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Speed dating rushes into singles scene

April E. Clark and Amanda Holt MillerPost Independent Staff
Post Independent/Kara K. PearsonSherry Downing, left, and Rhonda D. Thibault are the main orgainzers of the speed dating event in Rifle Sept. 23 and 24 at the Lighthouse Bar and Grill and at the Preventative Medicine Physical Therapy Clinic.
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After nearly 20 years with the same man, Rhonda Thibault gets a little frightened when she thinks about dating post-divorce.”It’s scary – absolutely,” said Thibault, a physical therapist whose 16 1/2-year marriage recently ended. “It’s very scary, because my idea of a proper situation is that I’m really looking for a friendship first and then the intimacy comes later. My values are kind of more old-fashioned.”To avoid rejection and the pressure of becoming intimate early in a relationship, Thibault created the Dinner and a Date speed dating service in Rifle. She said speed dating, which involves five-minute question-and-answer sessions, can be a fun way to meet singles without the pressure of a full-blown date.”Speed dating avoids the rejection piece and uncomfortable situations. We’re trying to allow people to have communication,” said the 38-year-old mother of a 2 1/2-year-old.After a series of five-minute “dates,” guests get a hand in selecting the person with whom they want to go to dinner across the street at the Lighthouse Bar and Grill.Christina McCann, 26, a self-described single girl in Rifle, is intrigued by the speed dating idea.”It should be a great way to meet people,” McCann said. “I don’t really think anything can come of such a short meeting, but you never know.”Thibault said about 80 percent of the people who attend speed dating events usually find a match, or at least someone to go to dinner with after the event. She said some relationships that started at speed dating events led to marriage.”But it’s not only dating,” Thibault said. “It’s expanding a person’s circle of friends.”That’s exactly what McCann thinks speed dating can offer her. McCann moved to the area from Summit County about a year ago and had never heard of speed dating.”I definitely think it will be an interesting experience, especially for someone in my situation, where I was engaged to be married,” she said.McCann’s engagement ended a little over a year ago. Before the relationship ended, McCann had not been single since she was in high school. She enjoys being single and thinks speed dating will be an interesting way to meet new people, she said.While many singles in western Garfield County have not heard of speed dating, the events are popular in larger cities, including Denver. Thibault actually discovered speed dating at an event in Grand Junction, where she used to live.Thibault said the Rifle event on Sept. 23-24 at her physical therapy clinic at 424 Railroad Ave. (with dinner to follow at the Lighthouse Bar and Grill) will be the first speed date she has both participated in and hosted. She would like to expand the concept and possibly host events in nearby cities such as Glenwood Springs.”I’m open-minded about bringing it into different communities,” Thibault said.McCann is looking forward to her first speed dating experience.”I think it should be a lot of fun,” she said. “It’ll be something different, something I’ve never done before.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com

Who: Western slope singles looking to date (21 and over); age groups: 21 to 35 and 30 to plusWhat: Dinner and a Date speed dating serviceWhen: Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23-24Where: Speed dating at 424 Railroad Ave.; dinner to follow at the Lighthouse Bar & GrilleTo pre-register: Call 625-0258 or 625-3260 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday by Tuesday, Sept. 20Cost: $48 all-you-can-eat seafood buffet Friday and $43 for Saturday nights chicken dinner (dinners includes one non-alcoholic beverage). Speed dating only: $25


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