Ray Rigali denies it took him an hour and a half to decide if he wanted to go on a free trip to the Super Bowl.
His wife, Darlene, swears it’s true.
“I just wanted to make sure that what I was hearing was true … that someone wasn’t pulling my leg,” the Lima man said.
No leg-pulling here.
The phone call came from his nephew in Fort Wayne, who as it turns out, was one of 21 winners of an all-expense paid Super Bowl contest by Verizon.
“I used to take my nephew to a lot of sporting events when he was younger. He said he wanted to pay me back,” Rigali said. “That was some payback.”
It certainly was some weekend.
They knew they were in for a special time when they got off the jet to Minneapolis and spotted a man holding a sign with their names on it.
“He took us over to a Cadillac Escalade and drove us to our hotel. Then it was on to dinner and a party. The only thing we had to do was to kick back and enjoy the food and drinks,’ said Rigali.
The trip became even better Saturday.
“They took us to the NFL Experience, where all the networks had something going on and there were all kinds of players and celebrities walking around. They were all very down-to-earth people and would take the time to talk with you. Later we went to a Kelly Clarkson concert.”
Ray came back with lots of photographs.
There he was, standing with former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook and Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills. You couldn’t miss Ray. He was the guy wearing a Cleveland Browns sweatshirt.
“I always wore my Browns clothing. Several people said they were glad to see someone in Browns gear.”
Sunday saw Ray sitting in a $2,700 seat on the 20-yard-line, watching one of the most exciting Super Bowl games ever with Philadelphia holding off New England, 41-33.
“I always get popcorn and a pop when I go to a game. At a high school game you’re talking three to four dollars. At the Super Bowl, it was $18. My nephew paid $24 for three chicken wings, fries and a pop.”
He did bring home a lot of free gifts from Verizon, including a Super Bowl jacket, sweat shirt, football, hat, gloves and back pack.
“I see all these big contests like Publisher’s Clearing House and wonder if anyone really wins them … well, now I know. The answer is, ‘Yes,’” Rigali said.
“The only thing that could have made this trip better would have been having the Browns playing in the Super Bowl,” Ray said. “Someday that will happen.”
Spoken like a true Browns fan.
ROSES AND THORNS: A special athlete earns a spot in the rose garden hall of fame.
Rose: To Kelli Anne Stallkamp, 18, who recently earned recognition as a 2017 U.S. Paralympic High School Track and Field All-American. Only 71 athletes across the country achieved this status in 2017 — 37 men and 34 women.
Rose: To the Bluffton University baseball team. It raised more than $50,000 for pediatric cancer research and patient care though the non-profit Vs. Cancer. The team also raised awareness by shaving their heads in front of their fellow classmates.
Rose: The recipients of the 2018 Jefferson Awards for Public Service in the Lima region include Terri Beasley, Bev Beery, Earl Lhamon, Dave Roznowski, Bill Roeder and Jack Rex, all of Lima; Lynda Best of Bluffton; Deborah Zwez of Wapakoneta and Rachael and Cameron Staley of Columbus Grove.
Rose: To Harry and Elinor Burkholder of Bluffton, who will celebrate 60 years of marriage on Thursday.
Thorn: The website Restaurant.com has been placing unauthorized coupons from area restaurants and taverns on its website.
Thorn: To Timothy Boedicker, 38, of Lima. When Columbus Grove Police Chief Sean Hiler tried to stop him for running a red light, he hit the gas and took off. Boedicker eventually was caught near Delphos after involving law enforcement from Grove, Kalida, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Allen County Sheriff’s Office in the chase.
Thorn: A sewer line leak closed New Bremen schools Thursday, allowing students to proclaim, “School stinks.”
PARTING SHOT: Doesn’t expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected?
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.