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. Dancing With the Stars competition benefits charities

    Human Interest

    Dancing With the Stars benefit

    Tampa Bay's Dancing With the Stars, which benefits Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg, Angels Against Abuse, Housing & Education Alliance, Pepin Academies, Relay for Life, the Kind Mouse and Voices for Children, and Julie Weintraub's Hands Across the Bay, runs from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday at TPepin Hospitality Centre, 4121 N 50th St., Tampa. The event is presented by Hands Across the Bay. $250. handsacrossthebay.org; (727) 573-9351....

  2. Garden party benefits Great Explorations Children's Museum

    Human Interest

    09.27.2014

    The grounds were too sodden for lawn games and the synchronized swimmers were unable to put in a full performance, but the show did go on at "Great Extravaganza: The Garden Party," the 1920s-themed bash for Great Explorations Children's Museum.

    Development director Beatriz Maxson said about 300 guests gathered under a big tent set up on the grounds at the Rutland-Farley estate, where hosts Michele and Phil Farley invited the crowd indoors for the auction fundraising portion of the evening after the weekend storm brought steady rain....

    From left: Simone, Silvia, Dan and Nico Leeper attend Great Extravaganza: The Garden Party, a fundraiser for Great Explorations Children’s Museum that Silvia and Dan co-chaired.
  3. Hall of Famer Brooks urges community involvement

    Human Interest

    Sept. 6, 2014

    Freshly inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, onetime Tampa Bay Buccaneer Derrick Brooks was the keynote speaker at the Pinellas County Urban League's annual Equal Opportunity Day gala.

    More than 500 guests attended the dinner at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park, where the former linebacker encouraged investing in children and community service....

    Model Nga Tran and event chairman John William Barger III auction a print at Swanky Soiree V on Sept. 18.
  4. Daystar Life Center event features thrift shop fashions

    Human Interest

    Social datebook

    Support Daystar Life Center

    Daystar Life Center presents "Fashion Fling," a fundraising luncheon featuring clothing from Daystar Thrift Shoppe in St. Petersburg, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, 1600 54th Ave. S. $25. (727) 498-8794.

    Great Explorations fundraiser

    "Great Extravaganza," the annual fundraiser for Great Explorations, the children's museum, has a 1920s garden party theme Saturday at the Rutland-Farley estate, 5030 Sunrise Drive S, St. Petersburg. The event begins with a VIP sunset reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and continues from 7 to 11 p.m. with cocktails, dinner, vintage lawn games, entertainment and dancing. $150 VIP, $100 general admission. greatex.org; (727) 821-8992....

  5. 'Eat Rich, Play Dirty' benefits Morean Arts Center

    Human Interest

    A creative evening

    Participants get hands-on opportunities at creating with clay on Saturday at "Eat Rich, Play Dirty," the major fundraiser for the Morean Arts Center. The event takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Morean Center for Clay, 420 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg. $100; $50 persons younger than 40. morean artscenter.org; (727) 822-7872.

    Mastry to be honored at gala...

  6. From This Day: Jaclyn Raulerson and Jarod Dicks

    Relationships

    As youngsters living in a tight-knit community, Jaclyn Raulerson and Jarod Dicks certainly knew each other.

    "Growing up, we were on the same swim team together," Jaclyn said. "He was always part of the cool, older crowd. Our parents have been friends for a very long time."

    Their fathers had both served as mayor of Plant City, and the adults kept in touch.

    "We both have our parents to thank for our marriage," she said. "If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have met."...

    Jarod Winfield Dicks and Jaclyn Frances Raulerson, who grew up in Plant City, were married on May 25 in Savannah, Ga.
  7. Social datebook for Sept. 12: Ball to benefit the hungry

    News

    Glitter Queens' ball to benefit the hungry

    The St. Pete Glitter Queens will host its third annual Royal Ball from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Gulfport Casino, 5500 Shore Blvd. S. The event benefits the Kind Mouse Productions, which feeds chronically hungry people in Pinellas County. The evening will include dinner, entertainment, music and dancing. $50. stpeteglitterqueens.org.

    'Swanky Soiree V' coming to Mahaffey...

  8. Social Calendar 2014-15: A new season of giving

    Events

    By Mary Jane Park

    Times Staff Writer

    If Labor Day marks the unofficial beginning of fall, it also means a new season of fundraising for good causes. On Sept. 5, the St. Pete Times publishes the 18th annual Social Calendar, a list targeted chiefly to south Pinellas County.

    Building awareness is an important component of any successful marketing plan. Just like their cousins in the business world, savvy charitable organizations increasingly turn to social media to promote their messages and fundraising events. Most have websites and portals through which donors can contribute online, and many use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and smartphone apps....

  9. 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 and members of their wedding party use the American Sign Language expression for “I love you.”
  10. 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.
  11. 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....

  12. 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' ...

  13. 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....

  14. 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.
  15. 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.