A New Orleans Vieux Carré setting invoked le bon temps at the Pavilion, an extravagant evening that has accounted for more than $5 million for exhibitions and education at the Tampa Museum of Art since 1981. Saturday's streamlined — not mainstreamed — affair pictured Bourbon Street and Preservation Hall across 24- by 14-foot screens. A University of South Florida jazz band paraded umbrella-swaying patrons down museum stairs and through the atrium. Perhaps coincidentally, the fanfare touted a Mardi Gras nod with many Gasparilla royals in tow (Jim Ferman, Dick Beard, John Brabson, Mike Annis, Stella Thayer, Janice Straske, Michael Carrere).
Mother-daughter co-chairwomen Lea Beard and Allison Beard Luzier looked stunning in couture by designer Bibhu Mohapatra, a family friend, who also gowned committee members Debra Williams, Carrie Brown and Erin Farha. Pavilion dress code required white-tie until 2001, said charter patrons Ann and Jay Ross and Pavilion VI chairwoman Pat Carter (husband Calvin was home nursing a cold, missing only his second Pavilion).
Chef Marty Blitz prepared a Mise en Place menu of duck breast, seared trout and rock shrimp andouille poblano grits and notable wines. Terrace dining choices for the 300 guests: formal seated table service or a fancy picnic buffet enjoyed in plush lounges on comfy settees.
The Helios Jazz Orchestra played under perfect skies. At 9, DJ Papi spun inside as an after-party geared up and Chocolate Pi pecan pralines, bourbon macarons and truffle lollipops appeared. Gala proceeds of $250,0000 include Lightning owners Jeff and Penny Vinik's $13,000 bid for dinner on the museum balcony with director Todd Smith. Two weeks earlier, the couple hosted a N'awlins voodoo cocktail party at their Palma Ceia golf course home, a perk for $1,250-level patrons.
26th Tampa Hispanic Man and Woman of the Year gala
Tampa Hispanic Heritage Man and Woman of the Year gala chairwoman Luz Lono began with the honor roll of past recipients, many in attendance Oct. 26 at the Tampa Hilton Downtown. Past-president Patricia Gomez gave the benediction; current president Dr. Maria Vizcarra thanked the 300 guests whose support funds Hispanic student scholarships. Videos told the accomplishments of Santiago Corrada, chief executive of Visit Tampa Bay, and Lissette Campos-Perez, community affairs director of WFTS-Ch. 28. Orange Grove Middle Magnet School of the Arts dancers added even more Latin flair, directed by Shana Perkins.