A funny thing happened on the way to China

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When Duluthian Jiann Yang said goodbye to his wife at the Duluth airport — she was departing to Taiwan — he was expecting to go back home. Instead the UMD electrical engineering professor happened upon a Las Vegas-style party right in the middle of the airport’s second floor. The swing-style crooning of tuxedo-wearing Todd Eckart filled the air. Eckart, an enduring fixture of the Duluth music scene, sang popular ditties of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Behind him, a screen projected scenes from Las Vegas. Lights flashed from party-attendees’ lapels adorned with party favors, replicas of the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” signs.
Young women dressed in cocktail dresses smiled and asked visitors, “Are you here for the event?”
The event celebrated the grand opening of the Arrowhead Tap Room, a bar for airport patrons. The Arrowhead is owned by Oakwells, an Orlando, Fla.-based chain of watering holes and news stands serving airports and trains stations.
Oakwells President Michael J. Reilly was at the airport for three separate and concurrent ribbon cuttings for the Duluth Airport’s Arrowhead Tap Room. The Hermantown, Superior Douglas County Area and Duluth Area Chamber all participated with ribbon cuttings.
Tom Werner, executive director of the airport, said Oakwells was the winning bid when the airport was searching for bars to serve airport customers. “They (Oakwells) are a great complement to what we do,” he said.