"Salt Lake Community College doesn't have a football team. The Grand Theatre is our `football team,' " SLCC President Frank W. Budd said Monday evening, noting that while attendance at the school's athletic events hasn't set any records, performances at the Grand Theatre on the school's South City Campus, draw high numbers of patrons.

The occasion was a gathering of friends and relatives in the Oak Room of the school's Redwood campus College Center for a surprise banquet honoring Pat Davis on the eve of her retirement as executive director of the theater.With no football team - and no player's jersey to formally retire - the college instead retired the most expensive costume in the theater's wardrobe: the elegant red gown and huge, feathery hat worn by Pat Davis during the 1992 production of "Hello, Dolly!"

As the dress was being presented to Davis, local choreographer/performer Jayne Luke quipped, "Her friends in her LDS ward will be interested to see if she'll wear it to church on Sunday."

Luke, who sang "I Got Lost in His Arms" from another Grand Theatre production, "Annie Get Your Gun," was among several entertainers who performed a handful of Broadway showtunes.

Davis admitted that, for the first time ever, she was at a loss for words. She had come to the campus expecting to attend a meeting - only to come into the Oak Room as the crowd stood and sang "Hello, Dolly."

The dinner was sponsored by SLCC's Foundation Board. In addition to Budd, there were presentations and remarks by foundation president J.F. (Don) Clark and adviser Peter Maughan and tributes by Davis' children.

Budd noted that the Grand Theatre is similar to the "artichoke theory."

"When you peel away the leaves, you get to the heart of the artichoke. Pat Davis is the heart of the Grand Theatre," he said.

Kenneth Plain, who is replacing Davis, also performed "The Mountains Call Me Home," a ballad from the 1996 centennial musical "Bands of Iron, Rings of Gold" on which he and Davis had collaborated.

Linda Moore sang "Gooch's Song" from the 1994 production of "Mame," in which Davis starred as eccentric Mame Dennis, and Katie Hill, another veteran Grand Theatre performer, sang "The Best of Us," from a musical version of "Sherlock Holmes," noting that the Grand had never produced this particular show, but the lyrics were fitting for the occasion.

The board let Davis have the last word.

She noted that she's looking forward to catching up on lost time with her children and 19 grandchildren.

"And thank you for not waiting until my funeral to say the kind things that have been said tonight," she told the crowd.