Florida Orchestra has a '20s theme for 2001
By LENNIE BENNETT
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 3, 2001
And a happy new year to you.
Having taken two weeks off, hibernating at home, I feel a bit out of touch with social happenings, but I thank you for the cards, phone messages and e-mails waiting for me at the office.
So back in rhinestone harness we go.
The Florida Orchestra's New Year's Eve gala took a Great Gatsby-Twenties theme this year, and Jan Audette transformed the ballroom of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort into a black and white fantasy for the occasion. Dominating the room was a black and white checkerboard dance floor, laid over the traditional parquet, imported from Miami. Black and white fabric sheathed chairs and tables, punctuated by jolts of red sequined over-cloths. Tableaux with an old roadster and an Art Deco loveseat, for photo backgrounds, were set up in the lobby. I stopped by midday to check out the scene and Audette and florist Carol Laughlin were topping tables with dozens of red roses which they wrapped in black boas, and we all tried not to inhale the feathers floating around. The room was lovely.
For the first time in four years, I did not attend the party, but I wanted to report on the menu. Last year I noted how disappointing the meal was, especially given the resort's reputation and the high ticket price ($250 minimum). This year, the kitchen seems to have gotten it right. John Pivar, the Vinoy's new executive chef, eschewed fancy presentations in favor of solid food elegantly presented, according to those whose opinion and taste I trust.
"Really great," said Joan Putrino of the lobster risotto.
"Wonderful," said Vicki Fox of the filet of beef.
I chatted with them at Tom Stovall and Louise Weaver's annual New Year's Day beans-and-greens party, along with Hazel Hough, another gala attendee who said the only thing better than the food and entertainment by the Florida Orchestra was seeing Vicky Dunn do the Charleston. Sorry I missed it.
Standing out in the crowd at the Weaver-Stovalls was his brother, Dr. George Stovall, resplendent in a white jacket painted all over with bright flora and fauna.
"Wow," I said.
"A friend gave this back to me after having it for 20 years," he said, turning so I could admire its splendor. "I painted it myself." And sure enough, there were his initials tucked under the pocket.
"How many cows?" I asked Lynn Cox, garbed head to toe in leather and suede, with a silk Burberry scarf knotted at her neck. She couldn't respond because we had to change the subject from livestock to something more innocuous at that point as Peaches, the family pig, snuffled into our conversation. ("I'm the only person I know with a grandpig," said Weaver's mother, Frances Nohren.)
Ron Mason came without wife Pat, who was resting after overseeing a rousing First Night (she's executive director). Evelyn Craft, executive director of the Arts Center, said she was finished with First Night by 9:30 p.m., being in charge only of children's art, but she said her feet were still numb after hours on bone-chilling concrete in the unheated McCrory Building, where her station was located.
Also nice to see were Jim and Cathy Martin, Dave and Margo Fischer, Emily Hawkins, Robb and Susan Hough, Jeanne Tucker, Eric Peterson, Troy and Judy Holland, Bonita Cobb, Bill and Sally Wallace, John and Marty Wallace, Hitch Roney and Marilyn Armstrong, Donna Tyler, David and Guna Carr, Dr. Gil and Anne Shamas, Fred and Gail Razook, Joyce Wilson, Kim O'Brien, Cynthia Lake; Jack and Donna Painter, Dr. Steve and Cathy Collins, Harry and Jackie Piper, Hal and Holly Piper and Dav and Glenn Mosby.
We know who you are: You always look good, even during off-hours at Home Depot, when you're scrambling for plywood to make decorations for this week's gala or standing in line at the bulk mail door of the post office with those 2,000 invitations to next month's benefit. You're a potential candidate for the annual Best Groomed list compiled by the Women's Service League (but not limited to women). Nominate that impeccably groomed person in your life, even if it's yourself. Send a resume with volunteer activities to Rosemary Johnson and Charley Williams, 1115 42nd Ave. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33703. Presentation of this year's group is Feb. 10.
Not strictly social, but this event bears mentioning: The Clearwater Chapter of International Association of Administrative Professionals promotes networking among business folks. Potential members are invited to a free dinner at the Holiday Inn, 20967 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. For information, call 531-7913.
I hope you all are rested. Part Two of the social season is about to commence and January has never been more booked. Here are some parties I am looking forward to:
ARABIAN NIGHT: The Stuart Society of the Museum of Fine Arts pulls out all the stops for its yearly black-tie gala with the rare treat of dining in the galleries among the masterpieces. 7 p.m. 255 Beach Drive NE. $150. 894-9467.
TO LIFE AWARD DINNER: Honored this year at the benefit for the Florida Holocaust Museum are Mel Klinghofer and Dr. Bruce and Amy Epstein. Jon Voight, last year's celebrity guest, returns, along with actor Bo Derek, lending some Hollywood glamor to the occasion. 6 p.m. Tampa Waterside Marriott, 700 South Florida Ave. $175. 820-0100.
NAUTICAL AND NICE: St. Anthony's Hospital Auxiliary luncheon and fashion show features clothes from Johnston of Florida and Men's Warehouse. 11 a.m. St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave. $35. 894-8484.
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS ART AUCTION: The clubs' Suncoast Guild hosts a sale of prints and paintings from Regency Fine Art, with selections ranging from less than $100 to several thousand dollars. Hors d'oeuvres and cash bar. 6:30 p.m. St. Petersburg Yacht Club. $15. 302-9798.
BAYFRONT ON VINE: The popular wine- and food-tasting this year adds new restaurants to its stable, including the new Tampa trinity of Flemings, Zazarac and Roy's; plus Redwoods; the Garden; Haiku Sushi; O'Gradney's; Michael's on East; Salt Rock Grill; Marchand's at the Renaissance Vinoy; Saint Larry's of Palm Harbor; Joffrey's; and Pepin Restaurant. Also new this year is a Vintner's Reception before the main event. Reception, 6 p.m., $100. Tasting, 7 p.m., $50. Cocktail attire. Bayfront Medical Plaza Building, 603 Seventh St. S. 893-6148.
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