packed and a lot faster than it usually does,” he said.

The viewing party was equipped with a total of four flat-screen televisions around the lounge and by the bar, one of which displayed subtitles. Tables, chairs, sofas, and armchairs furnished the room and offered comfortable seating to guests.

“It’s better than my couch,” said Debbie Merrill, a professional athlete and figure skater. “I’m single and I don’t like staying home. I thought I might as well come out here and enjoy a night full of elegance.”

While some people were dressed in casual clothing, others were in more formal attire. Many of the attendees came for the social aspect of the event.

“I was here last year, and there were a best dressed contest so I dressed up,” said Ellen Falguiere, a costume designer.

Cheri Rossbach, another event attendee, went to the hotel with a group of friends.

“We wanted to meet up for the Oscars, but didn’t know where to go, so our friends from South Africa and Panama Google searched a place and came across this one," she said. "It’s actually a pretty funny story as I am American and should have known better."

Rossbach voted for Jennifer Lawrence to win the Best Actress award. Lawrence ended up winning the Oscar in that category, and was highly acclaimed by the audience, even though she fell up the stairs on her way to the stage.

When "Searching for Sugar Man" won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, Chris Courtney, a member of the audience at the viewing party, threw his arm up in the air.

“I got excited about my friends winning the contest as they got everything right until now," he said. "I actually only watched one or two movies featured in the ceremony, but I came tonight for the atmosphere, and I like meeting people.”