La Gloria Cubana's Sixth Annual Super Roll competition awarded the winning prize to the agile hands of Russell Cecala, a Chicago periodontal surgeon.
Earlier this month, Cecala, accompanied by his wife, Shaun, traveled to the El Credito Cigar Factory in the Little Havana section of Miami to compete against four other amateur rollers for the title of 2008 Super Roll Champ. Contestants won their spots in the finals by outmaneuvering thousands of other amateur rollers in Super Roll competitions held at Cigar Aficionado's Big Smoke events, and at other locales across the United States. The other finalists were Timothy Black, a gymnastics instructor from Riverside, California; Bret Marquis, an oilman from Houston, Texas; Bryan Bobrowsky, a forensics investigator from Mount Sinai, New York; and Jon Liss, a sales representative for Southern Wine and Spirits from Staten Island, New York.
The event kicked off on Friday, March 14, on Calle Ocho amid the festivities surrounding the Calle Ocho Festival, an annual neighborhood block party that brings the spirit of Carnival to the city. Contestants were given a chaveta -- a blade for cutting tobacco leaves -- a book of matches for lighting their finished cigars and one-on-one instruction from a professional El Credito roller. The semi-finals took place on Saturday afternoon and the finals were contested on Sunday, when the champion was crowned.
As the new champion, Cecala was inducted by La Gloria maker Ernesto Perez-Carrillo into the El Credito Cigar Factory Hall of Fame and received a custom-made humidor filled with 100 premium La Gloria Cubana cigars, each featuring a secondary band emblazoned with the title "Super Roll Champ 2008." Cecala also walked away with an authentic El Credito cigar mold from the 1960s, which Perez-Carrillo autographed during the awards ceremony, and a commemorative illustration created during the Super Roll by renowned Cuban artist Edin Gutierrez.
The five finalists all received two round-trip plane tickets to Miami, beachfront accommodations in South Beach and meals at some of Miami's hottest establishments, including the Club Macanudo lounge at the Havana Club, located high above the city on the 55th floor of the Wachovia building.
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