George and Bill O'Connor celebrated their last bowling
challenge as they handed the men's high game and
series trophys to Brian Fritz. The O'Connors handed
the gauntlet to George's son and daughter-in-law,
Mike and Katie O'Connor.
Bowlers packed AMF Lanes in Bradenton last weekend for the annual O’Connor Bowling Challenge to raise $9,169 for the Anna Maria Island Community Center, but the big news came at the after party at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar when the O’Connor brothers – Billy and George – announced that after 20 years of bowling challenges, they would no longer be organizing the event.
After the party, Bill O'Connor talked with The Sun about their decision.
“Twenty years is a long time,” he said. “It will still be the O’Connor Challenge, only with Mike and Katie in charge.”
At the after party, the brothers introduced George’s son, Mike, and his wife, Katie, the namesake organizers for next year’s event. They also honored the sponsors who stuck with the challenge for the 20 years. Those people included Ed Chiles, Don Ide, John Horne, Sean Murphy, Stewart and Trudy Moon, Peggi Davenport and the late Pat Geyer. They also thanked their wives, Sharon and Sue, who helped them through it all. As for their decision, Bill said it doesn’t mean they won’t continue to bowl.
“”We’ll still be there,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun – a great night.”
What was Bill’s favorite memory over the past 20 years?
“It was the Bowling Police, when Pat and Doug (Copeland) dressed up like police,” he said. “It was hilarious, and it raised a lot of money.”
The Copelands made a list of offenses that they charged bowlers with, including bad hair and impersonating a bowler. The bowlers charged with those offenses had to pay a $1 fine.
This year’s challenge saw some great scores. Bryan Fritz took men’s high score with a 243 and the high series with a 650. Aris Thompson, the children’s program coordinator for the Community Center, took women’s high score with a 178, while Katherine Vander Grif took women’s high series with a 455. Kim Stadlin was the women’s low score honor with a 42, and Erik Pendleton had the low men’s game.
Jacob Spooner, owner and manager of the Bridge Street Bazaar and The Fish Hole mini golf course, won the big-screen television sponsored by The Anna Maria Island Sun.
Finally, Bill O’Connor had a tip for his nephew and wife for future challenges.
“Get as many prizes as possible,” he said. “The more people win, the more tickets they buy. This year, the big screen television brought in more than it ever has, and we appreciate The Sun for its donation of the TV.”