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Spring is the busiest season of the year for Floridians and the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts).  Activities span officially from Vabariigi Aastapäev to May and unofficially to Võidupüha and Jaanipäev. More than 60 members and guests of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (KFES) celebrated the 95th Anniversary of Estonian Independence Day with a special program on Saturday, February 23, 2013. The program was designed to reflect Estonian values: love of country; faith; the honoring of soldiers and heroes willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for liberty; love of language, music and education; Estonians' playful spirit; and respect for "Kodu Eestlased" and Välis-Eestlased" who form one family, one nation.  Mrs. Kaie Põhi Latterner, reflecting on what it means to grow up as a first generation Estonian American, delivered the keynote address. Additional program participants included KFES President Tõnu Toomepuu, Ms. Monika Orumaa Craig, Mr. Jüri Toomepuu, Mrs. Triin Karr, and Honorary Consul of Estonia Lisa Mets. A loterii was deftly handled by Ms. Marju Cabrera and beautiful table decorations were made by Mrs. Tiiu Slankis. The Estonian Society of Central Florida owes its thanks to Mr. Rein Raja and Mrs. Maare Kuuskvere, who pulled all the strings together to weave the tapestry for the day's program.   The Estonian National Association of South Florida (Lõuna Florida Eestlaste Koondis) celebrated the 95th Anniversary of Estonian Independence on Sunday, February 24, 2013, in Atlantis, Florida. A handful of the membership of the Estonian Society of Central Florida made the drive to the east coast to join their festivities. Highlights of the afternoon included an invocation by Pastor Ants Tooming from Estonia; a viewing of the DVD "Tule Tulemine Tallinna: Teekonna Lugu"; commemoration of the fallen heroes (langenute mälestamine) by LFEK President Arno Kallas, Helve Parts and Tuuli Robinson; and the introduction of Florida's two new Estonian honorary consuls: Lisa A. Mets (St. Petersburg, Florida) and Jorge Viera (Miami).   To escape the hot, humid June weather, KFES members advance their Jaanipäeva picnic from summer to spring. This year, on April 6, 2013, members gathered all bundled up against unseasonably cold and windy weather under the pavilion on beautiful Anna Maria Island. Once again, the Väino and Leena Aare family, masters of the barbecue, grilled a fabulous lunch. April is a month when a number of members celebrate their birthdays, so everyone joined in chorus to sing, "Nad elagu!" (Photo on page 12).   The official activities of the Estonian Society of Central Florida draw to a close with its May lunch. More than 30 members shared fellowship on Sunday, May 5, 2013, in St. Petersburg. Remarks by Professor Kersti Linask, University of South Florida, were the highlight of the afternoon. Professor Linask recently completed a Fulbright program of research and study at Tartu University.  Though KFES has paused for summer, the Honorary Consul of Estonia for the north Florida region continues to be active. Mr. Sten Schwede, the Consul General of Estonia visited St. Petersburg, May 24 and 25, 2013, and accepted applications for identity cards, new passports and passport renewals. More than 20 families were served during this visit. This was the Consul General's first official visit to the recently established Honorary Consulate in St. Petersburg.    On Sunday, June 23, 2013, Estonian Honorary Consul Lisa Mets and her husband Erkki Taada welcomed nearly 30 KFES members in their home for a traditional picnic commemorating Võidupüha and celebrating Jaanipäeva eve. Jüri Toomepuu offered remarks underscoring the significance of these two important Estonian national holidays. The return vacation visit of Kati Rausberg, Eckerd College graduate 2012, and Viive Rebane, SUNY Binghamton graduate 2012, made the afternoon extra special. This past year Kati and Viive were members of professional women's basketball teams in Belarus (Kati) and Bulgaria (Viive) and Estonia (Kati and Viive). Kati and Viive made rosolje, Estonia's traditional beet salad, and potato salad, to accompany traditional Jaanipäeva vorstid (sausages). A delicious afternoon was shared by all! The Estonian Society of Central Florida is now on summer hiatus. Some of us are off to meetings and festivities at LEP 2013 in San Francisco. All of us are looking forward to welcoming Music Director Anu Tali when she joins the Sarasota Orchestra in its new season. Please join us when we resume our activities October 6, 2013. For information, please visit our web site: .   Maare Kuuskvere, KFES Secretary Lisa A. Mets, Honorary Consul of Florida, St. Petersburg


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