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Amy Scherzer's Diary

Let them eat ... steak!

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AMY SCHERZER'S DIARY
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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 20, 2002


REASON TO ROAR: Cast members of The Lion King worked up elephantine appetites in Saturday night's awesome opening night performance at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Off came masks and makeup and the company feasted on a classic Outback Steakhouse menu: steak and mushrooms, chicken and Bloomin' Onions. Unlike last month's lively Cirque du Soleil cast party, this was a tame bunch of hyenas, monkeys and lions in a chilly tent outside Morsani Hall.

Opening-week chores kept the cast busy last week, and with eight shows a week, there wasn't much time for exploring. Already, New Yorker Josh Tower, the actor who plays teenage Simba, noted the lack of nearby dining choices. "Where are all the restaurants?" he asked.

* * *

DOLL DRESSERS DINE: They stood in silent salute, nearly 500 dolls and 400 bears, all dressed up to be delivered to needy children by the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary. But first, they were admired by auxiliary members and guests at the Tree of Lights Luncheon on Dec. 13 at the Tampa Worship Center. Three clubs -- Timeless Treasures, the St. Petersburg Doll Club and West Coast Doll Collectors -- dressed at least 75 dolls this year, said organizer Judy Smith. They also filled 80 stockings with toy trucks, cars and helicopters.

Since September, the Salvation Army has given out 7,000 stockings to be filled by Sunday school classes, TECO employees and service clubs. As of last week, Maj. Connie Mikles, Women's Ministries coordinator, said 3,000 had been returned.

Dorothy Miller, 80, was a familiar face at the luncheon. Miller -- "I don't do bears," she says -- has been sewing doll clothes for the auxiliary since 1984. This year she outfitted 44. Part of the cash for the fabric, buttons and zippers came from St. Luke AME usher board No. 3.

Brenda Falkner won the Estelle Bushnell Award for her high society doll. The auxiliary has presented the award, named for a longtime member who collected dolls, for 22 years.

* * *

SOIREE SOARS: The rain didn't dampen spirts of 100-plus Florida Orchestra soiree subscribers at the Dec. 9 concert. Harbour Island residents Teresa and Ignacio Armas hosted La Saison Joyeuse, featuring two members of the Florida Orchestra (cellist Lowell Adams and concertmaster Amy Schwartz-Moretti) and Jonathan Spivey, pianist with the Florida West Coast Symphony. Eva Dou, 12, of Carrollwood, added her piano talents while Michael Baugh, owner of Let Them Eat Cake, showed his prowess in the kitchen.

THE WORLD'S LARGEST OFFICE party wasn't a total washout, but only 800 of an expected 2,000 showed up Dec. 12 at the Hyatt Regency Tampa. If the rain hadn't kept so many away, organizers had hoped to raise about $14,000 for Prevent Blindness Florida. Still, president and CEO Sarah Jordan-Holmes was happy to receive almost $6,000, including tips earned by celebrity waiters Harry Costello (a Hill and Knowlton PR wizard) and Carolyn Bricklemyer (School Board member).

BLEAT, DON'T EAT: Haggis, the traditional Scottish dish, was presented, toasted but mostly uneaten at the Feast of the Haggis hosted by St. Andrew's Society of Tampa Bay on Dec. 7 at Palma Ceia Country Club. Dress was black-tie or formal Highland. Most of the men arrived in kilts, including Ken Walters, Fraser Hime and Ed Gallagly. The St. Andrew's Bagpipe Band set the mood but the Joe Stagi Orchestra got everyone dancing.

SEASON'S GREETINGS: The King's Guard (the men's club of the Krewe of Venus) hosted Mr. and Mrs. Santa for brunch at the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club on Sunday. Parade marshal Bill Calderazzo explained the club's latest fundraiser: 30 steel-supported boxes welded to the perimeter of the krewe's new float. Each box could hold up to three cases of beads (50 dozen per case). The idea is for members to rent a box to store their beads between parades. A small box costs $250 for five years; the full-size box rents for $500. For $1,000, the box is yours for a lifetime.

A special guest, social worker Bonnie James, Christmas coordinator at the Children's Home, was thrilled to accept more than 100 gifts for the 58 kids in residential care.

LAST CALL AT RAGANOS: Eyes misted beneath the mistletoe Saturday night at Myra and Gen. Frank "Rags" Ragano's last holiday party at their Harbour Island home. The hosts-with-the most sold the popular party house and next month will settle into a new Bella Roma townhome in Hyde Park. Guests gathered in front of the roaring fireplace, at the oyster bar and around the piano for Auld lang syne.

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

Datebook

JAN. 4: Krewe of Venus Coronation Ball; 6:30 p.m.; Tampa Convention Center; 289-9310.

JAN. 11: Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Tea Dance; meet the queen/courtier candidates; 6:30 p.m,; Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club; 251-4500.

JAN. 18: Krewe of the Knights of Sant' Yago Coronation Ball; 7 p.m.; Tampa Marriott Waterside, 248-3088.

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