Four generations in national costumes. The Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES) EV100, Clearwater, FL. March 10, 2018. Photo by Erkki Taada
The Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES) hosted a joyful, heartfelt and sometimes tearful program celebrating the 100th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Estonia at Feather Sound Country Club, Clearwater, on Saturday, March 10, 2018.
This event, dedicated to the centenary of the Republic of Estonia, registered 85 guests including these special guests: The Honorable Ms. Kairi Künka, Consul General of Estonia, New York City; The Honorable Mr. Arne Roostna Reinwald, Honorary Consul of Estonia, Valencia, Venezuela; Mr. Al Karnavicius, Honorary Consul of Lithuania, St. Petersburg (FL); and Mr. Juris Epermanis, President of the Latvian Association in St. Petersburg (FL).
Our program was divided into three parts. Part I, introduced by Kaie Põhi Latterner, included the presentation of the American and Estonian flags; the reading of Sini-Must-Valge and the singing of Eesti Lipp; the singing of the American National Anthem; welcome remarks by KFES President Kersti K. Totsas Linask; the performance of the song Hoia Jumal Eestit by Birgit and Vincent Delaidatti, accompanied by flautist Leelo Valdsaar Basham and pianist Kaie Põhi Latterner; and prayer/invocation by Henn Rebane.
The highlight of the lunch that followed was the dessert: two birthday kringlid baked by Virve-Kai Bulla, a chocolate cake with candles, and a champagne toast thanks to Tõnu Toomepuu’s generosity. Joyously we all sang, “Happy Birthday! Palju õnne Eesti!” and children blew out the birthday candles.
Part I concluded with a reading of the poem “Noor Sõdalane” offered in memoriam by Urve Põhi. Remarks by The Honorable Ms. Kairi Künka, Consul General of Estonia in New York City, punctuated our optimism for Estonia’s bright future on this most auspicious occasion. In her remarks, Ms. Künka also expressed the gratitude of the Estonian Foreign Ministry to Ms. Lisa Ann Mets, who recently completed her 5-year term as Estonian Honorary Consul in St. Petersburg (FL).
We were delighted to introduce a surprise from Estonia: boxes of “Yummy Questions” distributed to each table. We also drew tickets for our everpopular loterii, which, thanks to Marju Dishmey, sold more tickets than ever. This year six lucky recipients received baskets overflowing with products representing Eesti and Florida.
Our musical and dance program was built on talent living in Florida and our New York City dance collaborators from Saare Vikat. Eesti laulud /- Estonian songs filled Part II of the program. Particularly moving for all of us were the introductions to the songs. We, of course, all know the significance of “Mu isamaa on minu arm” sung at Estonian song festivals under oppression and in freedom, and by Ülle Laido and Dermot Somerville this day. “Ood Põhjamaale” is based on a poem by Ülle’s mother set to music by Ülle and Dermot as a Mother’s Day gift. Birgit Delaidatti, joined by Vincent, explained that “Laul Põhjamaast” brought Estonians to tears in Estonia at productions of Pippi Longstocking; Estonians understood the hidden messages in the song. “Läbi päeva ja öö,” sung by Rein Männik, was written by an Estonian-Canadian who had not visited Estonia. Likewise, “Tallinna Teel,” sung in unison, was written by an Estonian-Canadian to a Gordon Lightfoot tune. In sum, the musical program expressed the love we hold for Estonia deep in our hearts, whether we have been living in Estonia or abroad.
Eesti rahvatantsud /Estonian folkdances filled Part III of the program. Saare Vikat featured fancy footwork by Kristel Kadak-Rahman, Ivan Kavoleff, Aleks Põldmäe, Lilia Põldmäe, Magnus Põldmäe, and Liisi Vanaselja. Our very own Rannapiigad—Reet Cabrera, Marju Dishmey, Triin Karr, Anneliis Kuusik, Kersti K. Totsas Linask, and Helen Tammela—delighted us all with their dances and when they invited us to join them in the “Perekonna Valss.” To close our official program, Anneliis Kuusik presented flowers to our performers, Kaie Põhi Latterner offered closing remarks, and we all gathered on the terrace for a celebratory group photo.
The Estonian Society of Central Florida / Kesk Florida Eesti Selts EV100, Clearwater, FL.
March 10, 2018. Photo by Erkki Taada
The Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts expresses deep gratitude to hr. Toomas Kull, who chose us as a recipient of his magnificent book Eesti krooni originaalpangatähed 1991-2007. The book was placed on display in a very special way in our grand ballroom.
Based on remarks offered by our guests as they departed, we may declare this celebration of EV100 a success. Today was a day to celebrate Estonian history, perseverance, culture, music, dance and language. What was clear to all is this: The Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts is comprised of members—refugees and their descendants and our newer immigrants and our loved ones—who have remained true to Estonia and given their all to fight for Estonia’s independence under Soviet oppression and for Estonia’s secure future as Estonia prospers in its new period of taas iseseisvus (reindependence).
The Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts expresses deep gratitude to the following for financial support for this event:
(1) Integratsiooni Sihtasutus Eestis (Eesti Vabariik 100 väliseesti kultuurühingute projektikonkurss toetus /A fund in Estonia dedicated to helping celebrate the Estonian centennial
around the world; and
(2) Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendriikides /Estonian American National Council.
This event was planned by the Estonian Society of Central Florida Board/Kesk Florida Eesti Seltsi Juhatus: Kersti K. Totsas Linask, Lisa A. Mets, Triin Karr, Anneliis Kuusik, Marju Dishmey and Maare Kuuskvere. The musical, song and dance program was conceived, organized and directed by Kaie Põhi Latterner, an amazing musician herself who accompanied us, the singers and the dancers on the piano and accordion.
Please visit the KFES website at floridaestos.wordpress.com to view the printed program, our expression of gratitude to all those who made this day such a special success, our photos, and the Proclamation signed by the Mayor of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, declaring February 24, 2018, Republic of Estonia Centennial Day.
Lisa A. Mets
St. Petersburg, FL