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Amy Scherzer's Diary

Debutantes make grand entrance

By AMY SCHERZER
Published December 5, 2003

BOWING TO SOCIETY: Two of Tampa's oldest krewes continued a Thanksgiving tradition by welcoming their white-gowned and gloved debutantes to high society. Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla presented 18 women at the King's Debutante Ball at the Marriott Waterside on Nov. 26. Eight women, many of them from north Hillsborough County, curtsied to the Krewe of Venus on Nov. 28 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

But these young women have more than pretty faces and elite family pedigrees. All are college students or recent grads with extensive resumes and ambitious career goals.

VENUS IN BLOOM: "This is a blast," said West Point cadet Micah Green, one of eight students rounded up by the U.S. Military Academy Parents' Club to act as escorts at the Krewe of Venus' 38th annual debutante ball. Tall and handsome in dress gray uniforms, the future soldiers added an air of chivalry.

Emcee James Sitton III cited honor societies, sports awards, volunteer service, sorority and college activities as each debutante curtsied to King Venus XXXVII Robert Valdez Sr. and Queen Venus Julia Gorzka. The cadets brought out the mothers for a kiss and a rose from their debutante, ages 17 to 24. A father-daughter waltz and royal promenade made a dramatic ending. Dinner and dancing to Mac & the Damians kept the almost 300 guests till midnight.

The Krewe of Venus 2003 debutantes:

Ashley Lynn Buchanan, daughter of Van Buchanan and Donna Hofer. Ashley attends University of Tampa and was fourth runner-up in the Miss Florida USA 2004 competition.

-- Danielle Elise Justo, daughter of Yvonne and Brian Justo of Carrollwood. A graduate of Gaither High, she attends the University of South Florida.

-- Kristen Cathryn Lang, daughter of Patricia Lang and Larry Lang of Carrollwood. A graduate of Gaither High, she attends the University of Florida.

-- Alison Lynn Reteneller, daughter of Judith and Raymond Reteneller of Palma Ceia. A graduate of the Academy of the Holy Names and North Carolina State, she attends the University of South Florida.

-- Christina Plaas Sandy, daughter of Drs. Anna Plaas and John Sandy of South Tampa. A graduate of Plant High, she attends the University of Central Florida.

-- Stefanie Elise Spack, daughter of Kristine Bredeau of Carrollwood and Stephen Spack of Wesley Chapel. A graduate of Gaither High, she attends the University of South Florida.

-- Morgan Bree Stailey, daughter of Jean and David Stailey of St. Petersburg. A graduate of Clearwater Central Catholic High and Eckerd College, she works in her family's business.

-- Jamiee Lynn Underwood, daughter of Susan and Mark Persbacker of Lutz. A graduate of King High, she attends the University of South Florida College of Nursing.

GASPARILLA BALL: "These girls are going to be movers and shakers," said Pirate Michael Akins, after presenting daughter, Lauren, to 830 members and guests at the Gasparilla Ball. "They're a driven, dynamic group with substance over fluff."

King Gasparilla XC Stephen Swindal and Queen Mallory Howell led their court to the throne, announced by Krewe Capt. Fred Dobbins. Emcee Pirate Michael Thomas read each debutantes' biography as she entered on the arm of her father or sponsor. Pirates Philip Carroll and Brett Divers met them to deliver a single rose to each mother. The Joe Stagi band played for a grand march conclusion.

Many of the Gasparilla debs, such as Lindsey Von Thron, Erin Coughlin and Lauren Archerd, were childhood friends from Girl Scouts, school and church.

Gasparilla debs are college sophomores. Most of their fathers are pirates, while five were sponsored by krewe members.

Meet the 2003 Gasparilla debutantes:

-- Lauren Michele Akins, daughter of Barbara and Pirate Michael Akins. A graduate of Berkeley Preparatory, she is a sophomore at Florida State University. Her escort was Andrew Ramm.

-- Lauren Jo Archerd, daughter of JoEllen and Pirate Frederic M. Archerd Jr. A graduate of Plant High School, Lauren attends DePauw University. She was escorted by Ian Koteles.

-- Virginia Leigh Bell, daughter of Sandy and Pirate Christopher J. Bell. A graduate of Plant High School, Lauren attends Auburn University. She was escorted by Sheldon Steen.

-- Elizabeth Parsons Calfee, daughter of Betty and Pirate John Calfee. A graduate of Berkeley Preparatory, Liz attends the University of South Florida. She was escorted by Oren Justin Bassett.

-- Claire Glenn Colbert, daughter of Carol Ann and Hal Colbert. A graduate of Plant High School, Lauren attends the University of Florida. She was escorted by Dane Agostinos.

-- Erin Elizabeth Coughlin, daughter of Elaine and John P. Coughlin. A graduate of Hillsborough High School International Baccaleureate program, Erin attends Washington & Lee University. She was escorted by Paul Quinlan.

-- Ada Elizabeth Edgar, daughter of Bonnie and Pirate James R. Edgar. A graduate of Web School in Bell Buckle, Tenn., Ada attends the University of South Florida. She was escorted by Johnathan Davidson.

-- Catherine Anne Cox, daughter of Sue and Pirate William Cox. A graduate of Berkeley Preparatory, Anne attends Duke University. She was escorted by Daniel Freilich.

-- Caroline Elizabeth Fisher, daughter of Adrienne and Pirate K.C. Fisher. A graduate of Plant High, Caroline attends the University of Florida. She was escorted by William Smith Jr.

-- Meghan Qualey Fonte, daughter of Robin Nasco and Ron Fonte. A graduate of the Academy of the Holy Names, Meghan attends the University of Florida. She was escorted by Christopher Criolla.

-- Lauren Elizabeth Jones, daughter of Gaye and Pirate Galen Jones. A graduate of Berkeley Preparatory, Lauren attends Wheaton College. She was escorted by Benjamin Susek.

-- Lauren Frances Mabry, daughter of Sally and Capt. Robert C. Mabry Jr., USN, Ret. A graduate of Plant High, Lauren attends Auburn University. She was escorted by Daniel DePury.

-- Nina Angela McGucken, daughter of Angela Spicola Morgan and Pirate Stephen H. McGucken. A graduate of the Academy of the Holy Names, Nina attends the University of Florida. She was escorted by Aaron Alvarez.

-- Katherine Louise Olson, daughter of Candy and Pirate John Olson. A graduate of Plant High, Katherine attends Harvard University. She was escorted by Lee Murray.

-- Melissa Marie Phillips, daughter of Debra Phillips and Pirate James C. Phillips Jr. A graduate of Plant High, Melissa attends the University of Florida. She was escorted by Roger Beaubien.

-- Amy Heath Sharp, daughter of Susan Sharp and William Sharp. A graduate of Berkeley Preparatory, Amy attends the University of the South. She was escorted by Robert Applebaum.

-- Lindsey Ann Von Thron, daughter of Ann and Pirate James C. Von Thron. A graduate of Plant High, Lindsey attends Wake Forest University. She was escorted by Anthony Brannan.

-- Rosemary Elizabeth Williams, daughter of Joan and Pirate J. Hulon Williams III. A graduate of Berkeley Prep, Rosemary attends Auburn University. She was escorted by Vincent Mark Chillura.

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

[Last modified December 8, 2003, 15:24:47]

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