After having spent a pleasant week in the Cleveland area during the 2015 Lloyd Thomas reunion, I would like to recount some of our experiences.
The reunion hotel was the Embassy Suites – Rockside, in Independence, Ohio, just South of the city of Cleveland. Reunion host Rich Madansky and his wife Kathy provided a great and varied sampling of the attractions available in the Cleveland area.
There were up to 73 folks attending events, 43 of whom were shipmates.
On Tuesday morning, we toured the Cleveland area, then part of our group stopped at the Cleveland Police Museum, while the rest of us visited the Cleveland Aquarium. Afterwards, all embarked on the Nautica Queen for a cruise of the Cleveland harbor area and a fine lunch. Although there were scattered showers in the area, some sailors were on the fantail taking in the sights. After the cruise, we traveled to the Cleveland Museum of Art for a guided tour of some of their exhibits.
Wednesday found us starting out at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and going to Crop Bistro for lunch. Crop Bistro is a cutting edge restaurant serving unique American cuisine in an old bank building. Our group of 60 enjoyed lunch served in the huge vault in the basement of the old bank. After lunch there was free time to visit the West Side Market and the Great Lakes Brewery.
A visit to the Christmas Story House and Museum was next.
On Thursday, we headed to Canton for a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lunch was then served Amish family style at Das Country Kitchen restaurant. It was a short trip to P Graham Dunn Gallery, where we could watch wood gift products being made, and could purchase items from their store.
From there we headed to the Western Reserve National Cemetery, where Rich Madansky conducted the memorial service for our departed shipmates and family. Sandy Knight provided a fitting closing for the service by singing “Amazing Grace” and “Taps”.
After the memorial service we returned to the hotel where we held our annual business meeting. Treasurer Mike Balog made available the financial information for the reunion, then the floor was opened to those desiring to host the reunion in 2016. Pete Peterson proposed hosting in Chicago, and gave a short overview of events possible. The ideas of having the reunion while on a cruise, and having a reunion at Branson, Missouri were mentioned. Dave Knight pointed out that we would not be able to be together as a group, if we were to go on a cruise. Jacksonville was proposed as the site of a future reunion, but not in 2016.
Chief Edwards volunteered to host the reunion in Charleston. He also proposed hosting in Wilmington, NC. After short discussion, a vote was held, and Charleston SC was selected.
The Thursday evening banquet social time began with Rick Hokans volunteering to take photos of everyone to include in a reunion picture book, which will be available later in the year.
Mike Balog gave the Missing Man Table presentation, and Jim Gee played the bagpipes. After a fine meal, Rick again volunteered some entertaining stories for the group. The raffle was a great success, thanks to those who so generously donated items. At the end of the evening, several items from the Cleveland area were awarded as door prizes. The traveling combat flag was awarded to Jim Gee for the year, the traveling Lloyd Thomas artifact went to Chief Edwards, and the Lone Sailor statue was awarded to Rick Hokans.
Please plan ahead to attend the 2016 USS Lloyd Thomas reunion, scheduled for early October. We will let you know the exact dates and hotel as soon as possible.
See you next year,