A pair of autographed basketball sneakers from Celtic star M.L. Carr couldn't have been a better present for a five-foot two-inch former Brookline High basketball player.
And a $100 check from every guest couldn't have been a better gift to a Massachusetts politician on his 52nd birthday.
These two gifts provided the ingredients for the successful kick-off fundraiser for the reelection campaign of Michael S. Dukakis, the two-term Democratic governor.
About 1200 people gathered at the Park Plaza Hotel Sunday to eat a cake emblazoned with a blue Massachusetts and to shake hands with the Governor and other politicians.
One journalist called the gathering a non-event, adding "I'm just here to shmooze."
To many political observors, the 1986 gubernatorial campaign will be non-election because Dukakis is almost certain to win. "The Celtics and the governor are both sure things," said Carr, who has traveled around the state with Dukakis to educate high school students about drug abuse.
But if the high priced fund-raiser, which didn't even secure dinner for those who shelled out the $100, and the governor's birthday speech are any indication, he isn't taking the election for granted.
Dukakis told the crowd he learned his lesson in 1978 about not taking elections seriously and he would not make the same mistake again. In 1978 Dukakis, finishing up his first term in the governor's office, lost to former Governor Edward King in the Democratic primary. Dukakis came back to bear King in 1982.
This year, Dukakis will not have any primary opposition. But his old nemesis King, having recently jumped to the Republican Party, is a possible contender in the general election one year from now.
But some politicians offered another explanation for the use of the funds. Both Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in his speech and political analysts in the audience mentioned a possible presidential bid by Dukakis