With Beatles music setting the stage, and dancers leaping into action, the annual Star Power fashion show dazzled patrons yet again.
Presented by the Pinellas Auxiliary of the Children's Home, the fast-paced extravaganza featured clothing from Georgette's Boutique & Shoe Salon and Bespoke & Co., both in Tampa. And Tampa Bay area celebrities joined runway models to show off trends for spring and summer.
Karol Bullard, Debbie Hedges and Hope Dogali were co-chairs for the fundraiser, and the Tampa Bay Rays' Dick Crippen was master of ceremonies. Behind the magic of the presentation at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort were Georgette and Tashia Diaz, who never disappoint in the variety of styles they select or the energy they project.
Community Action Stops Abuse calls its annual fundraising luncheon "A Good Night's Sleep" because, as executive director Linda Osmundson so aptly stated, "as a battered woman I didn't get to sleep for years."
Neither did Sharonda, her last name omitted here precisely because she escaped her abuser. Having moved to St. Petersburg and the shelter of her parents' home, she nonetheless decided to return to her abuser. She was at the PSTA's Grand Central Station when she found a CASA card near the bus stop, called the number and received help over the next several years for herself and her five daughters.
"We are not victims," she told the audience assembled in the Grand Ballroom at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. "We are survivors with big dreams."
Longtime CASA volunteer and patron Mary Shuh received the Pillar of Peace Award, presented by Julia Sorbo.
Bob Barnum chaired the event committee, which included Matthew Becker, CASA board of directors president Amy Cukendall, Sharon Eschenroeder, Katherine Lenel, Amanda Meadows, Sterling Powell and Patty Robinson.
Twenty-five years of al fresco musical productions is a major accomplishment, and supporters of St. Petersburg's American Stage Theatre Company had much to celebrate at the quarter-century mark.
The annual Gala Under the Stars benefit, which included a performance of Hair, was sold to capacity for the first time ever, with more than 560 in the crowd at Demens Landing. And the event raised more than $100,000 for American Stage's artistic and educational programming, also a record. An amazing number of patrons heeded the invitation to wear tie-dye apparel in keeping with the 1960s theme.
Corinne Broskette and Tom Stovall, original 1968 Broadway cast members, were among those celebrating; Stovall and Paul Wilson were masters of ceremony for the evening, whose guests of honor were Wilson's parents, Tampa Bay entertainers Mary K. and John Wilson. Another son, actor Patrick Wilson, recently in town for the Sunscreen Film Festival, was honorary event chair and made a video for the occasion.
Mike Proscia received the Susan R. Hough Volunteer of the Year Award, a crystal star from Tiffany & Co.
Also in the crowd: Barbara Mosser, daughter of the late Joseph Papp, producer of the original production of Hair and creator of free outdoor productions of Shakespeare; her husband, David Mosser; American Stage producing artistic director Todd Olson; board chair Evan Whittle; St. Petersburg Mayor Bill and Wendy Foster; Beth Houghton; Marion and Bill Ballard; Sandi and Dick Averitt; Al May; and Duncan McClellan.
Scott Wagman chaired the gala committee, which included Jean Carnes, Ashley Combs, Barry Dingman, Hal Freedman, Robin Grabowski, Mike Harting, Michael Howard, Jacqueline MacNeil, Kiley Mahaffey, Jill Marie, Mili Protic, Mirella Smith, Cathy Swanson and Tim Watson.