Danko Grgas moderated the presentation of the book Anitin račiški tanac (Anita’s Račišće Dance). Joining the author to present the book on behalf of the CHF was Branka Bezić Filipović. Vladimir Igrec (87), one of the association’s first presidents from the time of the old club premises, gave a stirring speech.
Korčula native Antica Branka Bavčević has spent her entire working life in Paris. She visited her native island of Korčula when she could, and living abroad strengthened her bonds to the roots and heritage of her native island. Relating the tales of her childhood to her grandchildren, she hit upon the idea of putting it all on paper and forever preserving it for generations to come.
The fist presentation of her book was staged in Račišće and was so successful that it encouraged her to have the book translated into English. Her first tour was of Australia and New Zealand, organised by the Split branch office of the CHF. She recently also presented the book to the Croatian community of the US state of Florida.
The Croatian Club of Tampa Bay is active in the west of Florida and is led by Katica Pavičić. The organisation was established in the city of Clearwater on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. The special guest of the gala inauguration was then Croatian Ambassador to the United States in Washington, Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, who formally declared the organisation inaugurated to a gathering of some one hundred fifty guests.
The association’s membership is drawn largely from retirees from the cities of Chicago, New York, Cleveland and from other US cities. When their jobs no longer tied them to these cities, they moved to Florida to enjoy the benefits of the warm climate. The club’s management is now working to drawn younger members and to pay off the loan they took to build the club facilities. To this end they organise luncheons for members and various other fundraisers. Antica Branka Bavčević was there to present her book and a CD recording of two of her poems as recited by the recently deceased popular adult contemporary singer Vinko Coce.
The Kralj Tomislav Croatian American Cultural Center is active on Florida’s eastern seaboard. For a time it had no fixed premises – the land on which the club was located, namely, was to have a school built on it, and the building had to be put up for sale. The proceeds from sale were put aside and a better location was sought. In the meantime the membership gathered at one of the hotels in the city. A suitable building to house the club was finally found in Deerfield Beach, a town located about a half hour to the north of Miami. Funds had to be spent to redecorate the ground floor. The members helped out as much as they could, by donating their time and labour or funds – Nedo Pavić, for example, financed the building’s signpost. With minimal additional investment the first floor will also be able to host numerous activities. It features two auditoriums most Croatian associations around the world can only dream of.
Zvonko Barbalić was recently elected president of the association, taking over the reins from Danko Grgas, who moderated the presentation of the book Anitin račiški tanac (Anita’s Račišće Dance). Joining the author to present the book on behalf of the CHF was Branka Bezić Filipović. Vladimir Igrec (87), one of the association’s first presidents from the time of the old club premises, gave a stirring speech. One of the members who came down from the cold north is poet Ante Karlić of New York, also a member of the Croatian Emigrant Lyricism association. A special table was set aside for Canadian Croatians that spend a few months each year in Florida, to shorten the Canadian winter, known affectionately as the “Snow Birds.”
One of the topics of discussion at the time was the construction in the city of Orlando of a new observation wheel (offering a panoramic view of the city), the latest design of the well-known Antunovich Associates design firm. The firm’s owner and founder is New Zealander Joseph Antunovich, whose parents emigrated there from Drvenik near Makarska. Antunovich attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and was given landmark status in Chicago by the prestigious Legendary Landmarks group, which recognises people who contribute to the development of the city and stand as testimony to cultural integrity.
He earned the recognition for his great efforts in preserving the historical buildings of Chicago. His firm, which has offices in Washington and Chicago, employs ninety specialists in the fields of architecture, construction and interior design. His project manager is George Sorich, whose proud parents are members of the Croatian Club of Tampa Bay.
Homeland Croatians are amazed at the achievements of our people around the world, whether they are worthy Croatian communities that had raised Croatian associations, or successful business people.
Text by: Branka Bezić Filipović