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NEIGHBORS : Wedding Party : Fun was involved, of course, but the offer of free nuptials at a Simi Valley hotel was no joke.


Robert Joe, food and beverage director at the Radisson Hotel in Simi Valley, wanted it clear that the establishment's Valentine's Day promotion was on the level.

If you missed it, the hotel provided a nondenominational reverend, an $800 wedding cake, the honeymoon room, flowers and other trimmings for a multi-couple wedding in its nightclub, Splash. The promotion was sponsored in conjunction with Pasadena radio station KROQ-FM. Although there was certainly some levity involved, Joe said he was determined to make it a legitimate ceremony.

"We are trying to make sure everybody knows this is not a hoax," Joe said before the matrimonial mayhem. "We want to make sure that if people are getting married they are really getting married and not just standing there doing it as a joke."

A footnote: The promotion officially was billed as a night in which 10 couples would be launched into wedded bliss. But in fact, 11 couples were scheduled to get married, 10 at 10:30 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m.

The additional bride and groom were Suzette Thorpe and Michael Martin. Martin is the head doorman at Splash and Thorpe the cashier.

"Their romance bloomed here in the nightclub," Joe said. The couple met when Martin was working at Splash and Thorpe came in as a customer. Thorpe began working at the nightclub shortly thereafter.

"They were planning on getting married and things kind of happened; it kept getting put off and put off and put off," Joe said. "We finally said, 'OK, guys, here's the deal' "--the deal being a complimentary wedding.

Additional footnote: Although 10 couples were selected for the freebie wedding, only two actually showed up.

Half of the no-shows were younger than 21 and legally couldn't be in the nightclub, and the others couldn't get their marriage licenses in time.

Carrie Cipollini, Splash's promotions coordinator, wasn't all that upset at the lower-than-expected turnout. It was a fun, yet stressful evening.

"I was like the mother of a multitude of brides," she said.

CalTrans supervisor Wayne Heath figures recent rains could have caused much more damage if it hadn't been for some preventive maintenance.

Heath is in charge of the stretch of the Ventura Freeway between Thousand Oaks and Ventura, plus some neighboring areas. "As far as drainage on 101, before the winter starts," he said, "we start cleaning drains and inlets so that everything is ready when the first rain hits."

Some of the biggest trouble spots in Heath's area were the bridges on California 1 over Conejo Creek, near the Point Mugu Navy Base. There was so much debris in the creek that he had to bring in cranes to fish the stuff out.

"It piled up against the highway and the water was just about going over," he said. "We got the cranes there just in the nick of time."

And what kind of debris were workers picking up? It wasn't just the average tree limb. "There were hot water heaters, thermoses, volleyballs, basketballs, oil cans--there were millions of those," he said. "People must throw everything in the creek."

Saturday has been designated international Girl Scout "Thinking Day." Just thought you might like to know.

As the Tres Condados Girl Scout Council press release said, ". . . Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all over the world take a moment to send mental messages of friendship to their sisters . . . ."

But there's much more to it than that.

Marjorie Mata of the Ventura County Girl Scout office said about 10,000 girls and 3,000 adults will take part in cultural events throughout the day. Each service unit will present food, games, songs, arts, crafts, and other customs of the more than 100 countries that have Girl Scout organizations.

The girls will also be donating some money to scouting organizations needing financial assistance.

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