Tonight's Steelheaders Ball was supposed to be all about raising funds for the Citizens for Lake Metroparks but it really had another, equally important, agenda.
This evening's Steelheaders Ball festivities was also the last dance for Steve Madewell, who in a few short weeks will no longer command the helm of Lake Metroparks as the agency's executive director. He will be taking over as the skipper of the Metro Parks of the Toledo Area early next month.
One of three originators of the Steelheaders Ball, Madewell did everything at the previous events, including being one of its musical entertainers.
Tonight, however, Madewell spent much of his time at Lake Metroparks' Pine Ridge Country Club in Wickiffe visiting with the party's guests, making small talk and saying his good-byes. And while Madewell might not have put it that way, many of the Steelheader Ball's guests understood. They did their best to either ferret Madewell out of a corner or squeeze in for a chance to wish the government official their best.
The turn-out was thinner than some previous Steelheaders' fund-raising parties but for those who did attend the mood was far from somber. Raffles and a silent auction all featured items contributed by donars who not only did so to assist the Citizens group - which uses its money to support future Lake Metroparks levies - but likewise to honor Madewell.
That is why judges of various stripes, civic leaders and hard-core anglers more comfortable in a set of waders than as someone attempting to juggle an over-flowing dinner plate without so much as losing a cherry tomato all rubbed elbows together.
Madewell has earned their respect and admiration and the event's attendees just wanted the opportunity to say so.
And so tonight Madewell made his final appearence at the event, at least likely as one of its organizers, anyway.
Then again, Northeast Ohio can expect to reel Madewell back in.
He and his wife, Mary Jo, will hold on to their home that is nestled along shade-lined Big Creek in Concord Township. It's too nice of a home, too perfect of a spot to walk away from, Mary Jo said.
Thus, Madewell's soon-to-happen departure for the flat farmland of northwestern Ohio is actually only temporary.
Afterall, though Madewell is not a native of Northeast Ohio the outpouring of attendees at this evening's Steelheaders Ball shows that he an adopted son.
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn