Gasparilla International Film Festival
Volunteers scrubbed every seat in the defunct Channelside Bay Plaza movie theater prepping to reel 130 films at the Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival. Their efforts — hundreds of hours — were appreciated by some 15,000 moviegoers and filmmakers.
The Florida premiere of The Surface opened the five-day fest March 24 at Tampa Theatre, drawing 900 cinephiles. Actor Chris Mulkey, director Gil Cates and the star, Sean Astin, the charming son of Patty Duke and John "Gomez Addams" Astin, enjoyed the Q & A that followed.
On March 25, the Hill Ward Henderson law firm hosted a private screening of Cut Bank, which won Best of the Fest. Pane Rustica-catered a preparty in the former Gallagher's restaurant, a terrific new space available to rent. At Sunday's wrap party in the lobby, 200 guests were invited to help themselves to anything left in the concession stand.
Around the World for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Describing her auction chant as "a cattleman in Jimmy Choo's," auctioneer Letitia Frye rustled up bids for vacations and memorabilia at the third annual Around the World tasting party hosted by Tom and Holly Malouf for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, with help from their kids, Gennie Swenson, Tiffany Rix, Hank Malouf and T.J. Malouf, and support from the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation.
Since Danny Thomas started the Memphis pediatric hospital 50 years ago, St. Jude has partnered with clinics treating children with life-threatening diseases in 17 countries. Hilton Tampa Downtown chefs served specialities of Mexico, Ecuador, Lebanon, China and the Philippines on Saturday to emphasize the global service, some spiced up by models dressed in traditional attire of each nation. Plus, of course, Memphis BBQ.
WQYK-99.5 FM DJs Dave McKay and Veronica emceed for the 450 guests, including about 50 teens and former cancer patient Chase Troche, 16, who added the voice of experience during the appeal for donors so families never receive a hospital bill.
Hyde Park neighborhoods patrons party
Historic Hyde Park and Old Hyde Park neighborhood associations threw themselves a party to celebrate two recent successful home tours, continued improvements within its gentrified borders and to bolster the Hyde Park Community Fund.
Hosts Nancy and Robert Watkins set a 1940s-glam theme, mounting an iconic Hollywood sign over the courtyard of their 1939 Bayshore Boulevard home. With the Lounge Cats bopping in the breezy air March 21, guests hobnobbed over appetizers from Piquant Hyde Park, entrees from Horizon Bay senior living residence and Timpano's and desserts from Dough and Buddy Brew coffee.
League of Women Voters awards luncheon
Betty Castor couldn't resist the irony of the location the League of Women Voters selected for its annual awards luncheon March 27: the University Club, the private restaurant atop Tampa City Center that refused to serve women until 1988.
This day, dozens of women surrounded five-term Florida legislator Mary Figg as she received the league's Lifetime Achievement award. Her good friend, environmental activist Jan Tomlinson Smith, was honored with the Sydney and Thalia Potter Civic Leadership award for decades of community service.