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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


  1. Gingerbread competition heats up holiday merriment

    Human Interest


    What's a little pastry and frosting among friends?

    When it comes to the yearly build-your-own gingerbread house competition, held in the Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, the competition is more fierce than ever.

    True, the event benefits the Tampa Bay chapter of the American Red Cross, and longtime hostesses Karol Bullard and Mary Critchfield do a remarkable job of keeping participation levels high....

  2. St. Petersburg debutantes to be presented at Coliseum

    Human Interest


    The St. Petersburg Debutante Club will recognize 18 young women and their families on Saturday at its annual black-tie Presentation Ball, a tradition since the late 1930s. As a community service project, the young women have helped 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. Here is the 2014 class, which will be celebrated at the Coliseum:...

  3. From This Day: After 16 years, couple ready to tango for life


    The year was 1998. Desiree Munera moved to Clearwater that summer. Her father had died, and she came up from Fort Lauderdale to be nearer to her mother, Minerva.

    Living in South Florida, Desiree had begun taking Argentinian tango lessons. She had even signed up for a trip to Buenos Aires. Her instructor referred her to Victor Crichton, who teaches in the Tampa Bay area.

    Argentine tango differs from other versions in that it is "an intimate dance between two people," Desiree says. "It's not a dance for show. It's a personal conversation between two people."...

    Desiree Munera and Victor Crichton married at Cay Pointe Villas in Indian Rocks Beach.
  4. Christmas Belles bring in visitors, toys

    Human Interest


    The Christmas Belles are a team of big ideas, marvelous culinary skills and organizational genius who meet throughout the year to plan the annual Christmas coffee to benefit the Christmas Toy Shop.

    They spend hours preparing treats, savory and sweet, to feed the hundreds of guests who bring toys enough to fill several sleighs. This year's casserole, with a base of sausage and grits, won raves, along with the tiny tomato and cucumber sandwiches that are perennial favorites, and the many trays filled with sweets....

    Judy Holland at the 52nd annual Christmas Belles Coffee in St. Petersburg on Dec. 5, to benefit the Christmas Toy Shop.
  5. Museum of History presents craft beer festival

    Human Interest

    Craft Beer festival: The St. Petersburg Museum of History will host "Beers on the Pier," a craft beer festival, from 5 to 9 p.m. today at the museum, 335 Second Ave. N. The fundraising event is presented by J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida and will feature unlimited tastings from more than 20 breweries and music by Rachel Alex and Chloe & Angela. $35 advance, $45 at the door (includes museum access, commemorative cup); beersonthepier.org; (727) 894-1052....

  6. Steve Yerrid tells CASA audience of the abuse he suffered at his own father's hands

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — As the hard-charging Tampa lawyer who has fought for clients against the tobacco industry, BP and many others, Steve Yerrid keeps a high profile.

    Yet he stunned an audience of about 400 people gathered at a fundraiser to fight domestic violence Tuesday morning with this admission: As a child, Yerrid was a victim of his own father's abuse.

    His voice occasionally breaking, Yerrid said that by the time he was 7, he had suffered four or five concussions from his father's blows. Stepping in front of his mother to protect her from his father, he said, "I had never been so terrified in my life."...

    Linda Osmundson has led CASA for the past 25 years.
  7. Cookie decorating fun benefits St. Anthony's foundation

    Human Interest

    Cookies for a cause

    "Sprinkles," a holiday cookie-decorating event presented by the St. Anthony's Hospital Foundation, takes place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the ballroom at Staybridge Suites, 940 Fifth Ave. S, St. Petersburg. The event, open to all ages, benefits the hospital's Susan Sheppard McGillicuddy Breast Center. $45. stanthonysfoundation.org/sprinkles

    Holiday house tour...

  8. Panhellenic Association plans holiday party

    Human Interest

    Panhellenic holiday party

    The St. Petersburg Panhellenic Association hosts a holiday party and ornament exchange on Wednesday at Middle Grounds Grill, 109025 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. (727) 543-7286.

    Cookie decorating

    "Sprinkles," a holiday cookie decorating event presented by the St. Anthony's Hospital Foundation, takes place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 6 in the ballroom at Staybridge Suites, 940 Fifth Ave. S, St. Petersburg. The event, which is open to all ages, benefits the hospital's Susan Sheppard McGillicuddy Breast Center. $45. stanthonysfoundation.org/sprinkles...

  9. St. Petersburg Museum of History's "Hot Havana Nights" sizzles

    Human Interest


    With authentic music from Ybor City's Orquesta Infinidad, and food from Parkshore Grill, the St. Petersburg Museum of History's "Hot Havana Nights" fundraiser also offered spectacular nighttime views of the city's waterfront from inside historic Hangar 1 at Albert Whitted Airport.

    Organizers called the evening a celebration of "the golden age of passenger airline service," when flying from St. Petersburg to Cuba was an actuality....

    David Jezek, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, left, with Bob Ulrich, former St. Petersburg mayor.
  10. From This Day: Their paths finally crossed


    ST. PETERSBURG — They'd both been in long-term relationships that had ended. Hope trumped experience, and they turned to the Internet.

    Posting on the free dating site PlentyOf Fish, Lori Ann Clark said, was "my one last-ditch effort to meet someone online. I was over it."

    She had a few other dates before connecting with Byron Spradlin.

    "He had a good personality. He seemed kind of real."...

    Byron and Lori Spradlin included their Labrador retriever, Hank, in the wedding party.
  11. History museum hosts 'Havana Nights' gala

    Human Interest

    Hot Havana Nights

    The St. Petersburg Museum of History will host "Hot Havana Nights, a Tropical Gala in St. Pete," celebrating the golden age of passenger airline service, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Nov. 21 in Historic Hangar 1 at Albert Whitted Airport, 107 Eighth Ave. SE. The fundraiser will feature dinner and entertainment; Havana chic attire encouraged. $150. spmoh.org/havana; (727) 894-1052....

  12. Museum of Fine Arts fundraiser features fashion

    Human Interest

    A crowd of 450 persons attending the annual Margaret Acheson Stuart Society's fashion show and luncheon meant moving to the Palm Court Ballroom of the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort, a larger venue than the hotel's Grand Ballroom, which has been the most recent home for the annual extravaganza.

    In addition to a high-energy, high-style runway show featuring fall fashions from Neiman Marcus, the fundraiser for the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, featured a silent auction and opportunities. (Longtime patron Mary Shuh received the $5,000 Neiman gift card, presented in Waterford.)...

    The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society’s SmARTly Dressed show  at the Vinoy benefited the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.
  13. Studio@620 celebrates 10th anniversary with awards

    Human Interest


    St. Petersburg's Studio@620 celebrated its 10th anniversary in grand style at the Coliseum, recognizing five couples in an evening it called "Magic of Community."

    And magic it was, including performances by Czyk, aerialists, stilt walkers, an accordionist and a Frank Sinatra-inspired performance of My Kind of Town delivered by Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    The evening was dedicated to David and Astrid Ellis. Dave Ellis helped to create the studio in 2004 and became its artistic director emeritus in 2009. Astrid Ellis spent her career as an administrator in health care with emphasis on obstetrics and pediatrics and is the studio's current treasurer....

    Photo by Adam Gonzales, West Central Florida Council Boy Scouts of America
From left, Bob Rohrlack, Scott Wagman, Lucas Fleming, Andy Williams, Bill Edwards, Stephanie Goforth, Dr. Christopher Nelson Jr., Dr. Andrew Nelson and Dick Crippen at the West Central Florida Council Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizens Award presentation on Oct. 23. 
  14. Tampa Bay Watch benefit scheduled

    Human Interest

    Tampa Bay Watch dinner

    "Evening for the Bay," a fundraiser for Tampa Bay Watch restoration and education efforts, will feature a buffet dinner and live music from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at 3000 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde. $80 members, $90 all others. tampabaywatch.com; (727) 867-8166, ext. 234.

    Studio Honors celebration

    The Studio @620 celebrates its 10th anniversary on Saturday by honoring Dr. Susan and Peter Betzer, Drs. Nancy and Ken Bryant, Jeanne and Peter Meinke, Richard and Mimi Rice, and David Warner and Larry Biddle. The Studio Honors dinner begins at 6:20 p.m. in the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $100. thestudioat620.org; (727) 895-6620....

  15. Academy Prep Center celebrates success; auxiliary shares 'Passport to Fashion'

    Human Interest


    Supporters of Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg filled the ballroom inside the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort Sunset Ballroom, hearing success story after success story from the school and its alumni.

    WTVT-TV news anchor Mark Wilson was master of ceremonies for the event. As a recent volunteer at the school, he said, he could vouch for the rigorous questions he received while pinch-hitting for his colleague, meteorologist Paul Dellegatto....