Guests at Toledo Opera's 45th annual Sapphire Ball presented by Fifth Third Bank were treated like royalty Saturday night at The Pinnacle. Men and women costumed in 18th century garb bid good evening as guests arrived. It was one of the best balls; full of elegance and energy. Since the opera, Marriage of Figaro, was the current production, it was natural to give the ball a wedding-reception theme. And what is the gemstone for a 45th wedding anniversary? You've guessed it: a sapphire. A stone archway aglow with torches and adorned with flowers and plants enticed guests to enter into a grand elegant scene reminiscent of a Dutch painting. Billowy sheer white drapery hung from the ceiling. Candlelight was everywhere and gorgeous flowers and ferns highlighed white linen-covered tables adorned with runners set with low-profile centerpieces so as not to obstruct the view. The arrangements were breathtaking: pink roses, hydrangeas, green apples, grapes, pears, and greens. Silver candelabras, salt and peppers, cream and sugar, and lots of silverware and goblets, something for each course and palate. Crystal boxes tied with white netting and tiny flowers held treats from the Schakolad Chocolate Factory were the table favors that accentuated the decor.
The Italian language is romance to the ears, but the Italian food is a delight to the senses of sight, smell, and taste. The family-style dinner with black-gloved service included a choice of entrees: veal, Cornish hen, or vegetarian. Vino was at each table. Instead of a tossed salad, artichoke with toast and stacked tomatoes with mozzarella were served. The second course was spinach ravioli. The meal was topped with fancy wedding cake - Sicilian ricotta - and champagne flutes. Kim and John Sidwell were at my table, and he served cake while Michael Rush, there with his wife, Stephanie, played wine steward.
A grand piano, stage right, was ready for the opera's mezzo-soprano Victoria Livengood. who wowed the audience. Then in her southern drawl, she said she was studying prelaw at college when she was enraptured with opera. The Dixie diva, as she calls herself, dropped her accent and sang another song with a voice that could nearly shatter glass.
The well-heeled crowd, many who attended the Marriage of Figaro, added to the scene. Bankers, businessmen, stockbrokers, doctors, lawyers, and more, from ages in the 30s to the 80s, all in tuxedos and gowns.
While the gowns were predominantly black, there was a sea of pewter, red, bronze, blue, green, and more. Haltertops, form-fitted bodices, and flirty skirts were everywhere, each lady looking her beautiful best. Barbara Steele was classy in a golden fitted gown. A handsome couple were Richard and Shirley Joseph, who is a past ball chairman from the Opera Guild, which started the event.
Also among the more than 350 guests were Barbara and Michael Berebitsky, Lisa and Bob McPherson, Ann Sanford and Bernie Leiter, Christine Yonke, Bob and Linda Helmer, David Hancock, Karen and Greg Elder, Doc and Cindy Treece, Bob and Laurie Schoonmaker, Tim and Cam Mathews, Nick and Charla Ulrich, Lamont and Heather Thurston, Traci and Tom Schwann, Joe Pinciotti, Bill and Ilene Bernard, Jim and Sharon Haxton Jerry and Dortha Baum, Elizabeth and Joel Gorski, Rudy Peckinpaugh, Sarah Bertram, Dirk and Julie VanHeyst, and board chief Peter Garforth and wife, Valerie.
Bidding wars erupted during the live auction, with the winners receiving a bottle of champagne. The quick, 20-some minutes reaped $34,500.
A package for the Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinati Bengals game was up for grabs. Patrick and Holly Burtch won a Miami Heat-Philadelphia 76ers game in Miami. Giuseppe and Barbara Cangialosi bought a Brussels vacation and Mr. Cangialosi and his brother, Antonio, won tickets for the Super Bowl in Detroit. Karen and Carlton Fraker were the highest bidders for a trip to France.
A Westfield Franklin Park shopping trip was won by Loraine Boersma. Bob McClair bought the football, basketball, and baseball tickets to Cleveland's professional teams. There was more including a sapphire and diamond pendant bought by Bob Hadley.
Lydia Hockenberger won the raffle for the Lexus sport utility vehicle.
KGB band, in their jazzy black suits, drew guests to the dance floor. Kicking up their heels were Dave and Elizabeth Kollar, in a slinky black-haltered gown.
The estimated net of the evening is $115,000. That's thanks to co-chairmen Maureen Brown, Dan Johnson, and Paulette Roberts Shula.
It may be fall, but memories still linger of fun summer gatherings. And speaking of memories, reunions for families, high schools, and more gave all a chance to gather, reminisce, and renew relationships.
SCOTT HIGH School Class of 1955 celebrated its 50th reunion last month with a tour of the school, a casual gathering at Gumbo's, and a big bash at the Toledo Club. There, event chairman and emcee Stan Odesky was assisted by Bob Wing, Juanita Knaggs Harrington, Rosie Shay LaPointe, Carolyn Gahn Hetzel, Barbara McGinnis Stepnick, and Gertie Shoffer Levitin.
THE OTTAWA Hills class of 1955 celebrated its 50th reunion last month. Alums have careers in the arts, education, religion, business, and humanities. Larry Mindel owns a restaurant in San Francisco; Read Heydt is an Episcopal priest in Boca Grande, Fla; Delmar Roos Fall, now Lady Fall, lives in London with husband Sir Brian Fall, the UK's ex-ambassador to Russia. She is the daughter of Barney Roos, one of the Jeep designers.
A school tour was followed by dinner at the Inverness Club hosted by Mr. Mindel and Courtney Slayton. The fun continued with a brunch at Toledo Country Club, the site of the prom many moons ago. Spencer Stone, reunion chairman, was assisted by a host of alums including Dana and David White, Bill Williams, Charles Racine, and Sally Shawaker Howe. Also seen were Tod Roemer, Paul Anspach, and Deborah Williams Lott. The class donated to Hurricane Katrina victims.
"LOTS to see, lots to do, lots of friendships to renew" was the slogan for the 50th reunion of the DeVilbiss High School class of 1955.
"Coming to a reunion is not without stress," said Artie Perlman in a story: "Will my classmates remember me ? Will I remember them ? Will the girl I had a crush on be here "? Mr. Perlman's classmates gathered in August at the Radisson Hotel and had fun all weekend with a Maumee cruise, a Mud Hens game, an art museum and zoo visit, a big bash, and more.
Memories were shared and a book of class members was published so they can keep in touch.
Among the classmates were Frank Unkle, former restaurateur; Maryann Dionyssiou, owner of Rudy's Hot Dog; Bill Blinn, Hollywood producer-writer-director, and class president, Roger Lippincott.
THE Ottawa Hills High School classes of 1941-47 reunion was in August and nearly 100 classmates and spouses participated. Harry and Carol Mack and others hosted gatherings and met at Stone Oak Country Club for a dance. John Galbraith was emcee and Kay Philabaum and Virginia Eley Kirk were greeters. The alum who traveled the farthest was Evan Galbraith from Belgium.
CENTRAL Catholic High School class of 1955 celebrated its 50th reunion in August. They started plans 2 1/2 years ago with meetings - minireunions in themselves - chaired by class president John Hayward.
One of the outings included Mancy's Italian restaurant with host and classmate John Mancy, Sr. Blues singer Louis Archambeau returned from Florida to entertain. Then followed golfing and cruising down the Maumee. Everyone met for the big gala at The Wyndham.
John Arkebauer Louise Estrel Brubaker, and Ed Hoover, made a book with a wealth of information. Among the alums were Chuck Buckenmyer, Mefty Palmer Lechmann, and Bobbie Feltman Schlachter. Gerri Kruszynski Shrader and Bob Savage coordinated the overall administration.
SCHOENTAN 2005: Papa's Big Sky Adventure was the special spot for the Dick Schoen family to reunite with all 14 children - and their spouses and children, which total 94. Nine were not present. The Schoen family, seven boys and seven girls, were all single births, so Elaine Schoen, who died in 1988, was pretty busy for 14 years. Mr. Schoen married Jeanne Hylant in 1991: she and her late husband, Bob, had nine children.
At the July reunion at 320 Guest Ranch in Big Sky, Mont., the resort didn't know what hit it. The clan took up nearly 20 cabins. Even the in-laws, endearingly referred to as the outlaws, wore family-crested vests. Whitewater rafting, horse back riding, and more, then chuck wagon dinners, singing, and s'mores at night. Everyone has a scrapbook and video. "We're blessed," said the senior Mr. Schoen.
A SOCK HOP at Roy C. Start High School was hosted in July by the class of 1973 for all alumni. They toured their old stomping grounds, renewed friendships, and had a swinging good time at the dance. The class of '73 had a prom on the Willis B. Boyer. Among the classmates were Mike and Nora Cassidy, Mike O'Rourke, Jim and Donna Osborne, Dan Ryan, Randy Gensler, there with wife, Debbie, and chairman Bill Wagoner and his wife, Colleen.
IT WAS the 50th family reunion July 23 at The Wyndham for Ethel Mae Jaynes and her husband, E.L., and her sister Mary Webb. They were recognized by Mayor Jack Ford for attending a half-century of gathering. Mrs. Jaynes said her grandfather, Amos Taylor, started the reunions and they just kept growing and growing. Nearly 500 kin came from all over the country.
GIRL SCOUTS from yesteryear gathered in June at Maumee Bay State Park. Bonnie Hamic, the troop leader and her troop had a camp-out for old times sake. Well, not tents anymore, but cabins.
The gals are from the troop that started at Rosewood Presbyterian and went on to Trinity Episcopal in the 1960s and early '70s. At the reunion were Oneu Vince Kilby, Carol Francis Gray, May Shrewsbery, Nancy Schmenk Madison, Julie Schmenk Seick and Rose Ann Ciesla, who all stayed in cabins. Clara Brockmueller opted to stay at the lodge with plumbing.
Mrs. Hamic, whose address is Anywhere, USA, came in her motorhome. She has a Las Vegas mail box and cell phone, and travels the country.
Yep, it was a great summer.