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Micheners meet their neighbors

Author James Michener, spiffy in a coat, tie and slacks, smiled and greeted his new neighbors Tuesday at a party honoring his 35th wedding anniversary. "Cookie, this is ...," Michener's wife, Mari, kept saying while introducing her husband to guests.

"Good to see you," the writer said, shaking their hands. "Glad to be here."

For the couple, it was a coming-out party of sorts. After living in St. Petersburg for about a week, the Micheners were honored by their neighbors at College Harbor, a 126-unit condominium near Eckerd College.

Dozens of residents attended the late-afternoon party, congratulating the couple as they sat in front of a large cake. After introducing themselves to the author and his wife, the guests chatted, munched on hors d'oeuvres and sipped cocktails.

The couple declined to speak with a reporter because the party was a private affair, a spokeswoman said. Today, however, the Micheners are scheduled to meet with reporters at a news conference.

The Micheners plan to live in St. Petersburg from early October to early February. They will spend February through mid-May at the University of Texas, where Michener has assisted with classes in recent years. Then the Micheners will spend May through early October in Brunswick, Maine.

Michener and his wife chose St. Petersburg after reaching an agreement with Eckerd College to assist with classes and to work with the Academy of Senior Professionals, a group of retired professionals who attend classes, form study groups and get involved in the community.

Michener, 83, also has said he wanted to move to College Harbor because it offers congregate dining and a nursing home for residents who become ill. His books include Hawaii, Chesapeake, Centennial and Texas.

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