The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library sparkled like a jewel Saturday evening for the Grand Re-Opening Gala.
Lights on the outside put the 271,000-sq.-ft. architectural delight on downtown's center stage as 850-plus guests arrived through a huge red-carpeted white tent bedecked with lights and flowers into an evening of stately elegance.
From the gallant valets to the champagne in crystal flutes - refilled by tuxedo-clad gentlemen and served from an ice-carved bar - the gourmet canapes elaborately displayed on silver platters offered by wait staff in crisp uniforms, to the giant floral bouquets and the Ben Langlois Trio playing from above, the grand entrance was a taste of what was in store for the rest of the evening.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was a who's who of Toledo as well as former Toledoans who proudly returned for the occasion: Sports correspondent Christine Brennan was master of ceremonies along with actor Jamie Farr. Celebrity guests were Bill Cannon and Andrew J. Fenady, there with his wife Mary Frances, who is a Notre Dame Academy alum. The men, who are Hollywood writers and novelists, donated samples of their works, as did Mr. Farr.
Library director Clyde Scoles, board president John Hayward, foundation president Jamie Black, and Friends President Sarah Strong were the opening speakers. They acknowledged the philanthropic dedication that made the renovation successful.
Co-Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Blade, John Robinson Block, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Lucas County Commissioners President Sandy Isenberg, and Mayor Carty Finkbeiner all praised the library as a city gem.
With the ribbon cut, guests strolled the Art Deco structure, noting the old versus the new, such as the historic Vitrolite glass murals and friezes and the new Dale Chihuly sculpture. The work, titled The Reeds, was so delightful that Trevelyn Lawson, there with Bill Copeland, was tempted to touch it, but didn't. Trees and plants brought the outdoors in. The original old lights were transformed into softly lit coffee tables that added an intimate feeling amid the airy open spaces with rich woods and glass.
Although most guests had to duck through the doors of the Children's Library, and the pint-sized furniture and computers were a wee uncomfortable, the hands-on exhibits were favorites. Others found the Local History and Genealogy area a place to revisit because of the items on the area's founding families, and the Rare Book Room, which gave one the feeling of being in a reading room at the Yale club.
Guests relaxed at black linen-covered tables, or sat in the living room-style settings. A special treat was the thank-you gift - the book Information Revolution: The History of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library 1838-2001, which is on sale in the new gift shop.
Spotted in the select group were Connie and Jeff Horn, Fritz and Marilyn Rudolph, Charles Russell, Jan and Ken Robie, Denny and Sheila Johnson, Jim and Kay Murray, Tom and Marlene Uhler, Harry and Mary Lou Kessler, Bev McBride, Harold and Helen McMaster, Ed and Ann Searles, Michael and Lillian Walsh, Tim and Laurie Gladieux, Bob Bell and Kate Arnos, Kay and Jim Silk, Mike and Kelly Hart and Tim and Lori Hart, Gail and Jim Savage, Karen and Tim Elders, Scott and Robin Libbe, Dick and Robin LaValley, Herb and Carolyn Metzger and their daughter Holly, Kathleen Ryan, Harry and Jenny Barlos, Bob and Linda Sullivan, Dorothy Price, and Jerry and Dortha Baum. The Anderson clan attended except for Tom and Mary Pat Anderson, who were missed especially because the couple are long-time library supporters.
Gala chairpersons were John and Yolanda Szuch.
Barbeque at the Pavilion: An August Affair was a boot stompin' fun time Saturday at Wildwood Preserve's new Ward Pavilion. Cowpokes of all kinds in their finest duds moseyed on in as bluegrass tunes were played by the Crabgrass Band.
A saloon provided soft and spirited suds as guests tapped their toes to the tunes of the Country Home House Band during the Western Dance Lessons by the Village Players. They cooled off during a horse-drawn hayride by Chuck Bowers.
Karikatures by Kaz provided "wanted posters" of guests; Western Roper Bob Thibert corralled folks into learning the art of roping a steer, and Tarot Card Reader Annette Aben predicted what the future had in store.
Meanwhile, folks toured the Oak Grove one-room schoolhouse as General "Mad Anthony" Wayne (aka Fallen Timbers re-enactor Craig Fisher) drew folks in with his presentation.
Then it was time for finger lickin' fiddles and old-time ballads by Eddie Boggs. The New Old Timers Band enticed guests to burn a few calories as they tested their two-step talents. Guests were heard whoopin' and hollerin' to lasso the winning bid at the live auction with Commemorative Fallen Timbers wooden nickels as the exchange.
Proceeds from the casual affair benefit the archaeological research of the Fallen Timbers Battlefield National Historic Site, a recent acquisition by the Metroparks of the Toledo Area. Kudos go to chairmen Heather Speck and her committee for the well-planned evening. Metroparks board president is Susan Horvath.
Barbara Hendel is The Blade's society editor. E-mail her at email@example.com.