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Saks on catwalk draws admirers

© St. Petersburg Times
published October 23, 2002

As faithful On the Town readers know, I was away for a long weekend while many of you were busy doing good things for good causes.

Kathy Saunders, a friend and contributor to these pages, took notes Thursday at the 12th annual fall fashion show and luncheon to benefit Alpha, "A Beginning," Inc., a crisis pregnancy and community outreach center.

ALPHA is an acronym for the agency's founding principles: accomplishment, life, purpose, hope and acceptance.

All of those qualities apparently were in evidence at the event, which took place in the ballroom at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg. For the second year, it featured designs from Saks Fifth Avenue in Tampa.

"When the lights went down," Saunders wrote, the room "was transformed into a New York runway with fashions, music, professional models and clothes for every occasion.

"The show had it all, from hip-hugging denim jeans to St. John knit suits, full-length fur coats and ... evening wear."

Janet Peterson and Kathy Nestor were co-chairwomen for the benefit, the charity's biggest ever. It drew a crowd of more than 300 and raised $35,000.

Jill Dunn brought friends Kris Grant, Tammy Greenberg, Amy Daniels, Dr. Jane Nunnelly, Kay Bronstein, Cynthia Baran, Donna Tyler and Susan Neustadt. Nearby were Debra Crupi, Toni Walsh, Janet Allweiss, Dr. Mimi Houlton, Sue Knipe and Sue Heron.

Other familiar faces were John Burns and his daughter, Jamie Tomlin; Carole Merritt, Anje Bogott, Joann Barger, Suzanne MacDougald and Lyn Orns.

Betty Wood and Elaine Newman of Tampa crossed the bay for the event, and Liz Mastry and Shannon McNeill brought their respective mothers-in-law, Celma Mastry and Sue McNeill.

Worth Collection representative Elaine Hearn wore a lime-green suit with a boa to match; Dawn Ditata took home the diamond bracelet donated by Belleair Bluffs jeweler Robert Young.

Alpha's board president, Joe Saunders, talked about its new partnership with Operation PAR to improve admissions and strengthen the program. Shirley Coletti, who founded that organization, attended with Nancy Hamilton and board member Paulette Hadley.

Also making presentations were Kathy Werner, vice president and general manager of Saks in Tampa; Bishop Robert Lynch, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, who gave the invocation; and Irene Maher, of WFLA-TV Ch. 8, who was mistress of ceremonies.

* * *

A festive crowd jammed the Tampa Bay Palm in Tampa's WestShore Plaza on Oct. 15 to celebrate the restaurant's first anniversary hereabouts and to seek out its newest celebrity caricatures.

Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened the original Palm on Second Avenue in New York City in the 1920s. The walls of each restaurant in the chain bear the likenesses of local notables and national celebrities, a tradition begun when the original owners had no money to decorate and got newspaper staffers to draw cartoons on the walls in exchange for a plate of spaghetti.

A slew of bay area media personalities -- among them Keith Cate, Matt Cherry, Paul Dellegatto, Denis Phillips, Anne Dwyer, Tom Curran, Steve Jerve, Eric Chilton and Brian Fasulo -- are new additions, along with the Bucs' Jon Gruden, Shelton Quarles and Ken Dilger, and many other community notables.

Manager Dave Crusoe closed the Palm to business, and servers circulated food and drink; even prospective diners who arrived not knowing about the party were invited inside.



PAWS ON PARADE PET WALK: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals/Nestle-Purina event. 8:30 a.m.-noon. North Shore Park, downtown St. Petersburg. Call 586-3591.

NIGHT OF STARS: 33rd annual gala benefits PARC. Dinner, dancing, casino, silent and live auctions. Black tie. 6:30 p.m. Hilton St. Petersburg, 333 First St. S. $150. 345-9111.

-- Mary Jane Park can be reached at (727) 893-8267; fax (727) 893-8675; e-mail; P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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