Even though the Kentucky Derby had already finished, the race was still on for the organizers of St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School’s annual fundraiser Celebratio 2014 on May 3 at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club. More than 400 parents, grandparents, faculty members and friends attended the “Kentucky Derby Party” where ladies were asked to wear hats — “the bigger the better” — and the men wore their Sunday best.
The event featured a Southern buffet brimming with fried foods, including green tomatoes, oysters, chicken, onion rings and of course the pulled pork barbecue. There were also several open bars, a DJ in the bar and live music by Boneyard, plus a longest-drive contest.
One of the club’s meeting rooms was filled with an extensive silent auction, including a one-week stay at a cabin in Whitefish, Mont.; several baskets, including two baskets from the Florida Aquarium with admission tickets included; Swimming with the Dolphins in Key Largo; a Universal Orlando “Despicable Me” basket with passes included; tickets to the Kennedy Space Center and Clearwater Marine Aquarium; many cosmetic packages for moms and orthodontic packages for kids; signed sports paraphernalia; and more.
The highlight of the evening was the live auction, which featured a “Dream Baseball Weekend in New York” donated by the New York Yankees, featuring a three-game weekend series at Yankee Stadium for four that sold for $4,500, and a Tampa Bay Lightning Package that included a Zamboni ride for two and four tickets to a game and a signed jersey that sold for $1,000. The bidding was intense, with parents trying to purchase the cover of the 2014-15 directory, which sold to a group of parents for $3,100. The right to name the Primary School driveway was sold for $1,200, and the right to name the school mascot sold for $800. The highest bidders for the evening were Mark and Renee Radi, who purchased a one-week Caribbean vacation aboard a yacht for $7,000.
The gala was chaired by Stephanie Andrews and Kim Osborne, assisted by committee members Kathleen Purdy, Leslie Stephens, Gina Fair, Ali Garrity, Kim Lancer, Eli Pento, Lexy Schwartz, Kimberly Wilson, Courtney Rankin, Babsie Buchanan, Leslie Jennewein, Lisa Thomas, Michelle Miller, India Witte, Nadine Appleton, Kim Hunter, Kristina Isacksen, Emily Strickland, Allison Burden, Jeanie Poley and Carren Rieger Friess. Proceeds from the gala benefit the school and its scholarship fund.