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Love is in the Air!

Feb 11, 2003 6:46 AM

 

   LOVE IS IN THE AIR”¦After all, it’s the week of Valentine’s Day when the young, and some older, turn their thoughts to the affairs l’amour.

   As we get older, we tend to reminisce and Valentine’s Day brings back memories of the time when this writer played Cupid.

   The place was a racetrack in upstate New York and the principals, besides yours truly, were a jockey and a concession stand attendant whose responsibility was to sell hot dogs. Now, we all know that hot dogs are the kinds of things jockeys have to avoid if they expect to maintain their riding weight.

   But, a blond-haired lassie with big blue eyes, even if she wouldn’t qualify for a ticket to Hollywood, can melt the highest resolve and this rider just couldn’t stay away from the hot dog stand. His crush reached the ears of the track publicist who was always on the lookout for a good promotion.

   To stir the pot, he approached the young lass and told her about the admiration he had seen in the jockey’s eyes as he chomped on the girl’s hot dogs. He then met the rider in the jock’s room and announced, “Hey jock, that little gal at the hot dog stand is madly in love with you!” He added that he should try dating the lass and promised to use the note in a publicity piece.

   Sure enough, the two dated, found that they enjoyed each other’s company and before long word spread around the track that the two young people were an item.

   That got the publicist salivating. What if the two decided to get married, wasn’t there some way that the track could get in on the publicity? Why not find out if the couple was getting serious. Is it possible that those are wedding bells sounding in the background?

   The tub-thumper’s imagination went into high gear. Why not have the two marry at the racetrack? Of course, the media will eat it up, he thought. So will the fans. How many times in life will they ever get the chance to toss confetti and rice at a jockey and his bride, instead of losing tickets and barbs?

   It took a little doing, but the publicity man convinced the jockey to propose marriage. He also persuaded the bride-to-be to agree. To nearly everyone’s surprise, except the publicist, a wedding date was set. Somehow, he even convinced the track general manager to give the bride away. It was easier to have fellow jockeys line the winner’s circle for the ceremony.

   Formal wear was hustled from merchants, a seven-foot high wedding cake was created by a local baker and gifts were donated by other local merchants.

   Then, the single most important part of the wedding fell into place: the local outlet of a television network agreed to cover the ceremony.

   Frankie Laine, who loved playing horses as much as he loved singing “Mule Train,” agreed to sing at the wedding, provided we agreed to help him win a bit, and good friend bandleader, Chris FioRito, offered his musicians.

   The weatherman cooperated and the sun was shining brightly the day of the wedding. The turnstiles clicked madly as fans came in droves. The wedding went off with a hitch, even though a large stepladder had to be brought into the winner’s circle so that the bridal couple could reach the top of the cake to slice it.

   The reception was held in the track dining room and a good time was had by all.

   St. Valentine’s Day in Las Vegas with its hundreds of weddings brings back wonderful memories of romance, and, of course, a successful promotion.

   For a hot shot publicist, there’s nothing like a good promotion!