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Mingling for a good cause

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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 27, 2002

THRIFTY AND NIFTY: Junior Leaguers knew they would be too tired to party after last week's record-breaking thrift sale (more than 3,000 attacked the convention center by 10 a.m.), so they threw two parties the week before. Laurin and Rex Farrior III opened their Davis Islands manse for the Patron's Party on Sept. 12. (They are expecting baby "Boo" Farrior Oct. 31.) Sponsors and patrons ate hors d'oeuvres from SideBern's, Bern's and pasta from Amore around the pool, then headed indoors to indulge in homemade desserts from the League's cookbook, The Life of the Party. The $17.95 book will be published next month.

Past president Ruthanne McLean beamed at how big her "baby" (the sale) had grown. She organized the first thrift sale for the Junior League 39 years ago at the old Tampa Electric building on N Boulevard. It made $7,000. This year's sale took in $62,000.

The League's Auction Party lured 1,000 partiers in shorts and sun dresses to the Florida Aquarium to bid on more than 300 items. The largest: a baby grand piano, sold for $9,500. Guests rocked outside to Full Circle and in the lobby to Jamm Balaya. Rio Bravo catered dinner; Laura York, Russell Rhodes and Paul Dellegatto were masters of ceremony and auctioned four items.

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DRESSED TO SHOP: The Fashion Targets Breast Cancer kickoff party led 400 chic shoppers to Saks Fifth Avenue on Sept. 18. They paid $50 apiece to have the store to themselves as waiters from The Palm circulated steak and crab cakes. Saks donated 2 percent of sales that night and the next three days. The effort raised $70,000 for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.

Co-chair Lisa Mulfinger, a breast cancer survivor who is pregnant with twins boys due in January, added live and silent auctions and a mini-casino to the fourth-annual shopping soiree. Mulfinger was 33 when she found a lump in her breast. Five surgeries and six months of chemotherapy later, she is a big Moffitt fan.

So is Margaret Newman Smith, executive aide to Mayor Dick Greco. The tumor in her lung has shrunk and she is back to playing tennis. "I'm feeling like my old self," she says.

Bob Renz and Win Weber lounged in loveseats in the shoe department while their wives shopped. Martinis made of Hamptons Vodka impressed Corey Steadman. Palm general manager David Crusoe played auctioneer before sponsors and patrons piled in a limo to go the Palm for cheesecake and coffee.

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GUILD TUNING UP: The former Manning residence in Culbreath Isles was a spectacular spot to hold the Florida Orchestra Guild/Tampa's annual Tune-Up Party on Sept. 20. New and returning members explored upstairs and downstairs of the almost 8,000-square-foot waterfront home. Asking price: nearly $3.5 million. The brunch buffet filled the dining room and foyer, and white chairs filled the family room. Principal percussionist John Shaw played his American Revolution-era field rope drum, which carried the hand-painted slogan Carpe auris ("Seize your ears"). Shaw has a great sense of humor and has been known to play a bundt pan or two.

Co-chairs Shirley Fitzgerald and Eileen Snyder itemized a full calendar for the year: Three Coffee Concerts at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, five Musical Morning talks, five soiree evenings and two upcoming VIVO Jazzmatazz nights.

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STILL AMONG FRIENDS: Co-chairman Mark Feingold participated in every "Just Among Friends" dinner benefit for the Child Abuse Council from 1984 to 1995. For 11 years, Feingold and other supporters would team up to host intimate dinner parties at their homes. Each dinner sounded so delicious that RSVP checks went in the mail as fast as one could lick a stamp.

For its 25th anniversary, the Child Abuse Council changed the name to "Still Among Friends" and scattered nine themed food stations around Mise en Place on Sunday night. Many former hosts were among the nearly 200 friends, including Mary Frost, Celia Ferman, Carolyn and Bob Yelverton and Liz and David Kennedy. Tickets were $125.

The late Barbara the Losen, the artist who drew the original "Just Among Friends" invitations, also was remembered as guests sat beneath the mural she painted over the bar. John O'Connor of Baccus Wines donated the wine selection. Jazz Xperience played in the Lafayette Room as the evening wound down.

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EINSTEIN DINE: Energy equals nine restaurants hosting emceed square meals, all for the Museum of Science and Industry. Einstein Dine, baby brother of Einstein on Wine, drew 170 diners Sept. 14, each paying $150. The event cleared about $20,000.

"I thought about asking the restaurants to give small dinner parties at MOSI," said longtime board member Rob Pariseau, the brain behind both Einstein events. Instead, restaurants staged their own suppers, donating the food, and Premier Beverages covered the cost of the wine.

Guests included Tom and Christine Tollette at Fleming's; Kelly and Brian Fenstermacher at Ristorante Francesco and Jay and Maxine Wolfson at Mise en Place. Others dined at Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club, Marchand's at the Vinoy, Mia's, the Palm, Profusion and the Columbia.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACK: Cardiothoracic surgeon Jack Brock thought he was going to a black-tie charity event at the Florida Aquarium with his wife, Liana, on Saturday night. He was stunned to find 350 friends and colleagues there to wish him a happy 50th birthday. Partners, Edward Izzo and Mark Alkire, threw the party for the "guy I'd want to operate on me," said Izzo. An avid fisherman known for sea skills as well as surgical skills, Brock trained with famed heart surgeon Michael DeBakey in Houston. Overwhelmed by all the attention, Brock said the party was his idea of what heaven must be like.

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

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