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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



  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.; (727) 894-1052....

  5. 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.
  6. 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....

    Award recipients Astrid and David Ellis address the crowd at the Studio@620 10th anniversary event held Saturday evening.
  7. 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.; (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.; (727) 895-6620....

  8. 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....

  9. Officials hope Joe Maddon's Thanksmas will live on


    In 2006, the year after he became the Rays manager, Joe Maddon introduced Thanksmas to the greater Tampa Bay area.

    Held between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the events are designed to raise awareness about the homeless. And they have fed hundreds.

    Maddon, his wife, Jaye, and team representatives shop for, prepare and serve the meals: spaghetti and meatballs, pierogies, salad, Italian bread and cake....

    Now-former Rays manager Joe Maddon chats with Tracy Blackmon, 50, of Tampa, at the Salvation Army’s Trinity Cafe.
  10. Costume party benefits Goodwill Industries clients

    Human Interest

    Ghoulwill Bash aids Goodwill

    Goodwill Industries-Suncoast will host "Ghoulwill Bash," a Halloween-themed party featuring food, music and a "Cloak & Swagger" runway show of costumes featuring Goodwill store finds starting at 7 p.m. today in the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. The event benefits the agency's services for people with disabilities. Guests may enter a costume contest; cocktail attire suggested for those who do not wear costumes. $75.; toll-free, 1-888-279-1988, ext. 1052....

  11. PARC black-tie gala honors 13 "Magnetic Men"

    Human Interest


    Patrons at PARC's 45th annual black-tie fundraiser danced to the music of Kool & the Gang and honored this year's 13 Magnetic Men at a sold-out gala in the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort.

    It is the seventh year of honoring male community leaders, who this year included Mike Alstott, Dan Casey, Bill Currie, David Downing, Dr. Jonathan Ellen, Mack R. Hicks, Paul Manfrey, Capt. Tom McClelland, Iqbal Paroo, Chuck Prather, Jim Shatz and Larry Williams. ...

    Event sponsors Ron and Tami Broadrick with “Suenos de Dalí” co-chairs Montserrat and Emmanuel Cerf at the “1920s Bohemian Soiree” held Oct. 11 at the Dalí Museum.
  12. William LaTorre's wife, friends left wondering why after suicide (w/video)


    GULFPORT — Dr. William LaTorre had ordered stone crab claws for their anniversary dinner on Thursday, "which is our tradition," Wendy LaTorre said.

    "Just the two of us. After 38 years, that's what you do."

    She left for the gym before sunrise, as is her custom. When she returned home, his car was gone. As usual.

    "It was that normal a day," she said. "My anniversary cards were sitting on the table."...

    Dr. William LaTorre died in his office Thursday,  police said.
  13. Spirited BrewHaHa gala helps children with cancer

    Human Interest

    BrewHaHa is Saturday

    BrewHaHa, a Halloween-themed extravaganza that includes food, fire cannons, psychic readers, costume contests, music and more, this year benefits the 1Voice Foundation to help children who have cancer. The party starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Rutland-Farley estate, 5030 Sunrise Drive S, St. Petersburg. $100.; (813) 787-3042.

    Academy Prep benefit...

  14. PARC fundraiser honors 13 'Magnetic Men'

    Human Interest

    'Magnetic Men' in the spotlight

    The annual PARC black-tie fundraiser on Saturday will pay tribute to 13 "Magnetic Men" in the community. The Sapphire Ball runs from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort, 501 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $175. parc-fl-org; (727) 341-6962.

    Costumes, cocktails at Dalí

    "Suenos de Dalí (Dreams of Dalí ): From Barcelona to Paris, a 1920s Bohemian Soiree," connects artists Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso to the two cities starting at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Dalí Museum, 1 Dalí Blvd., St. Petersburg. The costume party is hosted by the Dalí Museum Guild and will feature craft cocktails, food tastings, gallery access and entertainment. $125 members, $150 all others.; (727) 623-4770....

  15. Food drive, luncheon benefit St. Petersburg Free Clinic

    Human Interest


    "Soup's On," the annual luncheon fundraiser for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, raised more than $91,000 and took in 4,600 pounds — more than 2 tons — at the St. Petersburg Coliseum.

    The event drew about 500 patrons, who brought nonperishable food and toiletries for people in need. Men from Beacon House, the clinic's men's shelter, prepared soup for the meal....

    From left are St. Petersburg Free Clinic board of directors chairman Tim Coop, Publix District 17 manager Jeffrey Stilwell, Publix Disston Plaza assistant store manager Will McKenzie and St. Petersburg Free Clinic executive director Beth Houghton.