The nocturnal jungle of Lowry Park Zoo awoke in vivid splendor, unleashing couture spring glamor and Latin and reggae music at Karamu XXVI, the zoo's annual black-tie gala. Co-chairwoman Toni Everett greeted nearly 400 guests in a custom-designed tangerine gown by Magali of Buenos Aires. Her daughter and co-chairwoman Henderson Everett Lee wore a stunning fuchsia design by Herve Leger coupled with sky-blue Christian Louboutin heels.
The guests were equally electric at "Jungle Boogie" on Saturday. Meredith Hawes Balasco gracefully slithered in a Roberto Cavalli snakeskin gown. Carmen Sargent, with hairstyle inspired by Carolina Herrera, wore Missoni in turquoise and blue. Next year's Karamu co-chairwoman, Paola Schifino, dressed in BCBG; Kendall Wichman and Anderson Brabson Wakefield prowled in flowing leopard prints by Dolce & Gabbana.
The live auction included a dinner party with Survivor couple Brad and Monica Culpepper. Top auction item: a 2.62-carat diamond necklace donated by David Alexander Jewelry, who matched Stuart Lasher's $5,500 bid for a total of $11,000. The evening, dedicated to the late Sally Lowry Baldwin, co-founder of Karamu, netted $200,000 for zoo programs Ben Lee, guest columnist
Lights Fashion Hope
Lively LAMPLighters staged "A Night on the Boardwalk" to a playful Atlantic City vibe, starting with a "Jersey Boys" style band, jugglers, stiltwalkers, mentalists and other novelty acts interacting with 400 guests at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. A dozen restaurant buffets, Coppertail brews and informal Neiman Marcus models vied for the crowd's attention April 2.
Serious amid all the fun, Metropolitan Ministries CEO Tim Marks said attendance and proceeds doubled last year's fashion fundraiser at now-closed Saks Fifth Avenue. The funds will help create a summer camp experience for children living at the shelter or Joshua House.
Kids Charity of Tampa Bay Masquerade Ball
Stepping inside a vault in a former bank, guests at Kids Charity of Tampa Bay's black-tie Masquerade Ball viewed artwork by children in foster care, created to help "unmask" child neglect and abuse. Artist Eileen Goldenberg guided the young artists in preparation for the April 4 gala at the Vault in downtown Tampa celebrating the 5-year anniversary of A Kid's Place shelter. Board chairman Adam Palmer and ball chairwoman April Diemer led the cheers for Kathy Marx's $5,500 bid for "Unmask," a mixed media art project by the children.
Other auction items helping raise $68,000 included a batting lesson with Tino Martinez, alligator hunting with Dave Markett and a training session with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Then the partiers rocked to the Atlanta Party Band.