2009 GRIDIRON WEST DINNER A SMASHING SUCCESS!

Rave reviews are still coming in for the Washington News Council’s 11th Annual Gridiron West Dinner, which was held Saturday night, Sept. 12, at Fremont Studios. Many attendees said it was the best event they’ve been to in years.

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Our “toast/roast” of Suzie Burke, president of the WNC’s board of directors and owner of Fremont Dock Company, was a fun-filled evening of song, comedy, costumes, and funny but affectionate tributes to our “toastee.”

NOTE: The event was filmed by TVW. See www.tvw.org for broadcast schedule. (First showing: Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 10:30 pm on Channel 23).

Special thanks to all of this year’s table sponsors, including:
“Center of the Universe” Level — Boeing, Sharon Gantz Bloome, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kemper Development Company, U-Park System.
“Fremont Bridge Level” — Brown Bear Car Wash, Fremont Dock Company, Horvitz Foundation, Microsoft, Pacific Futures Trading Co., PEMCO, Charles Simonyi Fund.
“Waiting for the Interurban” Level — Dollar Development, Gorton Legacy Group, Lynden, Inc., Premera, Puget Sound Energy, Rowley Properties.
“Fremont Troll” Level — ABC Enterprises, Berntson Porter, Discovery Institute, Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Fremont Tugboat Company, Fremont Rotary, Holy Names Academy, Northwest Seattle Industrial Association, Alan and Nancy Sclater, Seattle University, Wallace Properties, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Wallingford Boys and Girls Club, Wells Fargo Bank, Women of Washington.

Thanks, too, to all those who bought individual tickets for themselves, friends and colleagues, and helped fill tables.

Mike Egan, Master of Ceremonies, began the evening by welcoming guests. Father Peter Ely, Vice President of Seattle University, gave a moving invocation. Sue Nixon, a well-known Seattle jazz singer, sang the national anthem beautifully.

WNC Executive Director John Hamer and Acting Treasurer David Schaefer recognized past Gridiron West Dinner honorees who were there (Mike Lowry, Slade Gorton and Kemper Freeman Jr.), thanked table sponsors and introduced a video explaining the News Council’s mission.

After a delicious dinner catered by Kaspar’s with wine from Columbia Winery, Honorary Chair Kemper Freeman Jr. (last year’s “toastee”) welcomed the crowd and listed some colorful words that have been used to describe Suzie. He was followed by a personal video done by Ken Jones that chronicled Suzie Burke’s family history.

The Cabaret Productions Singers, arranged by Jim Anderson and David Koch, sang a medley of songs including “Suzie B” and “Shake Up, Little Suzie,” followed by the Washington News Council “Glee Club” (i.e., board of directors), who sang “If You Knew Suzie, Like We Know Suzie, Oh, Oh, Oh, What a Gal!” Other songs by the Cabaret Productions Singers included “Fremont, Fremont” (to the tune of “New York, New York”), “Me and My Landlord Suzie” (to the tune of “Me and Bobby McGee”), and “The Lady is a Champ” (to the tune of “The Lady is a Tramp”). CLICK HERE FOR LYRICS .

Emcee Mike Egan, dressed in a Russian Army officer’s uniform, did a side-splitting slide show “revealing” that Suzie Burke was actually a KGB agent who had been assigned by the Kremlin to spy on Seattle by posing undercover as a Republican in Fremont! Later in the program, Egan appeared as a Fremont “nude bicyclist” and rode around the stage to uproarious laughter from the crowd.

“Toasters” of Suzie included Rob McKenna, Washington State Attorney General, and Tom Carr, Seattle City Attorney, followed by Stan Emert, Symetra Community Affairs Director, and Liz Swift, Principal of Holy Names Academy.

Seattle comedian Pat Cashman “toasted” Suzie before conducting a mini-auction of 5 items. Cashman’s routine was hilarious, highlighted by a surprise demonstration of his electric nose-hair trimmer.

Reagan Dunn, King County Councilman, brought the house down with his line: “What do Sarah Palin and Suzie Burke have in common? They can both see Communists from their front yards.”

Table centerpieces were wooden replicas of the famous “Fremont Guidepost,” made by Westlake Woodworks.

Raffle prizes went to those who bought Suzie Burke “Bobbleheads” as raffle tickets, with the winners drawn by Kurt and Amina Kapasuzoglu, two of Suzie’s grandchildren.

Suzie’s three children — Gwen Kapasuzoglu, Mike Osterfeld and Kirby Lindsay — “toasted” their mother with affectionate stories and anecdotes. They were joined onstage by spouses and other family members.

Suzie’s final “response” to her toasters was funny and feisty — no surprise to those who know and love her. A video of Eddie Cantor singing “If You Knew Suzie” ended the evening’s program.

An After Party in The Village at Fremont Studios featured champagne and delicious chocolates donated by Theo’s Chocolates. An open mic was provided for friends to offer more “toasts” to Suzie. Festivities went on until midnight.

Special thanks to Mike Egan of Microsoft, Jim Anderson of Cabaret Productions, and Scott Jonas of Fremont Studios for making this event such a big success. And to Monica Tracey, event planner, and Kathy Schrier, WNC executive assistant, for making the event possible.

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