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Amy Scherzer's Diary

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Opera Tampa gala, Knickers Ball, In the Heart of Morocco

Temple Terrace Preservation Society's Knickers Ball

The Knickers Ball crowd looked as if it stepped right out of the vintage photographs lining the walls at the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club. Argyle sweaters, wingtips and knickers set a Roaring '20s style to Saturday's dinner dance, part of the Temple Terrace Preservation Society's Hickory Heritage golf tournament weekend. Red Hagen turned on the time machine, driving up in his 1928 Model A Ford.

The first Knickers Ball was held in the 1920s when the club hosted the U.S. Open, said Leitha Bowles, chairwoman of the three-day event. Ten years later, Florida Fundamental Bible School bought the clubhouse and a student named Billy Graham received his calling on the 18th green.

"Hickory hackers from North Carolina to South Dakota are here to play with hickory-shafted golf clubs and gutta-percha golf balls," said Bowles, during dinner in the lounge. Later, a DJ kept guests swinging in the speakeasy, or as Bowles prefers, "easy speak." Weekend proceeds will help efforts to have the club named to the National Register of Historic Places.

In the Heart of Morocco gala

Not everybody gets a 3-D echocardiogram machine for Valentine's Day, but Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute will, purchased with proceeds from the In the Heart of Morocco gala. Tom and Lauren Pepin, sponsors of the Feb. 14 benefit, and a camel named Heartfelt greeted 350 guests at TPepin's Hospitality Centre. A sitar player and belly dancers beckoned inside where seating ranged from twosomes to cozy, tasseled fabric tents. The Mediterranean menu offered kebabs, chicken tangine, baklava and more. Each time the band Infinida took breaks, guests' wedding photos flashed across screens to a soundtrack of their special songs. Not even the testimonial video dampened the ardor.

Auction items ranged from a voice mail message recorded by Larry King Jr. to a year of Housewife Bake Shop pastries to a cardiac disease assessment. Cardiac surgeon Les Miller's $5,300 bid bought him a week in Carlos Alfonso's 600-year-old farmhouse in Cortona, Italy. In all, the event netted $112,000.

Opera Tampa gala

"Retirement doesn't exist in my dictionary," said Opera Tampa founding director Anton Coppola, vowing to keep a grip on the baton at his black-tie send-off Saturday. Coppola will be 95 when he conducts Aida on April 20 and 22, his real goodbye.

"Basta,'' said the maestro, surrounded by his wife and children, Bruno and Lucia, as Judy Lisi, CEO of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, presented him the annual award for excellence named for him.

Gina D'Angelo and Barry Levine co-chaired the $350-a-ticket gala, sponsored by Zena Lansky to honor her husband Warren Rodger, following a concert of Coppola's 15 favorite opera finales.

"Very continental,'' said Lisi, as the elegant Italian dinner was served near 11 p.m. at rose- and magnolia leaf-topped tables on the Morsani Hall stage.

By midnight, live auction bids included Levine's $2,000 for a Napa Valley trip; Ernie Lisi's $700 to be a rehearsal maestro and Al Schiff's $2,000 for at-home Opera Tampa entertainment. In all, the gala netted $50,000. Send a farewell message to Coppola at


Saturday: Saturday Night Fever dinner dance benefits Rodeph Sholom synagogue, 2713 Bayshore Blvd.; $75; '70s attire; or (813) 760-1111.

Saturday: Sixth Equality Florida Tampa gala; 7 p.m.; Italian Club, Ybor City; $100;

Saturday: Stars and Pars gala auction to benefit the Children's Home; 7 p.m.; Tampa Bay History Center; $50; (813) 864-1532.

Sunday: Oscar Night America-Tampa Bay Academy Awards party; 6:30 p.m. Red Carpet festivities; 8 p.m. telecast; benefits Tampa Theatre; 711 N Franklin St.; students $15, general admission $25 and up; (813) 274-5507.

Feb. 29: Bright House Networks Fashion Funds the Cure benefits Pediatric Cancer Foundation; 6 p.m.; Neiman Marcus; $100; or (813) 269-0955.

Coming up in March

March 3: GalaRE benefits Gasparilla Festival of the Arts; 7:30 p.m. VIP, $175; 8 p.m. general admission, $100; Tampa Museum of Art;

March 9: DeBartolo Family Foundation ninth All Star Charity Gala; 6 p.m.; A La Carte Event Pavilion; $300; (813) 964-8302.

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Opera Tampa gala, Knickers Ball, In the Heart of Morocco 02/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 3:30am]
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