Saturday's Monster Bash Ball for the Science Center had a ghoulish effect on the ballroom at the Hilton St. Petersburg, where masked phantoms holding silver candelabra greeted guests who entered through black velvet draperies.
Did the huge spiders that were table centerpieces spin all those webs before dinner?
Master of ceremonies Gus Stavros was accompanied by his wife, Frances; their daughter Ellen and sons Paul and Mark. As Harpo Marx, Paul Stavros won the costume contest, even though the role rendered him mute for the evening.
The evening included a tribute to the Margaret Dickens Family Foundation and a champagne toast to Susan Gordon, the Science Center's executive director for 25 years.
Other party-goers included Diane Klingel, her son Brad and his wife, Theresa, who designed the clever orange and black invitations and tombstone-shaped response cards; Clayton and Julie Wilcox; Sharon Clayton; Sally Poynter; Edie Spies and John Murphy; Richard and Diane Winning; Jeff Harring; Don Whitehead; Charlotte and Jim Krizek; Nicholas and Marta Kozlov; Carol Decker; Chris and Jenny Delia; and Robert and Jillian Doyle.
Susan Parsons Van Butsel and Paula Blanda were co-chairs for the gala, aided by Connie Whitehead, Theresa Klingel, Pat Howells and Jeanice Harring.
* * *A black stretch Lincoln purred outside the Royal Theater on Friday night, its emergency lights blinking in the dark.
Somebody guessed it was for Angela Bassett, the actor from St. Petersburg who gave money for the dance studio in the renovated Boys & Girls Clubs site.
"Laura Bush is stopping by," somebody else said, gesturing toward the red carpet that led to the stairs.
"I think it's the mayor," guessed another.
In fact, Mayor Rick Baker and his wife, Joyce, were inside the theater, taking part in the grand opening gala.
The limousine was for Elzora Motley, who with her late husband, Bill, has stayed the course of the organization for years.
Young women in ball gowns and young men in black suits with royal purple vests and ties led tours of the site, which includes a recording studio and computer lab.
You can read more about the Royal elsewhere in today's Neighborhood Times; Friday's ceremonies featured performances by Tia Murphy, Michele Green, Dino Burns and Naudia Campbell and presentations from executives Carl Lavender Jr., Mark Dawson, Janice Lockridge Williams and Herbert Murphy.
Seen in the crowd were Frank and Wanda Hayes Riddick, T.W. Curtis, John and Alicia Bryan, Shrimatee Ojah-Maharaj, Charlie and Donna Roberts, Kenny Irby, Kachira Irby, Linda Noble Welch, Annette Howard, Sheryl Miller Harvey, Ken and Donna Welch, Darryl Rouson, Earnest Williams, Maurice Harvey, Ford and Barb Kyes, Terri Lipsey Scott, Jim and Cat Coats, Dorothy Dunbar, Jay Lasita, Evelyn Craft and Harry Chittenden, Eddie Williams, Amers and Selma Robinson Ayers and Rolfe and Jean Duggar.
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"Share our secret," the invitation read, and about 200 people accepted the enticement.
Inside the home of Haia and Jimmy Aviram on Saturday evening, amid the couple's extensive glass collection, they learned of Aviram's collaboration with the Arts Center on a new project that eventually will move the Arts Center into much more spacious new quarters in the Landmark Union Trust Bank Building on Central Avenue.
Aviram, who is president of ANB Enterprises, said the center will use art as the anchor of the new residential and retail project he plans between the Grand Central district and downtown.
DVDs outlining plans of the joint effort played on televisions in several rooms of the house, and Evelyn Craft and Beth Morean, key players in the center's new capital campaign, talked about some of their hopes.
"Glass is it these days," along with stone carving, Morean said. "We (at the Arts Center) used to be painting and clay."
Attendees included architect Tim Clemmons, who will design the development; Jim and Suzanne MacDougald, who were hosts to the president and first lady, George W. and Laura Bush at a fundraising dinner on Friday; Ron and Pat Mason; Clint Page and Dar Webb; Dr. Bill and Wendy LaTorre; Rick and Kerry Kriseman; Dick and Helen Minck; Tim and Anje Bogott; Eric Lang Peterson; Bob Stackhouse and Carol Mickett; Tony Collins; Joe and Kathy Lukason; Jay Lasita; Robin O'Dell; Vyrle and Mozelle Davis; Rick Mussett; Irwin and Sonia Miller; Ronnie and Lenne Nicklaus Ball; Andy and Barbara Zaccaria; Jeannine and Jim Hascall; Charles and Marguerite Godels; Marty and Elaine Normile; Mark Petty; Jerry Shaw; Barbara Sansone and Terry Collins; Laura Stewart; Barbara Sheen Todd; Ann and Sheldon Wykell; Marty and Dorit Feldman; and Dr. Mark and Sheryl Weitman.
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Once and future queens and a multitude of princesses gathered at lunchtime Thursday for a luncheon over which Edie Spies, St. Petersburg's current Queen of Hearts, presided.
Bouquets of red balloons floated above the tables in the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club's Sunset Ballroom, and many of the women wore signature red.
A long head table was required to accommodate the former queens seated on either side of Mrs. Spies, among them Pat Howells, Helena Miller, Bernice McCune, Mary Wyatt Allen, Anna Collins, Maritza Smith, Fay Baynard, Judy Cunniff, Sharon Clayton, Sheila Tempelmann and Vera Brantley Jones.
The 2005 Coronation Ball, which acknowledges civic contributions, is scheduled for Feb. 19 and will benefit the Museum of History and Family Resources.
CRAFTART FAIR 2004: Juried indoor-outdoor event features hand-crafted art, demonstrations, food and beverages, benefits Florida Craftsmen educational programs, art scholarships. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $5. 821-7391; www.floridacraftsmen.net Continues Sunday.
MASQUERADE GALA: 35th anniversary benefit for Pinellas Association for Retarded Children. Dinner, dancing, live and silent auctions. Hilton St. Petersburg, 333 First St. S. $150. 345-9111, ext. 293.
Mary Jane Park can be reached at 727 893-8267; fax (727) 893-8675; e-mail email@example.com P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.