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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

@MJPARKTIMES link

  1. On the town: social scene around St. Petersburg

    Human Interest

    10.13.11

    The West Central Florida Council Boy Scouts of America presented Distinguished Citizens awards to community leaders Bob Churuti, Jay Fleece and Stephanie Goforth at its 14th annual recognition banquet, held in the Coliseum.

    Churuti is a manager of the Hamilton Partnership and Beach Drive Retail. He serves on the boards of the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, the Morean Arts Center, the Florida Orchestra, the Mahaffey Foundation and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and is president of Creative Pinellas....

    Cynthia Fleece celebrates with husband Jay, who was among those honored with the Boy Scouts’ Distinguished Citizens awards.
  2. Slain officer's widow to speak at St. Petersburg Mayor's Prayer Breakfast

    Human Interest

    Slain officer's widow to speak

    Lorraine Yaslowitz, widow of slain St. Petersburg police Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, will be the keynote speaker at Thursday's 10th annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast presented by the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. The event is from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N. $18, $20 at door. (727) 895-9622.

    Oktoberfest dinner

    The St. Petersburg Woman's Club, 40 Snell Isle Blvd. NE, will host an Oktoberfest dinner with entertainment beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Proceeds benefit the historic building preservation fund. $18. Reservations: (727) 321-6230....

  3. A Night of Wine & Fire, other benefits are planned

    Human Interest

    Night of Wine, Fire benefits veterans

    Una Notte di Vino e Fuoco, A Night of Wine & Fire, includes food, wine and glass-blowing demonstrations by Zen Glass Studios from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday at Mazzaro Italian Market, 2909 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg. The evening benefits the Abilities Foundation and includes glass art from Duncan McClellan and Massimilano Schiavon. Proceeds support job placement services for disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. $60, $100 couple. abilitiesfoundation.com; (727) 538-7370, ext. 234....

  4. On the town: Fish Head Ball, Free Clinic 'Soup's On' lunch draw crowds

    Human Interest

    10.08.11

    The crowd looked like a pantheon of rock: Lady Gaga, Grace Jones, Slash, Stevie Nicks, Peter Frampton, Amy Winehouse, Tina Turner, even Robert Palmer and his Addicted to Love ladies.

    High winds and heavy rains sent the more than 400 Fish Head Ball guests indoors at the Don CeSar Beach Resort, but the scene change did not dampen spirits.

    FISH-A-Palooza RockStar! had much to offer attendees, from food and drink to photo booths, karaoke to belly dancing, and all for a cause: The event raised more than $40,000 for the Pier Aquarium's educational programs....

    The crowd dances during the Pier Aquarium’s 18th annual Fish Head Ball at the Don CeSar Beach Resort.
  5. St. Petersburg Free Clinic's Soup's On hunger awareness luncheon is Friday

    Human Interest

    'Soup's On' event is at Coliseum

    The St. Petersburg Free Clinic presents its 32nd annual Soup's On hunger awareness luncheon from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N. Attendance is free, but guests are encouraged to make contributions and to bring nonperishable food for the clinic's food bank. (727) 821-1200, ext. 114.

    Dress up for annual Fish Head Ball...

  6. On the town: PARC's Crystal Ball gala, Swanky Soiree

    Human Interest

    9.24.2011

    With a sellout crowd and enthusiastic bidders, PARC's 42nd annual black-tie Crystal Ball gala was an unmitigated success. The Renaissance Vinoy's Palm Court Ballroom had gaming tables and lounge seating along with the elegantly appointed dinner tables, and many women in the crowd wore glittering tiaras purchased in hopes of obtaining a diamond ring donated by major sponsors Diamonds Direct....

    Alison Lescarbeau, left, and Tonya Corder co-chaired the Crystal Ball gala.
  7. 'Wizard of Oz' exhibit at history museum a pop-up playland for kids

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Did you know that Dorothy wore silver shoes in Frank Baum's 1900 book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?

    Those ruby slippers actor Judy Garland wore in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, when she clicked her heels together three times to return to Kansas? MGM wizards came up with those to take advantage of the then-new Technicolor film process.

    Visitors to a new interactive exhibit that opened Saturday at the St. Petersburg Museum of History will learn those fun facts and more in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" story presentation, which includes 10-foot-tall pop-up books that blend entertainment and education geared to children ages 4 to 12....

    Great Explorations’ Kate Griffin attaches a scarecrow’s arm at the “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” exhibit at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.
  8. Charitable giving is at the heart of the social calendar

    Human Interest

    Whenever I find myself facing a nearly impossible task, I often take comfort in a story by author Anne Lamott, whose brother had procrastinated writing a report about birds.

    Now he was on deadline, she writes, "and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said. 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.' " ...

  9. Visitor finds forefathers' stained-glass windows divine at St. Petersburg First United Methodist

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    The 10 Tiffany-style windows at First United Methodist Church are so distinctive that a team of docents offer weekly guided tours focusing on The Last Supper, a stained-glass reproduction of the classic Leonardo da Vinci painting.

    On Thursday, those volunteers welcomed a visitor whose family owned the studio that created the windows in 1926, the year the church was built....

  10. At July 4 wedding, Steve Westphal and Nancy Safford saw fireworks

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Restaurateur Steve Westphal had obtained the city permits required to hold a wedding in North Straub Park, directly across the street from his 400 Beach Drive Seafood & Tap House.

    He and his fiancee, Nancy Safford-Ruetz, set a date: Sept. 17, her mother's birthday. As they thought about whom to invite, the list swelled to 100, then 200, then more.

    "It just got to be 300 people, and the pressure was building," Steve said. Nancy added: "We had this idea, and it came together."...

    Nancy and Steve Westphal broke with tradition when they took to the sky to exchange marriage vows on July 4. 
“I knew I had the right partner when we went from something formal to something fun,” said Steve.
  11. Social scene

    Human Interest

    Pinellas Park

    Boys & Girls club lunch welcomes Rays luminaries

    Tampa Bay Rays players, coaches, media personalities and management will be at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast Lunch with the Rays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Boys & Girls Clubs Pinellas Park unit, 7790 61st St. N. The event benefits Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast. Registration available through Monday. Tickets are $50. bgc sun.org; (727) 524-2427, ext. 17....

  12. Abilities Foundation fundraiser benefits disabled veterans

    Human Interest

    6.04.11

    For many years, pairing food and wine has been a successful fundraising formula for the Abilities Foundation. Now the charity has added art to the mix, drawing a sellout crowd of more than 200 to "Una Notte di Vino e Vetro," A Night of Wine & Glass Italian-style. Guests crowded into the St. Petersburg studios of glass artist Duncan McClellan and sculptor Dan Painter....

    Duncan McClellan waits at the entrance to his studio to greet visitors during the Abilities wine and art fundraiser.
  13. Children's Dream Fund names 2011 Dreammaker; Academy Prep Center dedicates pavilions to Jack Painter

    Human Interest

    5.24.11

    The Children's Dream Fund celebrated its 30th anniversary with presentations from Cynthia Lake, its executive director, and former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker at a luncheon held in the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park.

    Founded in 1981, the nonprofit organization fulfills the desires of children ages 3 to 18 who have life-threatening illnesses.

    Dr. Jerry Barbosa, a hematology and oncology specialist at All Children's Hospital, received the 2011 Dreammaker Award, presented each year to people who have touched the lives of seriously ill children through their professional accomplishments and personal giving. ...

    Dr. Jerry Barbosa, right, won the 2011 Dreammaker Award from the Children’s Dream Fund. He’s pictured with wife, Carol.
  14. Social scene

    Briefs

    St. Petersburg

    Urban League gala to feature Lt. Gov. Carroll

    Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll will be the keynote speaker at the Pinellas County Urban League's 33rd annual Equal Opportunity Day dinner. The gala is at 6:30 p.m. June 17 in the Palm Court Ballroom of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, 501 Fifth Ave. NE. (727) 327-3568.

    Tampa

    Rays trade base path for runway...

  15. Social scene fundraisers

    Human Interest

    St. Petersburg

    WIne, art glass await guests at artist's studio

    The Abilities Foundation will present Un Notte de Vino e Vetro: A Night of Wine and Glass, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Duncan McClellan's art studio at 2342 Emerson Ave. S. The evening will feature Italian wines, food from bay area restaurants, art glass from McClellan and sculpture by Dan Painter, plus spirits and cigars. The event is a fundraiser for Abilities' job placement services for disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and includes a silent auction. $45 individual; $80 couple. Purchase online at abilitiesfoundation.com; (727) 538-7370, ext. 234....