Crackerjacks and cotton candy, beer and brats, dancing with Muddy and playing the dessert race on the video screen: It was all part of the fun of the Mud Hens' opening day Thursday, which for many is the sign that spring is here. Schmoozing and cruising was the name of the game outside of Fifth Third Field. There were many folks that didn't see the first pitch or know what the score was or who won, but they had a great time.
Tailgaters arrived around lunchtime, munching and gabbing, and many never made it to the game.
Tony Murawski said it was his group's eighth year, and they always arrive three hours beforehand. Dave Dunnigan arrived around 11 a.m. Brian Johnson took off work in Detroit to be there with his friends, wife Anna Johnson, and sister and brother-in-law Kim and Eric Sauber of Millbury.
Jed's at the Yard was packed indoors and out on the patio, and music was blaring to match the din of chatter.
The Bronze Boar was packed by 2 p.m., but Neil Garrison arrived about noon. Across the street at Quimby's at the Park were Nena Kern and Phil Lewandowski, who made it their first stop for bar-hopping before heading to the game. Some folks started at Grumpy's for lunch before the big day, others headed to Packo's in the Park and the Blarney.
Snapping pictures of nearly everyone was Chuck Schmidt, the day before his big 70th birthday party.
Behind Fifth Third Field, a few parties started a few hours before game time.
The Maloney, McHugh, and Kolodgy party was in the Lott Industries Shared Lives Studio & Gallery below the legal offices.
A diverse group of community movers and shakers were seen:
Two court of appeals judges, Arlene Singer and Steve Yarborough, Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger and his daughter Emily, retired Judge Mary Grace Trimboli, Msgr. Michael Billian, Gloria and Mike Sheline, Jeannie Hylant, Don Harbaugh, County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, Jerome and Diane Phillips, Becky Furhman and Don Leary, Tom and Lori Schoen, Ottawa Hills Village Manager Marc Thompson, Jim Cameron, Susan Gibbs, and retired Blade editorial writer Ralph Johnson.
The BH Group with president Brad Huebner hosted a party in its office, which is above Frickers and overlooks the field.
Seen was Tom Nowatske, a former member of the Baltimore Colts who lives in Ann Arbor and is president of his own truck and trailer company in Whitmore Lake, Mich. He sported his Super Bowl V ring, which he gladly took off to let me inspect. It was an impressive piece of hardware. Before he was with the Colts, he played for the Detroit Lions for five years. Mr. Nowatske was with his son Nick, a University of Toledo student.
At the combined party of Midland Title & Escrow, Martin & Wood Appraisal, MT Technologies, Seagate Inspections, Inc., and Waterford Bank in a parking lot across from Jed's were Larry Boyer and his son Stephen, Bill Kitson, Marcia Rubini, Mark and Laura Hummer, Don Harbaugh, Laurie and Jeff Huskisson, Tim Casey, Jack Jolley, Tom McHugh in an Irish green Hens ensemble, and many others. Richard Rideout, who lives next door in the warehouse district above his business, loved seeing all the excitement downtown.
The Poggemeyer Design Group hosted a party in its offices, a stroll from the main action but worth the trip. Seen were President Jack Jones and co-host Dennis Goldsmith of Trane.
Inside Fifth Third Field was the Lathrop party, which started in the Roost at the first pitch. Seen were Bob and Kathie Maxwell, Doug and Jan Martin, Sandy Isenberg, Bob and Mary Arquette, Emma and George Oravecz, Eric and Olivia Summons, Bob and Molly Mack, Bill Buckley, Steve Klepper, Mark Zyndorf, Bill Fall, Peter Ujvagi, Tom and Betsy Brady, Dave Wermeister, Keith Burwell, and many others.
The suites section, where many corporations and businesses including Fifth Third Bank entertain customers, was one big party, and whether folks saw the game or not, they were there to support the team.
So many suites, too many names, especially since many folks suite-hopped. Seen were Cheryl Hardy, Mo Devany and Mark Goodremont, Chris and Dan Cassovar, Terri Cole, Sharon Falvey, Ivan Jaffe, Henry and Karen DeMain, Pat and Jim Appold, Scott Hamner, Dave and Hillary White, Tom Cox, Nancy Smythe, Bill and Marlene Garbe, Karen Fraker, Dirk Van Heyst, Brian and Bev Bucher, John Szuch, Ben Brown, Susan Gibney, Maria Jadwisiak, Suzanne and P.J. Rorick, Bill Boyle, Dan McQuillen, and Sheila and Denny Johnson. Also, John Lark, Steve and Meg Adams, Bob Zimmerman, Tim Valko and Jim Meena, Kay Rasmus, Michelle and Bernie Quilter, Cyndi and Jack Sculfort, and Leonard Marty, who was celebrating his 50th birthday. Richard Hylant came from work in his business suit. Mike Beazley was busy schmoozing while his wife, Julie, watched the game. Meeting many new faces was Randy Frame, the new regional president of Toledo Edison.
The night went on, some folks leaving early, and others arriving later for the second game since it was a doubleheader. Most all will be back again, and maybe they'll even watch the game. I know I will.