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Audiences taken back to an earlier Lake Okabena

WORTHINGTON -- What celebrity spent her summers in Worthington and learned to swim in Lake Okabena? What were the names of the three boats that carried train passengers to the lake in the early 1900s?...

WORTHINGTON -- What celebrity spent her summers in Worthington and learned to swim in Lake Okabena? What were the names of the three boats that carried train passengers to the lake in the early 1900s?

Find out the answers to these questions and more about Lake Okabena's long history in Worthington at Corn Off the Cob 14.

This year, local actors, musicians, dancers and comedians will take the audience on a fun-filled journey back to Lake Okabena in the early 1900s.

In its 14th season, Corn Off the Cob remains what it was when it started, a fund-raiser for Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center. The show also kicks off the 2006-07 performance season.

Each year, a theme is chosen for the annual production. Auditorium manager Margaret Hurlbut Vosburgh, Arlen Foss and Linda Neugebauer wrote the script for this year's lake-themed show.

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"We want to get people interested in the lake again," Vosburgh said. "We try to move projects forward in the community, as well as take a look back at the history."

Well-known Worthington residents Darrell Stitt and Bob Petrich will emcee and serve as captains of the Okabena Boat for Corn Off the Cob 14. There will be plenty of humor during the show, including a possible visit from Julia Child and Running Bear. Of course, Ole and Sven will have a part in the show.

"People really love them, you know," Vosburgh said. "They'll be doing a little swimming and a little ice fishing this show."

Much of the music will be lake themed as well. Familiar tunes such as "In the Good Ole Summertime," "Rock A Bye Your Baby," "Blue Moon," "Stormy Weather" and "Red Sails in the Sunset" will be heard during the event. The Lake Okabena Band is made up of Diane Duitsman on piano, Ken Clark on drums and Galen Benton playing stand up bass. A Dixieland Band will also play during Corn off the Cob. Members of The Dance Academy will perform to "Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini."

Worthington Brass will set the stage for Corn Off the Cob 14 during its prelude.

Many volunteers make the annual fund-raiser possible. About 40 people are involved in this year's production. Vosburgh and the auditorium's technical director, Ron Vogel, built the set for the Lake Okabena show.

"A lot of the time, the same people are involved," Vosburgh said. "There are some new names this year."

Members of the recently formed Lake Okabena Improvement Association (LOIA) will be at the show to greet guests, hand out information and take memberships.

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The bylaws of the new group state, "The purpose of this association is to seek and define areas of maintaining and improving the recreational function, beauty and practicality of Lake Okabena and to otherwise promote Lake Okabena as a focal point of the City of Worthington."

In the early 1900s, there was an active lake association in Worthington. For many years after that, there was not an active association until LOIA formed in July.

"Memorial Auditorium and Corn Off the Cob are positioned to make contributions to the building of partnerships with our community," Vosburgh said. "I believe our community has the passion, the creative skills, the perfect tools and a civic duty to practice reflective thinking, take more risks, and be clear about the purpose of Memorial Auditorium. What we do leaves a footprint in our community."

Corn Off the Cob organizers invite everyone to attend this weekend's shows. They will be performed at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night.

"This is a great chance to see people you know acting," Vosburgh said. "This is a community building. The people that put these shows together are really dedicated to continuing the legacy of Memorial Auditorium."

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