Lush, towering bouquets of red roses and orchids let you know that this would be an event of some impact, but if those left you overwhelmed, a number of groupings of cocktail tables and low-key lighting gave the vast Palm Court Ballroom at St. Petersburg's Renaissance Vinoy Resort a more intimate feel for the Michael Andretti Foundation Gala.
There were passed hors d'oeuvres and abundant buffet food, along with music, and the weather was so pleasant that some patrons repaired to the terrace outside.
Andretti, co-owner of Andretti-Green Racing, who helped put the Sunshine City on the Indy Racing League map, was here for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and he and numerous drivers in town for the race were surrounded by fans.
The $200-per-ticket-event was a fundraiser for All Children's Hospital's pediatric trauma center, Bayfront Bay Place and the city's Mayor's Mentors & More program.
Along with the celebrities, Tampa Bay area luminaries attending the party were Gary Carnes, Ed and Sylvia Ameen, Katie Pemble, Dr. Lawrence and Carole Merritt, Mary James, Kanika Tomalin, Teri Jelks, Jeff and Tracy Lyash, Michael Lewis, Nancy Loehr and Amy Maguire.
It's one of the most popular fundraisers of the year: Star Power, the annual fashion show and luncheon presented by the Pinellas Auxiliary of the Children's Home, drew 450 patrons to the Palm Court Ballroom at St. Petersburg's Renaissance Vinoy.
Georgette's Boutique & Shoe Salon in Tampa, which has moved from Tampa's Old Hyde Park Village to S Dale Mabry Highway, and Tampa's Bespoke & Co. clothed the Tampa Bay area celebrity models. That group included Margaret Word Burnside, Melissa Eichman, Jack Harris, Mark Larsen, J.P. Peterson, Forbes Riley, Jerome Ritchey, Alicia Roberts, Mark Royals, Wayne Shattuck, Holly Sinn, Cathy Unruh, Raunda Williams and Brittany Zeitler.
Dick Crippen, senior adviser to the Tampa Bay Rays, did triple duty as model, master of ceremonies and auctioneer for the event.
It's a labor of love for the three co-chairs, Karol Bullard, Hope Dogali and Debbie Hedges, who have been involved with the production for years.
Committee members included Valerie Bukowski, Debbie Cuerton, Beth Doyle, Sharon Gremald, Linda Hovatter, Hilde Hulen, Barbara Sharf, Carole Tonnison and Connie Whitehead.
Dorene Collier's Event and Show Productions supplied dance costumes, and Marcy Rodriguez from the Suncoast School of the Arts oversaw the choreography, lighting and sound.
Wachovia Insurance Services was the major sponsor.