Celebrating 37 Years!

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How it all began!

In 1982, founder Tom Geil conceived the idea for a community celebration for the growing number of participants in Portland’s first organized gay sporting event – The Portland Community Gay and Lesbian Bowling Association. Meeting with gay community leaders and business owners, the concept was accepted as one of value that the community leaders would support.

Rose Bowl Classic was permanently scheduled for the weekend following Memorial Day to purposefully coincide with the Portland Rose Festival opening weekend.  That particular weekend is probably one of the most festive weekends in Portland, including a Friday night fireworks display close to downtown bars and on Saturday evening, the United States 2nd largest electrically lit parade through the downtown streets, passing by many of our local watering holes.  The party atmosphere in the Gay community is similar to that of Mardi Gras.

In 1983, the first Rose Bowl Classic was held.  The event consisted of 4 games – for team event with the best 3 placed together to determine the singles winners.  The cost was under $40.00.  (See Past Winners History page for further details.)  It attracted about 70 bowlers, primarily from Portland.  Henry Long represented Seattle, which he continued to do for twenty consecutive years from1983 through the Rose Bowl's twentieth anniversary in 2003.  Sacramento also sent representatives.

In 1984, Seattle hosted the annual IGBO tournament on Memorial Day weekend.  Due to its proximity to Portland, in timing (a week earlier) and in mileage, many bowlers from across the US and Canada attended Portland’s 2nd annual Rose Bowl Classic including Jackie Baker of Dallas, IGBO President John Hammett of Los Angeles and John Weaver of Atlanta.

The 1985 Rose Bowl Classic was cancelled when only two entries arrived by the official deadline.  In order to prompt a more appropriately timed entry response, RBC III was cancelled, and its future was uncertain.  Undaunted, the Director began more intense promotions encouraging awareness and regard for all tournaments’ deadlines.  By 1986, Rose Bowl Classic was back strong.  With promotional tours to tournaments in Washington DC, San Diego, Dallas, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver BC, the Rose Bowl tournament began to gain notoriety.  Learning from the best, Rose Bowl’s Director compiled a plethora of do’s and don’ts for tournament operation.  We gleaned information from Rick Clarke of San Diego, Gene Sides of Washington DC, Daryl Carter of Vancouver BC, Mal Garcia and Randy Peterson of San Francisco, John Hammett of Los Angeles, and Ron Sperry of Las Vegas (just to name a few).

By 1987, Tom began pulling in other individuals to learn the production and operations of conducting a Rose Bowl tournament.  A small central core of Rose Bowl volunteers began taking responsibility for support. 

In 1994, after over ten years of sole leadership, Tom reorganized the tournament committee, delegating to a Tournament Coordinator the responsibility to oversee the actual event operations, while Executive Director Tom would promote, direct and conduct accounting.  In 1994, Tom created a die for our current silver medallion awards.  The price of silver has fluctuated over the years, but has reached its highest in decades in 2011 at over $41 an ounce.

1994 was also the year that Tom came up with Pathetic Performance Insurance, the program that helps give back entry fees through a random drawing to individuals who don't win any money in the Singles, Doubles or Team categories.

In 1998, Executive Director Tom decided that upon the 20th Anniversary Tournament in 2003, he would retire as the The Executive Director and create a Board that would help guide the event.  The Board would appoint and direct a Coordinator to run the annual event.  The years leading up to the 20th Anniversary were festive with an average of 285-290 bowlers per tournament.  In June of 2003, well over 300 bowlers, fellow tournament directors, and even the IGBO President, Sharon Stump,  helped Tom celebrate his retirement in high fashion and numerous salutes.  

For the 25th Anniversary Rose Bowl Classic, original Founder Tom Geil, the only individual to have consecutively bowled in all Rose Bowl Classics, stepped in to co-coordinate the Silver Celebration event with Tom Lutes, Jr.  Troy Albin was the tournament registrar and scorer.

The Tournament took great pride in introducing Mayor-elect Sam Adams, the first elected, openly-gay Mayor for any major US city in the United States.  Sam, took time off from his family reunion to come by and greet the bowlers just prior to the team event on Saturday May 31st. 

On June 1st, the Awards Party took place at the original establishment where the very first Rose Bowl Classic banquet had been held - The Embers Avenue.  While it was good to be home for one year, it proved to be a very crowded venue for so many bowlers, proving once again the old adage - it's hard to go back home.   

As we continue our 3rd Decade of tournament productions, our Rose Bowl Classic Committee of Volunteers continues to grow and consists of bowlers from both community leagues resulting in an inclusive tournament that truly represents Portland's gay and lesbian bowling community.

Due to the onset of Covid Pandemic in 2020, like other tournaments, Rose Bowl Classic had to take a break in 2020 and 2021.  Unless things change dramatically in 2022, Rose Bowl Classic intends to come back.

The tournament is fully certified as a USBC Sanctioned tournament and allows Moral Sanctioning for its founding league members. 

The Rose Bowl Classic continues its legacy of originality, tradition and integrity combined with 31 years of experienced leadership in providing participants with a quality bowling experience in the name of fellowship, unity and communication.

Saturday Night Events …
Weird Bowl to Boxer Bowl
In the early days of Rose Bowl Classic, all events were completed during the day on Saturday, and awards banquets were held immediately on Saturday evening to allow bowlers to party or return to their home destinations.

As the tournament grew beyond 200 bowlers, a Saturday night event entitled the Weird Bowl was begun to provide some entertainment for those opting not to go to the downtown parade.  The Weird Bowl survived three years before it was retired.  Everyone who wanted to get weird already had!

In 1998, Kathy Cook approached the Director with a concept for a women’s bowling event.  With an average 30% participation by women in Rose Bowl Classic, it was determined that a Saturday night event might just fill that need.  Somehow, the event evolved into the women wearing boxers while they bowled.

After a survey at the 1998 Awards Banquet it was determined that a majority of participants desired an organized Saturday night event to party with their fellow bowlers.  Lauren assumed responsibility for the coordination of the event, and our committee determined  that the event might be more fun with the participation of the men bowlers.  By 1999, the event became known as the Boxer Bowl and attracted 96 bowlers.  That wasn’t all it attracted…

By 2000, the Boxer Bowl had become infamous around the globe.  Website photos from the 1999 event had been viewed by over 500 hits (according to the counter).  The event jumped to 120 bowlers and included a large raffle with over $658 in fun prizes and cash.

By 2014, the Boxer Bowl had become a mainstay of the Rose Bowl Classic.  With the lights turned low, and the music turned up, this party event has attracted bowlers from across the globe to strip down to their boxers to "Party" to Portland's Party Tournament - The Rose Bowl Classic.  It should be noted here that The Boxer Bowl faded away quietly when we changed bowling houses, and the new house was hesitant to allow what they considered a risque event.

Corporate Sponsors:
 Portland’s Rose Bowl Classic is always open to conduct business with any company wishing to become a corporate sponsor.  There are various levels of sponsorship including the overall tournament, and special feature sponsorship such as Singles, Doubles or Team, as well as High Scratch Divisions for both Men and/or Women.

For further information about becoming a corporate sponsors please email pdxbowl@comcast.net

Steve Suss & The Embers Avenue were a corporate sponsor of Rose Bowl Classic, since the tournament’s inception.  Steve Suss honored the tournament with moral and financial support beyond our expectations.  The Embers provided the Rose Bowl Classic with a venue for its opening night Registration Party since the mid 80’s.  It was Steve Suss who first brought Coors and The Rose Bowl Classic into cooperative efforts.

COORS was our corporate sponsor for eleven years from 1992 through 2003.  1992, COORS became the corporate sponsor for Rose Bowl Classic.  Each year, Coors had representation at our annual Rose Bowl Classic Awards Brunch.  For our 2000 Rose Bowl Classic, a cheerful Cinde Dolphin of Coors addressed the gathering of participants expressing Coors gratitude to the Gay community for its growing acceptance of Coors products.  We thank our local distributors, Mt Hood Beverage for their coordination of sponsorship with Coors.



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