Handbags & Happy Hour
Make-A-Wish Foundation Suncoast regional director Lisa Andrews harnessed the power of the Junior League and the lure of designer handbags to attract 400 women (at $50 each, no less) to Handbags & Happy Hour at the Centre Club on May 15.
Not too difficult, she said, since the party featured an auction of 125 purses, including Burberry, Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Tory Burch styles, to drop a few names. The top-dollar purchase, a Chanel flapbag from Mosh Posh, went for $1,560. A spring basket purse, donated by Tiffany & Co. manager Maged Asuoty, the only man on the planning committee, sold for $639 to Gretchen Dominguez. He also presented silver lockets to four young "Wish" girls invited that night.
South Tampa Dermatology, a party sponsor, helped push proceeds past $50,000 with an attractive offer: 30 units of Botox exchanged for one gently used, high-end handbag. Several bags arrived with tags still on, said Andrews, shouting over the megadecibel din of women shopping, sipping chardonnay and eating sliders and fries. Wonder how that buffet got past emcee/personal trainer Nick "Peety" Peterson?
Seventh Annual Pride & Passion
It was one of those nights, taking in the visual feast of Pride & Passion, to thrill that it was all actually happening in Tampa.
"Nothing else like it," raved Mike Paonessa, scanning the crowd of 800 stylish minglers, amazed at "how New York" the scene became May 19 at the Tampa Museum of Art.
"You couldn't move, there were so many people," said his partner Rob Iles, over DJ Michael Terrance's spins and Timpano's hors d'oeuvres at the seventh annual kickoff to St. Pete Pride activities.
For inspiration, New Century Dance Co.'s witty entertainers considered vanity (a female impersonator changed genders primping at a mirror); indulgence (handmade Tito's vodka, handmade City Streets Sweets truffles) and furniture (evoking the new exhibit, A Hundred Years — A Hundred Chairs, Masterworks from the Vitra Design Museum).
A robust woman in Victorian dress lounged on a chaise eating cupcakes. A harlequin challenged himself to a game of chess. Two "Alices" romped around a Wonderland of musical chairs. Three dancers in white elastic bodysuits, connected by white strings, bopped in a boxing ring to music by Adele. A dancer dressed in a brilliant red gown trailed by a 50-foot tulle train ascended the staircase as backup singers descended costumed like red and yellow flames.
Museum director Todd Smith joined the throng of art enthusiasts and culture exhibitionists who helped raise $110,000, many new and renewing members among them, as each ticket included a year's membership.
The Children's Home Recognition Luncheon
Tampa Bay Rays' ringleader Rick Nafe emceed the Children's Home's 23rd annual donor recognition luncheon under a red-and-white striped Big Top tent May 16, organized by the National Association of Catering Executives at TPepin's Hospitality Centre. Circus jugglers, magicians and midway games kept 500-plus guests entertained, without forgetting the mission of helping abused and abandoned children.
Representatives from some of the 120-year-old residence's founding families, including well-known names such as Lowry, Lykes, Conn and Macfarlane were among the most attentive listeners to a video interview with Carl Miller of Carrollwood. He grew up at the Children's Home, arriving in 1925 at 6 months old and leaving when he turned 18.
Restaurateur Richard Gonzmart received the 2012 Helen Ayala Davis award, named for a beloved board member. As a teenager, he recalled, he gave his tuition money to the home, "to help kids that didn't have a mom like I did."
CEO Irene Rickus, joined by current resident youngsters, concluded with a rousing Happy Birthday and a giant birthday cake.