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SETS, PROPS ARE THE STARS OF THIS EVENT

Associated Press

PEMBROKE PARK - Anyone who has ever dreamed of owning a miniature golf course or giant Sphinx model is in luck.

South Florida fire officials have ordered that decades' worth of sets and props being housed at ME Productions' 30,000-square-foot warehouse are a hazard and need to be removed. To make space, the event production company will have an auction Tuesday.

While the citations have caused headaches for ME Productions' owners and employees, Hal Etkin, who started the company more than 30 years ago, said there's a silver lining. "It's almost like a treasury unfolded," he said.

They found props and sets that had been lost for years. Etkin said he remembered building the Sphinx for an Egyptian-themed event years ago and could never find it - until ME Productions was forced to clear the warehouse.

Etkin, a former band leader, moved from New York to South Florida in the 1970s. Clients started requesting more products and services for his gigs, and ME Productions grew into a one-stop event production company for business and social events during the '80s and '90s. During those years, companies paid big bucks for conferences held in South Florida.

"There was a period where anything anyone wanted, they got," Etkin said.

ME Productions employees made nearly all the props and sets. Early themes included tropical island and casino parties. A medieval theme included a small castle.

Broward sheriff's fire rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said the agency doesn't want to infringe on any business, but only wants all of the buildings in its jurisdiction to be safe.

Jim Etkin, the owner's son, said he has been giving tours daily to interested buyers, with some offering to place bids early or buy certain items.

Even if ME Productions manages to sell enough to come into compliance, the success will be bittersweet. Hal Etkin said he'd keep everything if he could.

"Some of this stuff I'm going to miss," he said. "But I have to get to the threshold."

ME Productions is at 2000 SW 30th Ave. in Pembroke Park, right off Interstate 95. The doors open at 9 a.m. Tuesday and bidding starts at 11 a.m.

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