"Another misconception you should clear up involves the winter carnival that will be staged for Children's Hospital from Feb. 9 to Feb. 11. It is understandable, but it's very bothersome to the organizers."
The gent who directed the above words toward me is a reliable citizen. So I put his explanation about the misconception into my tickler file. And when I met with Brian Burke and John Palumbo, co-chairmen of the Brierwood Country Club/Children's Hospital Winter Carnival on Thursday, I asked about the belief that there is an admission charge to the carnival.
"That belief is incorrect," Brian Burke said. "There are nominal charges for some events like, say, $1 for a pony ride or bowling and $4 for a hot-air balloon ride, but a family could have fun at the carnival without spending a penny. The kids' games and Sled Hill will be operating on Saturday and Sunday and will be free, as will be some other events like the Martinez Family Circus on Saturday."
How did the idea for the carnival start?
"I am president of Bobby O'Brian's Tavern on the Green, which is, as you know, the public restaurant at the Brierwood Country Club in Hamburg, " Burke answered. "John is the director of golf at the country club. Unlike most country clubs in Western New York, we are open 12 months a year. Our bowling alleys, indoor golf driving range and restaurant are open to the public all year round. We wanted to get that message out better and decided a winter carnival, with a good cause involved, on the grounds of the club would be a dramatic way to bring people to the facilities. We took our proposal to the people at Children's Hospital and the first carnival was held last February."
How was the weather for that happening?
"We didn't have as much snow as we wanted. In fact, we had to cancel a cross-country ski race and a course in cross-country skiing that was being offered. Still, we had more than 7,000 people come in, and they enjoyed the activities. We believe that this time around we will have at least 10,000 people."
Will there be anything of appeal to those local people who aren't enthusiastic about being in the great outdoors in this area in February? And to those who believe that even Cher would wear long johns if she was going into the South Towns after Nov. 1?
"From 6 p.m. to 8:30 on Friday there will be a reception in Bobby O'Brian's Oak Bar that will feature area celebrities tending bar. At 7 p.m. there will be a mystery dinner theater presentation, "Murder a la Carte," in the main dining room. We will have a black-tie dinner-dance Saturday. There will be indoor fashion shows on both Saturday and Sunday. And, of course, we will have a bowling tournament."
Is the listing for a golf tournament for real?
John Palumbo smiled and said, "Like most of the events, the golf tournament will be held on the golf course. We will set up five holes, and if the snow is too deep, we will substitute tennis balls for golf balls.
"Another golf event is the helicopter drop. For $5, an entrant gets a ball with his name on it. All the balls are dropped from the helicopter, and the person whose ball is closest to the hole gets $500."
Did the 1989 softball tournament attract enough interest to rate an encore performance this year?
Now it was Brian Burke's turn to smile as some memories came back. Then he said, "It sure did. For starters, this tournament is different from most others in that the teams have both women and men in the same lineup. And some of those women are something to see after a game. We had 11 teams last year and the tournament was won by Mud McGrath's team from South Buffalo. We expect even more excitement and unusual sights this year."
A look at the schedule shows that the happening at the Brierwood Country Club has just about every attraction a winter carnival would want. And the lineup for the opening parade includes the Buffalo Jills, the Shriners Motorcade, the Canisius ROTC, the Earl of Bud and Danny Neaverth. Were many people involved in handling the logistics for that?
Now Brian Burke shook his head and said, "We had a small group of volunteers doing the work, and we have been holding biweekly meetings since early October. Here I want to stress two things. First, we could not get this started without that great group. Secondly, we will be welcoming new volunteers from now through Feb. 11. And we will honor all volunteers at the wind-up party on the last day."
Two last matters. There will be no ticket to the Mystery Dinner Theater presentation left for Elvis Presley. And the hope here is that among the people who will come to the carnival is the cynic who once said, "You should never have a second annual anything."
Today's prediction: San Francisco 37, Broncos 17.