Hot coffee proved to be more popular than mimosas Saturday morning among the 150 alumni and friends of St. Ambrose University who gathered at the school's Alumni House to watch the Quad-City Times Bix 7 road race go by.

Greeting the Bix Porch Party crowd was the ever-ebullient Ed Rogalski, president emeritus of St. Ambrose, who figures the Alumni House at Brady Street and Kirkwood Boulevard is the best possible spot on the course for watching the race.

And he's probably right.

Watching from the porch and lawn of the 1870s mansion, participants got to see — up close and a little elevated — the runners and walkers as they made the turn at the top of the Brady Street hill.

They got to see who was leading at the one-  and six-mile marks on the route. 

Providing a Dixeland ambiance for the party were the Quad-City Banjoliers, an eight-member band of four banjos, a banjo bass, two guitars and a keyboard. In addition to playing banjo, Paul Jacobsen, the college's retired dean of arts and sciences, also led on vocals.

With tunes such as "That's My Baby" and "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover" coming from the porch, the crowd munched on a buffet of crepes, sweet rolls and fruit. Tables were decorated with bouquets of yellow and blue flowers.

As runners streamed by, Doris Straetker of Davenport shook one of the yellow "clickers" that St. Ambrose handed out to help cheer on the Bixers.

She and her sister, Pat Grothusen, wore jackets, but they were still none too warm with the brisk north breeze. Grothusen's first husband, Dick Hollembaek, was a fundraiser for St. Ambrose for 20 years.

Huddled together under a black fleece blanket were Patrick Foley and his sister, Elizabeth Swanson, who were attending along with their brothers, Tom and Bill Foley, and their wives. The Foleys' father, Richard T., was a graduate in the Class of 1935.

Elsewhere on the grounds, a face-painting table was a hit with children as well as a few adults.

St. Ambrose bought the mansion that now houses its offices of advancement and alumni relations in 1995 and began hosting the Porch Party shortly thereafter, said Sally Crino, assistant vice president for advancement.

Previous uses of the Alumni House have included being a private home and the residence of two bishops of the Diocese of Davenport. The diocesan connection is how the home became known as "the bishop's house," and it operated as a bed-and-breakfast inn by that name for several years. 


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