Viva Las Vegas II While some folks got their Vegas fix at Tampa Theatre last weekend, others — myself included — hooked up for the real deal at Mandalay Bay hotel's House of Blues with newlyweds Melania and attorney/musician/boxing promoter Jim Wilkes when he and Los Angeles-based partner Tim McHugh entertained lawyers, nursing home operators and regulators attending a Families for Better Care symposium.
Before passing the bar, the groom sang and traveled the bar circuit. More recently, he has recorded three albums. So he couldn't wait to join his 14-piece band Mainstar on the stage, before giving up the mike to country rocker Phil Vassar.
Wilkes' Tampa fan club that night included boxing champ Winky Wright; neighbors Michelle and Andrew Phipps; stepdaughter Ashley and husband, Kirk Willett; Realtor Butch Vacanti and his wife, Loretta; doctor/diver Andy Malbin; in-laws Mark and Karen Tosh; plus Tina and Scott Price; Joyce and Bennie Lazzara Jr.; Joe Ficarrotta and Isabelle Lopez; Gary and Jackie Trombley; Donna and Ron Hanes; Kathleen and Will Knight; Blair and Shannon Mendes; and Jim Freeman and his wife, Inkwood Books partner Carla Jimenez.
Make-A-Wish Foundation's Bridesmaids' Ball Hideous, once-worn bridesmaids' dresses came out of the closet when Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida threw a mock wedding reception Sept. 6. The Paper Stanleys band (who themselves dressed in the terrible tux theme) kept 100 guests dancing to the Macarena, Electric Slide and other classics at the first-time event at the Hyatt Regency Tampa.
"We were going to market it just to girlfriends, but you need someone to bring money and hold your shoes," joked regional director Kirstin See.
Laura Roundtree of Orlando won the "Once Was Enough" bad bridesmaids' dress award for enduring puffy sleeves and a strangely placed bow.
The ballroom, decked out in wedding-white linens and arcs of blue balloons, was lined with silent auction tables and hors d'oeuvres and dessert buffets. Tickets were $65 and up to help fulfill the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions in Hillsborough and three neighboring counties.
Krewe of Bonney-Read Escapes to the Tropics Carolyn Faulkner's sister pirates of the Krewe of Bonney-Read hosted a tropical fundraiser to help with her financial distress as she fights endometrial cancer. She's on her second round of chemotherapy and faces additional surgery, and couldn't attend the Sept. 6 party at Zendah Grotto. As Carolyn focused on getting stronger, her friends raised more than $15,000.
Members of a dozen krewes, plus Carolyn's former Bayport Yacht Club neighbors and most of the Hyde Park Men's Club, partied on her behalf. They learned Zumba, competed in hula and limbo contests, and danced to music by Moneypenny. Several restaurants donated food, and some Bonney-Read members brought their specialities, including jambalaya made by Chris Carlisle, and cookies and brownies baked by Myrna Booker and Miriam Williams.
To add to the proceeds, psychic Kareen Kelly and astrologer Monty Montes donated their reading fees. Also, Zendah Grotto waived rental charges, and Moneypenny played for free, said Camille Matthews, a founder of the Bonney-Read Krewe. A silent auction added more cash, including an artifact from the SS Republic donated by Odyssey Marine, valued at $1,500 and purchased by Joan and Rodger King for $275.
Donations to help Carolyn can be sent in care of Bonney-Read Krewe, 5804 Dory Way, Tampa, FL 33615.
Tampa Theatre's Vino Las Vegas Vintage-uniformed doormen ushered guests past a marquee flashing Vino Las Vegas into Tampa Theatre's seventh movie-themed tasting benefit Saturday. "Elvis" swiveled and sang, getting 400 movie buffs All Shook Up. A few came in casino chic, including committee members Danita McKibbon and Luis Salaman, winners of the $100 prizes for best costumes. (Danita donated the cash right back.)
Ten-foot pillars topped with black, red, yellow and white feathers flanked the lobby entrance and the stage where the 1964 film Viva Las Vegas filled the screen. A silent auction took up most of the lobby; a minicasino offered craps, blackjack, roulette and slots in the basement.
Seven wineries were paired with food from Bamboo Club, Capital Grille, Chez Bryce, Michael's 717 South, NoHo Bistro and SideBern's/Bern's spread throughout the auditorium, stage and balcony. Viktoria Richards Chocolates served its hand-painted artisan sweets. Noted nibblers: board members Todd Moran, Bob Glaser, Vonita Singh and Penn Dawson. Mark Sena wore his tackiest tourist togs.
Michael Roberts of Vintage Wine Cellars hosted a $150-ticket Meeker Wine seminar at Mise en Place restaurant before the party. He pointed out a Hollywood connection: Winemaker Charlie Meeker is a former president of MGM.
Vino Las Vegas chairwoman Julie Lyman looks for the historic theater to clear $50,000 from the event.