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Sugar ‘Canes regain stride at nationals

The Manatee High School Sugar ‘Canes shone on Super Bowl Sunday.

Director Vicky Duquette’s dance team took ninth in the Universal Dance Association national high kick finals at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

There were 36 teams in the prelims and 16 made the cut.

Led by captain Lauren Bellant, co-captain Breslyn Reiber, lieutenants Margarida Phelan and Rachel Schmitt and dance officer Emma Galati, the Sugar ‘Canes were Emily Barnes, Cierra Cydrus, Brianna DiTommaso, Darci Elfervig, Alessandra Krause, Elly Kretchman, Katherine Pace, Ellie Potter, Sarah Smith, Jennifer Walstad and Jenny Winchell.

The Sugar ‘Canes, who did not make it to finals in their first venture into hip-hop at UDA nationals, were determined to so in high kick. It’s a category in which they have been a perennial contender for more than 25 years, but barely missed making the finals last year.

“Finals was their goal and mine was top 10 so I’m thrilled,” Duquette said.

The first-year director received big assists from coach Leah Bellant, choreographer Annamaria Diamant, dance assistants Julia Virgilio and Linda Boone and team hairstylist Jane Simpson.

n Gus (Demetrios Pizza) Sokos is 39. Again.

n Dairy Queen Grill & Chill, 7155 State Road 70 E., is hosting a “Be My Valentine ‘Blizzard’ Benefit” 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday in hopes of opening a lot of hearts around our community.

The owners are donating all proceeds to the families of Josh Rogers and Brett Wagner to help them defray the cost of the medical expenses incurred after the Lakewood Ranch seniors lost their lives in that tragic Christmas night crash.

There will also be a raffle, sponsors’ T-shirts sold and $1 “Conversation Hearts” for personal messages about the boys for family keepsakes to raise additional funds.

For more details, call Tracy Hirschauer at 941-751-4600 or Tracey Bodmer at 941-504-8297.

n Ann Marie Nicholas is 39. Again.

n Between the Beatles’ music segment of tonight’s 14th annual Concert in the Garage and the presence of Paul McCartney’s 1965 Morris Mini Cooper, Sherry Lowe is going back down memory lane.

“I remember being in fourth grade at Ballard Elementary the first time they were on Ed Sullivan,” said Manatee High School’s orchestra director. “Now watch the kids try figuring out how old I really am.”

Showtime is 6:30 p.m. at Jake’s Automotive, 708 Ninth St. W., Bradenton.

Admission is free.

n The 2012 executive committee for the Manatee Memorial Hospital Auxiliary are president Patricia Ellis, president-elect Ronald Michaud, vice-president Mary Norwood, recording secretary Nancy Varner, corresponding secretary Isabell Hall, treasurer Lou Ann Boucher and assistant treasurer Karen Mitchell.

n Visit for bullriding details on the Conley Buick/GMC SSBR Finals at the Manatee County Fairgrounds.

Gates open 5 p.m. tonight and 3 p.m. Saturday.

n Finally, as if nearly two years of marriage haven’t taught me who calls the shots in our household, my wife, Sherri, was recently promoted at HomeBanc.

Can you say, “Madam vice president?”

Vin’s People, is by local columnist Vin Mannix. He can be reached at 941-745-7055, or