Rotary’s Casino Royale

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Rotary Casino 20160226_203741Who doesn’t like James Bond? And, if you like James Bond, you just gotta love a casino! Not since ol’ Doc Smith brought the circus to “right here in Honeoye Falls” so many decades ago have I looked with such anticipation to a Rotary event. (Yes, that includes the year they delighted my son Peter – who polished and shined it back to life – by awarding my ‘83 Camaro a third place price at the Rotary Car Show in 2011.) When we found out about the casino, (which wasn’t hard given the poster was right there on John’s counter at the Mendon Pharmacy), Betsy and I decided we had to go.

OK, OK, I admit I was more excited about the “Casino” part. Betsy, on the other hand, she looked forward to having a night out doing a fun thing for a good cause. You see, as newly hatched empty nesters, it’s been a long time since we’ve had a chance to attend a 100% “grown-up” event. Sure, as usual, the timing of things was tight, since I was on the road that day interviewing prospective interns at Alfred University. (It seemed like everyone preferred interning for a financial firm rather than for a newspaper.)

We arrived at the Mendon Golf Club a little late, but only fashionably so. And who was there to greet us when we got there but Manor School principal Jeanine Lupisella. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, she pointed us in the direction of Don Majewski, who processed our tickets and gave us a wooden chip worth “$1,000.” Don was kind enough to take the pictures of the event you see in this issue with Denise Lowry providing the captions.

I stuffed the marker in my pocket and made our way through the doors to the Banquet Room and who did we see but long time friend Bill Fletcher, fabulous Town Attorney (and, before that, exception Campaign Treasurer for yours truly). He was meticulously preparing raffle tickets with Linda Goodrum, who I hadn’t seen since our FIRST Team 2228 CougarTech days. It was so great to see her again.

Next we headed to the bar for a quick dinner. Our options were a bit limited it being a Friday during Lent, but a hearty salad with a juicy vinaigrette dressing and a swiss on rye sandwich filled the bill. We were joined by two visiting Rotarians. Steve and Melissa hail from Rush and – wouldn’t you know it – their son is also involved in robotics (the FTC team at the Harley School). Steve made the unfortunate admission that he wasn’t aware of The Sentinel and allowed me to bore him with my storied days as a local reporter. Then the most amazing thing happened – they told us their daughter was a junior at Ithaca College (Cesidia’s Alma Mater). When they mentioned she was majoring in English I immediately seized the opportunity. Who knows, maybe The Sentinel will have its journalist intern this summer after all.

At around 7pm Barry Kissack, donned in the appropriate attire (which evidently included a sparkling green top hat) announced the casino was now open and the games would begin. We parted ways with Steve and Melissa to see just what that wooden chip in my pocket could do. On our way out we gave a nod to Shawn Bartnett, who may be the only remaining Rotary member from the days when I was a member (that was about three babies ago). Our escape from the bar was delayed a bit to say “hi” to Supervisor John Moffett and several others (who I apologize for forgetting).

Betsy and I walked through the expansive array of gaming tables before settling in next to Lisa Hoover at one of the less populated Black Jack tables. Indeed, it seemed like the entire Lattimore workforce was there. (And, yes, they, like everyone else, were having a great time. Just ask them next time you see them.) We were soon joined by the Moffetts. Although the $1,000 chip I held was to be evenly split between me and Betsy, my darling wife decided not to play the game. Instead, she played the moll to my gambler. James Garner would have been jealous. We were all having fun learning some tricks the dealer was so kind to share (“doubling down,” “splitting,” and “insurance”!? I didn’t know you could buy insurance).

It seemed that wooden seed kept growing despite my best efforts. When Steve tapped my shoulder to bestow his remaining chips on me before he left, Betsy finally decided to play. We were busy devising strategies to lose all our chips (as they say, “you can’t take it with you), when we discovered the remaining chips would be converted into raffle tickets. That was about the same time Tracy Main came to the table leaking $500 chips. He made sure everyone at the table received at least one.

As the gaming portion of the night came to an end, we harvested our winnings and received our raffle tickets. After complaining about never winning anything, Betsy won a neat little package that included a $25 gift certificate from The Rabbit Room, a basket with a fluffy bunny, and a tee shirt that, for some reason, says “Just add Vodka” on the front. Of course, everyone eyed the big prizes – the $150 Black and Blue gift certificate and those wild Vuzix smart glasses. Perhaps it was due to his profession, but after doing a bang-up job reading the winning tickets, Barry turned the microphone over to Tracy to call the numbers for the grand prizes.

The evening was so much fun. It was great to get out of the house, out of the office. I can’t wait to do this again next year!

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