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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
July 22, 2005

Sixteen is a sweet year for Cleveland center's Garden Party

Cleveland--The wisdom of holding the Lesbian and Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland�s Garden Party indoors was made abundantly clear on July 16, as thunderstorms, stifling heat and unbearable humidity were completely ignored by the nearly 600 partygoers.

Held for the second year at Signature of Solon, Garden Party �Sweet 16� was also the second year the event was held indoors, and saw nearly 50 more attendees than last year.

The benefactor reception an hour before the main event featured the singing of Rick and Sharona, who evoked the feel of Old Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra and the Little Sparrow Edith Piaf. The duo also provided music during the dinner.

The evening also featured performances by Verb Ballets, under the leadership of Hernando Cortez, including openly gay dancer Mark Tomasic.

The event also saw the return of a raffle for a trip to Provence. Early online sales proved lucky, as the trip was won by a woman in Columbus.

Between the tickets for the trip to France and 50/50 tickets sold at the party, the raffles brought in $6,000.

Breakdowns for the live and silent auctions were not available at press time, but the sheer variety of items available in the two auctions dazzled patrons.

In the live auction alone, items ranged from a rainbow motif signature quilt made by the Seniors Out and About group at the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center to a matted poster of Burt Reynolds� bare bottom from Cosmopolitan magazine, complete with the donors providing installation and a dinner of Burt Reynolds Chicken.

A 1917 Navy recruitment poster begging puns about seamen, a gorgeous kimono, a trip for two to Cancun and an evening of Hungarian food and music rounded out the live auction. Center board president Thom Rankin--in a leather harness and a leather cape--was the auctioneer.

The silent auction, featuring well over 200 items spread through two rooms and the connecting hallways, had an extensive array of antiques, art, Broadway items, Pride-related goods, beefcake, cheesecake, food, wine, theater and sports items.

The 16th annual Garden Party grossed just over $60,000 for the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, impressing executive director Sue Doerfer. This was the first garden party for Doerfer, who started last November.

�We are extremely grateful for the community�s amazing support of the Center and what we do,� Doerfer said.

She continued, �It was great to look out into the audience and see a mix of long-time supporters and new faces as well. It was truly a fun celebration.�

�In fact,� she concluded, �it�s the community that makes the Garden Party so special.�

Events and data manager Maura Haas noted, �The behind-the-scenes people made this event as fabulous as it was.�

�This was the first time in several years that we�ve done the Garden Party by committee,� she noted. �We couldn�t have offered such a great event without the committee�s hard work and the dedication of our volunteers.�

The Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center�s fundraising will be continuing over the next month or so with the Summer Restaurant Tour, in which different restaurants on specific days donate a portion of the proceeds to the Center when patrons mention the tour while ordering. A full listing of the restaurants and dates is in Charlie�s Calendar or available online at



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