Farewell, 2009. Adios, au revoir, arrivederci. Onward to the next decade, I say.
And bring the champagne, because the first half of the 2010 calendar jumps with three grand openings, plus a variety of celebrity entertainers and guest speakers booked to help draw generous guests.
First, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Roberta Flack sings the praises of St. Joseph's Hospital-North on Jan. 16. A black-tie opening billed as eco-chic describes the party theme as well as the nature-inspired decor we hear is more hotel than hospital. Flack's performance is invitation-only for major donors, doctors and dignitaries at Tampa's first community hospital in more than 30 years.
Our sparkling new Tampa Museum of Art opens Feb. 4 with a private reception for donors of $5,000 and up. Mise en Place, which also runs the Sono Cafe in the lobby, will cater the exclusive preview. Museum director Todd Smith wants to maximize the wow factor with a few surprises, but expect Mayor Pam Iorio, architect Stanley Saitowitz and chairman of the board Ray Ifert to speak before guests view 170 prints, paintings and sculptures by Henri Matisse.
All other donors and members get their first look during a Feb. 5 fete. Everyone else? You're welcome to a ribbon-cutting Feb. 6.
Come spring, guests at the $175-ticket Imagination gala will be first to celebrate the opening of Glazer's Children's Museum. Co-chairwomen Kelly Feldman and Angela Ardolino plan dinner and dancing on the third floor as CEO Al Najjar guides tours at the May 22 benefit.
Guest speakers on the 2010 charity circuit bring advice on dressing and decorating, sex and human rights.
Lisa Ling, formerly of ABC's The View, personalizes global concerns Feb. 11 at the Florida Holocaust Museum's annual "To Life: Shining Light on a Better World" dinner in St. Petersburg. She's the sister of Laura Ling, the journalist detained and released in 2009 by North Korea. Rather than a formal dinner, the $150 evening begins with hors d'oeuvres in the Mahaffey Theater lobby, moves into the auditorium to hear Ling, then concludes with a dessert bar back in the lobby.
Sexologist Carol Cassell promises a stimulating discussion at a Choice Affair on Jan. 28, the annual Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida luncheon to mark the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Catch her at noon at Maestro's at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Host of Lifetime channel's How to Look Good Naked, Carson Kressley returns March 9 to once again emcee Fashion Funds the Cure sponsored by the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and Saks Fifth Avenue. Kressley's quick and candid commentary is a hoot and the young survivors modeling are pure joy.
If you have ever renovated, remodeled or thought about it, come meet Vern Yip, host of HGTV's Deserving Design, at United Way of Tampa Bay's sixth Art of Giving, Caring With Style dinner April 29. You've seen Yip's design work showcased on Learning Channel's Trading Spaces and NBC's Home Intervention.
Get ready to boogie to the Doobie Brothers in the Magnolia Ball mosh pit at A La Carte Event Pavilion on April 24. Reservations for the black-tie benefit start at $1,000 as Moffitt Cancer Center attempts to rock previous multi-million fundraising records.
Should your musical taste tend toward opera, then mark May 16 to hear superstar Marcello Giordani at Opera Tampa's 15th anniversary dinner. For $250 a ticket, guests will be treated to an intimate performance by the tenor at the Straz Center.
If opera makes you snore and the New York Yankees make your heart soar, then we've got a luncheon for you. Every player and coach is expected to attend the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay benefit March 24 at the Marriott Waterside. That includes A-Rod, Reggie Jackson and, hopefully, George Steinbrenner. Tickets are $300 and are selling fast. (I hope the silent auction offers a tour of Derek Jeter's swanky new dugout on Davis Islands. Bidding would certainly be out of my ballpark.)
I'll be looking for Carol and Derrick Brooks in the front row of the Ebony Fashion Fair on Feb. 12 when the national production parades into Tampa Theatre (also the St. Pete Coliseum on Feb. 1). Youth programs of Derrick Brooks Charities are the beneficiaries of this wild couture extravaganza.
There's much, much more to come and I can't wait to share it with you. Happy new year!