by Randy Ooney
The Republican National Convention is set to take place in St. Paul next year and preparations have already begun. They are budgeting over two million dollars just for gift bags for the delegates. I’m not sure who’s picking up the tab for all these gifts, but I suppose at the end of the day we all do. I have some suggestions for the bags. How about a thirty day supply of a prescription drug. No, forget that, it would use up the entire budget. Maybe they could use plastic bags and present them with a gallon of $3.40 gasoline. (no smoking please.) Perhaps a few lucky delegates could receive the keys to a used HumVee, complete with desert dust from Iraq. Could anyone use a three day stay at the Veteran’s home? If there’s time, we could bus them to Kankanee and have Arlo Guthrie host an excursion on the train they call the City of New Orleans.
Seriously, though, gift bags are an added touch to some bowling tournaments. Just not on the huge scale of the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, or the RNCC. I recall entering a pro-am at an LPBT tournament at Cherry Bowl in Rockford, Ill. In addition to the various discount coupons from local merchants, I received an LPBT logo jacket, a program, and collector cards of Lisa Wagner and Betty Morris. Not as good as a Derek Jeter, with Mickey Mantle and George Bush looking on, but still a welcome addition to my collection.
The National USBC tournament usually has a goodie or two for participants. Sometimes a pin or a bag tag. Usually they try to sell more souvenirs than they give away. When it stops in Reno, the casinos chip in a bit. But the gift isn’t in the bag. You have to GO to the casino to receive your gift. Generally you need to find the welcome center, which is in the back of the casino, past 450 ways to lose some money on the way. I still have my $5 commemorative chip from the Peppermill, in mint condition from the 2001 tournament. Also I remember going from place to place to get the silver dollar slugs from Circus Circus, El Dorado, and Silver Legacy. I was so busy running around town picking up the freebies that I didn’t have time to gamble. Well, maybe a little, but I won it all back at the Sands before leaving. Serves them right, they had no freebies, just hot dice.
Maybe a new trend will start and we could see gift bags at the MSC tournaments in the future. Instead of a bag, they could use a Roy Rogers lunch box, and fill it with a tube of Ben-Gay, bottle of ibuprofin, some glucosamine and condroitin, Dr. Scholl’s corn plasters, a roll of Ace bandage, a jar of prunes, some Pepto-Bismol, (in case the prunes work too fast), udder cream, some of that Chinese stuff that smells like wintergreen and raw egg, and oh yeah, a collector card of Carmen Salvino.