11/17/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — Had she known she would be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at age 66, Hermanda de Roos O'Connor would have organized a gala or fashionable fundraiser every day of the week to fund a cure.
The social grande dame of Tampa graciously volunteered energy and style to many cultural, educational and health causes. Her hostess and cooking prowess were legendary, one friend proclaiming, "Hermanda can make water taste like champagne." She was generous with her talents, whether preparing a PTA reception or Thanksgiving dinner, a holiday feast she and husband, commercial real estate developer Myles W. O'Connor, celebrated with the same two families for 24 years....
11/16/17 Human Interest
Earth, Wind & Fire fired up the Starlight Gala with their combustible mix of rhythm, blues and jazz classics getting guests grooving on the faith-based mission of the Florida Hospital West Florida Division Foundation. Five hospitals will benefit from the $1 million raised as co-chairs Tia Young and Nancy Morrison and 800 guests danced between the tables in the Marriott Waterside ballroom Nov. 12. The vinyl record dinner plate chargers turned into gala souvenirs after a trio of salmon, chicken and filet mignon and mousse Creamsicles....
11/09/17 Human Interest
From a parking garage to a chic waterfront terrace, the Pavilion ball evolves as elegantly as its beneficiary, the Tampa Museum of Art. For the 32nd gala, "Made in Tampa Bay," co-chairs Mary Ann Ferenc and Chef Marty Blitz presented a menu as avant garde as Picasso, connecting the current exhibition, Made in Tampa: Selections from the Permanent Collection, to specialities made at their restaurant, Mise en Place. Botanica played off the homegrown theme with cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts arranged with anthuriums and orchids....
TAMPA — The music and dancing never stops at the Tampa Greek Festival, the biggest fundraiser of the year for St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in south Tampa.
"We invite everyone to watch ancient folk dances, eat authentic food and be Greek for a day," said Mike Xenick, a lifelong church member helping to organize the three-day fest opening today (Nov. 10) and continuing through late Sunday afternoon....
SOUTH TAMPA—Don't even think about making a fast getaway from C.W.'s Gin Joint. Downtown Tampa's new Prohibition-hip speakeasy is designed for lingering.
"It's an ode to the '20s and '30s," said executive chef Gui Alinat, presenting proprietor Carolyn Wilson's vision "with a French accent," at 633 N Franklin Street.
The 100-seat restaurant and bar serves dinner nightly, from 5 p.m to midnight, then a giant wheel of cheese comes out for drink patrons till 2 a.m. Live entertainment is booked Wednesdays through Sundays....
11/03/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — Make a shopping list, Aunts to Zookeepers, and the odds are good you'll find something for everyone you care about at the Junior League of Tampa's 14th annual Holiday Gift Market.
"This is our largest yet in both merchants and square footage," said Carlee Bowdoin, co-chairwoman of the fundraiser. It opens with a preview party Thursday evening, Nov. 9, and runs through Sunday afternoon at the Florida State Fairgrounds....
11/02/17 Human Interest
JDRF, Night of Hope Gala
Back by popular demand, Nicole Johnson, JDRF Tampa Bay director of mission, again emceed the annual Night of Hope Gala, this year with a swinging 1920s theme, Roaring Towards a Cure, to fund Type 1 diabetes research. The Wanek family honorees Ron and Joyce, son Todd, daughter-in-law Karen and grandson Cameron who has Type 1 diabetes, will be roaring now, on the custom rebuilt 1996 Harley- Davidson motorcycle that Ron bought in the live auction. The model fit the Prohibition-era decor, a Dyna Speakeasy, of course....
10/27/17 Human Interest
Hello, Judy, Well, Hello Judy, sang the Patel Conservatory Ovation singers, channeling Carol Channing in a musical salute to Straz Center CEO Judy Lisi who celebrated her 25th year at CONGA!, the Broadway Ball. Video accolades from industry colleagues during dinner on Morsani stage Saturday called her "a class act" and "an Italian mimosa," and would cast her as the leading lady in the Unsinkable Molly Brown. All appreciated the "package deal, husband Ernie."...
10/22/17 Human Interest
BY AMY SCHERZER
TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.
Byers, 33, who plays Anika Calhoun on the FOX TV series Empire, began by crediting her alma mater for directing her career path....
10/19/17 Human Interest
Tuxes & Tails
Who could resist Event Show Productions showgirls samba-ing down the Tuxes & Tails catwalk carrying furry homeless pets? With Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister, family restaurateur/event co-chair Andrea Gonzmart and a dozen other "celebs" right behind them showwalking the bigger breeds on leashes.
Saturday's Rio de Carnaval gala was huuggge for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay: huge crowd (more than 1,000; huge venue (Tampa Convention Center); huge moneymaker ($400,000.) Fox13 news anchors Cynthia Smoot and Russell Rhodes emceed as they have for a decade; Gabriel Butu, auctioneer for the third time, pitched dinner with George Clooney, a guitar of Tom Petty's and other cool stuff. The lively celebration continued upstairs with deejay Arthur Lastras, complimentary cigars, Brazilian coffee and a flambe station while 31 pets were packed up to go home with their new owners....
10/19/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — One imagines lively conversations around the Spielberg family dinner table, undoubtably spurring the creativity of one of the most popular film producers and directors in history.
Documentary film producer Nancy Spielberg, the youngest of the four children, is likely to reveal some family dynamics and insights of her influential brother, Steven Spielberg, when she addresses Congregation Schaarai Zedek Sisterhood's 16th annual Franci Golman Rudolph Schaarai Zedek Sisterhood Star Event on Monday (Oct. 23) at the Renaissance Hotel International Plaza....
10/12/17 Human Interest
CITY, Art-a-Porter: Susanne Bartsch
New York City nightlife icon Susanne Bartsch and seven fashion designers came to disrupt and distort, producing off-the-chain creations from the sublime to the ridiculous, upstaging anything ever seen at CITY: Art-a-Porter, the annual fashion-as-art benefit for Tampa Museum of Art. Coiffed like Olive Oyl and wearing a pink leotard and tulle, Bartsch sent her provocateurs spiraling through the atrium, VIP lounges and terrace Oct. 6, to the crowd's gawking amusement....
10/05/17 Human Interest
Imagination, A Gala
From devil crab lollipops to virtual reality games, "Imagination, A Gala" entertained and educated Glazer Children's Museum guests as per the mission, and on a weeknight no less, no thanks to Hurricane Irma, which bumped the cocktail bash to Sept. 28.
Instead of baskets of "stuff," a Dream It, Be It silent auction offered cool career days parents bought for their kids, such as a Bay News 9 anchor or a Clearwater Marine Aquarium biologist or a museum CEO like Jennifer Stancil....
09/28/17 Human Interest
Boys & Girls Clubs Steak Dinner
"Community Hero" Luis Garcia filled four tables with family members as the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay honored his philanthropy and 20-plus years on the board of directors at the organization's 36th annual steak dinner. "I can't do what I do without the support of the family," said Garcia, who came to the United States from Cuba in 1961. A certified public accountant and father of six, Garcia and his wife, Mary, have 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild....
09/21/17 Human Interest
FARA Energy Ball
Familiar faces - researchers, scientists, hospitality honchos and 20 Friedreich's Ataxia "warriors" inched closer to a cure for the progressive neurodegenerative disease as the FARA Energy Ball advanced the FA Research Alliance and USF Ataxia Research Center by $1.75 million Saturday, thanks to some bodacious auction bids and $600,000 texted-donations.
The Rocky theme song thundered across Knock Out FA co-chaired again this year by Janell and Tampa Bay Lightning CEO Steve Griggs. "FARA is family and you really fight when it's family," he said, following emcee Wendy Ryan, WFTS-Ch. 28 anchor, up to a boxing ring podium. Hot pink, turquoise and orange boxing glove centerpieces brightened the Marriott Waterside ballroom....