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Black Tie & Tales

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  • | 4:00 a.m. April 2, 2014
Ron Carter, Pat Merryman, honoree Mary Ann Robinson, Paul Ferguson and Jim Neal
Ron Carter, Pat Merryman, honoree Mary Ann Robinson, Paul Ferguson and Jim Neal
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+ The color purple
For Mary Ann Robinson, philanthropy is merely the satisfaction of “good friends helping other people.” She said so herself in what was a really big week for her. The city of Sarasota declared March 25 “Mary Ann Robinson Day,” the Community AIDS Network (CAN) clinic building was named in her honor March 26, and she was the honorary chairwoman of iconcept 6 March 28.

She made the remark at the CAN, where Eric Snyder spoke from the heart as both a member of the CAN board and on behalf of his employer, event sponsor BB&T. Co-Chairs Scott George and Margaret Wise had the CAN lobby beautifully designed, decorated and donated by Ron Giarusso, who did it Mary Ann style with all manner of flowers in her favorite color.

Among those there to honor her: Carolyn Michel, Nikki Nilon, Dennis Stover, Phil King, “The Bobs” Trisolini and Nosal, Ron Carter, Jimmy Neal, George Cole, Judy Zuckerberg, Monica Slater, Michele Strauss, Penny Hill, Debbie Gilliland, Stephen Seig, Janet and John Hunter and Marjorie Floyd. See more photos here.

Sights and sounds from Firefly Gala
Our lips are not sealed. Forty Carrots Family Center’s Firefly Gala, held Saturday, March 29, was perfect for partying and people watching …

Ashley Kozel met the band and brought special guest, jewelry designer Temple St. Clair Carr. Belinda Carlisle had tweeted about Temple’s designs on several occasions … Jennifer Sine won the Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota shopping spree. Her winning bracelet had the one-of-a-kind helix pattern … Vanessa Opstal picked the winning box for the Carats Fine Jewelry & Watches diamond hoop earrings. Twenty-one chances were sold, celebrating Forty Carrots Family Center’s 21 years serving Sarasota and Manatee counties … Despite the weather, The Go-Go’s were determined to give a great show. They rehearsed in the rain and when they had to leave the stage for safety, they continued to rehearse a cappella in their RV ... Volunteers Tonya Getzen-Gowan, Kim Hickerson and Ashley McLeod handled the band rider for the third year in the row. The band’s last-minute request? Pine nuts … Six hundred ponchos were on hand, but luckily not needed … The Ritz-Carlton had an army of staff on hand at the Members Golf Club. It also donated edible flowers flown in from Paris for the signature cocktail, “Greatest Hits.”

+ A mayor for a night
Sarasota may not be sure we want a strong mayor ourselves, but the town turned out big time for “An Evening with Michael Bloomberg,” on March 28. Ringling College Library Association and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation presented the former New York City mayor’s chat with journalist Sharyl Attkisson, who recently resigned from CBS News, with proceeds going to the campaign to build a new library at Ringling. Attendees approaching the opera house from Main Street could be forgiven for wondering why the All Faiths Food Bank mobile produce market, aka “Sprout,” was parked in front. A sign on the back solved the mystery; Bloomberg Philanthropies helped fund it. And in a nice timing coincidence, Bloomberg’s visit was just four days before sponsor Gulf Coast Community Foundation launches its Campaign Against Summer Hunger, and a number of early supporters of that campaign were in attendance. His friend Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy’s, who has a house on Casey Key, arranged Bloomberg’s visit.

The Bloomberg presentation afterglow included Elenor and John Maxheim, Herman Frankel, George and Patty Gondelman, Jon Thaxton, Chris and Bridget Gallagher, Alice Berkowitz and Toby and Noel Siegel.

+ Tidbits
Surprise! … After a real estate class, Denise Mei stopped by daughter-in-law Nicole Mei’s house so they could drive together to a “family dinner.” When Denise showed up early, Nicole had to do her best to stall, because little did birthday girl Denise know, more than 100 people were attending this so-called family dinner. Once they showed up, Denise was surprised to find this dinner was thrown for her 60th birthday. Seen celebrating: Wendy Resnick, Debbie Danheisser, Debbi Benedict, Sally Schule, Veronica Brady, Lainie Van Winkle, Pat Martin, Michelle Butler and Sandy Buchanan. Family also traveled from Tennessee, Virginia and New Jersey … Incredible concepts … The crowd at iconcept was electric; even Tom Shapiro danced in the crowd with co-host Lorenzo Hubbard. Host with the most Hubbard came prepared with five outfit changes, but only had time to get through two … Celeb sightings John Travolta was spotted in town last weekend as well as “The Bachelor’s” Juan Pablo Galavis, who popped in First Watch, in Lakewood Ranch … Glamorous graduateRochelle Nigri, who has graced many a runway on behalf of many a nonprofit, has departed her position at Saks Fifth Avenue to put her B.A. in economics and international relations from USF to work as the newest member of the Bellwether Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management … A double date with BloombergCarolyn Johnson, president of the board of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, was in Washington, D.C., for Michael Bloomberg’s address to its national convention March 27 and got back to Sarasota in time to be with him again on March 28 in her role as co-chair of the Ringling College Library campaign … Have a little faith … The key auction item for Child Protection Center’s April 9 Blue Ties and Butterflies event has arrived from Austria. Chairwoman Alisa Pettingell commissioned Austrian artist Sabine Wiedenhofer to produce a piece of artwork for the event. To find inspiration, Wiedenhofer traveled to Florida last year where she photographed the exotic Julia Butterfly. She named the artwork “Faith” because the butterfly symbolizes transformation and hope for new beginnings. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 365-1277.



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