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Rain and sleet don’t dampen romance at mass marriage

February 14, 1997

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Standing on a sheet of ice in the rain and sleet wasn’t enough to give 28 couples cold feet.

They said ``I do″ en masse at a skating rink in a Valentine’s Day ceremony performed by Mayor Edward Rendell.

``I’ve never skated before,″ Jerry Brown said before his marriage to Tammy Johnson. ``I can handle the marriage. It’s the ice I’m unsure of.″

About half the couples wore ice skates, including Brown, who clung to the side of the rink but didn’t fall.

Most brides wore full-length wedding gowns _ some covered by raincoats _ all with veils and bouquets.

Organizer Dinah Schuster had but one explanation: ``People are nuts.″

The group included an equal number of couples getting married for the first time and people who wanted to renew their vows.

``The first time was very formal, horse and carriage, everything. We really did it up,″ said Michelle Lemech, who decided to surprise her husband of two years by joining the ceremony. ``It’s fun to do it the second time.″

Also in Philadelphia, two dozen newlyweds hoped to bring luck to their marriages by having Common Pleas Judge Bernard Goodheart do the honors.

``With a name like Judge Goodheart how could you go wrong?″ said Lisa Susso, who married Sam Long in one of 24 ceremonies performed at City Hall during Goodheart’s lunch break.

Goodheart has performed Valentine’s Day weddings at City Hall for 21 years _ in part because he gets so many requests.

``It’s the day people talk of love,″ said Goodheart, who wore a tie covered with hearts. ``To be married on Valentine’s Day adds to the experience and later to the anniversary.″

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