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Published: Monday, 2/27/2006

It's Mardi Gras mayhem

Mardi Gras parties continued this year despite the dark shadows that were cast by last year's hurricanes, and Toledoans joined the ranks of revelers.

THE place looked like it was hit by a hurricane. While it didn't strike the Perrysburg home of Ann and Greg Hymel, it did affect Mr. Hymel's family who live in New Orleans, where he was born and reared.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: The sign above Greg and Ann Hymel's home puts another spin on the French phrase 'c'est la vie.' SIGN OF THE TIMES: The sign above Greg and Ann Hymel's home puts another spin on the French phrase 'c'est la vie.'
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The 12th annual Mardi Gras party hosted by the Hymels was Saturday night and they went all out. The windows were boarded up with messages, and scattered about in the front yard were old carpet, a water heater, boxes, and a broken chair. A kayak was in the bushes and a motor home with a FEMA sign was parked in the driveway. A U.S. flag was near the entrance that was bedecked with a "c'est levee" banner. It looked such a mess that a new neighbor, unaware of the party, filed a complaint with the police, who showed up at the door the day before.

But all the neighbors were there along with friends and business associates. Dr. Hymel said seafood from his hometown is flown in every year, but his usual supplier was not functioning yet because of last year's hurricanes. Luckily, another supplier came through. There were oodles of crab - all spread on newsprint, but fewer crawfish tails were on hand since the treats' price rose from about 39 cents a pound to more than $4 a pound. In additon to the seafood, there were loads of Cajun treats including Jambayla and dirty rice.

Dr. Hymel, who is a lieutenant colonel in the 244th Aviation Battalion, said his family members in New Orleans are doing fine, though one of his sister's homes in Shell Beach is now a slab of concrete; he has the before and after photos to prove it. When the storms hit, the family evacuated - parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins - and scattered all over from Dallas to Fort Worth to Shreveport, La.

TWO THUMBS UP: Paula Enos signals satisfaction at the fun going on in the Hymels' home. TWO THUMBS UP: Paula Enos signals satisfaction at the fun going on in the Hymels' home.
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Dr. Hymel served seven months in Balad, north of Baghdad, as a flight surgeon. He said while he was there, his wife was home with their five children ages 5-15, so, he joked, "I got off easy."She had to pay all the bills too on a significantly lower income than they were accustomed to. Seeing the aftermath of the hurricanes: "It reminded me of Iraq; the total devestation" said Dr. Hymel, who continued, "Everyone [in New Orleans] is saying don't forget us."

While the party was for fun, Dr. Hymel got serious for a few minutes after the announcement of the queen and the costume winners. He encouraged everyone to make a donation of their choice to the hurricane victims, because it could be 10 years before their lives are back in order.

Back at the bash, costumed partygoers were in full gear. Howard and Kim DuCharme, who loaned their trailer marked with a FEMA sign for the yard, were among the several dressed as FEMA workers. New Toledoans from Boston are Rob and Paula Enos: She was crowned queen for her "hurricane aftermath' costume. Cathy Stiles, wrapped in several yards of tulle fabric, scary eye makeup, and holding a hurricane glass, was there with hubby, Dallas, and won best costume as Cathrina. Second prize was a tie: Diann and Brian Ferguson as NBC weathermen and Vicki and Tim Flenniken as weathermen from Fox News. Rich Worthington came as Osama bin Laden, while his wife, Cynthia, dressed as an alligator hunter. Brenda and Dave Johnson came as the title character from I Dream of Jeannie and a sultan.

AUCTION ACTION: Valerie Suelzer, left, and Del Urolia scan the list of auction items during the benefit for the Fair Housing Center. AUCTION ACTION: Valerie Suelzer, left, and Del Urolia scan the list of auction items during the benefit for the Fair Housing Center.
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THE FIFTH annual Mardi Gras party presented by Nationwide Insurance and Westfield Insurance to benefit the Fair Housing Center was Thursday at Gumbo's Bayou Grille. Magician Martin Jarret entertained guests as did astrologer Janet Amid, who looked into guests' future. And there was plenty of shopping to do at the live and silent auctions. Mark Lacey bought a lease on a Ford Mustang from Mathews Ford. Fred Fogelman bought a dinner for four at Georgio's. Leanne Briggs bought a reading by Ms. Amid. Ray Henderson bought a ruby-and-diamond bracelet: I'm sure Ethal was delighted. A quick program included thanks to sponsors and guests, and a presentation on the evening's honorees, the late Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King.

Once Kelley Berry started to strut, nearly everyone jived to the tunes of the KGB band, including Marianne Ballas, Lynn and Karen Fruth, Shakil Khan and Sue Stoner, and Sandra Humphrey of Detroit, looking hot in a black-and-silver skirt and stilettos. (However, at the end of the evening she commented: "These shoes aren't made for walking.")

SEAT BEAT: Colleen Lishewski, left, Angela Roether, and Teri Tarquinio don't let their seats stop them from moving their feet at the Toledo Club's Summer Fling. SEAT BEAT: Colleen Lishewski, left, Angela Roether, and Teri Tarquinio don't let their seats stop them from moving their feet at the Toledo Club's Summer Fling.
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Among the more than 330 guests were Debbie Barnette, Teresa Smith, Scott and Barbara Jameson, Andrew Rivers, Harold and Lonnie Rosenberg, Theresa Mah, Win Stone, Monica Kyles and Ahasia Love, Betty Valentine, Todd Roth, Stan Kolbuck, Laura Anaple, and board president and event chairman Pamela Pullella.

The event, which has raised over $66,000 in the past, netted between $18,000 and $20,000 this year. All proceeds are used to fight housing discrimination.

NOT Mardi Gras, but still festive was the Toledo Club's 16th Annual Summer Fling party. Members and guests nixed the winter blues and cabin fever by donning tropical shirts and shorts, sunglasses, and flip flops. A picnic-style summer buffet sated appetites and margaritas and beer quenched the thirst of revelers who partied till the late hour amid tiki huts, beach toys, and lawn chairs.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS: From left, Kim Henderson, Jeff Turner, Mark Perry, and Molly Mack rehearse for 'Felons, Flappers, and Foul Play.' THE USUAL SUSPECTS: From left, Kim Henderson, Jeff Turner, Mark Perry, and Molly Mack rehearse for 'Felons, Flappers, and Foul Play.'
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A speakeasy from the roaring 1920s was on the menu for fun Saturday night at the Way Public Library in Perrysburg. It was the Felons, Flappers, and Foul Play interactive murder mystery presented by Physical Therapy Consultants and produced by the library foundation.

A Model T was parked by the door. Once inside, guests stepped back in time. After the first scene set the stage, clue stations helped sleuths find out who done it, that is, who murdered infamous Chicago gangster and club owner Alshifton "Shifty" S. Capades.

Now some folks didn't really care who put Shifty six feet under: They indulged in refreshments of the spirited kind - a rumor was circulating about a gin mill, but because it was Prohibition, it was kept under wraps - as they gossiped and feasted on fabulous foods while seated at bistro tables and booths.

Traipsing around was Louie Lieguini aka Chuck Kiskaddon in a Zoot suit with his main squeeze, Trixiee aka Wendie Kiskaddon in a fringy flapper dress. He was carrying a violin case, but rumors were a machine gun was inside, but no one asked. Bill Cosgrove was eyeing the desserts, or maybe he was paying attention to the flirty cigarette gal who was selling bubble gum cigars. The rest of the gang was mighty serious about the investigation.

WHODUNNIT?: From left, are Cindy Taylor, Mike Olmstead, Bill Irwin, and Myra McClure dressed to kill? WHODUNNIT?: From left, are Cindy Taylor, Mike Olmstead, Bill Irwin, and Myra McClure dressed to kill?
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Acting as poker players were Jack Sculfort and Pat Critch. Mini Moll aka Lisa Sundermeier, Colt Darringer aka Brendt Sundermeier, Ima Rockefeller aka Ann Matney, and bartender Jack Daniels aka Bill Buzzell were among the strolling actors.

The main cast included Molly Mack as Dottie Dimples, Cindy Taylor as Jazzie Ann Swanky, Jeff Turner as Toni Rigitoni, Kim Henderson as Cass Piajamas, Myra McClure as Sissy X. Capades, Bill Irwin as Numbers Nickowski, and Mike Olmstead as Sen. Vito D. Beale.

The dirty rotten scoundrel wasn't Mrs. Peacock in the library, but Harry Lumbar aka Mark Perry, the conductor with a poisoned clarinet. The five gumshoes who solved it were Don Holtz, Bob Young, Jennifer Sampson, John Foster, and John Seiverth.

The mystery solved, the crowd danced to The Wrecking Crew till midnight. Several stopped for a nightcap at Stella's or the Rose and Thistle.

Among the sold-out crowd of 440 were Barbara and Bob Coon, Stacey and Dale McClary, Bob and Jackie Venzel, Jeff and Debbie Normand, Scott and Francis Parry, Sandra Gibson, Margot and Jim Quick, Linda Wilson, Bill and Claudia Hummer, Mayor Nelson Evans and wife, Felicia, and visiting from the Columbus area, former Perrysburgers Mike and Donna Glanville.

The many volunteers who assisted event chairman Lisa Richard included Luella Smith, Debby Peters, Joan Foster, Lea Skotynsky, Janel Molyneux, Liz White, Rozanne Stepnick, and Kim Nickerson.

About $32,000 is the estimated net, and the funds will go to the library foundation's endowment fund.

25-PLUS: Bob Adams, left, and Julie Oswald chat with Isa Freitas, a Brazilian exchange student. 25-PLUS: Bob Adams, left, and Julie Oswald chat with Isa Freitas, a Brazilian exchange student.
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The 25th Annual Maumee Rotary Service Foundation Charity Auction was Saturday night at Gladieux Meadows in honor of the late Chuck Oswald, who started the event. Guests shopped the silent auction as they sipped and nibbled.

Emcee Walt Churchill brought the group to order. A tasty dinner sated appetites, then, it was barker time! Auctioneer John Whalen kicked off the oral auction with a bid to donate just to donate, and the Howard and Eleanor Drager Foundation matched the proceeds 2 to 1. Art, entertainment packages, jewelry, and more, including bird photographs snapped and donated by founding member Tom Anderson followed. Foundation board chairman Mike Czerniak donated a Waterford Crystal bowl and a Cartier glass pitcher. The grand finale was a Dominic Labino piece donated by Mr. Whalen.

Seen were club president Joe Ludwig, Karen and Greg Elder, Bob Navarro, Bill and Annie Schmidt, Dick and Melissa Marcus, Karen Merrels, Brad and Julie Rubini, and event chairman Bob Adams, with wife, Karen. Julie Oswald said the estimated net of about $100,000 supports the foundation's projects. Volunteers included high school and college-level Rotarians.

TOGETHER AGAIN: Suzanne Goulet, left, as Liza Minnelli, and Julie Sheppard, as the late Julie Garland, belt out show-stopping tunes for David's House. TOGETHER AGAIN: Suzanne Goulet, left, as Liza Minnelli, and Julie Sheppard, as the late Julie Garland, belt out show-stopping tunes for David's House.
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With lots of applause and hoots and bravos, Judy and Liza performed Together Again! at the Franciscan Center Saturday night.

"The audience of about 300 marveled at Julie Sheppard and Suzanne Goulet's portrayal of the famous duo" said chairman Tami Williams, chairman of the event to benefit David's House of Compassion for individuals with HIV and AIDS and their families.

Judy aka Julie Sheppard was especially passionate about the performance because she has lost five accompanists to AIDS. She sang a real tear jerker, "The Day After Tomorrow" dedicated to victims of AIDS. Liza, aka Suzanne Goulet, talked about the mission of David's House, which provides referral services for medical coverage, housing, counseling, education on AIDS and HIV, support groups, and more.

The dynamic duo is so supportive of the cause they promoted the event with an impromptu sneak peek at local establishments in Toledo including Rosie's Italian Grille. Phil Barone, owner, said it was not as busy as usual since there were several events on Thursday, but those who were there were wowed by the performance.

Back at the Saturday night soiree, those who only attended the concert for about $30 and not the whole event for $75 missed out on a classy affair. The evening started with fancy schmancy appetizers, including beef Wellington, before the show. An array of delectable desserts including chocolate eclaires, red velvet cake, chocolates, and breads were served with champagne after the show.

Those in the know wore red to the event because the red ribbon stands for AIDS. In keeping with the red theme, centerpieces, designed by Mrs. Williams and assembled by volunteers, were red and black feathers and sparkles.

Among the volunteers were staff from the University of Toledo Counseling department. The lot of about 70 guests were all gussied up: Men wore mainly black jackets with red ribbons on their lapels and ladies were all sparkly in cocktail attire. Among the party guests were board president David Arnold and his wife, Patty Robb. Also, a handful of people showed up from Grosse Ile, Mich.

The event was a classy success - in spite of the low community support - as it shows that David's House is still alive and kicking. Mrs. Williams said donations are still coming in, especially from those who were not able to attend, but they are hoping to break even. That's thanks to Manhattan's who gave them a real deal on the food, and Gary Ross of GR Entertainment, who brought the duo to town for the event.



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