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One prime park fest; plaid pants; big hearts

By ERNEST HOOPER
Published October 2, 2003

The Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Committee staged its annual Latin Day Fest on Wednesday at Lykes Park. After watching folks devour almost 700 plates of pork, rice and black beans, I have only one question.

Why do it only once a year?

I'm not trying to burden the committee or event chair Desiree Valdes with too much work. After all, the committee still has its inaugural gala coming up Oct. 11 at the downtown Hyatt Regency.

But Wednesday's lunchtime park picnic was such a good time. The Buccaneers cheerleaders made an appearance, Freedom High flutist Jose Valentino Ruiz provided some great Latin music, and the event raised money for a good cause: two Latino scholarships, one in the name of deceased city employee Fermin "Danny" Rodriguez and one to honor fallen Tampa police Officer Lois Marrero.

I can't help but think this is what a downtown park should be about: music, fun and food. With the weather cooling off, couldn't we at least get something going at Lykes Park once a month?

* * *

More than 200 people were warmly surprised at a Cuban Club social last week.

When club members gathered for their monthly happy hour, they had no idea they would end up being entertained by the legendary Otis Day.

Day (real name DeWayne Jessie) is the character from the 1978 film National Lampoon's Animal House whose band, Otis Day and The Knights, played the toga party at Delta house. Thanks to the movie, the character actor's role evolved into an act that still performs today.

"He very much has a presence," said Frank Sanchez. "I couldn't readily tell who he was, but when I saw him, I was wondering, "Who is this guy?' He commanded your attention."

No one could tell me why Day was at the Cuban Club, but he did end up singing a few songs, including Otis Redding's (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay, the Temptations' My Girl and, of course, Shout.

* * *

And speaking of cult movie comedies, a Caddyshack party is planned for Saturday at Club Skye, 1509 Eighth Ave. Folks are encouraged to dress like their favorite characters from the movie. Believe it or not, plaid pants and knickers are welcomed.

Music will be culled from the late '70s and early '80s, and I'm also told some Baby Ruth bars will be floating around.

* * *

When it comes to local athletes doing good deeds, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Dave Andreychuk may have a new rival.

The Vinny Lecavalier Foundation is staging its first fundraiser Oct. 11 at the Bahasa Lounge, 2408 W Kennedy Blvd.

Studio 419 Entertainment, the promoters who staged Simeon Rice's St. Pete Times Forum soiree last month, are helping Lecavalier put together this bash.

Canadian beer and liquors will be served and the event will include a silent auction. A hockey rink will be placed in the Bahasa parking lot and fans will be able to challenge Lightning players in a slap shot contest.

Tickets are $20 and proceeds will go toward Lecavalier's work with youth-related illnesses at All-Children's Hospital.

That's all I'm saying.

- Ernest Hooper can be reached at 226-3406 or Hooper@sptimes.com

[Last modified October 2, 2003, 02:49:35]


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