Vegas Girds for Sinatra Golf Event

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LAS VEGAS -- City officials and organizers of the upcoming Frank Sinatra Las Vegas Celebrity Classic -- a golf benefit planned before Sinatra's death -- are expecting heightened interest in a series of events here honoring the entertainer.

According to a Celebrity Classic spokeswoman, Sinatra's wife, Barbara, will open a Frank Sinatra memorabilia exhibit at the MGM Grand Hotel Casino on May 26, kicking off a citywide tribute to the entertainer, who died May 14. Frankenfriends

The display, which will be open to the public around the clock through May 31, will be set up in the Grand's conference center and will feature items from Barbara Sinatra's private collection as well as from Ric Ross, an avid collector of Sinatra memorabilia for more than 40 years.

Items on display will include memorabilia illustrating the singer's first national amateur appearance with Major Bowes on Sept. 8, 1935, and an event program from a performance on Dec. 12, 1936 -- Sinatra's 21st birthday -- as well as album covers, sheet music, magazine covers and articles, photographs and posters.

The golf tournament will be held May 28 to 31 at Stallion Mountain Country Club along with a celebrity skins game.

The tournament will benefit the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center, which was founded by the Sinatras in 1986 to help abused children, and Las Vegas' Opportunity Village, the largest organization in Nevada to offer vocational training, continuing education and recreational opportunities to the mentally handicapped.

Other scheduled events honoring Sinatra include a party at the Hard Rock Cafe and a black-tie celebrity gala at the MGM Grand.

A Web site, at www.sinatracenter.org, has a rundown of the Las Vegas events as well as photos, tribute letters to Sinatra and a page about the children's center.

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