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Amy Scherzer's Diary

Pediatrician's work honored

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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 14, 2003

STEPPING OUT: A surprised and flattered Daniel Plasencia heard his name called as Pediatrician of the Year at the 10th Stepping Out Gala to benefit St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation. He was stunned to see his daughter and son-in-law, Lina and Jordan Fairchild of Houston, his daughter Carmen of Orlando, and his parents, Jose and Carmen. (Son Danny was elsewhere, playing right field for the University of Louisville.)

Dr. Plasencia helped establish the pediatric intensive care unit at St. Joseph's Hospital and served as director for 15 years. His wife, Nilda, chaired the first Stepping Out Gala and has been on the committee ever since.

Seven tiny violinists, ages 3 to 7, tugged the heart strings of more than 600 guests at the $175-per-plate dinner at the Hyatt Regency Tampa on Saturday. The seven play as the USF Suzuki Ensemble . Instead of the usual extensive silent auction array, just one piece of jewelry was offered. Gesner Estate Jewelry donated a 1920s-era art nouveau pendant, 18-carat gold sprinkled with a carat of diamonds.

The ball brought in $160,000, said chairwoman Eileen Meurer, one of the 13 founding members still involved. Proceeds go to the pediatric cardiac catheterization lab. In 10 years, the gala has raised more than $1-million for the foundation.

* * *

FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD: Eating, drinking, silent auction shopping and "Dancing in the Street" entertained guests at Kid City, the Children's Museum on Saturday night. Karl Slover, one of the original Munchkins in the 1939 classic film Wizard of Oz, came out to sign autographs and pose for pictures. At 9 p.m., he led guests down a freshly painted yellow path to see some of the concepts being discussed for a proposed new children's museum. Architect John Curran of GouldEvans Associates drew up the plans after a brainstorming session with 10 adults and 10 kids.

Silent auction tables and dinner buffets catered by Aramark rimmed the outdoor museum at 7550 N Boulevard, once the site of the city's Safety Village. Smooth Groove Productions got the crowd swaying and dancing to Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The next morning, 70 parents and kids came to eat Sunday brunch in the miniature City Hall with Munchkin Slover, plus Glinda the good witch and a couple of Dorothy and Toto impersonators. No wicked witches were invited.

* * *

MEET THE NEW O'MALLEY: Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O'Malley has elected its 11th ruler. State appellate court lawyer Carol Rodriguez took the helm as O'Malley XI on Saturday at Higgins Hall. She was escorted by her husband, Bert, chairman of the Inter-Krewe Council, and children Damien and Desiree.

The 300 guests came from near and far. Twenty-two krewes were invited, including emissaries from Bienville, Ala., where Mardi Gras originated, the Billy Bowlegs Festival in Pensacola, the Buffalo Soldiers, Ladies of the Crown, the Rough Riders and the krewes of Mambi, Venus, Sant' Yago, Neptune, Hernando DeSoto and Fort Brooke. All wore their most colorful costumes.

* * *

ARTFUL EVENING: Sunday in the Arts filled the University of Tampa's Scarfone/Hartley Galleries with the works of 50 women artists, sponsored by Las Damas de Arte. In the center of the gallery, artisans sold jewelry and handbags. Buffets and bars scattered around the exhibition came from Gourmet Pizza, Skipper's Smokehouse, Toojays, Delectables and Ybor City Brewing Co. The lively music came from perennial favorites, the Michael Ross Duo and Molten Mike and Dr. Good Sax. Burdines has been a major sponsor for at least 10 years.

Organized in 1971, Las Damas de Arte has 60 members and unlimited associate members promoting art in the community. The exhibition can be seen and purchased through March 27. Proceeds go to art scholarships and grant money for local art students.

* * *

EVER SEE A TIGER SWING DANCE? The Florida Suncoast Princeton Alumni Association roared to the sounds of Jennifer and the Venturas at the club's first dinner dance. Of about 200 members, some 30 recent undergrads and long-ago graduates turned up for dinner and dancing at the Tampa Yacht Club on Feb. 28. Among the most fashionable Princeton Tigers: club president Bob Isbell ('60) and John Pieper ('65) in orange print dinner jackets. Also on the dance floor: vice president Jeffrey Shannon ('80); internist Jeff Miller ('66); Michael Moule ('93); Larry Dougherty ('85); and treasurer Charles ('90) and Elizabeth Fisher ('91). Missing that night: George Hochschwender, class of '43, one of the club's most senior members.

* * *

GUILD ON THE GO: Florida Orchestra Guild members and guests eyed spring styles, ate Profusion's sushi and salmon, and dressed paper dolls at An Interactive Fashion Experience at Nieman Marcus on Feb. 28. Suzette Berkman was the high bidder on the $1,000 gift certificate donated by the store.

A few days later, many of the same guild members cooked lunch and baked treats for the Musicians' Appreciation Luncheon at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. This year's special guest: former Florida Orchestra conductor Thomas Wilkins, now resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony. "A joyful reunion," said guild president Gayle Bertelstein.

* * *

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DIANA. More than 100 friends partied at the University Club as Diana Winoker, diving diva and Salomon Smith Barney senior vice president, turned the big 5-0. Diana wasn't the only one happy as a clam at the Feb. 28 fete. The Florida Aquarium netted a finful of donations to the Joe Winoker Memorial Fund, which benefits the shark exhibit where her late father was a longtime volunteer.

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


TONIGHT: Chiselers Market Preview Party, cocktail buffet and auction, 7-9 p.m., University of Tampa Lobby. $50. 960-3721.

TONIGHT: International Academy of Design and Technology presents Total Exposure to benefit the American Cancer Society. Student gallery showing, 6 p.m.; fashion show, 8 p.m., Tampa Convention Center. $15 in advance, $20 at the door. 880-8088.

MARCH 22: Friends of the Arts Jazzy Bootleg Bash benefits Tampa Museum of Art, 8 p.m., Mise en Place, 442 W Kennedy Blvd. Period attire encouraged. $40 in advance, $50 at the door, cash bar. 282-7210.

MARCH 23: Oscar Night America benefits historic Tampa Theatre, 7 p.m., 711 Franklin St. $45, includes dinner; $25, includes hors d'oeuvres. 274-8981.

MARCH 28: Cattle Barons' Ball benefits American Cancer Society. Live auction, midway games, casino, pig races. 7 p.m., A La Carte Pavilion. $150. 254-3630, ext. 307.

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