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Make way for debutantes

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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 2, 2002

"Hi, I'm Blaine. I party. It's what I do," said debutante Blaine Bailey, introducing herself backstage at the 30th annual Krewe of the Knights of Sant' Yago Debutante Ball.

She was out to have a good time -- and to make sure everyone else did, too -- during Saturday's ceremony at the India Conference Center.

Eight debutantes primped and preened like pretty swans in white wedding gowns, called debutante dresses for this occasion. Their reasons for making a formal debut varied, from daughterly duty to Lindsay Miller begging her father to join the krewe so she and her sister could be debutantes.

"It started out an ordeal and ended up a pleasure," said her father, George Lorton.

Only three girls had met previously, as students at the Academy of the Holy Names: Jennifer Armas, Lesley Geyer and Ann Marie Parrino.

Armas, who won the Queen Isabella title at the Columbus Celebration last year, wasn't sure how honest she wanted to be about her reasons. Her brother and escort, Chris Armas, a junior at Saint Leo University, called it a "family obligation, but it's cool because I'm a very social person."

Christina Anton -- dubbed "Deb of the Year" by the others for her organizational skills -- realized being a debutante was "good networking. That's why I agreed to it." The University of Florida senior organized a Hawaiian luau -- with limbo and hula hoop contest -- at Landry's Seafood House for the krewe board of directors and debutante committee. She also planned the unofficial after-party at the Doubletree Guest Suites on Rocky Point Drive.

Somehow, dads and debs fit eight waltz rehearsals into three weeks, a feat all treasure as priceless quality time. Looking at their grown-up daughters, the dads had to be thinking ahead to a walk down the wedding aisle.

About 550 guests watched from tables topped with a pineapple and sliced fruit for an "Evening on the Caribbean" theme. Tropical plants and a rocky waterfall surrounded the throne of El Rey and La Reina XXX Tony and Monica Martino. Narrators El Rey XIV Ron Dyser and Knight Robert T. Fernandez took turns reading each debutante's resume.

Childhood photographs filled a large screen behind them as the debutantes emerged to curtsey to the royalty. Young attendants, 6- to 8-year-olds, jumped up to hand the debs a spray of lavender roses.

Debutante and escort strolled to the center aisle to meet her parents. Kiss, kiss and the partners switched places. Dad and daughter went to line up for the waltz; escort returned Mom to her table.

Baron XXIX Daniel Haya noted a mother-daughter debutante connection. Knight Florentino Priede sponsored Adele Hauer Geyer in the krewe's second debutante ball and this year, her daughter Lesley.

Orquesta Infinidad played as the buffet opened.

The Sant' Yago debutantes of 2002 are:

Christina Jean Anton, daughter of Jean and Squire William Anton, escorted by Steve Anton and attended by Brittany Nicole Dupre.

Jennifer Michele Armas, daughter of Teresa and Squire Ignacio Armas, escorted by Christopher Armas and attended by Miranda Mary Rametta.

Blaine Ashley Bailey, daughter of Brenda and Byron Bailey, escorted by Alberto Duboy and attended by Trina N. Batley.

Jennifer Elizabeth Blyth, daughter of Donna and Peter Blyth, escorted by Anthony Benitez and attended by Shelbi Dominguez.

Lesley Anne Geyer, daughter of Adele and William J. Geyer, escorted by Ryan Stanley and attended by Monica Quintiliani.

Lindsay Miller, daughter of Denise and Squire George Lorton, escorted by Andy Belich and attended by Christina Louise Belich.

Angelique Montes de Oca, daughter of Gilda and Manuel Montes de Oca, escorted by Mauricio Morales and attended by Courtney Summers.

Ann Marie J. Parrino, daughter of Dina Canasi and Allen Parrino, escorted by Alex Canasi and attended by Taylor Martin.

* * *

VIVO CON BRIO: The goal was 20 new VIVO (Vitally Interested Volunteers for the Florida Orchestra) members, and president Barb Izzi collected 21 dues checks at the July 25 get-together at the Tampa Museum of Art.

The usual 5 p.m. thunderstorm hit hard, but 150 guests braved the weather to make the party, co-hosted by two museum support groups, Friends of the Arts and Avant Garde. Their reward: hearing Valerie Gillespie, accompanied by her quartet, make her singing debut. They were just as impressed with the antipasto, baked brie, dips and salsas prepared by VIVO vice president Cindy Covington.

Check Datebook for details on VIVO's upcoming Jazzmataz series. The first, Aug. 20, marks Florida Orchestra concertmaster Amy Schwartz Moretti's jazz debut with her husband, Grammy-nominated drummer Steve Moretti.

* * *

STRIKE OUT ALS: About 30 Devil Rays -- players, coaches, managers, even owners -- stepped up to the plate Sunday night to help strike out Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly called Lou Gehrig's Disease.

First baseman Steve Cox and pitchers Ryan Rupe and Paul Wilson played bartenders at the Grill at Feather Sound for the fourth "Dine with the Devil Rays" staged by Devil Rays' wives Karen Hatcher, Margarita Gomez and a dozen others.

The restaurant donated the food -- prime rib -- and drinks served by the ballplayers to 170 guests. Raffle tickets went fast to win the T-shirts worn and signed by the player/waiters.

Autographed catchers' mitts, bats, balls, shirts and posters filled the silent auction tables. Bench coach Billy Holder ran the live auction of golf packages donated by former Buc Casey Weldon, private dinner parties and artwork.

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

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