SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Residents of Seminole Heights had many reasons to throw a festive holiday party after enduring two months of fear and anxiety while police officers searched for a serial killer targeting their central Tampa neighborhood.
Friday’s (Dec. 15) neighborhood association get-together brought nearly 200 residents and friends to American Legion Post No. 111 to chat with Santa, decorate cookies and enjoy food and drinks catered by Conrad’s Cafe.
"How wonderful it is to go into the holiday season with peace of mind," said Debi Johnson, president of the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association.
DJ Shirah Levine took song requests in exchange for Underdog Rescue donations. The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve collected Toys for Tots.
"Our neighborhood involvement committee chaired by Kelly O’Neill always does a great job of bringing families and friends together for all our socials," Johnson said. "But this year is especially meaningful with all that we have been through."
Pastry chef Kevin Boxx, a resident since 2015, was commissioned to build a gingerbread house for the annual holiday party: a classic Florida bungalow showcasing architectural elements of the 1920-30s-era homes prevalent and popularly preserved in that area.
Chocolate drizzled pretzel logs support the interior of the house, tapered gingerbread columns anchor the wide porch and adjacent carport on crushed candy cane bases.
Gelatin windows are framed by fruit roll-up curtains. Green sprinkles dot the lawn but snowy white icing lines the cereal-shingled peaked roof.
The New England Culinary Institute grad can’t count all the gingerbread houses he’s made during the years he worked for Ritz Carlton and Kimpton hotels.
Boxx spent about 24 hours — and about $100 on candy alone — to create this one.
The finished product was to be raffled at the party, with proceeds to be used for ongoing neighborhood projects.
Contact Amy Scherzer at [email protected]