St. Petersburg celebrates with long tables and literacy

Published April 20 2018

At 500 feet, this year’s Longest Table really was the longest table yet for the annual WUSF fundraiser. That’s 200 feet longer than last year. More than 1,100 supporters of the radio station ate dinner at the table stretching between the Museum of Fine Arts and Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club along Bayshore Drive NE.

A WUSF staff member sat at various sections of the table and led the "grand toast" to kick of the evening. Hosts included personalities such as Mark Schreiner and Susan Giles Wantuck, general manager JoAnn Urofsky and news director Mary Shedden.

Guests paid varying prices to dine alfresco depending on which of the 15 participating restaurants they dined with. Restaurants included 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House, Parkshore Grill, The Hangar Restaurant, The Mill, Seafood Shack, Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue in Sarasota, Mattison’s, Stillwaters Tavern, FarmTable Cucina, Café L’Europe, Perfect Thyme Catering, URBAN Comfort, Oak & Stone, Orange Blossom Catering and Rococo Steak.

Sunlit literacy festival

The seventh annual Sunlit literacy festival kicked off April 5 at the Chihuly Gallery and goes until Sunday. Most events combine literacy and other arts. The gatherings so far have included an Open Tree Climb celebrating books about trees at the Pathfinder Outdoor Education facility, a gathering of authors and writers at the St. Petersburg Public Library and an evening of poetry and music with Luis Gonzalez, operatic baritone, and Maureen McDole, executive director of Keep St. Pete Lit.

The Arts Xchange in the Warehouse Arts District was the site of the book launch for The Story of Harvey Milk & The Rainbow Flag. The children’s picture book is by Rob Sanders who teaches fourth grade in Brandon. Tombolo Books at 1114 Central Ave. carries the book, which was published by Random House Books for Young Readers. Tombolo owner Alsace Walentine borrowed one of the first rainbow flags made and signed by Gilbert Baker in San Francisco from a friend of a friend and had it on display at the Sunlit event. Guests of all ages enjoyed rainbow-shaped cookies and a jelly bean bar where they mixed custom bags of the colorful candies.

The Pink Beneath Our Feet, another event, featured the art of Katee Tully and poetry of St. Petersburg Poet Laureate Helen Pruitt Wallace.

Tully installed several interactive pieces of art at Behar + Peteranecz Architecture, also in the Warehouse Arts District. Guests were invited to bring something pink to help build the "Temple of Pink." Some of the pink offerings included: bowling shoes, soap, a hard hat, a dog bowl, a toothbrush, a flat iron, birth control pills, curlers and a Sharpie.

There was also an exhibit of neckties with scissors. Guests were invited to cut a tie as a symbol of standing up to inequality, harassment and abuse.

Wallace read her poem Pink Streets about coming of age in the neighborhood in Pinellas Point with streets tinted pink.

"We ran these streets absorbing pink, inhaling pink, coquina, sunburn, goiter pink, scar tissue, Pepto-Bismol, tip of tongue, young and wild for Beatlemania, Sweet Baby James, Bob Dylan, and Pink Floyd."

And further on: "Vietnam flashed off and on screens, a foreign film we didn’t know the words for. I wore a silver band around my wrist for Major Joseph Bors, certain he’d be found."

Wallace’s husband, Peter Wallace, told me afterwards that he researched Joseph Bors, and learned he was never found.

The Sunlit literacy festival continues with the following events:

Today: Porch Party book launch for Your Robot Dog Will Die, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Gulfport Historical Museum, 5301 28th Ave. S

Saturday: Mirror Lake Tour with a Literacy Twist, 10 a.m. to noon. Starts at City Hall, 175 Fifth St. N, St. Petersburg

Life on the Deuces: An Intersection of History and Home, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, 2240 Ninth Ave. S, St. Petersburg

Sunday: Wake Up: The Buddhist Writings of Jack Kerouac, 7 to 9 p.m. Unitarian Universalist Church, 100 Mirror Lake Drive, St. Petersburg

Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at [email protected] or (727) 409-3642. Follow @snowsmith.