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Night of the Golden Lobster offered June 14 by Rotary

The annual Rotary Lobster Feed and Charity Auction is unofficially Lake Oswego's biggest party and it is always something special.

But the 2008 event figures to be even more special because it marks the 50th anniversary of the Lake Oswego Rotary Club.

'Our theme is 'Night of the Golden Lobster,'' said event chairman Bill Peterson. 'My wife Laura came up with that.'

This being such a casual affair, there will be no jacket required. But Peterson and Rotary president-elect Carol Winston are unofficially hoping the some members will put on the ritz.

'We're encouraging our Rotarians to dress up this year,' Winston said. 'I would love to see some tuxedo-clad Rotarians running around out there. We just hope they don't get lobster butter all over their cummerbunds.'

'Not unless it's a rental,' Peterson added.

While golden anniversary celebrations will mark the occasion, there is also a more somber reason why the 2008 Lobster Feed is unique. The event will be held for the first time without the help of Warren Oliver, who died only a month ago. It was Oliver who started the feed 24 years ago when he moved here from his native Massachusetts. His wife Peggy will be an honored guest and a tribute is planned by some of the club's oldest members.

'Warren was a lover of life and a fun guy, but he didn't like a whole lot of recognition,' Peterson said. 'We want to recognize how fun he was.'

While feed lovers will be eating a lot, they will also be giving a lot.

'Our goal is to raise $300,000,' Winston said. 'We hope to break our limit.'

A big part of that money will go to the Lakewood Center for the Arts, which teams up with Rotary in putting on the event. In addition, there will be a wide variety of charities and organizations targeted for assistance: Lake Oswego School Foundation, Clackamas County Women's Services, Oswego Heritage Council, Child Advocates, and more.

Before the giving comes food and fun.

The main feature of the menu will be 600 Maine lobsters, which will be specially flown in for the feed. There will also be steamer clams, corn on the cob, 'the best bread in town,' all the wine and beer that you can drink, plus dessert - all of it served with precision and efficiency by well-practiced Rotarians.

'We do it all ourselves,' Peterson said, 'except for the auctioneer and the computers used for the auction. It's a great event, even if it is kind of a circus. We hone it to make it a little better every year.'

The auction will include some fabulous trips, according to Winston, plus so much more, all of it procured by Lake Oswego Rotary members. Once again the nod as 'king of procurement' went to Vic Keeler.

Another feature for the '08 Lobster Feed is the Paddle Raise for polio. This will raise money for Rotary International's hugely successful campaign to eradicate polio and go toward matching funds for the $100 million grant by Bill and Melinda Gates.

The Lake Oswego Lobster Feed has come a long way from the days when lobsters were cooked New England-style in pits in the ground.

'Rotary puts it on, but the whole community helps,' Winston said. 'Everything but the lobsters are purchased locally. Gene Wizer makes gracious contributions.'

While Lake Oswego Rotary celebrates its golden anniversary this year, 2009 will be the silver anniversary of the Lobster Feed itself.

'We'll be upgrading it just a bit more,' Peterson promised.

Tickets for the 2008 Rotary Lobster Feed and Auction are now on sale starting at $125 apiece at either the Lakewood Center for the Arts (368 South State St.) or online at www.lorotary.org . The event will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. on June 14 at the Lakewood Center for the Arts.

For more information or to contribute auction items, call 503-635-6338.