Over 40 members and friends of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES) gathered together for our annual potluck picnic celebrating April birthdays and Jaanipäeva.

We were delighted to welcome old and new friends and members from The Villages, Leesburg, Orlando and North Carolina too: Virve Kai and Joe Bulla, Ken and Anne Holda, Helve and Vello Kruber, Anu and Mario Christo, Aljona and Arianna Fjodorova, Helen Tammela, Moonika Mägi, and Birgit Delaidatti. Thank you for making the drive and the flight to be with us! Tampa Bay and our beautiful beaches are closer than one might think!

Our picnic was held for the first time in the Seminole Isle Pavilion by the Bayou. It was perfect for our group with the screened covered picnic pavilion, waterside dock and sand-fire pit. The weather this day was ideal with our cloudless blue sky and sweet breeze. KFES provided grilled bratwurst and hotdogs; thank you grillmaster Dallas Dishmey! Everyone else contributed a delicious assortment of appetizers, salads, side dishes, and desserts to complement our birthday cake. We had our full share of Estonian dishes and desserts! And we had fun with our Estonian and multi-lingual sing-a-long too!

This event is our traditional send-off as snowbirds and residents fly away for summer holidays. Though we may have informal gatherings in the summer months, our formal activities resume in October. We look forward to seeing all our members and friends again soon!


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—KFES members and friends from the wider Tampa Bay region and beyond. Anneliis Kuusik welcomed our guests at the door. Dallas Dishmey watches as Chloe and Brook Cabrera excitedly enter the grand ballroom. Many of our guests were proud to wear their rahvarõivad!



We were joined by several special guests including 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, Florida; and Mr. Juris Epermanis, President of the Latvian Association in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Arne Roostna Reinwald, Juris Epermanis, The Honorable Kairi Künka, Lisa Mets, and Nancy and Al Karnavicius. Kesk Florida Eesti Selts EV100. Clearwater, FL. March 10, 2018. Photo: Erkki Taada

The 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 (Aale Oengo-Kingo) and the singing of Eesti Lipp (Martin Lipp and Enn Võrk); the singing of the American National Anthem; welcome remarks from Ms. Kersti K. Totsas Linask, President of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts; the performance of the song Hoia Jumal Eestit (J. Aavik, L. Raudkepp) by KFES members Vincent and Birgit Delaidatti, accompanied by pianist Kaie Põhi Latterner and flautist Leelo Valdsaar Basham; and prayer/invocation by Mr. Henn Rebane, one of the Society’s/Selts’ founders.


The highlight of the lunch that followed was the dessert: two birthday kringlid (thank you, Virve-Kai Bulla!), a chocolate cake with candles, and a champagne toast (thank you, Tõnu Toomepuu!). 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 Ms. 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) and who has “represented our country and protected our citizens’ rights with utmost devotion.” We ended Part I standing proudly singing together the Estonian national anthem “Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm” (F. Pacius, J. Jannsen).


We were delighted to introduce a surprise from Estonia: A box of “Yummy Questions” was distributed to each table. According to the box, “Yummy Questions” started in 2015 when three Tartu Jaan Poska Gymnasium students created a student company. Their mission was to introduce Estonia to the world. With every EV100 Yummy Questions purchased, they donate 5% to a youth entrepreneurship fund to give teenagers the chance to gain the experience they had. The questions were fun and informative and the chocolate was, indeed, yummy!


We also drew raffle tickets for our ever-popular lottery. This year we raffled off baskets. Thanks to KFES members, the baskets overflowed with products representing Eesti and Florida. Six lucky tickets were drawn.


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. We were charmed by the following songs performed by Ülle Laido and Dermot Somerville, Vincent and Birgit Delaidatti, and Rein Männik; and we enthusiastically joined in for the audience sing-alongs. 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. “Ood Põhjamaale” is based on a poem by Ülle’s mother set to music by Ülle and Dermott as a Mother’s Day gift. Birgit Delaidatti 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,” explained Rein Männik, was written by an Estonian-Canadian who had not visited Estonia. Likewise, “Tallinna Teel” 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.

“Mu isamaa on minu arm” (Gustav Ernesaks)
Ülle Laido and Dermot Somerville
“Ood Põhjamaale” (Eha Laido ja Ülle Laido)
Ülle Laido and Dermot Somerville
“Ma tahaksin kodus olla” (rahvalaul)
Audience sing-along
“Laul Põhjamaast” (Enn Vetemaa / Ülo Vinter)
Vincent and Birgit Delaidatti and audience sing-along
“Läbi päeva ja öö” (Peeter Kopvillem)
Rein Männik
“Tallinna Teel” (Priit Aruvald)
Audience sing-along


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.”

“Jooksupolka” Saare Vikat and Rannapiigad
“Eideratas” Rannapiigad
“Reilender” Saaare Vikat
“Meremeeste Valss” Saare Vikat
“Õige ja Vasemba” Saare Vikat and Rannapiigad
“Tuljak” Saare Vikat
“Perekonna Valss” Saare Vikat, Rannapiigad and audience



The dance program concluded with members of the audience joining in on the Perekonna Valss. What fun! Kaie Põhi Latterner offered closing remarks. As is tradition, flowers were presented to our performers as an expression of our deep appreciation.


Then we all gathered on the terrace for a celebratory group photo.


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.  In his email to KFES, Mr. Kull wrote: Raamatu tiraaz on 100. Raamatu pühendan Eesti 100 sünnipäevaks, eestlastele endiselt  OMA RAHA -EESTI KROONI -ja krooni paberraha esikülgedel olnud persoonide mälestuse hoidjatele. Igas raamatus on 8 originaal paberraha 1-500 kroonini. Raamatu vahelehed on valmistatud käsitööna Nepaalis ja vahelehed sisaldavad purustatud eesti krooni paberrahade puru. Raamatud pühendan ja kingin eesti muusemidele, seltsidele, koolidele, kellel on side krooni paberrahadel olnud persoonidega: Kristjan Raud, Karl Ernst von Baer, Paul Keres, Jakob Hurt, Anton Hansen Tammsaar, Rudolf Tobias, Lydia Koidula, Carl Robert Jakobson. Otsustasin, et lisaks soovin 15 raamatut kinkida nendele kaasmaalastele, kes kodumaalt eemal. Nii et ühe raamatu soovin pühendada Kesk Florida Eesti Seltsile.  Raamatule on teinud karbi näol pesa karbikunstnik Katrin Raud. Karbi sisemus on vooderdatud eesti krooni paberraha purust  valmistatud dekoratiivpaberiga. Soovin, et saadate  mulle operatiivselt korrektse Kesk Florida Eesti  Seltsi postiaadressi ja kontaktisiku telefoni numbri. Seda kõik selleks, et krooniraamat jõuaks 24 veebruariks ka teie seltsimajja, Eesti sünnipäeva pidulistele rõõmu valmistada! Eestimaa ilu hoieldes! Toomas Kull

Eesti krooni originaalpangatähed 1991-2007, by Toomas Kull, on display at Kesk Florida Eesti Selts EV100. March 10, 2018. Clearwater, FL. Photo: Triin Karr

Based on remarks offered by our guests as they departed, we may declare this celebration of EV100 a success. In sum, today was a day to celebrate Estonian history, perseverance, culture, music, dance and language. As we exclaimed repeatedly, “Elagu Eesti!” 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 (re-independence).

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 click on this KFES EV100 Kava 2018 to view the printed program and our expression of gratitude to all those who made this day such a special success.

To view the Proclamation signed by the Mayor of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, declaring February 24, 2018, Republic of Estonia Centennial Day, please view the post on this web site. This event also is dedicated to the centenary of the Republic of Estonia.

Here is a gallery of photos of the day. Enjoy!


At the regular meeting of the St. Petersburg (FL) City Council, Councilman Steve Kornell transmitted to Lisa Mets, Immediate Past Honorary Consul of Estonia (St. Petersburg, Florida) and KFES vice president, the Mayor’s Proclamation proclaiming February 24, 2018 as Republic of Estonia Centennial Day. These representatives of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) attended: KFES Past President Tõnu Toomepuu, current KFES President Kersti K. Totsas-Linask, KFES Board members Maare and Jaan Kuuskvere and Erkki Taada, and member and Estonian Honorary Consul candidate Kaie Põhi Latterner. This recognition from the City of St. Petersburg expands the gateway that already exists between St. Petersburg and Estonia.

This action is dedicated to the centenary of the Republic of Estonia.

Kesk Florida Eesti Selts/
The Estonian Society of Central Florida

invites you to our luncheon celebrating

Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.
Feather Sound Country Club
2201 Feather Sound Dr., Clearwater, FL 33762

Program Highlights
Remarks by Estonian Consul General Kairi Künka
Folkdancers New York’s Saare Vikat and
Florida’s Rannapiigad
A musical program offered by Florida Estonians and
Estonian-related musicians

Advance reservations are required by 2/28/18
Tickets: Adults $50.00, children under 12 $23.00
For tickets, contact Anneliis Kuusik
kuusika09@aol.com; tel. 860-810-3469
7069 Key Haven Rd #505, Seminole FL 33777
Please specify your meal choice (fish or chicken)
and make checks payable to the
“Estonian Society of Central Florida”

The Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts expresses deep gratitude to the following for financial support for this event:

Integratsiooni Sihtasutus Eestis (Eesti Vabariik 100 väliseesti kultuurühingute projektikonkurss toetus/A fund in Estonia dedicated to helping celebrate the Estonian centennial around the world

Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendriikides/Estonian American National Council

This event is dedicated to the centenary of the Republic of Estonia.

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.

Twenty-five members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida enjoyed lunch together as we fire up for the celebration of Estonia’s 100th anniversary of independence, which we will celebrate with a gala program on March 10, 2018 (see separate listing above). We were delighted to welcome Eda Vare and Vernon Aldan Bandy. Eda spends half the year in Vermont and half the year in Sun City Center. Thank you, Eda, for looking us up and joining our selts!

We met in the usual private room in one of our favorite restaurants: Pier 22, 1200 1st Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205. The restaurant has a varied menu with moderately priced items. We look forward to returning here again next year.

On February 6, 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida, three members of a Civil Affairs Team of the 92nd Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, and an adviser, engaged in a mission readiness exercise with Lisa A. Mets, the Immediate Past Estonian Honorary Consul (St. Petersburg); and Maare Kuuskvere, Markus and Liisa Larsson, Erkki Taada, and Triin Karr, all members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts). A mission readiness exercise engages members of a civil affairs team with diaspora community leaders to learn more about the ethnic experience of the diaspora community and to learn and practice cultural sensitivities. This is the third time a civil affairs team assigned to Estonia has worked with the St. Petersburg Estonian community on a mission readiness exercise.

The program introduced the Civil Affairs Team to Estonian and Estonian-American perspectives through three generations of Estonians that live in Tampa Bay: those born in Estonia before World War II, who were refugees with experience in displaced persons camps; those born and raised in Estonia under Soviet oppression; first generation Estonian-Americans whose lives have been committed to preserving Estonia’s sovereignty; and those who were teenagers in Estonia when Estonia regained independence in 1991 and now make Florida their home.

A whirlwind orientation program covered Estonian geography, history, demographics, government, economy, Estonia’s place in international rankings today, language, educational system, culture, and e-Estonia. To introduce the Civil Affairs Team to Estonian cuisine, refreshments included traditional Estonian breakfast võileivad, a Jaanipäeva-style picnic lunch, and a traditional Estonian Christmas dinner with homemade verivorst.

The following day the Civil Affairs Team visited Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, the workplace of the Immediate Past Estonian Honorary Consul. In two sessions, the Civil Affairs Team learned about emergency preparedness planning and the student-run marine rescue program, which is called Eckerd College Search and Rescue (EC SAR).

“Secure the victory” is the motto inscribed on the pin worn by the members of the Civil Affairs Team. That describes perfectly their role in Estonia helping Estonia to preserve its independence. Those who hosted this experience consider it an honor and privilege to engage in mission readiness exercises and stand ready to continue to serve in this way. On behalf of all Estonians in Estonia and the diaspora, we express deep gratitude to the USA for its continuing support for Estonia.

Members of the Civil Affairs Team and their adviser. (back) Lisa Mets, Maare Kuuskvere, Liisa Larsson and Markus Larsson. Feb. 6, 2018, St. Petersburg, FL. Photo: Erkki Taada