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Starting young at socializing

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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 15, 2002

CHAIRS THAT CARE. At 4 years old, Addison Hill, granddaughter of Ben Hill, might be the youngest honorary chairwoman of a black-tie benefit. Perhaps we should call her chair-child. Having had cardiac surgery when she was a baby, Addison was asked to lend her pretty smile to Tampa Children's Hospital's 9th Stepping Out Gala. Little girls like her find help at a new cardiac catheterization lab especially for children, thanks to gala patrons.

The invitation to the Saturday event, mailed in a small metal film canister, set a "Hollywood & Vine" theme. At the party, giant white letters spelled out HOLLYWOOD behind two gold Oscar statuettes, which flanked the Southtown Fever Band at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. The menu came from the legendary Brown Derby, home of the Cobb Salad.

Before dinner, 650 guests could record bids on a dozen child-sized "Chairs That Care" donated by Ethan Allen Furniture. Partners Steve Haubenstock and Jeff Bloom shipped chairs to celebrities to decorate and autograph, part of a national promotion.

Broadway dancer/choreographer Tommy Tune's seat wore little black patent leather shoes on all four legs; Elaine Shimberg got that one for $800. Ben Hill III bid $400 for artist/author Ferdie Pacheco's cool Trolley Kat chair. Pediatrician Victor Morell bought Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla's pirate chair with perched parrot for $500.

Local sports teams also dressed up chairs -- among them, the Tampa Bay Bucs, the Lightning, the New York Yankees (sold for $1,050 to Audrey and Alfred Haubenstock), and the University of South Florida Bulls.

Judy Rosenkranz, chair of the chairs, saved six of them for the live auction. Top seller there was Norman Schwarzkopf's red, white and blue patriotic chair and teddy bear, sold to Rebecca Smith for $3,500. Next highest was $1,600 for Barbara Bush's library chair, bought by D.W. Slavik.

In all, the 18 personalized chairs raised $17,000.

The best story came after the ball, as stockbroker Diana Winoker and her table of eight friends sipped port on the patio of the Palm restaurant. Just before midnight, general manager Dave Crusoe popped out to ask lawyer Bill Kalish of Ackerman, Senterfitt & Eidson if by any chance he was a notary.

The answer was yes and the Palm hosted its first wedding. First, Patty Kalish loaned the bride a white linen jacket. No way she would be wed wearing black. Patty just happened to be wearing the mother-of-the-bride dress she wore to a daughter's wedding.

Apparently, Crusoe chatted with the couple earlier that night, buying them champagne when he heard they were soon to be wed.

Not soon enough, said the groom-who-must-remain anonymous lest his parents find out. His bride said she couldn't wait another minute and Kalish performed the impromptu ceremony.

Wedding pictures were snapped, with the Stepping Out gala-goers posing as the wedding party. Crusoe promised the bride and groom a great wedding gift. He'll add their pictures to "the wall" at the Palm after they make the wedding official.

BRAVO FOR OPERA. A year ago, the Bravo Society changed its name to Opera Tampa Guild to leave no doubt that these are serious opera lovers. Dues-paying members ($50 to $1,000) have climbed slowly in number to more than 100. Last year the guild sponsored The Marriage of Figaro; last month, it supported Basically Bernstein; next month, it's Rigoletto.

Glenn and Carole Hooper have chaired the group since its beginning in 1994, now with help from leadership co-chairs Matthew Androlewicz and Gene Cropsey. The Hoopers invited the guild to their Culbreath Isles home March 8 to hear six young singers trained by Joseph and Violetta Meyers. Longtime sponsor Helen Torres, Rose and Al Schiff, Anne Bartlett and Stan and Lea Davis were among the 50 enchanted listeners.

Tampa got lucky when beaucoup talented Meyers retired from Indiana University. Bubbly Violetta is originally from Lyon sur Le Rhone, France; Joe hails from Kansas City. They met at the Vienna Music Academy in 1954 and have made beautiful music together ever since.

Joan Jennewein rallied enthusiasm for the opening night gala planned for Verdi's Rigoletto on April 5. With a $150 ticket, guests get the best seats at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, meet director Anton Coppola and principal artists, and dine on Italian specialties -- delicatezze -- from Maggiano's Little Italy in West Shore Plaza.

"What Joan is trying to say," interrupted Carole Hooper, "is y'all come."

LAS DAMAS de ARTE. The Scarfone-Hartley Gallery is the Louvre South this month, brimming with artwork by 20 members of Las Damas de Arte, plus 42 guests artists.

Las Damas de Arte organized 30 years ago to support the old Frank Weaner Gallery in Ybor City. It closed, but the women's club keeps growing and supporting art projects.

Hundreds came to "Sunday in the Arts" to enjoy the creativity of Joyce Lazzara, Sally Cahill, Karen Solomon, Suzanne Camp Crosy, Leslie Nink, Roberta Schofield and others. Business was brisk in the main gallery where artisans sold their jewelry designs. Attendance, artist participation and auction sales reportedly were up 25 percent.

Those in the crowd Sunday kept their eyes on the art and their plates full of food from TOOJAY's, T.C. Choy, Bamboo Club, Gourmet Pizza, Skipper's Smokehouse, Sugar 3 and other eateries. The Michael Ross Duo and Molten Mike & Dr. Good Sax provided the music.

The art stays on display at the University of Tampa campus gallery until March 28. (A red sticker on a piece of art means it's already sold.) The artists get 70 percent; Las Damas turns its 30 percent into scholarships for college art students.

DANCING IN THE STREETS. They tell kids never to play in the streets. Then grownups eat and dance in the middle of a busy intersection at "Dancing in the Streets."

The fundraiser Saturday for Kid City -- The Children's Museum had guests Angie and Joel Glazer, Jerry and Jean Divers and Louella and Herbert Carrington Jr. strolling the avenues of the former Safety Village, north of Lowry Park Zoo. In 1989, the city helped turn the village into a hands-on children's museum.

Top-hatted volunteers, museum board president-elect Heidi Shimberg and her co-chair Bernie Kloppenburg greeted guests, as the Three Sopranos sang show tunes. Aramark-catered food stations dotted the little Tampa town. Some folks found spots to sit and eat in the miniature bank, library and fire station.

Suncoast played for those in a dancing mood, including City Councilman Charlie Miranda and his wife, Shirley; and Kyle Parks and Renee Williams. Adding a silent auction this year helped the street party bring in about $30,000.

LAND OF MILK CHOCOLATE AND HONEY: Chocoholics of any faith would have approved. Achot and Ameet, Tampa branches of Hadassah, an international Jewish women's organization, put a sweet touch on Passover with a Chocolate Seder on Sunday.

Passover, the eight-day holiday celebrating the Israelites' freedom from slavery, begins March 27 with a Seder, a dinner full of ceremonies and traditions.

Just for fun, Achot chairwoman Lisa Benjamin replaced each Passover symbol with chocolate. Chocolate espresso beans represented bitter herbs; chocolate and nut mix was the mortar the slaves used. There was chocolate-covered matzo, chocolate eggs, and green mint chocolate meringue cookies to be dipped in chocolate pudding.

Instead of four cups of wine, four cups of Yoohoo were blessed and drunk during the service.

Seder guests thanked the creator of the universe for, what else, chocolate before enjoying a salmon dinner at Rodeph Sholom synagogue.

-- To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or

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