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Two hot parties

Two top tickets in Tampa last weekend? Ebony Fashion Fair and Gasparilla with Don and Erika Wallace and family. If you attended either one, you know I'm talking about a couple of extravaganzas.

Both events come once a year and stage lavish productions of incomparable style. Coincidentally, you're just as likely to find fashions from Versace, Armani and Oscar de la Renta at one as you are the other.

DESIGNERS DREAM: The audience at Tampa Theatre and organizers from Tampa-Hillsborough Urban League Guild looked nearly as "Fit to Be Fabulous" Sunday as the models strutting in haute couture during Ebony magazine's fashion show.

Event chairwoman Tia Young sparkled in a gown from the Valerie Nicole boutique on Bay to Bay Boulevard. Ticket chairwoman Tresa Boykin shone in a red silk jacket dress. Guild treasurer Janice Carter looked chic in black velvet.

For two hours, 10 women (including a plus-size model) and two guys zipped in and out of designer fashions - some sexy, some silly, all sensational.

Handbags and shoes weren't the only hot accessories. Six-pack abs accessorized the men's colorful leather pants. During the swimwear set, the guys flashed the throng black thongs.

Reality hit the lively crowd of 850 when narrator Jada Collins lauded the show's title, "You Don't Have to Be Size 2 to Be Fit to Be Fabulous."

With stops in about 200 cities, the show raises millions for charities.

In Tampa, the Tampa-Hillsborough Urban League Guild gets proceeds from the $30 tickets. League president Darrell Daniels joked with the audience, and George Nix of WSJT 94.1-FM pulled names of door prize winners during the intermission. PIRATES, KNIGHTS, WENCHES and assorted krewe members started partying midweek and never stopped.

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Capt. Hal Mullis and his wife, Anne, stood at the Tampa Yacht Club door for hours Jan. 26 to greet 1,600 pirates and their mates. Best dressed: 1987 King Jim Ferman in a red satin brocade vest and jacket.

Pirates packed the club from crow's nest to the big bar, turning the patio into a mosh pit rocking to the Skycoasters till 1 a.m.

"Absolutely the biggest crowd ever," said yacht club manager Harry Mains.

One person was notably missing. Maitre d' Herbert Carrington, 108, told Mains he was taking the year off. "Probably the first Gasparilla he missed since 1947," Mains said.

PERFECT GASPARILLA breezes drew great masses to Bayshore Boulevard, including about 450 folks invited to the Wallace extravaganza.

Among them: Kevin and Jennie White; Bob Henriquez; Frank Sanchez; Ed Turanchik; Rob Turner; Steve Anderson; Barry Cohen; Susan Stern; Ron Campbell; Maureen Rorech Dunkel; Gayle Sierens and husband, Mike Martin; Cathy Unruh and hubby, Tom Sansone.

Donnie and Alexa Wallace hosted their Gorrie Elementary and Seaborn Day School classmates and their families in prime bead-catching bleacher seats.

When they had their fill of the parade, they found a climbing wall, inflatable castle and activities. Mise en Place made a pile of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids, while the adults devoured 10 gallons of macaroni and cheese with a rock shrimp, jalapeno and lobster reduction. DANCING FOR PEACE: Reading International Book of Peace inspired Jeanne Travers to dance the interfaith message. She premiered her work, Visions of Peace, in Paris in April. Now she'll repeat the performance March 8 at the University of South Florida.

To raise money to bring dancers, musicians and narrators from France, Susan Steen and Dominick Graziano turned their driveway into a dance floor for a patrons preview Sunday afternoon. Travers and her husband, USF professor Hiba Hechi, collected more than $5,000 to help spread their passion for peace.

BACKSTAGE PASS: Primed with "Wickedtinis" and "Elphabas" (Midori and champagne), patrons of the Wicked Broadway Ball explored the set of Wicked at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Jan. 23 while the cast was off to Disney World.

The stage manager explained the workings of the automated sets, pointing out tracks and ports in the floor for speakers, lights, fans and dry ice. Guests learned that it takes 13 semitrailer trucks to transport the fabulous costumes and props.

Michele Freedle and Kasey Shimberg Kelly, co-chairwomen of the Broadway Ball set for Oct. 14, will announce the theme as soon as the 2006-07 Broadway Series is under contract. SMOKIN': About 100 fellas puffed away at the third annual "Guys Night Out Smoker" at Sally's Alley in Splitsville on Jan. 19. That puffing and bidding at a silent auction raised $5,000 for the Gift of Adoption Fund.

Hot sellers: signed edition of American Soldier by Gen. Tommy Franks; baseball autographed by Tino Martinez; and $750 humidor donated by J.C. Newman Cigar Co., which also donated the stogies.

By granting money to deserving adopting couples, the adoption fund creates families and changes lives, said event organizer David Alexander.Amy Scherzer can be reached at or 226-3332. To find more pictures and read the party blog, go to Fashion Fair chairwoman Tia Young, left, emcee George Nix from WSJT 94.1-FM and Kim Barbee get ready for the Jan. 29 benefit show at the Tampa Theatre.Kasey Shimberg Kelly, left, and Michele Freedle will co-chair Broadway Ball 2006 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.Anne and Capt. Hal Mullis, from left, greet their daughter and son-in-law, Ashley and Brad Bassler, at Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla's Captain's Ball at the Tampa Yacht Club.TECO Energy chief executive officer Sherrill Hudson, left, and his wife, Mary Ann, enjoyed Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla's Captain's Ball with Naida and TECO Energy chief operating officer John Ramil.Kelly Rayl, left, Diana Mighdoll and Leah Marke danced a segment of Visions of Peace during a Jan. 29 fundraiser to bring dancers from Paris for the upcoming performance.Susan Steen, left, and her husband, Dominick Graziano, right, hosted a fundraiser at their Hyde Park home for the upcoming performance of Visions of Peace by Jeanne Travers, center.