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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. Rays on Runway sets record with Children's Dream Fund donations

    Human Interest


    Rays on the Runway, a sellout event that crowded the lobby and the ballroom at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, raised a record $130,000 for the Children's Dream Fund. The Rays Wives organization, which includes players' spouses and significant others, organized the signature gala, which offers patrons the opportunity to meet favorite players, request their autographs, purchase merchandise and compete for big prizes....

  2. Woman's Club sponsors foodscape competition

    Human Interest

    Social datebook

    The St. Petersburg Woman's Club will host its second foodscape competition from 1 to 4 p.m. on July 26 at 40 Snell Isle Blvd. NE. Competitors in several categories (business, individual, group, family) are encouraged to create a tabletop scene using edible materials. There is no cost to enter; $5 to attend and vote. A portion of proceeds will go to the Mr. Strong Foundation for special-needs children and their families. For entry forms, send email to foodscape or call (727) 822-4982....

    Rays pitcher Alex Colome and Alexxia dazzled the crowd at the 10th annual Rays on the Runway. Alexxia is 15 and was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Her dream came true this spring when she went to Hawaii with her family.
  3. Studio@620 celebrates 11th anniversary

    Human Interest

    The Studio@620 will celebrate its 11th birthday at a party starting at 6:20 p.m. Saturday at 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. The event will feature live music, local art and a cake parade. Dessert contributions are desired. Admission is free. (727) 895-6620.

    Rays on the Runway, which will feature food, drink and a fashion show featuring Tampa Bay Rays players, runs from 6:30 to 9:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, 333 First St. S. The event is a benefit for the Children's Dream Fund and showcases fashions from Dillard's. $250 patrons; $125 individual. (727) 896-6390;

  4. Equality Florida gala presents awards

    Human Interest


    Nearly 600 guests attended the Equality Florida Greater St. Petersburg Gala, at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, raising a record $288,600 and partaking of food donated by Locale Market.

    The evening honored several community leaders: Rose Walton, with a lifetime achievement award for her work with HIV/AIDS in New York and her continuing efforts for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in Florida; community leaders Larry Biddle and Sylvia Rusche, with Voice for Equality awards; and Tech Data Corp., with an Equality Means Business award for its global support of the LGBT community....

  5. Stuart Society raises record amount for Museum of Fine Arts

    Human Interest


    The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society made history during its membership year, completed in the Marly Room of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.

    Retiring president Gail Phares presented a $713,000 check to the museum, where Stuart Society members and provisional members donated 15,392 hours during the year.

    The volunteer support group is named for the museum's founder and was organized three years before the museum opened to the public in 1965....

    Maestro Mark Sforzini bangs a gong to invite guests to dinner. “Bella Voce,” the St. Petersburg Opera gala, included performances from Mount Song Martial Arts Academy and the Turandot cast.
  6. Equality Florida presents honors at Mahaffey Theater on Friday

    Human Interest

    Equality Florida presents its Greater St. Petersburg Gala honoring Rose Walton, Larry Biddle, Sylvia Rusche and Tech Data Corp. from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday in the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S. $125.; (813) 870-3735.

    The St. Petersburg Panhellenic Association honors scholarship recipients at its annual awards luncheon beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave. $25. (727) 384-4447....

  7. Bar Association celebrates 90th anniversary

    Human Interest


    The dancers wore attire from the 1920s, and so did many of the guests who attended the St. Petersburg Bar Association's 90th anniversary gala in the Coliseum. On May 15, 1925, a small group of lawyers officially launched the organization, and the party took place almost to the minute of that first meeting nearly a century ago.

    About 400 guests attended the celebration, the largest the St. Petersburg Bar has hosted, officials said. U.S. Rep. David Jolly and his fiancee, Laura Donahoe, were there. So were St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and his wife, Kerry, and former Mayor Bill Foster and his wife, Wendy....

    Mistress of ceremonies Laura Moody and St. Anthony’s Hospital president William Ulbricht at the St. Anthony’s Hospital Foundation Derby Day fundraiser held May 2 in the University Center at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
  8. Equality Florida plans Pinellas gala

    Human Interest

    Social datebook

    Equality Florida presents its Greater St. Petersburg Gala honoring Rose Walton, Larry Biddle, Sylvia Rusche and Tech Data Corp. from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on May 29 in the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S. $125.; (813) 870-3735.

    The St. Petersburg Panhellenic Association honors scholarship recipients at its annual awards luncheon beginning at 11 a.m. on May 30 at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave. $25. Reservations accepted through Monday. Mail checks payable to St. Petersburg Panhellenic Association in care of Saranan Lauck, 1324 Pasadena Ave., Apt. 408, South Pasadena, FL 33707; (727) 384-4447....

  9. Fundraiser benefits Take Stock in Children scholarships

    Human Interest

    The 11th annual Fischer-Carr Memorial Birthday Bash raises money for Take Stock in Children scholarships as a tribute to the late Jim Fischer and Skip Carr, community leaders whose friends organized the event to benefit at-risk students in grades 6-11. 6:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Petersburg Country Club, 2000 Country Club Way S. Free. (727) 821-2080.

    The American Legion Riders, Chapter 14, will host an Armed Forces Day M*A*S*H Bash beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday at 1520 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. The fundraiser, which benefits military veterans, includes a pork dinner and live entertainment. 4077th MASH attire suggested. $8. (727) 894-7320....

  10. From This Day: Mark Cichewicz and Michael Grillo


    They met in Detroit's Club Gold Coast on April 28, 1985, and soon they were a couple. Mark Cichewicz was a graphic designer for the Chrysler Corp., and Michael Grillo was a hairdresser. Both Michigan natives, they started coming to Florida to visit Michael's parents, who spent the winters here.

    "At first, we would come down in April and then Thanksgiving," Mark said.

    They celebrated their 20th anniversary a decade ago by purchasing rings together in a jewelry store at the Suncoast Resort on 34th Street S in St. Petersburg, where they spent many a Sunday afternoon with friends from Michigan and Florida, he said. (The Suncoast closed in 2007.)...

    Michael Grillo, left, and Mark Cichewicz were married in South Pasadena’s Galatea Garden.
  11. St. Petersburg Opera gala features performances from 'Turandot'

    Human Interest

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company will present "Bella Voce," its annual fundraising dinner gala, at Opera Central, 2145 First Ave. S, on Saturday. VIP access, 5:30 p.m. $250; grand entrance access, 6:30 p.m. $150. Entertainment by artistic director Mark Sforzini and the cast of Turandot. Black-tie optional; Chinese attire encouraged.; (727) 823-2040.

    Prohibition Gala: Dr. Jean-Francis and Pat Rossignol will host "A Prohibition Gala," a fundraiser for the Brain Tumor Alliance, from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday at Casa Coe da Sol, 510 Park St., St. Petersburg. The gala features 1920s cuisine and entertainment in an outdoor supper club setting. $200.; (727) 781-4673....

  12. VIP sports auction raises money for pediatric surgical fellowship

    Human Interest


    Several hundred supporters, many wearing attire celebrating their favorite sports teams, crowded the hallway outside the grand ballroom in the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, competing for hundreds of silent-auction items donated to support an accredited pediatric surgical fellowship at All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine.

    The event was "Score for All Kids," the 27th annual All Children's Hospital Foundation VIP Auction, hosted by the hospital's development council....

    Top row, from left: St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce officials Chris Steinocher, Noemy Gonzalez, Ceridian vice president Todd Simmons, Anne Drake McMullen, William Ulricht and Cory Adler. Bottom row from left: Iconic Women award winners Jacqueline Williams, Catalina Farrington, Kanika Tomalin, Karen Mertes, Erin Cece, Janet Caramello and Cheryl Sanchez.
  13. American Stage's Gala Under the Stars opens 'In the Heights'

    Human Interest


    More than 500 people filled the grassy area at Demens Landing for the 24th annual Gala Under the Stars, held in conjunction with the opening night for In the Heights. The high-energy musical production marks 30 years of outdoor presentations for American Stage Theatre Co. in St. Petersburg.

    Patrons indulged in a buffet dinner from Parkshore Grill that hewed to the production's Latin themes and were treated to additional entertainment from the Arts Conservatory for Teens, magician John Williams and dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studios of Tampa Bay....

    Annabelle Jenkins, who raised money for American Stage’s summer program, with her dad, Drew Jenkins, and the company’s education director, Meg Heimstead, on the set of In the Heights.
  14. Ovarian Cancer Foundation gala features entertainment from Brazil

    Human Interest


    With samba dancers and performers of capoeira, a martial arts discipline, organizers of Celma Carniva'Le, a fundraiser for the Celma Mastry Ovarian Cancer Foundation, paid tribute to the woman for whom it is named.

    Celma Mastry, who gave much to the community in volunteer hours and financial contributions, died of ovarian cancer in 2004; the foundation was established to assist other women who have the disease, to further research about it, and to help with prevention and early detection....

  15. PACE students star in benefit fashion show

    Human Interest

    VALUE ME LUNCHEON: The eighth annual "Value Me" luncheon, which will feature students from PACE Center for Girls modeling fashions from Beth's Closet, will run from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon, 950 Lake Carillon Drive. Proceeds benefit the Beth Dillinger Foundation, Beth's Closet, the Hope Chest for foster children, Nourish to Flourish and the Beth Dillinger Scholarship Fund. $65.; (727) 347-5600....