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17th annual night at the Circus

By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
Published January 11, 2008


Families chowed on hot dogs and pizza and clowned to the hokey pokey at Night at the Circus, an early-evening patrons party hosted by the Tampa General Hospital Foundation on Jan. 3 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

The hospital's longtime relationship with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey made the 17th annual circus fundraiser a high-flying success, netting more than $185,000 for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Event chair Christi Barli and the foundation donated sponsors' extra tickets to children's agencies, which enabled more than 1,450 children to see the circus for free that night.

For example, a $1,000 sponsor gets 25 reserved seats and can't always fill them all.

Kids hopped between face painters, balloon twisters and a DJ, then grabbed goodie bags filled with popcorn and cotton candy.

They headed into the arena to ringside seats at the all-new "Over the Top" show featuring bouncy tire tricks, endearing elephants and an acrobatic rainforest finale.

The costumes were amazing; clown penguins were a hoot; and can you imagine seven motorcyclists riding in a 16-foot Globe of Steel? 

Bangladesh and Uganda art benefits 

Lt. Col. Ataul Hasan, Central Command's senior Bangladesh representative, turned to Robert and Candi Rowen, owners of Nuance Galleries, for help after Typhoon Sidr left more than 100,000 Bangladeshis homeless last month.

They called their friend, Buddhist monk Bhante Wimala, who toured the heartbreaking devastation and immediately committed the Triple Gem Society to rebuild 50 homes and replace textbooks.

Saturday, Robert auctioned four donated pieces by Rob Epstein, Taylor Ikin, Keith Martin Johns and Laura Waller, and contributed 25 percent of other art purchases that evening, raising enough to build eight houses in Bangladesh.

"People were feeling very generous," said Robert. More money came from an unplanned auction highlight: Dena Leavengood offered special tours of the Florida Aquarium.

On Sunday, Ybor City photographer Ryan Joseph and Hoffman-Porges Gallery hosted an auction of his limited-edition archival photos taken while documenting Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church's mission to Papoli, Uganda.

Joseph planned the event to coincide with the Professional Photographers of America conference and raised nearly $15,000 for the Papoli people. One buyer moved by the fine art prints came right from an NFC playoff game: Tampa Bay Buc Ronde Barber.

Krewe of the Knights of Sant'Yago 36th coronation ball

The Krewe of the Knights of Sant'Yago crowned its 36th round of royals at a Medieval Knight's Dream coronation ball Saturday.

The new king, El Rey Ignacio Armas, 49, an obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Brandon, can trace his lineage to 14th century Spain, where his family were armorers to King Ferdinand.

La Reina Courtney Parrish, 17, a junior at Tampa Prep,daughter of squire Robert and Barbara Parrish, stopped to hug every knight on her way to becoming the men's club's youngest queen ever. She said she has longed for the crown since kindergarten when her friend Samuel Slone brought pictures of his mother, Sheree, the krewe's second queen in 1974, to school.

A pageant choreographed by knight George Diaz began with a moment of silence as nearly 900 guests were asked to remember seven longtime members who died recently, including knight Victor DiMaio.

Soon a flamenco guitarist strolling through the A La Carte Pavilion ballroom was followed by Capt. Rex Damron and knights in shiny tights and velvet tunics embroidered with sequined family crests. Baron Dan Haya helped abdicating King Antonio Serrano dub seven new knights into the brotherhood, his final act as El Rey XXXV. With the royalty enthroned, guests helped themselves to the dinner buffet and danced to the GilMachin band.

Got gossip?E-mail Amy Scherzer at or call 226-3332. Party online:For more party pictures, visit

Amy Scherzer's Diary


Saturday:Masquerade Ball II, Carnevale di Venezia benefits Stageworks Theatre; 6:30 p.m.; Centro Asturiano; $100; 784-6832.

Thursday: WEDU Be More Awards luncheon, 11 a.m.; A La Carte Pavilion; $45; 254-9338.

Jan. 18: Tampa Bay Black Heritage Gala; 7 p.m.; Pepin Hospitality Center; $60, or $100 per couple; toll-free 1-888-224-1733, ext. 143.

Jan. 19: Inspirata Gala benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Florida; 6:30 p.m.; A La Carte Pavilion; $500; 877 283-5055.

[Last modified January 10, 2008, 22:45:14]

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