KUDOS FOR KENNEDY: "We love Liz," cheered the crowd of hundreds when Liz Kennedy was named the 2003 Civitan of the Year on Monday at the Florida State Fair Governor's Luncheon.
Kennedy looked flabbergasted when 1994 recipient Leonard Levy reeled off her resume: founder and past president of the Child Abuse Council, board member of the Children's Home for more than 25 years, organizer of the Ophelia Project and so much more.
Everybody - city, county, School Board, TECO and Ye Mystic Krewe officials - showed up for the annual luncheon this year. Even Jeb! 100 YEARS AND COUNTING: Gasparilla tributes began Thursday at the Florida State Fair opening day luncheon sponsored by the Florida Department of Citrus. During lunch, guests whisked through a nostalgic Century of Fashion, scripted and narrated by Betty Wood.
Sisters Mallory Lykes and Susan Mueller modeled Victorian styles along with Susan Lane and Ellen McLean. Lisa Pearson wore a flapper dress that belonged to the late Jean Ann Cone, who "certainly had more fun in it than anyone," Wood said.
Hemlines went up and down through the years as Maggie Newman modeled a poodle skirt and Nancy Skemp vamped in a hot pink disco dress.
Escort service was provided by Jim Judy and Jack Harris, who donned bowler, fedora, straw, cowboy and other hats. Sisters-in-law Peyton Woodroffe and Liz Woodroffe, Lauren Thomas and Shannon Gillen modeled today's sportswear. The finale was Gasparilla queens, twins Mallory and Courtney Howell, shimmering in their coronation gowns.
The Agriculture Woman of the Year honoree was the impressive cattle baroness Jennie Lee Zipperer.
LATER THAT NIGHT, almost 2,000 pirates, their mates and many out-of-town guests partied at the Captain's Ball hosted by Capt. Fred Dobbins and his wife, Lesley, at the Tampa Yacht Club.
Pirates dressed up in their fancy duds - satin, velvet and lace. No grubby parade pants at this affair. Even in formal gowns and cocktail dresses, the women were outdressed. Krewe executive director Jim Tarbet, who hails from Edinborough, Scotland, accessorized his costume with U.S. flag beads in honor of becoming an American citizen three months ago.
Inside, pianist Joe Stagi played for his fans. Outside in the big tent, the Skycoasters band from New York packed the dance floor.
INVASION DAY PARTY hosts Erika and Don Wallace didn't miss a trick at their annual Gasparilla gathering. Guests stepped through a pirate ship facade covering the front of their Bayshore Boulevard mansion. Another enormous pirate ship, this one made of rum cake, anchored the buffet catered by Mise en Place.
Clever craft projects, a climbing wall and two inflatable moon jumps kept kindergarteners from Gorrie Elementary School busy. Everyone left with goodie bags loaded with pirate hats, beads and cool bottle holder necklaces made of red and black beads.
Another incredibly generous host, John Fitzgibbons, opened his Harbour Island home to more than 1,500 people, who watched the Jose Gasparilla and its fleet sail up the channel. Guests sipped mimosas and screwdrivers until the 60 liters of vodka dried up at 2:30 p.m. The seemingly endless supply of Cuban sandwiches and desserts from Wright's Gourmet House got partygoers through the day. Not a crumb remained.
Fitzgibbons said the 13th annual invasion party went smoother than usual thanks to wristbands, which controlled the number of guests, and private guards. Several guests commented on his elaborate invitations, which cost two stamps to mail.
LIKE AN ANGEL: There just aren't enough adjectives to describe the adoration that followed diva Renee Fleming's solo concert Feb. 6 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, part of the Homes by Helen Opera Series. About 100 Opera League members and others gushed with praise at a dessert party that followed at Morsani Hall.
"Her smile lit up the stage," Barb Izzi said. "Her voice floats, pure and high soprano,' Helene Pepper said. "She loved the audience and the audience loved her," Lea Davis said. "Three encores," Stephanie Amberg said. Gayle Bertelstein marveled that she sang in German, Italian, French and English - four of the eight languages she speaks. Or nine, if you count Elvish. She is the voice of Gollum just before he dies in the film Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. She can be heard on seven tracks on the movie's score.
THURSDAY: LAMPLighters Luncheon of Light and fashion show, with outfits from Saks Fifth Avenue, benefits Metropolitan Ministries and Joshua House; 11 a.m. at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay; $75; 250-3737.
THURSDAY: VIVO Jazz Night with music by Impromptu, a cash bar and complimentary appetizers; 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Viva la Frida! Cafe y Galeria, 5901 N Florida Ave.; VIVO members, $10 in advance, $15 at the door, others, $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
FEB. 20: DeBartolo Family Foundation All-Star Charity Spectacular with guest speaker Gen. Tommy Franks; 6:30 p.m. at A La Carte Pavilion; $250; 964-8302.
FEB. 25: Fortissimo, the Florida Orchestra Guild fashion show with musician and media models; 11:00 a.m. at A La Carte Pavilion; $55; 249-8260.