Wednesday night was a great night for the City of Piqua, and I had the privilege of being there.
Over the past few months, the city has been renovating and restoring the old Fort Piqua Hotel, a massive edifice in the center of the city, built in 1891, but which fell on hard times some years back, and finally sat unused and decaying for the last few years. For years people have debated what to do. The cost of simply tearing it down would have been substantial, and no one really liked that idea, but the cost of doing something else always seemed too great.
Well, the city finally pulled together enough money--about $20 million!--from federal and state funds, and private funds, to redo it top to bottom. The plan was to relocate the city library there, and rent space on the first floor for a restaurant and a coffee house, and have the ballroom and other meeting space available for rent.
Sunday, the ribbon was cut, and fireworks exploded over the city. Wednesday night, we had a gala celebration, featuring the Glenn Miller Orchestra (under new leadership) and a duo that carries on the tradition of the Mills Brothers--who, you may not realize, were from Piqua.
I was at this black-tie celebration, in a packed ballroom, along with lots of my fellow Piquans, including many of the upper crust as you might imagine. It was a very nice event, and I'm grateful for being provided a ticket.
One striking thing was that almost no one danced! If I weren't a priest, I certainly would; although the Jitterbug is the one dance I never mastered, I always managed to improvise. A bunch of high schoolers were there, splendid in tuxes and evening gowns--they were there as go-fers and helpers--but most of them didn't dance either! Too bad, because this was some of the best music ever composed for dancing. Someone told me the dance floor up front was pretty crowded with tables, and that could be, I was sitting in the back.
The ballroom at the Fort Piqua Plaza (that's what it's called now that it's no longer a hotel) will be the site of a Roast and Toast in honor of Father Angelo Caserta, on December 7, 2008, from 6-9 pm, in celebration of his 90th birthday and 64 years of priesthood. It will be a fundraiser to benefit repairs and restoration of St. Boniface Church and Piqua Catholic School. The tickets are $100, only 320 will be available, and many have already been purchased, so if you are interested, send a request for tickets to:
"Roast and Toast for Father Caserta"
c/o St. Boniface Parish
310 South Downing Street
Piqua Ohio 45356