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Buffalo in the '90s: Donald Trump, Jim Kelly and Zubaz

BN Chronicles looks back into the archives for previous Western New York visits by the presidential front-runners.

On a summer weekend in 1992, the Jim Kelly Carnival of Stars brought some of the biggest names in sports to then-Pilot Field to raise money for children’s charities. Folks like John Elway, Warren Moon and Dan Marino as well and many of the Buffalo Bills players who were in the midst of bringing the Bills to four straight Super Bowls were there.

Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly tests his arm at his 1992 Carnival of Stars at Pilot Field. (Buffalo News archives)

TV stars like Kirk Cameron and his Cheektowaga-born wife and "Growing Pains" co-star Chelsea Noble also were among the celebrities in town to take part in the football throw challenge and softball game.

Resoundingly, though, the most talked about stars of the event were Donald Trump and his actress girlfriend Marla Maples (whom he later married).

Channel 4 sports anchor Chuck Howard interviews Marla Maples and Donald Trump at Jim Kelly’s Carnival of Stars in Downtown Buffalo in 1992. (Buffalo News archives)

Many of the guests at the fundraiser carnival had some tie to Buffalo, but Maples told The News that she had befriended the Bills quarterback in 1984 when she was an unknown southern beauty queen.

"I met Jim Kelly years ago when I was doing Miss Georgia in the USA pageant," Maples told The News. "He was a judge. He's been a friend for many years. I'm so proud of what he's doing. Donald and I have a lot of respect for him."

Of course in 1992, Donald Trump was known as a celebrity billionaire, not a presidential candidate. That doesn’t mean, however, that a Trump candidacy had never been thought about. Iconic Buffalo News Columnist Bob Curran wrote this as Maples and Trump were scheduled to appear at Kelly’s event:

There are some locals who remain fascinated by The Donald. As another observer said, "Just remember that four years ago they were talking about this guy running for president like Ross Perot is doing now."

You can read the rest of Curran’s thoughts on Trump’s appearance in Buffalo 24 years ago here.

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