OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF BOWLING, FUN AND FELLOWSHIP
Beginning in 1985, several groups of dedicated, talented, hard-working individuals have volunteered countless hours to plan and present the annual Cleveland GIFT Bowling Tournament. (Some of these folks have been involved in some capacity every year since then.) During its 26 years of existence, GIFT has become one of the premier LGBT events in the Greater Cleveland area. After being housed for many years at Buckeye Lanes in North Olmsted, the bowling portion of the weekend is now hosted by Freeway Lanes of Parma.
With the help of our current corporate sponsors Miller Lite, Storm Bowling Supplies, Marriott, Republic Services, Seagram’s Escapes, BKF Computer Services, and Twist Social Club and the generous support of past sponsors and many local businesses and organizations, tournament organizers have welcomed hundreds of men and women from across the US and Canada to the North Coast for a weekend of bowling, fun, and fellowship.
Over the years, fund raisers such as Moonlight Bowls, various Raffles, Roller Skating Parties, Bar Nights, Pool Tournaments, Euchre Tournaments, Bake Sales, and yes, even Drag Shows have been incorporated to help offset the costs of presenting such a huge event.
In addition to the thousands of dollars in bowling prize money and raffle gifts and prizes, the GIFT Committee has been able to donate more than ten thousand dollars over the years to local organizations such as AIDS Taskforce, The Center, Prysm, the Pride Committee, Kamana House, the Akron Community AIDS Network, the Hospice of the Western Reserve, and Malachi House of Cleveland.
The annual GIFT Cruise (which was originally planned as "something unique" for bowlers and guests to do on Saturday night) has evolved into one of the single most attended LGBT events in Cleveland. Each year since 1989 anywhere from 400-700 people have boarded the privately chartered Goodtime III for a party on the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. By all accounts, this has become an evening not to be missed. This year we sail “rain or shine” on Saturday, June 9, 2012.
There have been several times when the GIFT tournament has been anchored by a theme carried out over the entire weekend. This year’s Back to the 80’s tournament joins a list of memorable events that includes a 70’s Disco Bowl, Pajama Party, Candy Bowl, Beach Party, Rainbow Bowl, Shipwrecked, Under Construction, Mardi Gras and Games. We held a Rainbow Wedding "Here Comes the Pride" (with stereotypical wedding gifts given away as raffle prizes). And no one who was there will ever forget the Jungle Bowl where the Awards Banquet was held in the Primate Building of the Cleveland Zoo. (You haven't lived until you've dined while watching our evolutionary ancestors scratching themselves in various places and…well…you get the idea).
Cleveland GIFT is affiliated with the International Gay/Lesbian Bowling Organization (IGBO), the umbrella institution for hundreds of GLBT bowling leagues and tournaments throughout the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The four GLBT bowling leagues currently operating in Cleveland and Akron are members of IGBO. Cleveland was chosen to host the annual IGBO tournament in May, 1998. “Cleveland Rocks IGBO” Memorial Day Weekend opened with a huge Welcome Party for some 500 bowlers and guests in the main hall of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse on Lakeside Avenue.