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On the Town: Designer showhouse, Abilities tasting are hits; more


If you have lived in the Tampa Bay area for a while, you may remember raising a glass to the Abilities Foundation in a tent at the ICOT Center or in the hangar at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport.

Two decades into its annual wine tasting and silent auction, the event long ago outgrew those two spaces; in recent years it has used the expanse at Tropicana Field.

This year officials rolled back prices a bit, hoping to entice more guests, and several hundred supporters were able to sip from vintages ranging from sparkling wine to cabernet and sample restaurant offerings ranging from escargot to lobster bisque.

Or, as Abilities executive director Frank DeLucia said, 40 chefs from Tampa Bay area restaurants, 400 wines and 400 auction items.

It's a fun way to help Abilities support people with disabilities through health services, job placement and housing.


What's it like to be in the Hall of Fame?

Five women joined a host of perennially Best Groomed at "Moments in Time," the Woman's Service League's 59th annual Fashion Promenade.

Add to the list Priscilla Hobby, Joyce LaRue Larson, Nora Pearson, Barbara Sexton and Mary Wheeler.

The luncheon at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront celebrated 10 women and five men named to the 2009 Best Groomed: Louise Chapin, Fern Clayton, Roseanna Costa, Suzanne Fisher, Kim Horstman, Rick and Karen McCollum, Maggi McQueen, Ron and Luisa Perez Harvey, Barbara Ponessa, Teresa Wittstruck, Robert Lovejoy, Don Whitehead and Richard Winning.

The honor also acknowledges community service.

New apparel ideas featured in the accompanying fashion show were daytime styles from New Charisma, evening wear from Malindy Elene Couture for the Bride, and jewelry and handbags from Luessa Fashion and Designer Accessories.

Models were Margaret Word Burnside, Suzanne Fisher, Sharon Fink, Karol Bullard, Joanne Russell, Rachael Russell and Luisa Perez Harvey, escorted by Smyth R. Mulligan, Aaron Fodiman, Walter Larson, J.C. Russell and Herbert Anderson.

Sallie House, the Salvation Army's haven for children, was the beneficiary of money raised at the event.

It's human nature to want to peek inside other people's houses, and nearly 200 people did just that at the 35th annual gala preceding the Florida Orchestra Guild's Designer Showhouse.

The party's theme, "La Buena Vida" (the good life), was reflected in the newly constructed building on St. Petersburg's Brightwaters Boulevard. It features Mediterranean influences, high ceilings and lots of glass to bring in light and capitalize on scenic views.

Musicians from the orchestra played throughout the evening as guests wandered from room to room and took the stairs to various levels of the place, enjoying food and drink along with the tour.

Every year, designers lend their personal touches for the event. Robb & Stucky Interiors' Jean Losier coordinated the efforts this time.

The orchestra's music director, Stefan Sanderling, and his wife, cellist Isabelle Besancon, were there to greet supporters, as was chief executive Michael Pastreich.

Gala chairs were Catherine McGarry, Sally Poynter and Venessa Schenck. Showhouse chair Lindsey Bettendorf and co-chair Cheryl McCormick-Brown led a committee that included Mary Ellen Conte, Sally Brentano, Emily Gillespie, Joan Gessler, Peggy Grom, Rebecca Stewart, Krista Whipple, Rosemary O'Connor, June Wedding, Betty Bowley and Sheila Tempelmann. Precella Wallace is president of the guild's St. Petersburg chapter.

The showhouse is open through March 29. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 4:30 p.m. Sundays.

Thursday fashion shows run from 5 to 7:30 p.m., featuring the Worth Collection this week and Malindy Elene bridal couture and Pawsitively Posh Pooch Pet Boutique on March 26.

On the Town: Designer showhouse, Abilities tasting are hits; more 03/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 14, 2009 4:30am]
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