Mr. Stratton came to dinner — and stayed for an opera about his life and death.
Richard Marold, known for his characterization of local philanthropist Winfield Scott Stratton, made the rounds Feb. 26 at a clever progressive fundraiser for the Colorado Springs Conservatory.
Hosts and hostesses at 14 sites threw intimate dinner parties, inviting friends, those from the arts and music scene, community leaders and Conservatory supporters and families.
After candlelight meals, many of them catered, everyone converged on Packard Hall at Colorado College at an appointed time where their horseless carriages were valet parked by a team from Red Noland Cadillac.
Inside guests opened pages from this area’s gold-mining past.
Mr. Stratton, still bemoaning the disappearance of the trolley line downtown, was up front as students from the Conservatory’s Summer Performing Arts Intensive at Central City Opera performed their original and well received “The Worth of a Man: The Life of Winfield Scott Stratton.”
Much like modern-day lottery winners, the man who discovered the rich Independence Lode and became Cripple Creek’s first millionaire was besieged by gimme people, everyone wanting something from him. The quiet man died a lonely death but left a philanthropic legacy to Colorado Springs, creating a home for indigent elderly and children named for his father, Myron Stratton, and leaving other gifts around the area.
Stratton is his favorite figure from local history, said Matt Mayberry, director of the Pioneers Museum where the opera was staged for the public the following day. “He was an ordinary figure who did extraordinary things.”
Besides telling Stratton’s story, there was comic relief with an “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”-like tale of four Ohio brothers heading west for mining riches. As a brother would succumb to the long trek, the other brothers had him for dinner, one brother at a time. The audience joined along in the lively refrain: “Sometimes you get the bear. Sometimes the bear gets you. Sometimes you eat your brother. Sometimes your brother eats you.”
After curtain calls, thoughtfully ebullient Conservatory alumnus David Siegel invited everyone to join the Con Anima Society of patrons, giving in categories Con Passione (with passion), Con Jubilate (with jubilance) or Con Amore (with love).
The reception followed in the lobby where the talented cast met the audience, congratulated Conservatory director/founder Linda Weise, sipped tea and indulged in chocolate treats.
Marold’s Mr. Stratton had an opportunity to visit with a polished Zach Goldman from Long Island, N.Y., who starred as Stratton in the one-act opera.
The evening’s hosts and hostesses for what seems destined to become an annual event included Jon and Becky Medved, Mary Lou Makepeace, Libby Rittenberg and Nasit Ari, Susan and Michael Grace, Pam and Wayne Bland, Sherri Newell, Kimberly Sherwood and Chuck Gale, Board President CJ Moore, Dr. John and Cathy Marta, Gary Peacock and Bryan Seale, Eve Tilley (hatless) and Sol Chavez, Stephannie Finley and Mike Cafasso, Gayle Beshears, Carol and Mike Pennica, Jody Alyn, Laura Muir and Lou Mellini, Jen Furda and Sandy Wenger, James Dodd and Dirk Draper.
Friends of Scouting
An early-morning crowd of 600 had breakfast Feb. 24 at the Antlers Hilton to honor Boy Scouts and their 100th anniversary year.
During the Friends of Scouting Breakfast more than $250,000 was pledged.
Pikes Peak Council President Brian Burnett, Scout Executive Dustin Shaver and keynote speaker Rick Cronk said there are 50 million living Americans who were or are in Scouts, 3 million active scouts and 1.2 million volunteers.
During the anniversary year there will be a Jamboree drawing 44,000 Scouts, an affiliation with Jeff Gordon and NASCAR racing, a Major League Baseball celebration, a decorated Indy Car and hundreds of events, they said.
Locally, there are plans for a 2010 Scout Show and Camporee Oct. 9-10 at the site of the 1960 Jamboree in the Chapel Hills area, hence the streets named Explorer, Jamboree, etc.
Named local Summit Award winners were Ryan Dewey, Jacob Fox, Andrew Gord and Raymond Grossman, with a presentation by Judge David Shakes.
One focus of the Scouts, said the executives, will be relevancy. They are working on becoming relevant to Hispanic families and how to be relevant to boys and young men who use GPS systems, not maps and compasses.
“We want to look forward, not back,” said Cronk, retired president of Dreyer’s Ice Cream, Inc. (Note: his favorite is vanilla), who was national president of Boy Scouts and serves on the national executive board.
For an updated list of 2010 nonprofit fundraisers: tinyurl.com/yc93aew or coloradosprings.com. Send information about nonprofit fundraisers to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Linda Navarro, P.O. Box 1779, Colorado Springs, 80901.