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Boys & Girls Club event is filled to brims with fun

By MARY JANE PARK
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 3, 2002

The guild of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast Inc. on Wednesday paid tribute to its founder, Peg Nunn, by presenting a hat award in her name to Daisy Thaler. Her magnificent wide-brimmed creation featured feathers the color of flames.

Nunn's collection is legendary; at the luncheon and fashion show held in the Sunset Ballroom of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club, she wore a wide-brimmed navy hat with gold feathers trimmed in rhinestones, along with a boa of dark feathers intermingled with gold tinsel.

Four generations of her family were represented. Daughter Beverly Nicklaus wore her own stylish chapeau, aubergine trimmed in black with fabric roses. She bought it in Australia, a gift for Nunn. "I lugged that thing all over Australia and New Zealand," Nicklaus said. After all that, it didn't fit.

Nicklaus' daughters -- Lenne Nicklaus-Ball, a chairwoman of the event, Deborah Nicklaus and Valerie Hval -- were without head coverings, as were her granddaughters, Erika and Samantha Hval.

Other co-chairwomen of the event, titled "Oh! You Beautiful Doll" were Karol Bullard and Catherine McGarry. Reginald Roundtree, a news anchor at WTSP-Ch. 10, filled in as master of ceremonies for his colleague, Sue Zelenko, who had laryngitis.

The benefit luncheon and fashion show showcased styles from Escada and Louis Feraud at Prime Outlets of Ellenton and raised about $8,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs, a record amount for this fund-raiser. Sharon Clayton Keller gave a nod to both designers, wearing a Feraud suit and Escada shoes.

The presidents' promenade acknowledged more than 20 volunteers who lead charitable organizations. Among them were Ann Foster, guild president; Sheila Tempelmann, 2002 Queen of Hearts; Sally Poynter, Boley Angels; and Charlotte Krizek, Florida Orchestra Guild.

Also in the huge crowd were Paula Blanda, who added clusters of red and white grapes to her straw hat and bag, Susan Cameron, Shirley Coletti, Onnie Hastings, Barbara Herbst, Connie Kone, Maggi McQueen, Marsha Morrison, Freda Gower Ward, Brandi Winans and Diane Winning.

Speaking of hats, Ethel Sharp had photos from a recent gathering of a new chapter of the Red Hat Society, a whimsical organization of women 50 and older who are impossible to miss at their meetings: All wear red hats and purple ensembles. Members of the group, tentatively called Red Tide, rode the trolley from Redington Beach to dine at the Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa.

"We've never had so many whistles in our life," she said, and announced that soon they plan to visit the Vinoy.

Sports fans, and especially baseball fans, had to be in heaven at the ninth annual All-Star Celebrity & Sports Auction, held Wednesday night inside Tropicana Field. Even if you couldn't afford to bid on them, you still could be rapt at the sight of a baseball signed by President George W. Bush; an Everlast boxing glove with the signature of Muhammad Ali; a Michael Jordan signed No. 23 Chicago Bulls jersey; a signed and framed Joe DiMaggio lithograph; even items reflecting up-to-the-minute sports developments, such as footballs signed by Ron Zook, new football coach at the University of Florida, and shirts with the image of Chucky, said to resemble new Bucs coach Jon Gruden.

Vince Naimoli, managing general partner of the Rays, his wife, Lenda, her twin, Glenda Young, and husband Ed Young, greeted people as they entered the Dome; the Rays donated the venue and services for the Children's Dream Fund benefit.

Inside, signing autographs, were Yankees manager Joe Torre, bench coach Don Zimmer and first baseman Jason Giambi; and Rays outfielder Ben Grieve, pitcher Paul Wilson, first baseman Steve Cox and shortstop Chris Gomez. Fans lined up early on, but when Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra showed up, the queue tripled. Guest speaker Terry Bowden of ABC Sports signed mementos, too.

Dick Crippen, executive director of community development for the Rays and the Rays of Hope Foundation, was master of ceremonies. Bob Ulrich, a former mayor of St. Petersburg, was auctioneer.

Bridges link St. Petersburg to Clearwater, Tampa and Sarasota, but all too often, those spans can be psychological barricades among the communities. Not this one, which draws donations and contributors from throughout the bay area.

Corporate sponsors were JMC Communities, MetLife, Raymond James & Associates, United Financial and Carrabba's Italian Grill, whose employees braved cold temperatures and blustery winds outside the dome, preparing dinner for those within.

In the crowd were Thomas F. Begley, who is working to bring Grand Prix racing back to St. Petersburg in 2003; Bill and Mary Ann Bond; Caralyn Buston; Mitch and Becky Cochran; Barbara Eisenman; Steve Farmer; Ian and Jean Irwin; Katharine Ann Lake; Jim Leavitt, who coaches the University of South Florida Bulls in football; Marie Lucier; Chris O'Brocto; Pat Perez; Diane Weatherell; Charlie and Peggy Weniger; and Weyman and Jan Willingham.

The event was a sellout at 700, its largest crowd ever. Executive director Cynthia Lake said it raised more than $100,000 -- a record amount -- for the Children's Dream Fund, which fulfills the wishes of youngsters who are seriously ill.

Bill Heller, chief executive office and vice president of USF St. Petersburg, called to fill me in on last month's Heart Ball, a benefit that raised $140,000 for the American Heart Association. Hangar One at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport was the setting for the Feb. 16 event, co-chaired by Sue Brody, Bayfront Medical Center CEO. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst were honorary co-chairmen of the event.

Heller said the building was "richly decorated" by event planner Marion Rich. Cadets from Admiral Farragut Academy lined the red carpet to greet the 325 guests, saluting men and escorting women into the hangar.

Outside, people had their photographs taken in front of a World War II-era airplane. To move it, the propeller had to be put in motion, which sent table linens flying. They soon were replaced in time for patrons to dine on food prepared by the Wine Cellar.

Brendan McLaughlin, news anchor at WFTS-Ch. 28, was master of ceremonies, and Bob Cooper donated the use of the hangar. Heller said Dan and Barbara Englehardt offered the lead gift for the benefit.

-- Mary Jane Park can be reached at 893-8267; fax 893-8675; e-mail park@sptimes.com; P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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