No bottom feeders at Sea Grapes this year. The food and wine fest samplers dressed up for cocktails and gourmet offerings from 25 top restaurants (SideBern's, Bonefish Grill, Kona Grill, Roy's, Cafe Alma, Tap's and Seasons 52, to name a few) at the Florida Aquarium. Even the Coral Reef divers dressed for the occasion, in tuxedoes and tanks, sharing the limelight with penguins in natural black-tie skins.
Total Wine & More arranged to pour 100 varietals, starting with premium choices for early VIPs who were greeted April 28 by the torch songs of Lisa Casalino and co-chairs John-Edward Alley and Beth Rutberg. Soon the silent auction heated up and the Vodkanauts rocked the lobby.
15th annual Moments in Time gala
Carny barkers bantered with guests guessing piglet Blue Boy's weight and whamming the high striker as Tampa General Hospital Foundation imagined the Iowa State Fair, circa 1945, at its annual Moments in Time gala Saturday. Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical film State Fair provided fodder for dressing — sundresses, straw hats and overalls — just as Out of Africa, South Pacific and Grease cinematically inspired previous "Moments."
Co-chairs McIver Berner and Catherine Christie-Zanghi, TGH chief Ron Hytoff and foundation director Robin DeLaVergne hooked nearly 400 guests on midway games in the middle of the Hyatt Regency Tampa ballroom. At picnic tables and in a striped tent, they munched lobster dogs, pork belly meat pies, venison sliders and highfalutin fair fare. Kool-Aid fritters, candy apples and crullers arrived as the Cigar City Big Band began to swing.
Chance drawing tickets cost $100 to win $10,000. Board member Julie Wooley won (her dog Brutus' name was actually on the ticket) and donated it back to the hospital, helping boost net proceeds to $235,000 for the Fund for the Future.
Speedy recovery wishes go to foundation events manager Lynn Fluharty, who somehow managed to break both her left elbow and right humerus a week before the gala.
Wheels of Success' Hub Cap Awards
Formerly homeless Chely Figueroa drove off in her 2000 Chevrolet Malibu, still hearing the cheers of guests at Wheels of Success' annual Hub Cap Awards luncheon April 27 at A La Carte Event Pavilion. Since 2003, Susan Jacobs and her "pit crew" have organized car and insurance donations to provide 468 vehicles, plus another 484 car-related repairs and services, to help families get to work.
Luncheon emcee Jack Harris was surprised to find himself named a No. 1 fan, along with former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ryan Nece. Harris helped six people get cars; Nece hosted the Labor Day 2011 event that put 55 people in cars.
AAA earned the Crew of the Year for picking up all of the donated cars and giving recipients a year's membership. Joe Clark, president of Eckerd Family Foundation, is Driver of the Year for funding Wheels to the Future to help teens aging out of foster care. Jeff and Penny Vinik and the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation were championed for awarding Jacobs a $50,000 Community Hero grant to coordinate donated parts into the Build A Car program.
Florida House's Day at the Races
Florida House boosters, including Grace and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, brunched and bet at Tampa Bay Downs to support "the state's embassy in Washington,'' as president Bart Hudson calls the welcome center.
Between the April 29 races, auctioneer Ben Hill got a $550 bid from Jim and Patsy Woodroffe to shadow Mayor Bob Buckhorn for a day, purchased for their grandsons, Hank Woodroffe and Logan Weigel. Still available: Two tickets for a July 4 sailing on presidential yacht, Sequoia, in Washington, D.C. Minimum bid: $2,500.
A Day at the Races also launched birthday festivities for Louise Lykes Ferguson, who turns 100 on May 28. Mrs. Ferguson, daughter Stella and son-in-law Bronson Thayer hosted the celebration, which raised $15,000 for Florida House.