Mary Jane Park, Times Staff Writer

Mary Jane Park is a general assignment reporter and writes about south Pinellas County charitable and social events. She is editor of Bay, a bimonthly Tampa Bay Times magazine for select subscribers in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Mary Jane has been an editor in news and features. She came to the Times in 1983 from the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. Before that, she was a reporter and editor for her hometown newspaper, the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. She has a bachelor's degree in political science from Appalachian State University.

Mary Jane lives in St. Petersburg. She enjoys cooking, music, reading and traveling.

Phone: (727) 893-8267

Email: mjpark@tampabay.com

@MJPARKTIMES link

  1. From This Day: American Sign Language a big part of the big day

    Relationships

    Throughout the wedding, people signed "I love you," even friends and family members who were unable to attend the May 31 ceremony at St. Petersburg's Isla Del Sol Yacht and Country Club.

    Jessica Hunt and Shawn Fitchko created an email account for the occasion, and friends near and far sent photos of themselves using the American Sign Language gesture.

    By the time the festivities were over, there was a completed video presentation that included them all....

    Jessica Hunt and Shawn Fitchko use the American Sign Language expression for “I love you.”
  2. YWCA honors St. Petersburg deputy mayor

    Human Interest

    08.15.2014

    The silent-auction tables held enough handbags to accessorize quite a few guests at "Purses & Passion," the annual fundraiser for the YWCA of Tampa Bay, held in the ballroom at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park.

    A stylish group of several hundred patrons at the luncheon honored Kanika Tomalin, deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and the event's 2014 Woman of Distinction, who thanked members of her family for inspiring her. Her mother, Yvonne Jelks, she said, is "the most selfless woman in the world." Her father, David Jelks, embodies "unparalleled commitment." Of husband Terry Tomalin, she said: "He is love."...

    YWCA chief executive Lenice Emanuel, left, with board members Maria Rawls, Roslyn Graham and Shameka Jones.
  3. Hospice fundraiser features casino games

    Human Interest

    Journey to Atlantis helps Hospice affiliate

    "Destination Atlantis," a fundraiser for Project GRACE, a Suncoast Hospice affiliate, will feature food, casino games and entertainment from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday at the Suncoast Hospice Gathering Place, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd., Clearwater. Proceeds go to advance care planning programs and services. Cocktail or themed attire suggested. $50 advance, $60 at the door. (727) 523-3419....

  4. Ski Club event benefits disabled veterans athletes

    Human Interest

    Ski club kickoff benefits disabled veterans

    The St. Petersburg/Clearwater Ski and Sports Club will hold its annual kickoff meeting and fundraising event for the Bay Pines Disabled American Veterans sports team at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the Yard of Ale Gastro Pub, 2675 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater. Free. snowshark.org; (727) 743-3108.

    Get dressed up for 'Destination Atlantis' ...

  5. YWCA schedules fundraising luncheon

    Human Interest

    Vice mayor is YWCA lunch guest

    "Purses & Passion, a Legacy of Hope," presented by YWCA Tampa Bay, will feature Kanika Tomalin, St. Petersburg's deputy mayor, as guest of honor, and Tonjua Williams, St. Petersburg College senior vice president for student services, as guest speaker. The luncheon event begins at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 15 at the Hilton Carillon Park, 950 Lake Carillon Drive, St. Petersburg. $50. Register online at ywcaoftampabay.org/purses2014....

  6. From This Day: Couple rooted in Florida connect across the pond

    Relationships

    With nearly 50,000 students, the University of Florida has enrollment equivalent to the population of a decent-sized city. And as undergraduates in Gainesville, Lauren Davis and John Dicks had never met.

    She was a religion major, and he majored in economics, staying in Gainesville to earn an MBA while in law school. She moved to Tallahassee to study law at Florida State University.

    Both entered FSU's summer program in law at Oxford University in 2009. They happened to be on the same flight to London's Gatwick Airport, and they rode the same bus to campus. During the next few weeks, they became friends, and their relationship "progressed to what we now call our first date," Lauren said....

    John Larry Dicks II and Lauren Brittany Davis, who were wed April 26 in Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church in Tampa, pose with their dog, Mel, a golden retriever-German shepherd mix.
  7. Rays on the Runway event breaks previous records

    News

    06.25.2014

    Fortune smiled on Peggy Weber of Seminole as Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer serenaded her at the annual Rays on the Runway charity fundraiser for the Children's Dream Fund.

    Archer was among the Rays players modeling clothes during the fashion show, and some of his teammates stood behind him as he performed Usher's Burn. It is a breakup song, but Weber beamed from her chair that was placed on the runway after a $3,000 bid won the impromptu performance....

    Jayden Laspada, 13, of Palm Harbor, walks down the runway with Rays pitcher Chris Archer at the annual fundraiser.
  8. Coming up: Foodscapes, fundraisers and craft beer

    Human Interest

    Club hosting food contests

    The General Federation of Women's Clubs' St. Petersburg Woman's Club will present two foodscape competitions, a business category open to chefs, caterers, food service professionals and supermarkets from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 19, and an individual/family competition from 1 to 5 p.m. on July 20. Foodscapes are "landscapes made completely from food, mostly vegetables," according to event planners, and must fit atop a card table between 32 and 36 square inches. The event is to raise nutrition awareness; proceeds benefit the Mr. Strong Foundation, which helps special-needs families. The events will take place in the clubhouse at 40 Snell Isle Blvd. NE. $3 adults; free for children 12 and younger. Email jbwjbw1@verizon.net; (727) 822-4982....

  9. From This Day: Kristine Ann Putrino and Kyle Robert Kirstein

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — They had many friends in common, and in fact they met during their first year at the University of Florida, in the library of their dormitory. Her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, and his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, often were paired for social activities.

    Over and over, Kyle Kirstein asked her out, and repeatedly, Kristine Putrino resisted.

    "Because we were friends," she says, then concedes that she had a crush on him from the start and suspected that if she agreed to a first date they might get a little more serious. As a freshman, she wanted to be more carefree....

    Kristine Putrino figured dating Kyle Kirstein would lead to something serious; she was right.
  10. Event introduces St. Petersburg debutantes

    Human Interest

    06.14.2014

    At its annual coffee, held this year in the waterfront home of Bill and Corrie Stover, the St. Petersburg Debutante Club introduced the 18 young women who will be featured at its Presentation Ball in December. Brooke Nelson is the club's 2014 president.

    As a community service project, the group will help young children who are served by the Barth Syndrome Foundation with crafts activities. The organization serves boys who have Barth syndrome, a congenital heart condition....

  11. On the Town: Celebrate Sinatra and raise for the Rays

    Human Interest

    Coming up

    Celebrate Sinatra: Ken Walters' annual Celebrate Sinatra event expands to St. Petersburg on Saturday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at NOVA 535, 535 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Great Explorations Children's Museum. Black tie optional. kenwalters.com /celebrate-sinatra; (813) 251-0500, $60 per person.

    Rays on the Runway: The annual fundraiser for the Children's Dream Fund, hosted by the wives organization of the Tampa Bay Rays, takes place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Palm Court Ballroom at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort, 501 Fifth Ave. NE. $125. childrensdreamfund.org; (727) 896-6390....

  12. St. Petersburg High Class of 1944 recalls D-day on 70th anniversary

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Martha Rudy Wallace remembers it well. Newly graduated from St. Petersburg High School, she and some friends had crossed the bay to celebrate.

    "We were enjoying our freedom after the graduation ceremony, and six of us went over to Tampa and found ourselves hungry," she said. Nothing would do but Cuban sandwiches, and they headed to the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. "It might have been 1 or 2 in the morning at that time."...

    The then-St. Petersburg Times D-day edition of June 6, 1944.
  13. Birthday Bash raises $40,000 in scholarship money

    Human Interest

    05.17.2014

    Nearly 200 people gathered at the St. Petersburg Country Club to raise scholarship money as a tribute to the late Jim Fischer and Skip Carr. The 10th annual Birthday Bash was a celebration of the lives of those two community leaders and was presented by the Kiwanis Club of St. Petersburg

    The event raised $40,000 for Take Stock in Children Scholarships through St. Pete's Promise and the Pinellas Education Foundation. The amount will provide 10 qualified students in grades six through 11 free college tuition if they graduate high school, maintain a C average or better in every class and remain crime- and drug-free....

    Jenna Worden Brooks, nominating chairwoman of the Junior League of St. Petersburg, left, poses with Andrea Winning, who won the league’s Mailand Holland Barton Award, and league president Lisa Johni.
  14. Abilities Foundation celebrates 25th anniversary at military museum

    Human Interest

    05.24.2014

    More than 700 patrons swept into the Armed Forces Military Museum to eat, drink and raise money for wounded veterans as the Abilities Wine Tasting and silent auction celebrated its 25th anniversary during Memorial Day weekend.

    Frank DeLucia, the charity's president and chief executive officer, has attended every one of the events, from the first iteration, under a tent at the ICOT Center in Clearwater, to a hangar at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, to the museum in Largo, where it moved in 2012....

    Dan Karikas pours for Roslyn Puderbaugh at the Abilities Foundation’s 25th benefit Wine Tasting and silent auction on Saturday.
  15. Fundraisers to help purchase flamingos

    Human Interest

    Coming up

    Funds for flock of flamingos

    Marion's Gifts & Clothing will hold two fundraisers, "Flamingo Flocking Fun," from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, and "Pink Partay," from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 6, to promote awareness and help buy a new flock of flamingos for Sunken Gardens. Information is available at the boutique, 1301 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 821-2345.

    High Heel Hike on June 14...