From conversation hearts to Chinese fortune cookies, there is a lot of cause for merriment this week. St. Valentine's Day shares today with the Chinese New Year. This is the third time since 1900 that the two holidays have landed on the same day, and it won't happen again until after 2030. What is extra special is that both days promote the sharing of love with red as the symbol.
The celebrations don't stop today, because tomorrow is Presidents Day, which means a day off for many and big retail sales for shoppers.
Then Tuesday is Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday, the last day of partying before Lent starts. Leading up to all of these holidays were several gatherings, all with a lot of heart.
Red carnations, oodles of red, white, and black balloons, streamers, and more set the festive scene for the sixth annual Heart and Soul: Caring for Our Community event to benefit individuals served at Harbor, aka Harbor Behavorial Heathcare, and Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital.
The gala night was Feb. 6 in the suite level of Fifth Third Field with centerpieces made by students in the Mayfair art therapy program at Fulton school: gallon paint cans decorated in red, black, and white, each with its own creative touch.
Aside from the fun time, it was all about erasing the stigma of mental illness. Earlier that day Fred Frese of the Cleveland area impressed everyone with his humorous yet serious talk on his recovery from his mental illness. He also talked about movies, including Beautiful Mind, that portray the challenges of mental illness. He stressed that it is important to “get the help you need!”
Welcoming everyone were event chairmen Tony Rasczyk and Sally Binard. It was Mr. Rasczyk who started the event after a family member was diagnosed with mental illness. Honorary chairmen were Dr. Jaylata Patel, who works at Harbor, and Mary Beth Zolik-Smith of WRVF-FM (101.5), there with her hubby, Terry Smith, CEO of Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital. Dale Shreve is the CEO of Harbor.
There were too numerous sponsors to mention. Noticeable, however, were the many individuals who bought tables of eight including Darlene Rasczyk, Mary Ann Pistelli, Dr. Cuneyd Tolek, Stacey Dunbar, Linda Blackburn, Richard Meeker, and Ms. Binard.
Back at the party, the Toledo School for the Arts Urban Jazz Collective, the Subtones musical group, and David Browning on guitar played tunes. David Brigham and Wayne North pushed silent auction items while Meaghann Kennedy modeled jewelry. Malcolm and Peggy Richards were delighted that they won the bid on a giant stuffed pink heart. And the food was great for the soul: Carved turkey, beef strogonoff, a salad with all the fixings served in a margarita glass, and mashed potatoes with topping served in martini glasses. Enjoying the mashed potatoes were Julie Reaster, Ben and Brianne Frobose, and Jodi Gray.
Also among the nearly 300 guests were Mayor Mike Bell, Tayo Osinowo, Thomas and Latifat Osinowo, Barbara and Alan Konop and son Ben Konop, Kathy Cody and her fiance, Rick Frelin, Marvin and Tina Ransey, and Sara Moynihan, who was all smiles about having just finished her MBA at University of Toledo. Also out and about were Joyce and Jerry Johnson, who just closed the Vineyard wine shop. Debbie Dryer McClure, Mr. Meeker, and Kathy Holmes — no, not Katie's mom — enjoyed the evening, too, as did Kim Shaffer, Matt Schroder, Kevin Pirozek, Janine Avila, Chad Baker, Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg, and Dave Schlaudecker, board chairman of Mental Health Recovery Services of Lucas County.
The event is expected to net more than $21,000, nearly double from last year.
Lots of fun was had and money raised during the first Red, White, and Duel presented by the Auxiliary of the Toledo Hospital and Toledo Children's Hospital.
Event chairman Dee Talmage glowed over the success of the event, which took place Feb. 6 at Owens Community College.
The estimated net of $10,000 benefits the Safe Patient Mobility program at the hospitals, said auxiliary president Sally Ravas.
The Cruizin' Keys Dueling Pianos brought out hidden talents. Charlie Heid, foundation board chairman, joined Paul Ravas, Murray Howe, and Denise Benton as they did the “YMCA” dance.
The reverse raffle was fun, too. Sharing the $2000 prize were Sam and Fatima Sayed, Katherine Lycourt, Daniel Miller, and Thomas Ovacek.
Toledo Radiological Associates, Inc., was the major sponsor. Doctors present from TRA included Malcolm Doyle and wife Colleen; Jon Nadaud and wife Jamie; Jonathon Yobbagy and wife Sandra, and Robin Shermis.
Among the 140 in attendance: the president of both hospitals, Kevin Webb, with wife Judy, and auxiliary president-elect Laura Robinson with husband Brian.
It's all about your heart.
Did you wear red on Feb. 5? It was National Wear Red Day in honor of National Heart Month, this month.
Heart disease kills more people than any other disease, according to Caroline McMann, a member of the Go Red for Women movement to help women fight the ailment.
The movement is a volunteer group based at the American Heart Association, which claims that 45 percent of women's deaths in Lucas County are related to heart disease even though it is preventable through diet, exercise, and education.
In honor of Wear Red Day, several luncheons were dedicated to heart health for women, including the Getting to the Heart of My Health presented by Mercy at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion. Kristian Brown of WTVG-TV, Channel 13, was the emcee for the day, which included keynote speaker Noel Bairey Merz, director of the Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. There were also presentations by Ameer Kaboor, chief of cardiology at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, and Catherine Carrigan, medical director at Mercy Weight Management Center.
On March 27 is the Glass City Heart Ball presented by the American Heart Association from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Crowne Plaza.
If you want to spread the word about healthy hearts, join the Go Red for Women movement by contacting the local American Heart Association. And be sure to wear red this month as a reminder to take care of your heart.
Mardi Gras season, considered by some as the season of fools, has a long-standing tradition of merriment and fun that features lots of food just before Lent. Fat Tuesday — Feb. 16, when paczki sales will soar in Toledo — is the finale.
Most folks think of New Orleans and Creole cooking when it comes to Mardi Gras. Others, such as the English, call it Pancake Day. In Poland, sugary doughnuts are the favored treat of the day, and Finland boasts split pea with ham soup.
There is also the German-style Mardi Gras, celebrated in Toledo for the last 45 years, according to Tim Pecsenye of the German-American Festival Society. The G.A.F. Society hosted a Mardi Gras celebration, which also is called Karneval or Fasching, depending on whom you talk to. The celebration was Feb. 7 at Oak Shade Grove Hall in Oregon.
The party, headed by chairman Ernie Perry, used the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold, and included food and dancing to the tunes of Phenix band of Chicago.
A royal court procession included hosts Prinz Jay Gast and Prinzessin Laurie Renz-Gast. The costume parade was entertaining, with the group prize going to the Bavarian dancers dressed as the cast of Peter Pan. The second prize went to the Teutonia Mannerchor as a Chinese dragon.
German and American food was available for purchase. And what would a Mardi Gras party be without king cake? In this case, cupcakes were the answer, and the one that had a plastic baby inside is said to bring good luck all year long to whomever receives it.