By DEVIN WEEKS
The theme song to “I Love Lucy” began to play. Heads turned as Coeur d’Alene Rotary President Kimber Gates sashayed into a conference room at the Best Western Plus Coeur d'Alene Inn on Friday.
Wearing a polka-dotted ’50s-style skirt and her hair up in a handkerchief, she danced her way into a wooden half-barrel, drumming up memories of the famous “Lucy’s Italian Movie” episode that split sides as Lucy stomped grapes and hilariously engaged in grape vat combat.
“I am so stressed out,” Gates theatrically said into a microphone. “I have all this wine to make and no time to do it. We have so many roses to sell, so I need to stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp! This is just exhausting. Oh, my gosh, this is the 30th anniversary of the Rose Sale. Oh, the pressure! I can’t handle it. I need some help. I’ll get some help.”
She threw an "I Love Lucy" apron on unsuspecting Rotarian Steve Roberge, whom she directed to take her place crushing the imaginary grapes.
“Stomp stomp stomp!” she said as she ushered him to the barrel.
After comically blundering “Vitameatavegamin” a few times, “Lucy” passed the moment onto Rotary Rose Sale chairwoman Lucinda Ade.
“Oh, thank you, Lucy, you were wonderful,” Ade said to Gates.
A theatrical performance and exciting announcement of the annual Rotary Rose Sale and theme have been club tradition going back at least the 23 years that Ade has served as the head of this annual floral fundraiser, which, to date, has generated $864,000 to help local schools, causes and nonprofits in their missions and endeavors.
“It’s one of the highlights of my year,” Ade said. “I think part of what I love about this is that I no longer feel like it’s a small group of Rotarians that get excited about the Rose Sale. Now I really think the whole club looks forward to it.”
The Rotarians split into groups and compete to sell roses each year. Among the more creative team names: “I Love Roses … and Lucy,” “Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica,” “The Roseanne Roseannadannas” and “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Rosé.” Each team had the same mission: To fill the community with bouquets of long-stem red, yellow, orange and pink roses. This year they will be delivered Oct. 25.
“It is a total success for our community to be able to help raise funds for nonprofits locally through the joy of roses,” said Gates, who, as the owner of the Coeur d’Alene Cellars winery, was the perfect choice to play the grape-crushing Lucy.
Gates credits Ade for always giving the Rose Sale announcement such flair.
“She is magical,” Gates said. “She makes it so much fun. People don’t love to have to sell anything unless it’s Rotary Roses. She creates a fun game out of it. I’m very grateful for her and her sense of humor and her spirit.”
Last year was a record year: local Rotarians sold 1,380 dozen roses. The total: More than $48,500.
Roses are $28 a dozen; they can be purchased through your local friendly Rotary Rose Sale team member or by calling Ade at 208-651-6164 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.