Suave 007s, sultry Bond girls and sexy movie stars dressed to kill at three nights of glamorous Tampa Theatre fundraisers, opening with Vino Royale, the 17th movie-themed Winefest and wrapping at the 20th Hollywood Awards watch party. Spy flick Casino Royale filled the big screen Feb. 22 as hundreds of fans sipped wines and sampled cleverly-named bites like Pane Rustica's Clams Casino Royale shooters and shaken-not-stirred vodka meatballs. A carpeted deck covered nearly all the auditorium seats; outside, casino games and musicians extended the party out to Franklin Street.
On Saturday, Winefest chairman Fred Zielinski, retired after three decades as Busch Gardens' food director, welcomed 250 fellow foodies to a fine wine-pairing dinner by Mise en Place owners Maryann Ferenc and chef Marty Blitz, with a live auction between courses. An appeal to repair the iconic marquee added an extra $25,000 to the weekend's $150,000 proceeds.
Sunday's red carpeters love limo rides, paparazzi flashes and Roan Jivers, a.k.a Strictly Entertainment's Pat Fenda, asking, "Who are you wearing, darling?" Every seat was a winner for Oscars' watching, from the $150 VIP buffet lounge to the $50 mezzanine with drink service to the $20 balcony and popcorn.
Cattle Baron's Ball
The blue-jeaned and booted Cattle Baron's Ball crowd could ride a bull, lasso a calf, (mechanical, of course), bid on an African safari and line dance to Southern Train at the annual American Cancer Society hoedown. This wasn't chairwoman Rita Lowman's first rodeo; the Pilot Bank president has helped raise $4 million for cancer research, including chairing the $500-ticket "Ball" in 2012 and 2013.
Armature Works dished up chicken, short ribs, shrimp and grits, collard greens, bread pudding and such Saturday; emcees Linda Hurtado and Chip Brewster of WTVT-Ch.13 and auctioneer Rick Gallo shared inspiration from cancer survivors Taylor Dumke and Paul Dombroski.
New parents Alissa Kranz and Bert McBride (baby Bill McBride, named for his late grandfather, was born last month) will take the reins as 2020 co-chairmen, with Grandma Alex Sink as honorary chairwoman.
Equality Florida Gala
Imagine being born into a world where you've never felt welcome, Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith asked LGBTQ friends and guests celebrating a "sea change" in equal rights statewide. More gabfest than gala (no room for a dance floor), Saturday's party honored PFLAG Tampa founders John & Nancy Desmond; Gene Webster-English; Prin Ocea and the University of South Florida Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Kevin Beckner's auction artfully boosted proceeds with work by Eileen Goldenberg, Duncan McClellan and others. David Buby was happy to raise donations from the late Raymond D. Lucey to $400,000.