Local man featured on ‘The Price Is Right’Written by Don Lee | | email@example.com
When “The Price is Right” airs Oct. 5 on CBS, Dale Kwapich plans to have a few friends and family over.
Not because the 41st season is starting. Not because fellow Ohioan and pierogi fan Drew Carey is the host. Well, not just because of that, anyway.
The semi-retired Holland man, who drives a bus for Lourdes University, wants to watch because, back in June, when the announcer said, “Come on DOWN!” Dale Kwapich did.
“I was high-fiving people all the way,” he said.
He can’t yet talk about the things he won — but to hear him tell the story, you couldn’t put a price on the real prizes.
In June, Kwapich, his wife Kathy, sister Pamela Crabtree and her husband Fred took a trip to California. One of the things they’d planned for the trip: get in to see a game show. With many of them offering free tickets, or at least a chance at them, the price was right.
And as it turned out, the long-running show in which contestants battle to bid closest to the correct price — without going over — was “the only one we could get to,” Kwapich said. Kathy sent off an e-mail from their hotel, right across from CBS Television City where the bargain battle is taped, and the reply came back: four tickets to be in the audience for the June 18 taping.
Kwapich isn’t sure what singled him out to be a contestant.
It might have been that his T-shirt read, “got pierogi?” The Polish pastry, popular in Toledo, is even bigger in Cleveland, which host Drew Carey calls home.
“What’s pierogi?” asked the producer who was giving each audience member a 30-second grilling.
“The assistant producer — he was Polish — recognized it,” Kwapich said, laughing.
After that, it was time to take a seat and wait for the “Come on DOWN!” that is the signature start to the game show.
The first four contestants were called, the bidding started and the winner went up on stage —leaving a spot to be filled.
“Dale Kwapich!” the announcer called. “Come on DOWN!”
“My wife and I looked at each other and the looks on our faces said, ‘What did we get ourselves into?’” he said. “The lady behind me gave me a big kiss and I almost tripped, and I was giving everyone (along the aisle) going down high-fives.”
That was only the beginning.
He bid successfully — CBS rules won’t let him talk about what he won or how much it’s worth, or he loses it — and it got him up on stage to guess which shell was hiding the ball, and then to spin the big wheel for the Showcase Showdown. He found the ball and spun 85 cents on the wheel and then it was on to the big time, the chance to bid on the big prize at the end of each day’s show.
Viewers might not get to see the best part, though.
“During the commercial break, Drew Carey got everyone into singing ‘Who Stole the Kishka?” Kwapich said. He’s not sure if the popular Polish party song about the stolen sausage will make it on the air, but said “everyone singing had a good time.”
During the commercial break before the showcase bidding, the music was “Roll out the Barrel,” and Kwapich had a barrel of fun.
“I grabbed the lady (the other showcase bidder) and said ‘Want to polka?’ She said, “I’ve never polka’d in my life.’ I said, ‘Follow me, dear, and we’ll be fine.’”
And so they did, with host Carey following them around, clapping.
Afterward, Kwapich said, Carey “put his arm around me and said, ‘Dale, you made the show.’”
It’ll be a story to tell the students who ride his bus to and from Lourdes University in Sylvania, a job he’s had for the past year.
Kwapich, 69, had to retire at 55 after a series of heart problems that led to 13 catheterizations and three stents in his arteries. Before that, he ran the Jiffy Lube stores in Toledo, worked with his brother at the Smitty’s auto parts shops and ran the auto service departments at Sears and the old Montgomery Ward store at Southwyck Mall. New medicine got Kwapich back on his feet and looking to keep busy.
Besides the extra income, the bus route is “something to do … and the kids, they make me feel young,” he said.
And he’d do the game show bit all over again, “even if I never won a thing.”
“If that’s my 15 minutes of fame, so be it,” he said. “I enjoyed every minute of it.”