Dear Members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts,

Our next gathering is Sunday, November 3, 2019, at 2:00 pm, at which time we’ll have a wonderful lunch, time to socialize, and kick off our activities for the 2019-20 year with our annual business meeting. Important topics will be discussed so we hope you will make plans to join us.

PLEASE NOTE: WE ARE RETURNING TO A WONDERFUL LOCATION FOR OUR GATHERING: Jüri and Jae Toomepuu are opening their beautiful home to us. It is located on the Hillsborough River, in Temple Terrace, Florida. The address is sent by email. This is a potluck, and we are invited to bring appetizers, shared dishes and desserts. In addition to enjoying each other’s company, the setting offers perfect opportunities for swimming in the Toomepuu’s pool or fishing off their dock. All are welcome! To help us plan for the right number, we ask you to let us know in advance if you will be coming. Please send an email to Lisa Mets by Wednesday, October 30, 2019, to let us know if we may count you in/out!

Thank you,

KFES Juhatus
Estonian Society of Central Florida Board

Twenty-five members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts were happy to gather together again after their summer hiatus to enjoy a wonderful potluck luncheon at the home of Peep and Livija Rebane in Bradenton, Florida. Our generous hosts made the pork roast and sauerkraut and all the guests expanded the delicious offerings. Making the afternoon even more delightful, we were overjoyed to welcome new members too! Enjoy the photos of our event.

Dear Members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kallid Kesk Florida Eesti Seltsi kaasmaalased!

We hope you had a wonderful summer! Here is information about our next event:

Potluck luncheon at the beautiful home of Peep and Livija Rebane
Sunday, October 6, 2019
2:00-5:00 pm
Livija and Peep will be preparing roast pork and sauerkraut.
Please bring an appetizer, salad, side dish or dessert to complement the meal.
When you email your reservation to Lisa Mets, please let her know what you plan to bring.
Please bring your favorite beverage as well.  

The address is shared in email.
Cost: $10 per person; children under the age of 16 are free. The cost covers KFES expenses.


There is a swimming pool for those who would like to enjoy an afternoon dip in the pool. Please bring your suits and towels.

Thank you to Peep and Livija for opening your home to us. We look forward to seeing you soon!


The Lithuanian American Club in St. Petersburg, Florida, invited representatives from the local Latvian and Estonian communities to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Baltic Chain/Baltic Way on Sunday, August 25, 2019, in their lovely community hall. This wonderful luncheon event drew together more than 140 participants who enjoyed a delicious home-cooked Lithuanian meal and great fellowship. The program was hosted by Ms. Donata Koverienė, President of the Lithuanian American Club, and we are grateful to Ms. Koverienė and the members of the board for planning this significant commemorative event. Thank you! Ms. Koverienė asked those who participated in the Baltic Way in 1989 to stand; we were astonished to see approximately 12 to 15 individuals rise. Speakers from the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian communities participated in the program. Peep Rebane and Lisa Mets offered remarks on behalf of the Estonian Society of Central Florida. At the conclusion of the remarks, all in the room stood, grabbed hold of each others’ hands and our countries’ flags, and re-enacted the Baltic Chain/Baltic Way. It is true to say there were tears in many of the participants’ eyes.

Among her remarks, Lisa said the following:

In Estonian, we call the August 23, 1989, event the Balti kett. In English: Baltic chain.

Before that date, when we heard the word chain, many of us might have envisioned chains of slavery. After all, our Baltic nations have long histories of living as peasants even slaves under rule and oppression by neighboring countries.

Since 1989, when we hear Baltic chain,

    we see links of hands tightly bonded together in a human chain that cannot and will not be broken

Ah, and the way Lithuanians call the event in English, Baltic Way, evokes this thought:
It makes us see that Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians are peace-loving people.

    It makes us see that
    the way we engage in protest is a peaceful way

We knew that the way to freedom would not be achieved through more war or violence. It is through peaceful protest, peaceful means.

It is said the Estonians sang their way to freedom through their song festival. Imagine songs sung in peaceful protest in song festivals every five years starting in 1869 and especially again in 1989, which has become known as the singing revolution. This summer Estonia celebrated the 150th anniversary of the song festival; we will keep singing in peace for more peace. Like Lithuania and Latvia, we demonstrate, even prove, that peace begets more peace.

Today, as we commemorate the Baltic Chain:
Human ties, human bonds that are so strongly united, like links in a chain, they cannot be broken apart,

Today, as we commemorate the Baltic Way:
Human ties, human bonds that bring freedom through peaceful means,

Let us shout out together, “Still free! Our countries are still free!” May it be forever so.

The Lithuanian American Club maintains a Facebook page, and you may view photographs and a video of this event here: Lithuanian American Club St. Petersburg FL facebook page.

Thank you again to the Lithuanian American Club for hosting this memorable event!

Thanks to the wonderful suggestion by our own married couple, Latvian Livija and Estonian Peep Rebane, the local Latvian community and Estonian community celebrated Ligo-Jaanipäev together on Saturday, June 22, 2019, at Point Brittany, St. Petersburg, Florida. All of the credit for this wonderful celebration goes to the Latvian community who extended their invitation to our Estonian community for a joint celebration. An enormous thank you from the Estonian community goes to our Latvian host, Ms. Dace Nebare, and her many Latvian co-hosts, who organized the program (music, dance, prize competitions, and remarks), set up and cleaned up the lovely Point Brittany ballroom, organized the fabulous smorgasbord table of Latvian and Estonian dishes, and planned the outdoor activities around the bonfire. We started at 5:00 and festivities concluded at 10:30 pm. Enjoy the photos!

Latvian accordionist Kaspars, Estonian accordionist Kaie Põhi Latterner, and local Latvian musicians gave us lots of opportunities to sing and dance!

An amazing collection of Latvian and Estonian dishes resulted in a smorgasbord that was an absolute delight!

Making wreaths is a Latvian tradition for Ligo.

Singing and dancing around the bonfire was a wonderful way to conclude the evening.


Dear Members and Friends of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts!

You are invited!

Midsummer’s Eve John’s Day Ligo/Jaanipäeva Celebration!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

5:00-10:30 pm.

5:00-7:30 pm
Clubhouse Ballroom
Music, degustation of cheese, wreath making, and potluck meal
All guests are asked to bring along food to share picnic style (potluck).
Estonians: Please bring Estonian-style dishes.

7:30-10:30 pm
Outside around the firepit (a real gas-fueled fire)
Music, singing, dancing, libations and Latvian snacks
Traditional setting sun ceremony

Music will be led by Latvian accordionist Kaspars, our own wonderful Kaie Põhi Latterner, and local musicians.

The Latvian Association will provide piragi, cheese and American beer. Please bring your own beverages of choice.

$10.00/adult suggested donation. Children under the age of 16 are free.

Our wonderful host is Latvian Dace Nebare.

This event is taking place in a gated community off the Pinellas Bayway (the state road that runs between the Don CeSar Hotel and I-275, 54th Ave S exit). It is near the Isla del Sol properties. The address will be provided in an email to those who RSVP. Note: You will pass through a toll booth on the Pinellas Bayway.

If you are planning to come, and we hope you are, RSVP by June 12, 2019. Please include the names of all members of your group and your children and their ages in your response.

We hope to see you there!

KFES Juhatus

On Saturday, April 13, 2019, more than 30 members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts gathered for our traditional April birthday celebration and potluck picnic. Once again, we gathered at the lovely waterside picnic grounds that are part of the Seminole Isles condominium association where Anneliis Kuusik lives. Thank you, Anneliis, for making this possible! It’s the perfect size for us and we love it here!

Our potluck lunches are always a delight! Our wonderful members continue to offer Estonian-style traditional dishes (Anneliis Kuusik’s sauerkraut, Astrid Normet’s and Kaie Põhi Latterner’s rosolje, and Reet Cabrera’s potato salad); Jae Toomepuu’s herring and rye and salmon and white bread sandwiches; and Marju and Dallas Dishmey’s empanadas, Virve Kai Bulla’s porgandi pirukas, and Anne Holda’s kringel. This year, for dessert, we also enjoyed three traditional French pastry tarts; thank you, Vincent Delaidatti! And oh yes, there was champagne generously contributed by Tõnu Toomepuu and perfect for our birthday celebration. Sincere apologies to those whose names and dishes aren’t listed; we lost track of the details!

Our members enjoyed the time together in great conversation. This is the last official event of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts “academic” season and our opportunity to send everyone off for summer with our best wishes. We are on break now for the summer and plan to see each other again “officially” in October.

Please visit our web site in September for information about the date and location when we meet again in October. If you’re in our area before then–drop us a line! We always love to get together in “unofficial” ways too! In the meantime, have a great summer!

Potluck Piknik

The Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts invites you to join us for our annual April Potluck Piknik. The Society/Selts provides grilled sausages and buns, coffee and water; please bring a dish to contribute to our lunch.

Saturday, April 13, 2019
2:00 pm
$5/adult; children under 16 are free; this may be paid at the door.


Community Center in the Seminole Isles Condominium Complex
(this is where Anneliis Kuusik lives)
7069 Key Haven Rd.
Seminole, FL 33777
Please bring lawn chairs.
Dogs are allowed but they must be on leashes.

We welcome volunteers to help us set up and clean up! Thank you!

On March 24, 2019, more than 30 members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES) gathered at the home of Estonian Honorary Consul Kaie Põhi Latterner to welcome spring and share a potluck lunch. By the time everyone arrived, the table was truly a sight to see with delicious food of all kinds–both for the main meal of smoked ham, meatballs, crab cakes, empañadas, rosolje, shrimp fried rice, kapsapirukad, salads, and fruit; and ohhhhh, the desserts including French apple tarts, homemade cookies, Tiramisu and Napoleons!!! Thank you to our organizers: Anneliis Kuusik, Kaie Latterner, Eric and Reet Cabrera, Dallas and Marju Dishmay, and Vincent and Birgit Delaidatti. And thanks to everyone who helped with serving and cleanup the day of the party!

We were blessed with a warm and beautiful day. Whether inside or outside, it was comfortable and fun for everyone who enjoyed the foods and beverages, swimming (especially the kids!), singing in the house at first and later around the outdoor fireplace, and just socializing together. The hour was late when the final guests left, already talking about the next get-together.

Far exceeding the attendance guesstimates of the Kesk Florida Eesti Seltsi (KFES) juhatus/Estonian Society of Central Florida Board, 71 guests attended the association’s celebration of the 101st anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. The weather and the setting couldn’t have been more perfect: It was another grand blue sky hot sunny day as we gathered in the lovely ballroom in the beautifully situated Feather Sound Country Club in Clearwater, Florida. Starting with cocktails at 11:00 am, the event was well paced to its 3:00 pm conclusion giving guests plenty of time to enjoy our engaging program, delicious lunch, and spirited conversations.

Lisa A. Mets, KFES asepresident/Estonian Society of Central Florida vice president (we decided not to elect a president this year), served as emcee for the formal program. She welcomed four distinguished guests who joined us in our celebration: Hr. Jaak Treiman, Eesti Vabariigi Aukonsul/Estonian Honorary Consul in Los Angeles; pr. Kaie Põhi Latterner, Eesti Vabariigi Aukonsul/Estonian Honorary Consul in St. Petersburg (FL) for the northern counties of Florida; The Honorable Mrs. Kairi Künka, Eesti Vabariigi Peakonsul/Estonian Consul General in New York; and Ms. Kersti Eesmaa, Konsulaarosakonna peadirektor/the Director General of the Consular Department, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who brought greetings to our assembly. KFES was especially honored and privileged to introduce our beloved member, Kaie, as the Estonian Honorary Consul, St. Petersburg (northern counties of Florida); the Honorary Consulate was officially re-opened when Kaie took her oath of office on Friday evening, February 22, 2019, in her home. You may read the Foreign Ministry’s press release about the event here. KFES was especially delighted too to welcome back Lgp. pr. Künka, who had participated in the KFES celebration of EV100 last year.

In response to Ms. Eesmaa’s greetings, Lisa asked Ms. Eesmaa to convey the gratitude of Kesk Florida Eesti Selts for the recognition conveyed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Citizen’s Day, November 26, 2018, on the organization we know and love as KLENK: Kesk Lääne Eesti Noorte Koondis, affectionately called Kesk Lääne Endise Noorte Koondis, now 60 years old. Many KFES members lived in the Midwest and were active participants and organizers of KLENK gatherings. In 2011, to keep KLENK alive, Kesk Florida Eesti Selts hosted KLENK in St. Petersburg and transformed KLENK for snowbirds. Out of that the KLENK-IEP Caribbean cruise was born under the amazing leadership of Anne and Rein Luning. Many of us will be on the ship when the KLENK cruise sets sail for its third voyage on March 2, 2019. We thank and applaud the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for choosing KLENK as a recipient of this distinguished award.

Lisa designed her remarks around this theme: Why do we do what we do when we celebrate Estonian Independence Day? After all, the format of our program likely matches the programs hosted by numerous other Estonian associations taking place across America this month. Do we do what we do because it has always been done this way? What is the thought behind each element in our program? Lisa guided the guests through each step in the program with introductory remarks primarily focusing on Estonia’s history and culture. Kaie Põhi Latterner accompanied all of the musical elements of our program.

The first element in our program was the singing of the national anthem of the United States, not only because we live here but to pay tribute to a country whose ideals we share. Honoring Estonia’s spiritual and faith-based traditions, Monika Orumaa Craig led us in prayer, the second element in our program. The third element was a keynote address by Eesti Vabariigi Peakonsul/Estonian Consul General Künka. Pr. Künka delivered her address in Estonian; a printed English translation was available so all the guests could follow along. It was significant that pr. Künka made her remarks in Estonian: 2019 is the year of the Estonian language, kicked off on January 24, 2019, at a conference in Tallinn titled, “The Century of Estonian as the state language.”

In her remarks, pr. Künka noted that Mart Meri, a member of the board of the Estonian Institute, expressed a dream of “increasing the number of Estonian language speakers in the world to at least 1.5 million.” [Kesk Florida Eesti Selts is doing its part! Our musical program featured songs sung in Estonian by Rein Männik and our usual energetic Estonian Ühislaul/sing-a-along. Three of our favorite songs were enjoyed: Viljandi Paadimees, Ma Tahaksin Kodus Olla and Kungla Rahvas.] Pr. Künka concluded her remarks saying, “We have to continue working for the security and prosperity of our country, preserving its rich cultural heritage and keeping our language, all together, Estonians at home and abroad.” In today’s program, Kesk Florida Eesti Selts, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, recommitted itself to doing just that.

“In Memoriam” is the fourth element in our program. In her introductory remarks, Lisa reviewed the history of the Estonian war of independence fought from November 2018 to December 2019; the tragedy of World War II on the Estonian population; and the ultimate sacrifice made by Estonian soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. All of our guests stood to honor our fallen heroes by singing together “Puhake Paremad Pojad.” The closing element in our formal program was, as always, the singing of the Estonian National Anthem. We stood and heartily sang with joy in our hearts and tears in our eyes “Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm.” Elagu Eesti!

A delicious lunch followed with fabulous service by the Feather Sound Country Club staff. Kaie Põhi Latterner then took over the remainder of the program. She noted that, as the custodian of the book, she brought the lovely History of the Eesti Kroon and placed it on display for all to enjoy. This was a gift to KFES by the author for EV100.

The precious book, The History of the Eesti Kroon, on display. Kesk Florida Eesti Selts. EV101. 23. veeb. 2019.a. Clearwater, FL. Foto: Erkki Taada

We offered a champagne toast to Estonia: Elagu Eesti! Thank you, Robin and Tõnu Toomepuu, for the champagne.

Then we had fun with the loterii: Triin Karr and her daughter Annika and son Logan drew the winning tickets. Thank you to all our KFES members for bringing contributions to our loterii table!

We engaged in our musical program. Rein Männik, our featured musician this year, serenaded us with several lovely songs, each with a story of significance to Rein.

Ühislaul, as always, was enjoyed by all who end up rocking, rolling and clapping along.

Though we didn’t offer a rahvatants/folk dance program this year, we concluded our musical activity with a huge circle of guests dancing the Perekonna Valss.

Closing remarks were offered by Aukonsul/Honorary Consul Kaie Põhi Latterner. As is customary in Kaie’s remarks, she had all of us standing at the end because we were born in Estonia, we were born to Estonian parents, we married an Estonian, and/or we love an Estonian. That covered 100% of our guests.

Bringing our celebration to an end, we adjourned outside for a group photo on the balcony and conversation that didn’t want to end.

We hope you enjoy our photos. Please plan to join us next year!