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REVELERS WILL DANCE NIGHT AWAY TO CELEBRATE ARRIVAL OF NEW YEAR GROUP'S FUND-RAISER FOR CHARITY GETS BIGGER, BETTER

"I would have enjoyed 'A Christmas Carol' more if Scrooge had hated New Year's Day more than Christmas. On that day each year the value of my car depreciates and my wife's wardrobe goes out of style. So to those who wish me a happy New Year I say "Bah humbug!' And I know you have not been much for the celebration since Guy Lombardo died and took New Year's Eve with him."

The character who dropped the above words on me was somewhat surprised when I said that this time around I feel good about the arrival of the new year. And for that I owe thanks to the five members of the Buffalo Funding Group.

As regular visitors to this corner know, I like to hear about the good young citizens in our midst. Too often they are ignored by people who are more interested in the Mr. Hydes than the Dr. Jekylls of our society.

Such young Dr. Jekyll types are the enterprising young people in the Buffalo Funding Group who will be staging a special dance tomorrow night. They are Michael Cryan, 23; Kelly Grant, 24; Edward McDermid, 23; Bill Quinn, 24, and Lynda Sartini, 25.

While undergraduates at Canisius College, the friendly five began working on a plan that would give them the chance to see many friends in one place on New Year's Eve.

And they knew that "an affordable price" had to be the key words in their plan.

So they decided to have a dance and to donate any profit to a charity.

"We started out in 1986 with 250 celebrators," Bill Quinn said on Thursday.

"The next year we had 350. Then we went to 450 and last year we had 1,000 people.

"We used the top floor at the Macaroni Company and were packed in tightly. Although the owners had been good to us, we knew we had to move.

"While we were scouting around, someone suggested we contact Charles Pezzino, owner of Samuel's Grande Manor, who has refurbished the Golden Ballroom in the Statler Building. One look and we knew we had found the ideal place."

Will there be anything besides the location that is different from the other celebrations?

Now Quinn laughed and said, "Our menu will be quite different from the first year when the only food we had was peanuts. In '87 we had chicken wings and beef on weck and we added a salad plate the last two years. This year we will be having a gourmet repast."

Did this mean there had to be a boost in ticket prices?

"We started out charging $15 a person. Now we are charging $37.50 a ticket," he said. "And for that the buyer gets to dance for four hours to the music of the Buffalo Swing. He also gets an open bar, the gourmet food and the chance to see his friends in a very beautiful and unusual setting."

How does such a small group generate so many ticket sales?

"We start having meetings about six months before the big date. We appoint hosts and hostesses who will sell tickets to friends and relatives.

"We will have a wide age range this year," Quinn continued, "probably from 21 to 70. My parents are coming with five other couples, In fact, the parents of all five members are going to be there Monday night."

Do the members expect a big "day-of-the-game sale" on Monday?

"We are not depending on that," he said. "But we hope that people without definite plans will hear about our affair and will join us. If you meet anyone who wants more information about our event, have him contact me at the Lawley Service. The phone number is 849-8618."

Does the recipient charity change every year?

"Yes, it does. This year we will be giving to the News Neediest Fund through the United Way. The charity aspect was important to us when we started and still is. We did not want to be one of the groups that has big events and don't donate anything to a charity."

Doesn't the success of the New Year's Eve affair cause some thought about having another event?

"It does and we are going to try something this summer. We expect it will be a cruise on the Niagara Clipper or Miss Buffalo."

In many exercises like this one, some people are not given credit for providing support for an event. And all of the hosts and hostesses rate credit.

Also, I know that the original five members of the Buffalo Funding Group are grateful to Charles Pezzino of Samuel's Grande Manor for being more than than a landlord for the night.

They also are grateful to the people from Guerra Press who did their printing and to Nick Trbovich Jr., who has sold many tickets.

Now I don't know what the weather will be like tomorrow, but one thing is for sure: There will be some warm memories of other nights at the Golden Ballroom being shared by the celebrants on the other side of 45.

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