The skies cleared for a sunny Saturday and a moonlit night. It was row, row, row your boat on the Maumee, and then the toes took over at the Centennial Terrace World War II night.
Dragon boats - 40-foot-long, Hong Kong-style canoes with 20 paddlers, a steersman, and a drummer to keep the cadence - filled the boat basin at International Park Saturday. It was the Great Maumee River Dragon Boat Festival, presented by Partners in Education with the assistance of the Toledo Rowing Foundation and area Rotary clubs. As rowers - many of them novice - prepared for the race, fans flashed cameras, munched on ice cream, pizza, hot dogs, and barbecued chicken, and listened to tunes of several bands.
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The family affair was fun, but veteran rowers considered themselves lucky as the sun came out to shine. The Toledo Public Schools Parents team was so delighted when it finished the race that members fell in the drink as they raised their oars in victory. But they were the "coolest team" in the heat of the moment, team captain Tracy Wieczorek said.
Rather than miss out on the fun, Brooks Insurance moved its family picnic to the races and participated under the guidance of Capt. Tom Hopkins of the Coverage Crew team. First-time rower Donald ReVels said rowing really sharpens skills as team players.
The 33 teams that competed in the 500-meter race had names such as Westgate Vision Center's Spectacles and Marco's Pizza's Pizza Paddlers. All kinds of folks were on board, including Jim DeVilbiss and his sister Shannon Devilbiss Gallup, rowing for the Sylvania Rotary's Dragon Slayers.
Some folks went all out for their uniforms. Joanne McElheney of McElheney Locksmiths had two teams: the Safe Crackers and Lock N Row, which both sported sequined tops for their final race. Among her crew were Martha Wheeler, Sandra Hylant, Joni Arredia, and Mickey Swigart. The Holy Rowers team - the Sisters of Notre Dame and friends - sponsored by Taylor automotive dealerships, said next year they want matching T-shirts! Among their crew were Sister Brenda Haynes and the new principal of St. Frances de Sales High School, Andy Hill.
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The official uniform for the Pediatric Paddlers of MCO was - what else - scrubs. The all-doctor team began the day about 6:30 a.m. with bacon and eggs on the grill prepared by "chef" Jack McBride. Some docs were good sports too since they came to post call after a 24 hour shift. Chief resident Stephanie Noceti-Dunphy was the team captain and Rosha McCoy, MCO interim chairman, was the drummer. The all-novice team dumped their pagers in a bin and went for it.
The rowers were not the only ones having fun. A hundred volunteers yukked it up as they worked to make the day a success. Seen helping were Chuck Stocking, president of Partners in Education, Dick Eppstein, Shelly Conygham, Gary Johnson, Linda Hoetzl, Tim Yoder, Luann and Ora Alleman, George LeBoutillier, Diane and Harvey Wolff, and Stan and Sheila Odesky.
A dragon danced about as the winners were announced: Toledo Police Department's Row Patrol was the champion. McElheney's teams were presented the Team Spirit Award, and Toledo Engineering's TECO Glass Paddlers were the most organized.
VROOM! Engines roared as powerful water craft cruised the Maumee River to The Docks for a lunch stop. It was the Lake Erie Off Shore Performance Association gathering with some 66 boats worth nearly $20 million docked and tied off at The Docks. These speed boats go between 70-100 mph, and they range from $50,000 to $1 million. It was the LEOPA's Poker Run, this year to benefit Special Olympics. A course is set with several stops, and each boat gets a poker card at each stop.
The group started at Monroe Boat Club on Friday, where they gave boat rides for Special Olympic athletes, followed by dinner and dancing. Saturday, they cruised to Middle Sister Island before going to The Docks for lunch, then Detroit Beach Boat Club, and back to MBC to play poker. Winners were Scott Cancilliari, Todd Doederlein, and Larry Waddles.
Rules were strictly enforced. Everyone must wear a flotation device and use lanyards; no alcohol, and no shoes when walking on another's boat.
The committee of Comm. Rockne Smith, Dan Burtscher, Phil Martin, and Mark Brettschneider reported a net of $3,000. Seen were charter members Tom and JoAnn Tadsen, with their Airedale, Champ.
ALSO at The Docks was a Formula 2 speedboat on display that will be in the Toledo River Roar Aug. 13, 14, and 15 on the Maumee between The Docks and Promenade Park. These boats - presented by the American Power Boat Association ChampBoat racing series - go from 0 to 100 mph in 3 seconds, and some go up to 140 mph. Dave White, whose boat was on display yesterday, said there will be about 80 boats from all over the world.
AS THE SUN SET, Centennial Terrace lit up for action as guests whirled and twirled on the outdoor dance floor to the Johnny Knorr Orchestra, playing favorite tunes from WWII.
Social dancing was at its peak then as a diversion from the war, and dance halls and studios were everywhere as folks did the fox trot, the jitterbug, the waltz, the rhumba, and more.
It brought back memories for many: Donna and Duane Kroyer of Sylvania said they danced there when she was a high-school cheeleader and he a high-school football player in the late 1940's. You couldn't get in without a coat and tie, and you had to come early for a seat. Mr. Kroyer was proud to say his wife was Miss Sylvania 1949.
Dorothy Connolly and John Callahan, all dressed up for the night out, had fond memories of dancing there before the war. It was her first time back in more than 50 years, and Mr. Callahan noticed the blue moon shining in the sky above the gazebos.
Pat Cloud and Dale Malpezzi of Allen Park, Mich., motored there to trip the lights fantastic. They have been dancing together for 27 years and put on a show. They are recognized for their ventriloquism puppets too.
Also seen were first-timers Jim and Nancy Wenger and Greg and Sue Wobser as well as longtimers Mel and Lori Barger and Jack Dyer and his lady friend - main squeeze, he joked - Linda Coon. Mr. Dyer recalled when he was at school at BGSU and snuck in to see Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo, and the other big bands. A few weeks ago, Marge Reinhard of Tiffin and Orville Reed of Fremont, also there at the terrace, danced along the water at Lakeside. It was an extra-special night for Mary Jane Spencer. She was married just a few days before to Bill Hulme of the United Kingdom, whom she met while on an 80-day cruise around the world.
Guy Lombardo Royal Canadians and Johnny Knorr Orchestra will be at Centennial Terrace Aug. 14 for more big band sounds.