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May 07, 2010

City warms up for 2014 Gay Games with SynergyFest

Cleveland--The Cleveland Synergy Foundation, the organization whose successful bid will bring the Gay Games to northeast Ohio in 2014, illustrated their technical prowess from April 23 to 25 with SynergyFest, a three-day multiple-sport festival.

Volleyball, tennis, billiards and flag football were all represented in the first of a handful of “practice runs” for the Gay Games.

Cleveland Synergy Foundation board president Mike Readinger believes that, even though Clevelanders have the know-how to run big national events, it’s always helpful to be able to work out the kinks in advance. He pointed to volleyball, bowling and line-dancing tournaments and national conventions to illustrate the expertise Clevelanders bring to the table.

SynergyFest was a fabulous success,” he said. “Essentially, what we were trying to do was rehearsing for the Gay Games. SynergyFest was created with the intent that we would be able to do these multiple-sports festivals, so when we get to the Gay Games, we’re not doing it for the first time.”

While putting on a festival with four sports represented, bringing in over 600 people, is no mean feat, the 2014 Gay Games are expected to bring in well over 10,000 people, with 34 sporting events and five major cultural events.

“This year we started smaller and we’re going to build it every year as we go forward,” Readinger said.

Most of the events were held in the various athletic facilities of Cleveland State University, with the exception of billiards, which was held at the Corner Alley on Euclid Avenue at East 4th Street.

The tournament was on the same days as the Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend, which has a habit of filling hotels quickly, so Synergy went to the Cleveland Renaissance hotel early to book a block of rooms.

“We actually wound up surpassing our block of rooms, but everyone was able to get a room at the special room rate,” Readinger noted. “It worked out perfectly.”

In using the hotel attached to Tower City, out-of-town attendees flying into Cleveland could take the rapid from the airport directly to Terminal Tower, check in and take part in the registration party.

The Cleveland Synergy Foundation’s next big event will be the second installment of the Frivolity party, which will be held this year on August 20.

Then, in 2011, SynergyFest will envelop Frivolity in mid-August, with both events and possibly Dancin’ in the Streets all occurring on the same weekend, giving attendees an incredibly full three days of sports and celebration.

“In 2011 we will kick off the weekend by having all the participants go to Frivolity to register and then stay and have fun,” Readinger said. “Dancing in the Streets will presumably be the same weekend, and it will align more closely with the 2014 Gay Games dates.”

With the wide array of sports at SynergyFest, the list of victors and teams placing is understandably long.

In billiards, Tony Perkins took first place, followed in second by Jamie Vacarro.

The Cleveland Rockers were victorious in flag football, with the Pittsburgh Ironmen coming in second. The Rockers MVP was David DiGiacomo, while Josh Farabee took the MVP title for the Ironmen.

Tater Nagashima was victorious in men’s singles tennis, while Bob Vinkler and Ralph Medrano won the doubles.

The final standings in A/AA division volleyball had Columbus Hot and Messy in the top spot, followed by Columbus FindFred and Pittsburgh 343.

In the BB division, Midwest Mayhem took the title, followed by Columbus Cobras and Toronto 10 Dolla. B division saw Cleveland Synergy Invaders make use of the home field advantage, edging out Toronto Sneaker Pimps and Pittsburgh N’At.

Readinger was effusive in his praise of the competitors, who he said were all at the top of their games, and also noted that SynergyFest director Mary Motley put together an incredible festival. He expressed gratitude to the wide array of sponsors, including Glenbeigh Hospital and realtor John Oskowski.

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