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King Neptune and a couple of Weeki Wachee mermaids greeted 375 guests at "Underwater Atlantis," the 15th annual Fish Head Ball to benefit the Pier Aquarium's education programs.

The costumes alone were otherwordly, and the Grand Pavilion at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort in St. Pete Beach looked like an underwater universe, complete with flying jellyfish, Roman ruins and seaweed.

Partygoers danced to the music of the Surfin' Raccoons and received signature mugs designed by Kathy Taylor Zimmerman, the aquarium's artist in residence. The party raised about $40,000.

For the third consecutive year, Debra Hempel led the event committee, which included Alice Bedore, Laura Doig, Christina Douglas, Mark Felix, Susan Fell, Cynthia Fox, Sara Hoeber, Kalli Lipke, Anna Luther, Pauline Luther, Linda O'Brien, Karen Parks, Emily Stehle, Susan Wallace, Eleanor Whiteside, Patty Zimmerman and executive director E. Howard Rutherford.


Organizers of the Healthy Future for Women luncheon billed actor Rue McClanahan's speech as a talk on aging gracefully, but the comedian demurred.

"First of all, what could I possibly know about aging?" she asked the crowd at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park, eliciting laughs.

Her audience chuckled repeatedly during her keynote address, but McClanahan had seriously good advice.

It's never too late to learn, she said, or to modify bad habits, or to develop a positive attitude.

She cited Hippocrates, the Greek genius who is generally known as the father of medicine, who took this approach: It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.

The appearance by McClanahan, a breast cancer survivor, was a fundraiser for programs at the Susan Sheppard McGillicuddy Breast Center at St. Anthony's Hospital and was sponsored by St. Anthony's Women in Philanthropy and the St. Anthony's Hospital Foundation.

Event chair Bettye Black acknowledged foundation executive director Robert Sherman and physicians Vanessa Hart and Claudia Bundschu.

Hospital foundation seeks award nominees

The St. Anthony's Hospital Foundation is accepting nominations for the second Roy G. Harrell Jr. Leadership and the Helen D. Roberts Philanthropy awards to acknowledge outstanding civic and charitable contributions of time, talent and resources.

The deadline for nominations is Dec. 7.

Information:; 825-1086.