Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Love in air at New Year's ball

Viscount Gort gala where singles meet

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An event in Winnipeg tonight billed as the biggest of its kind in Western Canada aims to be the most intimate.

The New Year's Eve ball at the Viscount Gort hotel isn't for married folks -- it's a big annual bash for singles who want to be couples.

"We have a number of people get engaged or hook up that evening," said organizer Ray Antymis, who started a club for singles 28 years ago. Now the Adventures for Successful Singles New Year's Eve Ritz & Glitz Gala has become a yearly event and the largest in Western Canada, he said.

All 400 tickets will have been sold by today, he said Sunday.

Antymis said he met his wife through the singles club 25 years ago but hasn't given up on other singles.

"The thing is, I know what it's like to be separated," Antymis said. With two children from previous relationships, he and his wife had a combined family of four children. Antymis turned the club into a successful business that employs him, another person and has more than 50 volunteers, he said.

"I feel fortunate we're in a position to help a lot of other singles."

The New Year's Eve gala is fun for people looking for partners, he said.

"You don't need a date to go -- that's the neat thing," said the matchmaker.

"Most people come back year after year."

Some don't. Two singles who met at last year's New Year's Eve ball are spending this holiday season in Palm Springs, Calif., he said.

The people who attend the soiree range in age from 25 to 75 and come from many walks of life, Antymis said. "It is a big mix."

There seem to be a lot of teachers, nurses and engineers, he said.

The dinner and dance are where singles who met during the year get dressed up and ring in the new year in a big way.

"There's a lot of ritz and glitz and people are all glammed up," he said.

The biggest thrill of the night for him isn't the popping of champagne corks but the popping of questions.

"I don't know how many engagements will happen, but I hope a lot."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 31, 2012 A7

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