Columns » Public Eye

Paintball: weapon of the future


The gossipy tidbits filtering in last week about the upcoming Republican Lincoln Day Dinner sounded like lines from a really bad stand-up routine.

The annual fundraising event is scheduled for Friday, March 31. This year, organizers have deviated from their normally staid dress-up event at a hotel ballroom and instead have opted for get this Mr. Biggs. Better known as the place where parents unleash their teenagers to assault each other with lasers, bash into each other with go-karts and launch invasions via BattleTech pods, Mr. Biggs will become elephant central for the night.

As owner Steve Bigari notes, Mr. Biggs, in Bigg City in northern Colorado Springs, is "four major entertainment destinations." It includes an events center with a $4.99 pizza buffet, a state-of-the-art bowling center, miniature golf and an arcade center with "Little Bigg Town," where toddlers can check out a sunken pirate ship and play in the BIGGEST sand pit in the Springs!

And no, Bigari insists, the strong resemblance between Mr. Biggs, who is also called the Mayor of Bigg City, and state Sen. Ed Jones, is just a coincidence.

"I swear he's not Senator Jones!" Bigari says. "We're not just for Republicans; we're for Democrats, too."

Still, the venue for the dinner at $60 a plate, or$1,000 a table for VIPs identified as "Defenders of our Freedom" has both amused and mortified longtime party players.

"The fun center caught on fire last month I think it's a sign from above!" crows one Grand Old Party wag. (Bigari assures us the damaged roof has been repaired.)

What on earth will local GOP doyenne Mother Mary Harold wear to the event, which has been given the theme "Diamonds & Denim?" (That answer is easy: mink.)

Face it: Envisioning this year's keynote speaker showing up to the event in his bowling shoes and an embroidered "Jim" over the pocket is rich. And we're wondering what Jim Nicholson the former ambassador to the Vatican, chairman of the National Republican Committee and current U.S. Secretary for Veterans Affairs will focus on in his speech. Possible themes: "Life Lessons We Can Learn from Miniature Golf," "Paintball: Weapon of the Future," and "Fulfilling America's Promise on $4.99 a Day."

"If the speaker gets boring, you can just go over to the go-karts," quips one GOP activist.

Seriously, one potential gaffe was resolved last week, when this columnist alerted Bigari that the barbecue menu might not go over too well with the keynoter. The event is on a Friday, it's the middle of Lent, and Nicholson is Catholic.

"That's a good heads-up; we'll get him a fish," Bigari says. "We are not going to offend Mr. Nicholson."

Always happy to do my part.

Despite its unusual venue, the event is expected to draw quite a crowd. After all, in this important election year, several skirmishes are underway, and the Republicans running for Colorado governor have already provided us with plenty of gore. So here's hoping the fine Diamonds & Denim organizers have arranged for a "friendly" game of BattleTech between Marc Holtzman and Bob Beauprez. (This is a manufacturer's description of the game: "BattleTech is not hide and seek, it's seek and destroy. From the moment you spot an opponent on your radar screen to the explosive battles, you are exhilarated. Enjoy the hunt for prey in a futuristic wasteland.")

Also likely to be glad-handing at the barbecue are the announced GOP candidates running to replace Joel Hefley in Congress. At last count there were five, and we know a few things about all of them. They oppose gay marriage and illegal immigration, love guns and Charlton Heston, and want to ban abortion. And that's about it. Want to know more? Tough.

One Republican who will not be shelling out his 60 bucks for the opportunity to hear the congressional wannabes parrot the same points is City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher.

"I am just so steamed," says Heimlicher, who was recently at an event where four of the five spoke. (Mayor Lionel Rivera since has entered the race.) "All the candidates want to ban abortion? Well that's great, but none are talking about jobs, water, education none of the things that are critical to the well-being of the city.

"They are supposed to be running to represent us, not to be running to go to Washington and fall into the morass of Washington," Heimlicher continues. "What have you done for this community? Where's the meat? All you're giving me is bun."

Quick, somebody get Heimlicher a paintball gun.

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