Dressed like tuxedoed African penguins and prancing like okapi, Karamu guests embarked on a "Cruise around the Congo," the theme of the 23rd annual Lowry Park Zoo gala. Photo ops abounded as Karamu chairwoman Casey Trezevant Cathey and zoo CEO Craig Pugh herded the black-tie flock to cocktails with giraffes and elephants April 16, and a yet-to-be-named tamandua, a species of anteater. The silent auction resembled a dockside marketplace, while the Safari Lodge evoked the elegant dining deck of a cruise liner, with waves and portholes projected on the walls. The menu: Congolese braised short ribs, couscous and fried greens catered by the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.
Through the years, Karamu, which means "party" in Swahili, has raised close to $3 million, pleasing past chairwomen "karamuing" over that number: Susan Kynes Baldwin (2001), Mindy Murphy (2005), Erika Anderson (2007) and Kelly Feldman (2009).
Karamu 2011 net proceeds of $150,000 include these auction bids: $7,000 from Michael Thiel for two tickets to the Grammy Awards, post-party and hotel stay; $1,000 from Mary Jane and Buck Jones to name a baby okapi expected to be born next month; and $1,100 from Mark Wilson to name the zoo's first successfully hatched penguin chick, born in February.
Sunday in the Arts with Las Damas de Arte
Choosing the most outstanding artwork submitted by members of Las Damas de Arte surely challenged juror Stacy Rosende, who critiqued 50 paintings, photographs, drawings, jewelry, ceramics and sculpture at the annual Sunday in the Arts exhibition and sale.
Performance artist Theresa Bergman mimed while the Lyle Manwaring Trio jazzed for 250 guests perusing the display April 17 in Tampa Preparatory School's Smith Black Box Theatre. Super Booch snapped and sold silly party portraits (think hats and boas), and donated its sales to the arts group.
Ultimately, Brenda Gregory won Best of Show. First place went to Suzanne Camp Crosby, second place to Susan Hess and third place to Linda McLaughlin. Honorable mentions: Kimberli Cummings, Jeanne Cameron and Sandra Jarrett.
Las Damas president Linda Rodriguez and event chair Martha De Ambrose will use proceeds for local art student scholarships and supplies for nonprofit arts organizations.
Meeting Make-A-Wish Foundation recipients Kellen Walden and Lauren and Brian Daley made the second Wishmaker's Ball especially moving. A video captured Kellen's RV adventure with his family to Oregon after his brain tumor diagnosis. Lauren got to meet the pope in Rome last year, and Brian went to Hawaii in 2006. The Daleys, who both have Wilson's disease, came as guests of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Craig Descalzi, chairman of the foundation's advisory board, thanked the two honorary co-chairs, former congressman Jim Davis and Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner. They, in turn, paid tribute to the Wish kids' devoted families and gala committee members Marcus Fernandez, David Singer, Cecile Bare, Anthony Todaro and Jerry Fogarty III.
WTSP-Ch. 10 anchors Heather Van Nest and Reginald Roundtree lent their support, helping Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida, Suncoast Region, fulfill 10 wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions at an average of $7,000 per wish.
Swing dancers from the Fred Astaire dance studio of Brandon and the Breezin' band ended the "Reflections of a Wish" theme on a lively note.