The Queen of Hearts Ball each year honors female volunteers in the community who are nominated by clubs and civic groups that are dedicated to supporting cultural, charitable and civic projects in southern Pinellas County.
Pageantry is part of the event, which pays tribute to a queen and her court of princesses.
The 55th annual gala took place in the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, where the 2013 honoree, Maggi McQueen, was escorted by her brother Bill McQueen. Her sponsors were Boley Angels, the Lupus Foundation, Infinity, the Florida Orchestra Guild, the Woman's Service League and the St. Petersburg Women's Chamber of Commerce.
This year's court comprises Dimity Carlson, escorted by her husband, Mark, and sponsored by Academy Prep Center St. Petersburg; Dianne Cohrs, escorted by Frank Malowany and sponsored by the Lupus Foundation and the St. Petersburg Northeast Exchange Club; Jackie O'Brien, escorted by John Bowman and sponsored by Infinity and the Woman's Service League; Gail Phares, escorted by her son, Jason Rand Phares, and sponsored by the Lupus Foundation; Judy Stanton, escorted by Troy Holland, and sponsored by the St. Petersburg Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution; and June Wedding, escorted by her son, Greg Nipper, and sponsored by the St. Anthony's Hospital Auxiliary, Infinity and the St. Petersburg Women's Chamber of Commerce.
The event also honored the 2012 queen, Elise Minkoff, and court: Peggy Grom, Elizabeth Hammer, Judy Holland, Sandy Incorvia, Anne Long and Kathy Mize Plummer.
All proceeds from the evening go to selected charities; this year, the recipients are Vincent House and the Lupus Foundation of Florida.
Joann Barger is president of the Queen's Court, and Claire Mazella and Nikki McQueen led the event committee.
What is Valentine's Day without hearts, flowers and fabulous food?
ALPHA House volunteers presented supporters with a romantic fundraising opportunity in the form of a Big Hearts for Little Hearts party in St. Petersburg's Nova 535. The "jeans and glitter" event featured tapas desserts and drink specials, plus gaming-style activities and a photo booth. And patrons could not sit still while Ace Factor performed R&B classics.
In fact, said Marilyn Deeb, widow of ALPHA House founder Roy Deeb, that's one of the things she misses about her husband, who died in June 2004. "We used to dance every night," she said.
The host committee included Sue Brett, Tina Dyer, Andrea Gearhart, Johnny Green, Patrice Hammill, Kim Harestad, Victoria Jourdenais, Jeannine Lehoux, Celma Mastry, Deonne Meier, Lyn Orns, Steve Pentz, Kathy Roberts, Mary Ann Smith, Jim Shatz, Jennifer Stracick and Janice Writt.
ALPHA offers housing and support services to homeless pregnant women and teens, and new mothers with babies.
Only a decade ago the Sunshine City observed its centennial, so members of the St. Petersburg Woman's Club had much to celebrate in having their own 100th birthday party.
With a black-and-white theme and champagne toasts, the gala dinner was held in the historic building the organization built in the 1920s and '30s on two lots deeded to them by developer Perry Snell. Money raised at the event will go toward preservation of that structure.
Tampa Bay Times chairman and chief executive officer Paul Tash was the keynote speaker, telling patrons that the fortunes of the newspaper have mirrored those of the city throughout the decades, in boom periods and in more challenging years. During the Great Depression, he said, Times employees were paid with scrip from Webb's City, then the paper's biggest advertiser.
In 2012, the St. Petersburg Times became the Tampa Bay Times, reflecting the fact that 75 percent of its readers live outside of St. Petersburg. Still, he said, the news organization has "strong and deep roots in St. Petersburg and great affection for" the community.
Member Teresa Hartley narrated a video presentation of the Woman's Club history. The evening also featured current president Carole Groll and 10 past presidents, Bernice McCune, Mary Wheeler, Mary Barton Skwarek, Lorraine Dana, Fern Clayton, Joanne Walker, Teresa Hartley, Rebecca Stewart, Joan Jaicks and Patricia Bonanno.
Nancy Ruane was chairwoman for the gala.