The Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts highly popular luncheon returned again to kick off the 2018 New Year. Thirty-three members came together to enjoy our Estonian Soup and Sandwich Potluck Luncheon/Eesti supp ja võileiv lõunasöök.

Anneliis Kuusik and Kaie Põhi Latterner provided warming frikadelli supp and tomato soup. Our members contributed traditional Estonian-recipe sandwiches, salads and desserts to round out our smorgasbord lunch. This has become one of our favorite and most delicious events of the year!

Our location was the beautiful community room in Anneliis Kuusik’s condominium complex called Seminole Isles, 7253 Key Haven Road, Seminole, FL. We will be gathering here again for our picnic in April.

Please visit our Calendar of Events so you can make plans to join us at future events in February, March and April. We hope especially you will want to join us for our Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts gala celebration of Estonia’s 100th Anniversary of Independence on March 10, 2018! Details are included in the Calendar of Events.


The Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts is trying something new with our loterii at the EV100 Celebration on March 10, 2018. This year, we will be making baskets as loterii prizes.

We invite your donations along the following themes:
1. Eesti/Estonian goods
2. All things and anything Florida
3. Entertainment, i.e., wine, cheese, chocolates, nuts, pretzels, cocktail napkins, bottle stoppers, etc.
4. For Children
5. $$ so the Society/Selts may supplement donations

We invite you to think creatively and personally: What kinds of foods and beverages, entertaining accoutrements, books, calendars, dvds, cds, puzzles, games, towels, etc., etc., etc., would you or your family members and friends like to win?

Please bring your donations to our next event in February or make your financial contribution to Anneliis Kuusik by February 28, 2018.

Also we kindly remind you to pay the $20 annual membership fee per person by mail or when you join us next. Thank you!

Santa Claus/Jõuluvana joined 45 holiday spirited members and friends of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) for a traditional Estonian holiday dinner at 2:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, December 9, 2017, at the beautiful home of Kaie Põhi Latterner in North Redington Beach, Florida. Friends came from as far away as The Villages, Kissimmee and Naples in Central and South Florida, North Carolina, and Annapolis, Maryland. Snowbirds have returned from Estonia, Texas and Washington DC. We were especially delighted to welcome new members Jüri and Barbara Pill, Birgit and Vincent Delaidatti and Monika Mägi who joined the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) this year.

To make sure Santa Claus/Jõuluvana could find us, we enlivened the party by singing some holiday songs in Estonian and English. Santa Claus/Jõuluvana, of course, each year looks forward to being entertained by our members who come prepared with poems, songs, and dance. Our seven children–Brook and Chloe Cabrera, Isabella and Mateo Lorenzo and their cousin Leila Eelma, and Kevin and Oliver (who also celebrated his 6th birthday today!)–absolutely delighted Santa Claus/Jõuluvana again this year!

Three co-hosts made this fabulous party possible: Kaie Põhi Latterner, Anneliis Kuusik and Virve-Kai Bulla, who together make catering for large parties go seamlessly. Like last year, we served traditional Christmas food–roast pork, mashed potatoes and gravy, sausages, potato salad, red cabbage and rye bread by our wonderful German caterers, plus Anneliis’s traditional Estonian cranberry sauce and special Estonian-style sauerkraut, plus homemade Christmas sausages (verivorst) by our own KFES elves, and desserts that included a cake and kringel and traditional piparkokid prepared by Virve-Kai Bulla and Anneliis Kuusik. This sums it all up in one word: Yum! Special thanks to Eric Cabrera, who also served as our parking director, and Dallas Dishmey for doing the heavy lifting cleaning up post-party.

Guests arrived at 2:00 and normally our luncheon events conclude by 4:00 pm. Well, not today! Everyone had such a joyous time gathered together, our members finally made their ways home by 7:00 pm. Now that’s testimony to how our members feel about spending good times together! We take this opportunity this time of year to wish you and yours blessings of the season. Rõõmsaid jõulu pühi!

Estonia’s Consul General from New York City will be in St. Petersburg, Florida, Friday, March 9, 2018, to perform consular duties. Estonian citizens will be able to apply for a passport and/or ID Card, renew their passport and/or ID Card, receive previously ordered documents or conduct other consular business. Information regarding consular services, application forms, and contact information may be found here: Estonian Consulate General in New York City

The Consul General will conduct business in the former Honorary Consulate, Upham Administration Building, Eckerd College, 4200 54th Avenue S, St. Petersburg, Florida 33711. Directions and campus map may be found here: Directions and Map to Eckerd College/Estonian Honorary Consulate

Starting January 2, 2018, please pre-register for an appointment by sending an email to Lisa Mets, the immediate past Estonian Honorary Consul, at lisa.mets@gmail.com. Please include the following information: (1) your name and the name(s) of any family members coming with you for services too; (2) your mobile phone number; (3) the purpose of your appointment, e.g., passport, ID card, pick up documents, or other business; and (4) your preferred time of day (early morning, late morning, early afternoon, late afternoon).

Please share this announcement with Estonians who may be interested in this visit.

The members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES) look forward to the programs to be hosted by the Estonian American National Council (EANC)/Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendrikkides (ERKÜ) in conjunction with the EANC/ERKÜ meetings at the Hilton Hotel, St. Petersburg, Florida, which run from November 10-12, 2017.

The Estonian American National Council (EANC/ERKÜ) invites the public to a special interactive panel program that will start at 2:00 pm on Saturday, November 11, 2017, in the Hilton Hotel in lovely downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.

The free afternoon program will feature three interactive discussions on topics such as the current Washington DC political scene, local Estonian entrepreneurship, and ties between Estonia and the Estonian diaspora.

The series of panels will bring together the following experts and special guests:

Panel #1: “Advocacy Rock Stars in Washington”
Panelists: Michael Sawkiw, Jr., Executive Vice President, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America; Marju Rink-Abel, EANC President; Karin Shuey, EANC Washington DC Director
Moderator: Eric Suuberg

Panel #2: “Florida Estonian-American Entrepreneurs”
Panelists: Sigrid Bratic, Partner, Little Greek Fresh Grill franchise restaurants; Merle Liivand, CEO, Swimera; Kaie Põhi-Latterner, Owner, TEC Inc.; Terje Van Schaik, President and co-owner, Greenspeed USA.
Moderator: Linda Rink

Panel #3: “Estonia and Estonians Abroad – Strengthening the Relationship”
Panelists: Marcus Kolga, President, Estonian Central Council in Canada and Senior Foreign Policy Fellow, MacDonald-Laurier Institute; Renee Meriste, President, Estonian Society of Los Angeles; Marju Rink-Abel, President, Estonian World Council
Moderator: Matti Prima

The program will be followed by a cocktail reception and dinner in the Hilton Hotel. Please contact Linda Rink immediately if you are interested in attending the dinner, featuring keynote speaker Estonian Ambassador Lauri Lepik. (Tickets are $75 per person, payable in advance.)

The Saturday program and dinner are in conjunction with EANC’s 2017 annual meeting on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The annual meeting is open to all interested parties, but prior registration is required, as space is limited.

For more details, and to register for the dinner, contact Linda Rink at erku@estosite.org or by phone at 215-546-5863. More information may be found here: Estonian American National Council website.

Nineteen members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) eagerly gathered together for lunch after our summer hiatus on Sunday, October 1, 2017. We took this October opportunity to hold our annual business meeting normally held in November. We met in the usual lovely private room in one of our favorite restaurants: Pier 22, 1200 1st Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205. We missed our former members, the Shipotofkys and Jaskas, who have moved away from the area. We also missed our members who have not yet returned from their summer venues, and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Jaan Kuuskvere was elected to run the annual business meeting. KFES President Kersti Linask provided reports from the KFES Board. Members of the Audit Committee provided a positive report confirming the accuracy of the KFES finances and financial reporting. KFES members approved the minutes of last year’s business meeting, the 2016-17 budget, and the budget for 2017-18. The Treasurer, Anneliis Kuusik, unable to join us today, was applauded in her absence for her exacting work managing KFES finances. All current Board members were re-elected to serve as the KFES Board in 2017-18.

Because there is cross-membership in KFES and the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Central Florida, Pastor Priit Rebane gave the members an update on the status of the tiny congregation, which will no longer be holding services on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday. Pastor Rebane will continue to be available for pastoral counseling.


Priit and Judy Rebane. Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts, Annual Meeting, 1 oktoober 2017, Bradenton, FL.

We have lots of exciting events coming in 2017-18. In addition to providing a preview of what’s coming in 2017-18, KFES President Linask provided exciting overviews of (1) the upcoming meeting and program of the Estonian American National Council (ERKÜ), which will be meeting November 10-12, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Florida, and we are invited to participate; and (2) our celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Estonian Independence, which will take place on March 10, 2018, in the Feather Sound Country Club (a new location this year). We invite you to add these events to your calendar now:

November 11, 2017: We will join the Estonian American National Council (Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendrikkides), which will be convening a special program in St. Petersburg (FL). Visit this website for more information: Estonian American National Council (ERKÜ). Please note: October 15, 2017 is the deadline for pre-registration and reservations.
December 9, 2017, 2:00 pm: Santa Claus/Jõuluvana will join us for a traditional Estonian holiday dinner with jõuluvorstid.
January 7, 2018, 2:00 pm: Estonian Soup and Sandwich Potluck Luncheon/Eesti supp ja võileiv lõunasöök
February 11, 2018, 2:00 pm: Lunch
March 10, 2018, 11:00 am: Gala Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Estonian Independence/Eesti Vabariigi 100 Aastapäeva Tähistamine
April 14, 2018, 12:00 pm: Our traditional April birthdays and Jaanipäeva potluck picnic

We look forward to seeing you soon!

For information about the Kesk Florida Eesti Selts, please contact:
Ms. Kersti Linask by email at kklinask@gmail.com
Ms. Triin Karr by email at triin.karr@gmail.com

Märten Vaikmaa, his wife Sunne, and children Iti (12) and Uku (10), our newest part-time neighbors from Estonia, invited members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) to join their friends and neighbors in a fabulous Jaanipäeva celebration in their beautiful waterfront home in Terra Ceia, Florida, on Sunday afternoon, June 18, 2017. Terra Ceia is a island gem. It is a little waterfront community off US-19 between the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Palmetto, Florida. We had sun, clouds and some raindrops, but the weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits!

A dozen members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) joined at least three dozen friends and neighbors of the Vaikmaa family. Interestingly, once again we proved this is a small world. Friends and acquaintances who had met in other settings in the past connected again at this wonderful gathering. Some of us had first met Sigrid Bratic at one of her highly popular My Little Greek Restaurant locations in St. Petersburg, Florida, and it was a real delight seeing her and her family again here! Some of the men had met each other spearfishing through the St. Petersburg Underwater Club. And there were myriad other ways other folks had met in the past too!

We dined on delicious BBQ, prepared by Cocoribs Inc., Dominic Republican caterers located in Sarasota, Florida. A wonderful Greek salad and assorted Greek pastries came from Sigrid Bratic’s My Little Greek Restaurant. All of the guests contributed tasty dishes to the smorgasbord table and beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages quenched our thirst.

Children were especially welcome as this was a family friendly event. Lots of children and grown-ups too enjoyed the beautiful swimming pool.

Märten Vaikmaa was in charge of the jaanituli (traditional bonfire). Jüri Toomepuu cast a watchful eye. With a little help of lighter fluid on the moist wood, the fire took off.

A live band with Matt Coates and his ensemble performed all afternoon. At sunset, you could find couples dancing on the dock. The beautiful sunset also encouraged photography and romance.

The Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) extends a HUGE thank-you to the Vaikmaa family for their warm hospitality, this wonderful Jaanipäeva celebration, and the opportunity to establish new friendships. This was a very special day for the Tampa Bay Estonian community.

Before the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES)) breaks on summer hiatus, members and friends of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) gather for its traditional early Jaanipäev picnic and celebration of April birthdays. This year over 25 members enjoyed a wonderful afternoon together on Saturday, April 22, 2017.


Our birthday celebration. KFES, 22 apr. 2017, Seminole, FL. Foto: Lisa Mets

This year, the celebration was extra special with eight birthdays. Both born on April 18–only 94 years apart–we celebrated Leena Aare (94) and Brook Cabrera (1).


Reet Cabrera with our two special birthday girls born on April 18: Brook Cabrera (1) and Leena Aare (95). KFES, 22 apr. 2017, Seminole, FL. Foto: Lisa Mets

We also celebrated the April birthdays of Maare and Jaan Kuuskvere (shhh! Jaan is one year older than Maare!), Monika Orumaa Craig, Rein Männik, Silva Jensen, and Triin Karr.


Our birthday celebrants–Maare Kuuskvere, Leena Aare, Rein Männik in the back, Brook Cabrera with mother Reet, Monika Orumaa Craig, and Jaan Kuuskvere. blow out the candles. KFES, 22 apr. 2017, Seminole, FL. Foto: Lisa Mets

We moved the picnic from Anna Maria Island and returned to the condominium clubhouse and recreation center at the winter home of Inne and Heikki Joonsar. Thank you, Inne and Heikki, for hosting us once again. (We celebrated our soup-and-sandwich luncheon there earlier this year.) The recreational center includes shuffleboard courts and a swimming pool. Though there were no swimmers this day, we enjoyed a few games of shuffleboard. What fun!

KFES provided grilled sausages (an Estonian Jaanipäev tradition). Kaie Põhi Latterner was quite the grillmaster/grillmistress. 


Kaie Põhi Latterner keeps the grill under control. KFES, 22 apr. 2017, Seminole, FL. Foto: Lisa Mets

Members brought mightily delicious contributions to the potluck luncheon table, and we thank brothers Tõnu and Jüri Toomepuu for the celebratory champagne!


Anu Nerska and Goodie and Rein Männik. KFES, 22 apr. 2017, Seminole, FL. Foto: Lisa Mets

It was a great afternoon! Ja klassid kokku kõlaku!

The Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) is now on summer hiatus. Some snowbirds fly north and others fly to Estonia and beyond. We will reconvene in October 2017. In the meantime, if you are in our area, please let us hear from you. Some of us are here year round and we love to get together spontaneously. We wish you all a happy summer!