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A good time to be a good sport


Last weekend was certainly the one for socializing sports fans. Three separate parties each had a sports theme.

Last Saturday, Ravens aficionados found Shangri-La right in Fells Point, at Michael McCrary's fourth annual shindig, "Mac's Reggae Sunsplash." Kristin Lee, who co-chaired the party with Vanessa Milio, says 23 Ravens players, including Jonathan Ogden, Edwin Mulitalo, Matt Stover, Jeff Blake, Tony Weaver, Adalius Thomas, Marques Douglas, Cornell Brown, Chester Taylor, Gary Baxter, Reggie Waddell, Alvin Porter and coaches Earnest Byner and Chuck Evans, posted at the Bohager's blow-out. That's in addition, of course, to host McCrary, who also had his parents, Sandy and Curtis, and fiancee, Mary Haley, on hand.

Kristin says the afternoon was filled with live reggae music, casino-style games and a Caribbean-theme buffet. One of the additions this year was a face-painter, who -- from the looks of things -- may have run short on black and purple by the end of the day. Kristin noticed most of those who opted to become facial frescoes chose to be painted with the Ravens logo.

But, Kristin says, the Ravens themselves scored highest with their fans. Instead of keeping to themselves, she says, the players spent the whole afternoon signing autographs, mingling with the crowd and generally having a good time.

"The players were so laid back, and really enjoying themselves this year," says Kristin, "... that's what really made it fun."

Adding further smiles to the faces of event organizers was the $21,000 raised for the Baltimore Police Athletic League and Special Olympics Maryland.

The next day, about 300 folks gathered at the Ladew Fields to enjoy a luxurious Sunday afternoon at the "2002 Afternoon of Polo" for the benefit of the Abilities Network. Drought problems aside, Network past president Diana Pillas says the dry weather provided a perfect backdrop for the event, as people mingled under an open tent, browsed a Sunday lunch buffet and took in the polo match.

Diana says the "delightful crowd" included party chairman Mark Dyer, Paul Winicki, Randall and Nancy Goetz, George and Jeannie Panos, and John and Natalie Gilmore with "their beautiful baby, Lily."

This was the chance for some of these horse-lovers to don the outfits they couldn't wear at Preakness. Remember the chilly, wet weather that day? However, Diana says, lots of folks went a bit more casual, turning out in silk capri pants, big hats and long sun dresses.

"That was by design," she explains, "we wanted people to come and have a really fun day."

Sounds like they succeeded, given the $45,000 the day raised for the Abilities Network.

For those who love any and all sports, the ESPN Zone was the place to be last Sunday night. The Inner Harbor sports fans' Mecca, along with the seven other ESPN Zones nationwide, held a party to celebrate the 25,000th episode of SportsCenter.

About 100 enthusiasts came to the shindig, which didn't start until 10:30 that night, according to ESPN Zone Baltimore's Bonnie Downing.

Bonnie says ESPN personalities Mel Kiper Jr. and Andy Pollin were hosts for the bash, and showed a video with some of the most memorable moments in SportsCenter history.

Bonnie says what most surprised her was the big hit of the night. That's when partygoers started clamoring for the ESPN bobbleheads being given away in a trivia contest. Bonnie was amazed about how excited people were to win one. Among the bobblehead choices of Chris Berman, Dan Patrick, Kenny Mayne and Stuart Scott, Bonnie says the most popular was Berman.

Speaking of folks who live and breathe this sports stuff, Bonnie is no slouch in that area herself. As she talked on her business line about the party, her cell phone could be heard ringing in the background -- to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Creative Alliance

At "Tiki Torches at Twilight," Creative Alliance's annual bash, you got what you paid for -- and then some. As advertised, scores of Tiki torches shimmered across a section of Patterson Park roped off for the shindig. Several open tents housed the buffet tables, silent auction and the Hula Monsters band. And guests didn't seem to need help getting into the party mode. They arrived raring to go, decked out in tropical garb befitting the "Babalu '02" theme. There were Hawaiian shirts, sarongs, and flower garlands galore. To further the island flavor without the bite, as partygoers arrived they were met by a table of complementary bug spray.

Among the 400 folks getting into the swing of things (come to think of it, there was a swing set on hand for the literal-minded): Rachel Edds, event chairwoman; Patti Anne Battaglia, Sara Grantham and Diana Marta, event committee members; Christy Bergland, Creative Alliance board chairwoman; Susan Gould, Nancy Linden, Rita Linder and Lawrence White, board members; Margaret Footner, Creative Alliance executive director; Julie Snowberger, the Pet Salon pet groomer; Ashley Tisdale, Bolton Hill Nursery School teacher; Bill Murphy, Leica Geosystems sales representatives; Joyce Scott, Baltimore-based artist; Lida Bates, Baltimore area social worker; Rodney Carroll, Baltimore-based sculptor; Govane McClees, Baltimore area contractor; Dr. Perry Arnold, Timonium dialysis access specialist; Hannah Gould, community volunteer; Bo Wills, Baltimore computer consultant; Leonard Streckfus, Baltimore artist; Mary Dempsey, Constellation Energy Group public affairs manager; Kevin O'Keefe, Weber Shandwick managing director; Lorraine Whittlesey, Private Sector Productions artistic director; Craig Hankin, Johns Hopkins University Homewood art workshops director; Virginia Stirling, Dwight Asset Management securities analyst; Anne Riggle, International Asset Group president; Phil Costello, Integrity International Inc. vice president; Bryan Anschuetz, CSSI Inc. Web developer; and Dr. Ken Williams, Canton internist.

The hula hoopla raised about $25,000 for Creative Alliance.

-- Sloane Brown

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