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Gala's guests battle the blues

By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2002

BLUE RIBBON GALA: Enjoy your dinner -- "it's loaded with antioxidants," quipped Brendan McLaughlin, WFTS-Ch. 28 news anchor, emcee of the Celebration of Hope benefit for the Florida Prostate Cancer Network.

Many of the 500 guests at the Hyatt Regency Downtown June 13 pinned on blue enamel ribbons, symbol of hope for a cure. "Breast cancer awareness pins are pink; blue is for boys," said Jan Luongo, a consultant to the gala planners.

Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf sent video greetings. Honorary chairman Bob Fagan, chief executive officer of TECO, presented developer Dick Beard with the Schwarzkopf Pioneer in Prostate Cancer Award. A slide show illustrated Beard's story of being a prostate cancer survivor, including his climb up Mount Kilimanjaro.

Banker and prostate cancer survivor Bob Samuels got about 200 men on their feet when he asked all male guests affected by prostate cancer to stand. Samuels founded the network when he learned Florida has both the second-highest number of new cases and the second-highest number of deaths from prostate cancer in the nation.

Guest speaker Andrew von Eschenbach, director of the National Cancer Institute, got a bit technical in his talk on the most common type of cancer found in American men. Earlier, he was delighted to catch up with some old friends, including the Rev. Joe Doyle from Jesuit High and urologist John Seigne. With fondness, he remembered a favorite patient, the late Angelo Ferlita.

* * *

OLDER THAN THE FLAG: Having the Army Ball on its 227th birthday -- also Flag Day -- reminds us that the Army is two years older than the flag.

The call to the mess brought 933 guests to dinner at the A La Carte Event Pavilion. First came a streamer ceremony commemorating U.S. Army campaigns. Active duty personnel wearing authentic uniforms (some from museums) hung embroidered streamers representing every U.S. Army battle, 173 in all. They began with the battle of Lexington in 1775, included both Confederate and Union Civil War armies, and concluded with the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Every branch of the armed forces celebrated, along with veterans, retirees, reservists and members of coalition forces. Ticket prices rose with rank.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Dick Antross received the Paul D. Adams medal, named in honor of the first head of U.S. Strike Command. The first Adams medal winner, retired U.S. Army Col. Joe House, and wife Sue marked their 45th wedding anniversary at the ball.

Gen. Tommy Franks and Spec. Alan Brockman, the most senior and junior active servicemen, sliced the birthday cake with a shiny saber. Franks' address was humorous but at times serious, as well. His message: The Army is all over the world adapting to new missions and threats -- and it's winning.

* * *

EVERYTHING ADELA LOVED: All of Adela Gonzmart's favorites were on the menu, starting with Bloody Mary Gazpacho. More than 200 friends of the late great lady sat down to 1905 Salad and Chicken Samuel at the Adela Gonzmart Memorial Statue Luncheon at the Columbia Restaurant last week.

Dessert was brazo gitano, or gypsy's arm, Adela's specialty sponge cake rolled with Spanish cream soaked in sherry syrup and topped with meringue.

"Adela made the best brazo gitano in the world," said her friend Melba Hero. "She taught the chefs here how to make it."

Co-chairs Angeles Ferlita and Anna Alvarez planned every detail "just as Adela would have wanted," said Alvarez, on what would have been Adela's 82nd birthday. Dee Haya gave the blessing before lunch. Flamenco dancers whirled their praise.

Adela's sons toasted her with sangria blanca. "Having this party made this day easier," said Casey Gonzmart, fighting back tears. "Seeing all her friends . . . I know her spirit is here," added Richard Gonzmart. How fitting, he said, that the first event in the remodeled Siboney Room was in her honor.

Ferlita announced the "luncheon is a success. With the food, printing, flowers, door prizes -- everything donated -- we have reached our goal." Sculptor Steve Dickey will create a bronze bust of the "Queen of Ybor" for the front of the restaurant.

* * *

PAJAMA PARTY: Little Sarah Busansky might have wondered why all those grownup ladies were wearing pajamas to the Guillot Apothecary last week.

Her parents, Stefani and Edward, would tell her they were all there to help raise money to build Freedom Playground in MacFarlane Park, a universally accessible playground for children of all abilities. About $300,000 is needed for equipment.

For $100 apiece, 40 women at the Pampered Pajama Party benefit could have one-minute manicures, chair massages and skin care demonstrations. They tasted wines from Gianpiero's Pick of the Vine and vied for 13 gift baskets of donated goodies arranged by Michelle Monsein.

One guest, Ellen Brown, dashed home to change clothes after a busy day working at the Old Tampa Book Co. She arrived at the spa wearing two different earrings. Was she making a new fashion statement? No, she just didn't want to be late.

Said Annette Harris, ending a hectic Wednesday: "I've had a facial, gotten my nails done, had three glasses of wine. I'm ready to go home to bed."

MOVABLE FEAST: The Villa Rosa Park Progressive Dinner Association began its black-tie optional soirees more than 15 years ago, the idea of Blanche Puffer, Norman Stallings Jr. and the late Bob Lopez. Saturday the tradition continued.

All the adults on the one-block street were invited to move from house to house in the 'hood. (A volleyball barbecue in October is for children, too.)

Suzy Lopez, newly graduated from law school, now home studying for the Bar, helped her mother, Melinda Lopez Pendino, and Tommy Pendino pass hors d'oeuvres to 50 neighbors. Next stop was Lori and Joe Williams' house for seafood paella, co-hosted by Preston and Laura Farrior. Dessert was at Mercedes and Mark Angle's.

Betty and Alfred Swann III moved into their home in 1963, which earns them the claim of "oldest residents, literally and figuratively on the block," says Betty. Swann's grandfather, the first Alfred Swann, developed Hyde Park and New Suburb Beautiful.

-- To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or scherzer@sptimes.com.

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