Sept 25,2000 we went to family trip to Parma,Ohio (Cleveland) to celebrate a cousins wedding. It was four hour drive from Toronto. (thank goodness for cruise control!) Wedding has happening at a hotel so we stayed there. Normal things happened that occur on wedding days we went to church saw a great ceremony and few hours later we headed back to the hotel for the evening festivities.
It was a busy hotel there was lots of young kids staying at the hotel due to hockey tournament happening that weekend, there were everywhere hallways, main lobby.
Weather was great so we took our time getting ready before the evening, watching afternoon news and baseball.
We were looking forward to an evening of food and celebatory Greek dancing. The bride and groom showed up and the crowd was there to cheer them on. We got our gift and proceeded to our table. I was looking forward to dancing to some Greek music and enjoying the evening. We took some great pictures at the hotel the was a memorable picture I took beside to long staffs that we lit like candles, out of scene for survivor!
Everyone quickly got settled and the evening introductions began with bride,groom and all the respected family members. At one point the master of ceremonies made a comment “if there is anyone in the room who has any thing to share feel free to do so” and just like that 10 people got up and brought all sorts of stuff to the grooms table from lingerie, cigars, beer and other objects, the crowd got a good laugh out of it.
The introductions were over and the food began to be served, everyone was enjoying the evening and the mood was great. The DJ was just getting warmed up with the music and everyone was ready to hit the dance floor to sweat and burn some calories!
It was around 9:00pm when something very interesting happened, couple of kids had come into the room and the grooms father has ushered them away. At first I didn’t think anything of it, until the kids came back a few minutes later and then I realized what had happened.
It is a Greek tradition that the parents through money in the air when the groom is dancing it’s for good luck usually 20 and 50 dollar bills. Well this where these young kids saw a “free money” opportunity and they presumably take some money and left and had come back for more. The second time they came back the groom and his father told them to leave and not come back. The music continued and everyone continued to enjoy themselves.
About 30 minutes later the young kids came back with their parent and his back angry! Temper began to flare and accusations were made. Not sure who was right or wrong and if the “American Dream” was mention I don’t remember hearing. What I do remember is that security got called (who reacted very slowly to the situation) and it became more heated. Before calm nerves could prevail fist came on both sides and fists and punches began to fly, it was unbelievable! A scene out of American Funniest Home videos happening in real life.
Huge mass of men and women got tangled and next thing you know a entire table got toppled over, there must have been at least 25 people on top of each other, it took very long time to get everyone relaxed and separated.
Security was absolutely confused and unorganized effort. Both side were blaming each other and they had no idea who to believe. We tried to explain about the money but they simply didn’t understand the reasoning behind it.
Eventually cooler heads did prevail and the evening did move forward, security personnel were put near the wedding to further avoid any more situations.
We continued to enjoy the evening, I danced an amazing “zembekiko” (greek drunken man’s dance) to my parent delight!
I wished to say that the evening drama was over but it wasn’t. Sadly to admit
As we headed up to our hotel room at the end of the event and began to settle for the evening and prepare for our trip back to Toronto. I was at the room door when I hear one of the guest says “ I am going home to get my gun and come back and shoot some people” I freaked out when I heard that!
I called the main desk and ask a hotel representative to come our room immediately to explain the situation. They arrived and believe it or not they didn’t believe me! My parents and brother were visibly upset, whey would their 29 year old son lie about that.
We had a solution we asked to be moved from the hotel for our safety, the resisted and ask us to stay and enjoy our evening. I repeated the words to them, especially the “gun” part. What would you do I asked? Would you stay with your family if you heard that?
They did go and ask the parents about the comment and they denied making the comment. Not surprised.
Eventually we got moved to sister hotel few kilometres away and we tried to settle and get some sleep.
The next day the bride and groom were saddened by the event and apologetic, it was an unfortunate incident that got blown out of proportion. We had been asked to stay for dinner but we declined the invitation. We wanted to get out Parma quickly!
The story doesn’t end there unfortunately, a few weeks later the groom called to offer his apologies and we learned that was another fight at the same hotel the week after!
Not sure if the hotel is cursed or just has bad luck with weddings.
Moral of the story: There are thousands of weddings happening everyday all around the world and they are full of celebrations and enjoyment. Perhaps there very few that this type of situation happens.