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Local Junior Leaguers take a walk on the wildish side

By LENNIE BENNETT

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 7, 2001


The anticipated rainstorm held off, and Saturday night wound up being a beautiful evening for the Junior League of St. Petersburg's Jungle Jam at Sunken Gardens.

You always take a chance with an outdoor party, but if the weather is on your side, Sunken Gardens is one of the nicest party venues in the area. The care lavished on it by city workers over the past year shows, and at an after-hours gathering like this, you can join the party pack on the big grassy lawn or wander alone along lushly planted paths.

This is a volunteer group, so everyone does a little bit of everything. President Jan Herzik came early to set up the portable microphone, which she borrowed from Canterbury School, where she is head of the elementary school.

"The fourth grade used it Friday, and the handles are sticky," she said.

President-elect Colleen Russo handed out goody bags to arriving guests. Stephanie Sanders wrestled with about 700 pounds of ice. Jan Boxer had just gotten in from Plant City to pick up several hundred jars of donated jam -- get it? -- for the goody bags. Party Chairwoman Leah Adams and her assistant, Penny Wallace, roamed between the check-in tables at the gardens' entrance and the food and silent auction tables set up in the grassy area near the center, a lot of yardage to cover. And a lot of other league members -- I spotted Alison Bearnarth, Dawn Dreggors, Heather Kuhn and Melissa Henry -- pitched in to do anything needed to keep things jamming. Or to keep them from getting jammed.

The real animals had been put to bed, but enough animal prints appeared on the backs of patrons to populate a safari. Examples: Sue Riggins in a pith helmet (actually her golf hat), Barbara Smith in leopard print chiffon trousers, Mary Joan Mann with more leopard prints, and husband Sam in a canvas hat that looked very Snows of Kilimanjaro.

In the crowd were Bill and Hazel Hough, who said she had not visited Sunken Gardens in decades and wore comfortable walking shoes to canvass the area; Nancy Greene; Mary Christian; Avera and Sharon Kennedy-Wynne; Bill and Mary Ann Bond and son and daughter-in-law Trey and Kim Bond; David and Lupi Coffin; Clark and Monica Mason; Michelle and Hal Reddick, who recently returned from a week playing baseball in Cuba with his local team pitted against steel factory workers; Preston and Rebecca Hearn; Bud and Christina Palmer; Dr. Kevin and Linda Hirsch; Mike and Janet Allweiss; Duane and Jane Graves; John Doyle and Frances Glisson, on the lookout for a Scottish castle for their upcoming nuptials (how about the one recently vacated by Madonna and Guy Ritchie?); Ardith Rutland; Betty Parsley; Harriet Harvey; Emery and Margaret Wood and her sister Catherine Kennedy.

I want to share my faux pas of the week with you, which I committed on Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Kennedy. Don't ever do this: While chatting with Mrs. Wood, a familiar-looking woman approached us.

"Are you Margaret's daughter?" I asked. She and Mrs. Wood howled. "Don't you recognize me? I'm Catherine," said Mrs. Kennedy, who is Mrs. Wood's sister, not her daughter. "You have made my day."

So how does one extricate one's foot from one's mouth in this delicate social situation? There's really nothing to say that won't dig you in deeper, so I just counted on the good nature of the Crist sisters. (And they're both youthful-looking, by the way.) Thank goodness they're more tactful than I am.

Even as this party was in full swing, Stephanie Hayes had on her mind a party she is organizing on April 29 to benefit the Junior League, introducing the new American Girl doll. If you have a daughter, you probably know about these historically correct dolls with lovely, very expensive clothes and accessories. The new doll is Kit, set in the Depression era.

"But we are not serving Spam at the party, even if it is the Depression," she assures us.

Looking ahead

Friday

Super Sleuth Heritage Hunt: You and your teammates will be given historical hints at the St. Petersburg Museum of History party, then walk around downtown finding the answers. Prizes and dinner will be waiting at the museum when you return. 6 p.m. 335 Second Ave. NE. $35. 894-1052.

* * *

Saturday

CASA Spectacular 2001: Dinner, dancing and live and silent auctions to benefit the Center Against Spouse Abuse. Elegant-casual dress code. 6 p.m. TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, 5500 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. $95. 821-7101.

* * *

March 16

Much Ado About Art: Visual artists create works inspired by William Shakespeare that are sold in a live auction to benefit American Stage's Shakespeare in the Park production (this year, it's Love's Labor's Lost) and the individual artists. Hors d'oeuvres by Salt Rock Grill. Preview, 6 p.m. Auction, 7 p.m. Salt Creek Artworks, 1600 Fourth St. S. Suggested donation at the door, $5. 823-1600, ext. 203.

March 21

Membership Tea: St. Petersburg Museum of History Guild invites prospective members to a get-together at the Brightwaters Boulevard home of Larry Belz. 2-4 p.m. 328-1218.

March 24

Pastabilities: You take home your dinner plate, embellished by a local artist at this pasta dinner to benefit the St. Petersburg Free Clinic and Florida Craftsmen Gallery. Dinner is -- you guessed it -- pasta provided by local restaurants. 6:30 p.m. Tramor Cafeteria, 123 Fourth St. N. $40. 821-1200.

Midtown Kiwanis Casino Night: The fundraiser benefits the service club's projects, which include a children's Halloween Festival at The Pier and holiday baskets for the needy. The silent auction includes vacation packages to North Carolina and Montana. Gaming tables, dancing and refreshments. 8 p.m. St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave. $25.

March 26

Visions of Violets: Luncheon and fashion show by Ambria's benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast. 11 a.m. Sunset Ballroom, 600 Snell Isle Blvd. $40. 391-8017.

March 29

Dinner honoring Mayor David Fischer: A celebration of the outgoing mayor's decade at the city's helm. Proceeds benefit the Minority Scholarship Fund at Eckerd College for a Challenge Area graduate of a St. Petersburg high school. 6 p.m. Renaissance Vinoy Resort, 501 Fifth Ave. NE. $50. 821-4069.

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