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Amy Scherzer's Diary

Ladies bond over lunch

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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 3, 2003

LOOK BACK AT THE OUTBACK: Volunteers were the key to extending Tampa-style hospitality to hundreds of visitors at the Outback Bowl. A dozen events preceded Wednesday's game, including the Ladies Luncheon on Dec. 27, co-chaired by the dynamic duo Angeles Ferlita and Barbara Major for their fourth time.

Wives and daughters of the coaches of the guest teams were driven to Roy's, which opened at noon just for their Hawaiian fusion lunch. (They didn't have grilled kangaroo, but it was on the menu.) Hospitality committee members greeted the 90-plus women, then fanned out to find a seat at every table.

Guest of honor Laurie Carr, wife of University of Michigan coach Lloyd, said she had great memories of her last trip to Tampa in 1996. Denise Zook, wife of Gator coach Ron, was enjoying a whole day with her two daughters, Jacquelyn, 19, and Casey, 16, and mother-in-law Dorothy Zook of Lake Worth.

After lunch, everyone reboarded the bus to spend the afternoon shopping at WestShore Plaza, another sponsor. Goodie bags full of shopping certificates were waiting for them when they arrived at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Hospitality committee member Pat Colvard recalled the first year of then-named Hall of Fame Bowl when she took eight or nine of the coaches' wives to lunch at the Colonnade. Pat Daley took the University of Georgia cheerleaders out on her boat. That's her alma mater, and she was head cheerleader.

OUTBACK FETE REDUX: She was at it again Monday night; Barbara Major chaired the 17th Outback Bowl Presidents' Reception. Buses, limos and cars jammed the A La Carte Pavilion parking lot, delivering about 1,500 sponsors, college administrators, university athletic directors and spouses for a boisterous buffet of Outback Steakhouse-owned eateries.

Chaise lounges, comfy arm chairs and seven food stations dotted the seductive ballroom: Roy's, Carrabba's, Flemings, Bonefish Grill, Lee Roy Selmon's, Outback Steakhouse and A La Carte's total chocolate bar, where even the candelabra and grapes were coated in the aphrodisiac. The Gil Machin Orchestra played for the diners.

To get into Sneaky Pete's Cigar Bar, AKA the A La Carte terrace, guests knocked on a leather-covered door, showed the key that came in their invitation, then traded it in for a stogie from Metropolitan Cigars of Ybor City. Two caricaturists, a fortune teller, a digital photographer and a bowler-wearing pianist set up shop in the bistro setting.

SEEING AND SIPPING: Tampa Bay Wine Brats hooked up with Avant Garde members of Tampa Museum of Art for a Bring Your Own Bottle holiday party Dec. 19. Mixing art and wine was easy for Taylor Eason, who founded the local Wine Brats chapter four years ago. Likewise for Avant Garde co-presidents Jennifer Zimmerman and Lindsey Bettendorf, who are all about getting exposure for young artists such as the five exhibiting that night.

Two wine bars inside and two more on the back deck of Marlene Gregg's Channel District warehouse/home kept the crowd of 275 moving around. Admission was $15 -- plus a bottle of wine under $10. That netted $2,000, which the two groups split.

Almost all of the artists sold at least one piece at the party. Of course, 6-foot-10 St. Petersburg artist Jim Hulett was hard to miss. Many recognized North Shore palm trees in his paintings. Also showing great work: Bob Dorsey and his wife, Katy Hernandez Dorsey, Nathan Alexander and Kathleen Deasy.

HOLIDAY VIEWING: Artist pals Josette Urso and Carolyn Heller reunited for their sixth holiday boutique open house. Heller cooked up seven huge pots of gumbo for the 300-plus good friends and good customers who stopped by her Regents Park townhouse Dec. 19, including Jim Porter, Franci Rudolph, Emmy Acton, Michael Maher, Bryne and Audrey Marston and Kathleen Williams. The big glass bowl of toasted pecans (bet you can't eat just one) disappeared by the handful.

Heller's art -- flowerly and fun-loving, just like her -- cheered tin watering cans, laminated placemats, umbrellas and canvas aprons.

Tampa native-turned New Yorker Urso said she makes her distinctive collage jewelry just once a year, just for fun, just for friends like Lizbeth Potts and Sandra Duncan. She makes her own invitations; no two are alike. They're usually a collage of recent artwork. Friends know to bring them along for autographs. When she's back in New York, Urso prefers to concentrate on the paintings she began in Ireland last summer.

Her artist mom, Connie Urso, was there, too. She just sold two of her acrylic paintings -- Sunday Afternoon and Night Time -- to the Hillsborough County Public Art Program.

WELCOMING ARMS: The women's auxiliary of the Krewe of Venus, the wonderfully named Arms of Venus, got together on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon for Christmas tea and mid day mimosas. They chatted up the social club's newest debutantes Dec. 22 in the party room at 345 Bayshore Blvd. while sampling quiche and miniature meatballs. Debbie Rivera of Distinctive Creations set up shop, too. She sells jewelry, accessories and dressy purses.

Debutantes Mary Sladky and Aubrey Williams, both USF students, shared memories of last month's coming-out party. "Elegant and emotional," Sladky described the ball. "It was almost magical being the center of attention." Agreed Williams: "I love being on stage."

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


SATURDAY: 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.

JAN. 18: Grand Krewe de Libertalia Founders' Ball, 7 p.m.; Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club; $75; Proceeds benefit Hillsborough Education Foundation.

JAN. 19: Friends of the Arts Guilders and Sustainers Cocktail Party; invitation-only; 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Jim Ferman Jr. residence; 274-8130.

JAN. 25: Einstein on Wine, which benefits MOSI, $50; 6-9 p.m.; 4801 E. Fowler Ave.; 987-6000.

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