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Gigantic Price Tag for 'Titanic' Fete

November 01, 1998| Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — A 13-year-old girl "obsessed" with "Titanic" got the bat mitzvah of her dreams when a hotel ballroom was transformed into the luxury liner, with 12-foot steaming smokestacks at the buffet table, phosphorescent artificial icebergs and a "steerage" section for the children.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the celebration last Saturday for Lisa Niren was rumored to cost as much as a half-million dollars. Her father, Dr. Neil Niren, would not confirm the price tag, but Bonnie Chirigos, who spent a year planning the gala, said "it was nowhere near that."

Noting that his own parents survived the Holocaust, Niren said: "Anyone can go down at any time. We didn't want to wait to show how much we love one another."

Three hundred people came from as far as Canada, Mexico and Argentina to fete Lisa, who is "obsessed" with the Oscar-winning movie, according to her 15-year-old sister, Leslie.

The piece de resistance was a gigantic photo, 10 feet above the floor, featuring Lisa's face superimposed over actress Kate Winslet's body in a famous "Titanic" scene on the prow of the ocean liner. Lisa appeared to have teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio smiling over her shoulder.

The movie played over and over again on a 12-foot screen above a balcony at the Westin William Penn, one of Pittsburgh's fanciest hotels.

The bat mitzvah--or bar mitzvah, for boys--is a religious celebration marking a Jewish child's 13th birthday. It is the point when the child passes into religious adulthood.

Lisa's father, a dermatological surgeon, came up with the idea for a Titanic-themed party more than a year ago while in St. Maarten listening to a recording of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," the movie's theme song.

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