Local Oscar viewing parties channel glitz of Hollywood

Local Oscar viewing parties channel glitz of Hollywood

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Hollywood's biggest celebrities weren't the only ones getting the star treatment on Oscar Sunday. Valley locals enjoyed the spotlight at viewing parties like the one at the Mary Pickford Theater in Cathedral City.

"I'm excited to see the Oscars on a big screen than on my living room TV," said Esra Elhendui, who came with her mother.

"Free popcorn and soft drinks with your ticket all night. How often do you get to do that?" said Wally Schlotter, V.P. of Special Projects at Ultra Star Cinemas, which has been putting on this event for the last 25 years.

Before heading into the theater, guests got to walk down an actual red carpet, complete with paparazzi to make them feel like they're actually in Hollywood.

"We try to duplicate the real feeling of going," said Schlotter, who once worked the Oscar red carpet.

"It was a surreal experience," said Johnette Elhendui of walking the carpet.

In Palm Springs, Trio restaurant and The Purple Room each hosted their own colorful parties benefiting the AIDS Assistance Program. The charity feeds men, women and children with low-incomes who are living with AIDS.

"We have have voting, prizes, raffles and we raise money for a great cause," said Mark Anton, CEO of the the AIDS Assistance Program.

"We have the best seat in town," said Michael Paurowski, who came to The Purple Room's screening with his husband.

While not everyone agreed on which actors and films should take home the big prize, no one could deny the excitement of sharing in Tinseltown's biggest night.

"In america we don't have royalty.  Truly our royalty is Hollywood celebrities," said Schlotter.

"There's a lot of L.A. and Hollywood that's here and people relate to that," Anton said.

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