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Boys & Girls Clubs big winner in casino cruise

By MARY JANE PARK
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 30, 2002

Clear skies and calm waters offered smooth sailing for Friday's Casino Royale aboard the StarShip Dining Yacht, a benefit for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast.

It was the inaugural Pinellas charity event on the 180-foot yacht, and the happy chatter among guests on all three decks indicated it was a social success as well as a financial boost for the Pinellas County youth development organization.

Greeting guests were executive director Carl Lavender, guild president Karol Bullard and benefit co-chairwomen Catherine McGarry and Lenne Nicklaus-Ball.

Also seen aboard were Cary and Joan Putrino, Bill and Sandi Frear, Susan Cameron, Kelley Kline, Celma Mastry and Dr. Joe Pilkington, Sally Poynter and Mike Tillman, Charles and Judy Willis, Edie Spies and John Murphy, G.W. and Sharon Clayton Keller, Richard and Diane Winning, Jack and Fran Nohren, Don and Connie Whitehead, Maggi McQueen and Mike Keefer.

I said hello to Paula Blanda, Hugh Ann Cason-Kelly, Ann Foster, Patsy Dunlap, Allison Grotheer, Skip and Kim Horstman, Pete and Lorraine Danna, Dick and Barbara Royston, Judy Quinlan, Judy Stanton, Barbara Johnson, Mary Wyatt Allen, Sheila Tempelmann, Dr. Al and Myrna Davis, Kalju and Johanna Nekvasil, Greig and Daurolyn Pratt and Geordie and Cheri Jenner.

The nighttime view of St. Petersburg and environs drew exclamatory comments as we sailed about the bay.

There was a lot of activity at the "gaming tables" on the first deck, competitive silent auction bidding on the second and dancing under the stars on the third, where Luna Soleil performed music that ranged from swing to disco.

The evening began with champagne and ended with flaming desserts, Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubilee.

"Big Red," the 1968 Cadillac DeVille convertible donated by Jeff and Brandi Winans, drew a purchase price of $11,000 from a St. Petersburg buyer; it also had been offered on eBay.

Jeff Winans inherited the classic automobile from his grandfather; originally it was metallic green. In its current incarnation, the refurbished convertible is Corvette Red.

Friday's event earned more than $30,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs.

* * *

Saturday's Night of Stars at the Hilton St. Petersburg drew some of the same luminaries. Many of them were in the hotel ballroom that morning, arranging flowers, greenery and lighting.

The setting was elegant, with tables and chairs covered in white and silver epergnes filled with arrangements of ivy and white roses, orchids, Queen Anne's lace and lilies.

Tiny white lights twinkled in topiaries and in ferns lushly arranged around the stage. Tall white columns held verdant cascades.

Candy Scherer was chairwomen of the gala to benefit the Pinellas Association of Retarded Citizens, and she greeted guests along with PARC president Curt and Peggy Thomas and honorary chairs Rick and Candy Trammel.

The Trammels have 19-year-old triplets, Amanda, Kayla and Kristen, all graduates of PARC's Discovery Learning Center.

Amanda is studying molecular and marine biologies at Florida Tech, Kayla has been teaching at PARC, and Kristen is studying psychology at St. Petersburg College.

Actors dressed as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe strolled among the crowd, where I also saw Susie and Dr. Houston Babcock, Judy and Troy Holland, Stephanie and Del Goforth, T.W. Curtis, Dale and Helen DeWalt, Mary and Fred Shuh, Sally Poynter, Diane and Richard Winning, Edie Spies and John Murphy.

Also present were Linda Kliehammer, Connie Whitehead, Carole and Dr. Lawrence Merritt, Celma Mastry and Dr. Joe Pilkington, Cynthia Fox, Betsy Owens, Noel Sams, Maggi McQueen and Mike Keefer, Maritza Smith, Marty Medley, Tom and MaryAnn Fisher, Bill and Ria McQueen, Joann Barger, Anne and Steve Anderson, Leslie Ann Curry, Bob Bozeman, and Johnny Green and Ellie Poole, whose orchid corsage and its colorful trailing ribbons looked smashing attached to her skirt.

Increasingly, men seem to be forgoing black ties for collar studs; the trend is a nice contemporary alternative.

Inside the ballroom, Ray Ann Strauss and granddaughter Amber Rae Brunner gave me a few tips at the blackjack tables as Willie Thompson warmed up with Thelonious Funk, the dinner and dance band for the evening.

I went by Vinoy Park afterward, savoring the sounds and fireworks at the annual Florida Orchestra concert that is Realtor Helen Torres' gift to the community.

Looking ahead

Friday

FURS, BANGLES AND BEADS: 17th annual benefit for Infinity, the League to Aid Abused Children and Adults. Cocktails, dinner, dancing and silent auction. Black tie optional, 6:30 p.m. St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave. $75. 866-0202.

Saturday

WEEDON ISLAND INTERPRETIVE CENTER RIBBON CUTTING: Friends of Weedon Island sponsors ribbon cutting for Weedon Island Preserve Cultural & Natural History Center. 217-7208.

75TH ANNIVERSARY BANQUET: St. Augustine Episcopal Church celebration. Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, guest speaker. 6 p.m. Hilton St. Petersburg, 333 First St. S. $50. 864-4719.

FISH HEAD BALL: Ninth annual fundraiser for environmental educational programs at Pier Aquarium. Buffet dinner. Island casual, 8 p.m.-midnight. Port of St. Petersburg, 250 Eighth Ave. SE. $40. 895-7437.

Sunday

DESIGNER CLOTHING SALE: Benefit for CASA Amigas offers up to 80 percent off selected merchandise at Coplon's, 156 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. From noon to 5 p.m. $10 advance; $15 at door. 895-4912, ext. 101. Continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesday

SWORD OF HOPE: American Cancer Society group luncheon, general meeting. Guest speaker: Bob Samuels, chairman, Florida Prostate Cancer Network, Tampa. 11:30 a.m. St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave. $14. 343-9504.

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

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