Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Amy Scherzer's Diary

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Party time at the Outback Bowl

Outback Bowl festivities

This year's Outback Bowl invitees, Louisiana State and Iowa (LSU won 21-14), were treated to tons of fun between streaks of sun.

Two hometown hospitality standouts: the Wives' Luncheon chaired by Cathy Bellatin at Roy's on Dec. 28, and the Gridiron Gala chaired by Tracie Domino on Dec. 30.

"We all know they couldn't do it without you," Outback Steakhouse co-founder Trudy Cooper told the ladies before apologizing for the rainy day. "We didn't want to show off that we're still the only place in the U.S. with perfect weather the last three months."

Tiger shrimp and short ribs "surf and turf," hula lessons and a daring fire dancer thrilled the attendees at the Polynesian lunch. Outback Bowl chairman Ken Hoverman noted the teams' "tremendous fan base" while Cooper noted the teams' tremendous appetite, "5,000 pounds of food, including 750 pounds of steak, consumed" in one dinner.

MetLife and Mercedes-Benz again sponsored a glitzy gala, a Great Gatsby affair designed "to rival any Super Bowl party anywhere," Domino said.

Two women swung from ceiling slings and a dozen dancers cavorted on a raised runway down the center of A La Carte Event Pavilion's ballroom.

Fleming's, Carrabba's, Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill buffets and numerous bars pleased 1,500 guests, including coach-turned-broadcaster Jon Gruden and his co-analyst, Mike Tirico, who announced, "No bowl is better run."

Aqua Eve at the Florida Aquarium

Barracudas and bruschetta, sharks and sliders, manta rays and macarons — Aqua Eve mixed marine life and munchies throughout the Florida Aquarium, a lively New Year's Eve natural habitat. The sold-out benefit teemed with 1,700 revelers flirting with mermaids and taking selfies with sea turtles. Nocturnal humans danced to the Synchronicity band in the lobby, acoustic guitarist Casey Stidham in the Coral Reef and DJ Santana in Explore-a-Shore. Aramark food service passed hors d'oeuvres and catered paella, pork loin and tenderloin stations. Wine and beer (Goose Island's Honker's ale was a hit) was poured until midnight when champagne popped and fireworks dazzled.

NACE holiday fete

The National Association for Catering and Events Tampa Bay chapter gave themselves a night off to celebrate the holidays with colleagues at the Floridan Palace Hotel on Dec. 16.

Wedding planners, DJs, photographers and floral designers fell for the Three Waiters pretending to be working the dining room then randomly bursting into operatic song. Breezin' Entertainment introduced another new industry wow factor: Sway Girl strapped to a 12-foot pole covered by her equally long evening gown, swaying and bending like Gumby. Wow, indeed.


Saturday: Hot Night in Harlem gala benefits Stageworks Theatre; 6 p.m. Tampa Garden Club; $150; (813) 784-6832.

Saturday: Krewe of Venus XLIX Coronation Ball; 6:30 p.m.; Marriott Waterside; $125; (813) 289-9310 or

Jan. 21: Athletes + Causes, sports elite martini and wine event benefits JDRF; 6 to 9 p.m. Chase Club at the Tampa Bay Times Forum; $250;

Jan. 26: 11th annual President's Dinner benefits Tampa Jewish Federation; speaker Ehud Barak, Israel's 10th prime minister, 5 p.m.; A La Carte Event Pavilion; $150 and up; (813) 264-9000.

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Party time at the Outback Bowl 01/08/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 2:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. East Tampa store owner who survived one shooting is targeted again with fatal results


    TAMPA — In the 2011 video, Mahamoud Ibrahim stands behind the counter of his tiny East Tampa convenience store, his back to the surveillance camera meant to discourage thieves.

    A memorial has sprouted in front of the 29th Street Store in East Tampa, where a robber fatally shot owner Mohamoud Ibrahim on July 16. Security experts say small mom-and-pop stores in high crime areas are easy targets for robberies and typically don't have the budgets for extra security measures. [TONY MARRERO/Times Staff]
  2. AARP still waiting for the two Ricks to send voter education videos


    AARP Florida wants to educate St. Petersburg residents on Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker’s views on how to make the Sunshine City more livable.

    It's been a frenetic St. Pete mayor's race so far. Maybe that's the reason AARP hasn't received voter education videos from the campaigns
  3. Photos: Kehlani packs fans into a sold-out Orpheum in Tampa


    R&B singer Kehlani had to postpone a spring show in Tampa due to illness, but it seemed she was no worse for the wear on Thursday, when her make-up show sold out the Orpheum well in advance. Ella Mai and Jahkoy opened the show. Aubrey Wipfli was there snapping photos; click the headline …

    Kehlani performed at the Orpheum in Tampa on July 20, 2017.
  4. Rowdies part of a record-setting season for USL attendance


    ST. PETERSBURG — Although Rowdies fans haven't had many recent opportunities to show out at Al Lang, the United Soccer League turnstiles keep turning at a record rate.

    A Rowdies fan waves flags ahead of the first half of the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
  5. Spicer resigns as White House press secretary


    WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump's embattled spokesman during the first six months of his presidency, is resigning his position, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.

    In this May 9, 2017, file photo, White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington.  White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has resigned over hiring of new communications aide.   [AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File]