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A glimpse of wintertime

BIG CHILL: It snowed on 715 guests at the 12th annual "A Starlight Winter's Night" to benefit the University Community Hospital Foundation. Triumvirate Marilyn Molloy, Susan Paniello and Theresa Fasani kept Dr. Zhivago in mind during a year of planning the Nov. 16 winter wonderland theme at the A La Carte Pavilion. (Molloy worked on all 11 previous balls.) Snowflakes guaranteed not to stain evening attire fell on a dance floor covered to shimmer like a sheet of ice. During dinner _ beef tenderloin and goat cheese polenta baked in a small pumpkin _ Ice Princesses dropped in to perform an aerial act.

Proceeds from the gala and auction, estimated to top $200,000, will go toward the purchase of a patient tracking system. And to think surgeon William Reiber wondered if anyone would come to such an event when he proposed it 12 years ago.

WISH LIST: A huge turnout at "Night of the Iguana" raised lots of green _ more than $150,000 _ for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. More than 1,200 guests kept bars and casino tables busy at the $100-ticket party Nov. 14 at the A La Carte Pavilion. Samples of sushi, steak, paella, pasta and more came from 20 restaurants, including Frank de la Grana's Bernini of Ybor and the Green Iguana. De la Grana founded the event seven years ago. The first drew about 100 people.

Foundation board president Randy Feldman and interim director Vee Yerrid introduced Molly Edwards, 12, this year's recipient of the Andy Lubrano Memorial Wish, which honors de la Grana's best friend and law school roommate.

Molly, a Coleman Middle School sixth-grader treated for non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, was given $2,000 to bid on horses in Chincoteague Island, Va. Prices were so good this year, said Wish Coordinator Marilyn Meyers, that she bought two: Lance, named for cyclist/cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, and Zink, a zebra in one of her favorite books. Dreaming of the wild ponies sustained Molly during her hospital stays and treatments.

LEAGUE LEGACY: The Tampa/Hillsborough Urban League thanked "champions of equality" at its 80th-anniversary gala on Nov. 15. Prayers recited in Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and English preceded dinner at the awards banquet at the Doubletree Hotel. Each $125-ticket came with $5,000 worth of play money to spend in the fantasy casino. Guests used winnings to buy auction items.

Ed Turanchik, former county commissioner, and Bob Albrecht, general manager of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, co-chaired the annual awards ceremony. Liana Fernandez-Fox, former president of the League of Women Voters, earned the prestigious Whitney M. Young Memorial Award. CEO Joanna Tokley gave the Pinnacle Award for outstanding philanthropy to Rooms to Go, accepted by Linda Garcia, human resources director. Fernando Noriega, the city's development administrator, took home the Black Economic Development Award for his efforts to revitalize East Tampa. Gloria Anthony and Sol Davis (his son, Sol Davis Jr. accepted for him) received the Milestone Award for personal achievements that ultimately benefit the community.

NuSoul played for dancing until midnight.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER: Guests at the Fall Gala by the Bay got an economics lesson from Harry Winston, jeweler to the world's wealthiest. Shelly Mizrahi, vice president of marketing for the Florida Council on Economic Education, invited the renowned jeweler to bring museum pieces and new designs to the $500-ticket benefit Nov. 16 at the home of Erika and Don Wallace, a council board member.

The council was created in 1975 to help students understand the concept of a free enterprise economy. That information could come in handy for anyone buying Winston's signature pieces, which start at $85,000. Winston claims to have held more major diamonds than any person or government in the world.

Guests gawked at the gems while eating foie gras, smoked salmon rosettes and saffron whipped potatoes topped with caviar stuffed quail eggs. The downtown Hyatt Regency sent nine chefs to cook for the 150 guests.

All night, people bought raffle tickets priced at three for $100. Sandy and Dottie Berger MacKinnon got $1,500 worth and went home with seven prizes, including a Palm Pilot. People holding the last 10 numbers called were blindfolded to pick from a basket of walnuts, three of which indicated a prize. Patsy McNichols pulled out the nut marked "car" to win a 36-month lease on a 2003 Lexus ES300.

Another lucky one: Erika Wallace found a diamond and ruby bracelet to her liking and bought it.

ALL ABOARD: Holland America Lines celebrated its 20th year in Tampa by throwing a luncheon Nov. 16 for the Children's Cancer Center on the cruise ship Veendam. The cruise line donated the food, and 47 crew members gave up their day off to help. Their tip: four-hour phone cards from the organizers.

Waiters passed champagne and hors' d'oeuvres in the Rubens Lounge while Tampa Tribune scribe Steve Otto hosted a silent auction. Lunch and a live auction followed, emceed by WFLA Channel 8's Brian Fasulo. A tour of the ship included the penthouse with butler's quarters where cruisers can host a private party at sea.

The more than $60,000 raised at the event will help children being treated for cancer or chronic blood disorders at bay-area hospitals.

Co-chairwoman Tina Hunter Stewart said it all: "Kids should fly kites, not fight cancer."

_ To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or scherzersptimes.com.

Raffle ticket holders were blindfolded on the balcony before they picked for the grand prize at the Florida Council on Economic Education's Fall Gala by the Bay.

"Night of the Iguana" founder Frank de la Grana, left, and chairman of the board of Make-A-Wish Foundation Randy Feldman, surround wish recipient Molly Edwards at the Nov. 14 benefit.

Chairwoman Tina Hunter Stewart, left, and sponsor Lisa Barrow, helped raise $60,000 for the Children's Cancer Center aboard Holland America's Veendam on Nov. 16.

Tampa Chamber of Commerce Vice President Gloria Anthony, rear left, and Liana Fernandez-Fox, surround Ike Tribble, past chairman of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, and Deanne Roberts, chair-elect of the chamber, at the Tampa-Hillsborough Urban League gala on Nov. 15.

Starlight Ball chairpeople Marilyn Molloy, left, Susan Paniello and Theresa Fasani spent a year planning the Nov. 16 gala to benefit University Community Hospital Foundation.

Orlaida Salce, left, Fadia Holzmacher, Sara Edwards and Nicki Pajak, all mothers of children with cancer, attended the Nov. 16 luncheon aboard the Veendam to benefit the Children's Cancer Center.

President of JPMorganChase treasury services Irv Cohen and his wife, Sherry, from left, visit with Martin and Helen Leibowitz at the Fall Gala by the Bay benefit for the Florida Council on Economic Education.

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