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2 Kaie Latterner at the podium 23 veeb 2019

New Estonian Honorary Consul in St. Petersburgis (FL) Kaie Põhi Latterner. Kesk-Florida Eesti Selts, EV101, February 23, Clearwater, FL. Photo by Erkki Taada

 

Far exceeding the attendance guesstimates of the Kesk Florida Eesti Seltsi (KFES) juhatus/ Estonian Society of Central Florida Board, 71 guests attended the asso ciation'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 bluesky, 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, St. Petersburg (FL) was officially reopened when Kaie took her oath of office on Friday evening, February 22, 2019, in her home. 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—Midwest Estonian Youth Organization— now 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? 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.

 

1 Kunka Eesmaa Mets Treiman KFES EV101 23 veeb 2019

EV Peakonsul Kairi Künka, EV Konsulaarosakonna Peadirektor Kersti Eesmaa, KFES asepresident ja esimene EV aukonsul St. Petersburgis Lisa A. Mets ja EV aukonsul Los Angeles Jaak Treiman. Kesk Florida Eesti Selts, EV101, 23. veeb. 2019. Clearwater, FL. Foto: Erkki Taada

 

Eesti Vabariigi Peakonsul Lgp. pr. Kairi Künka delivered her keynote address in Estonian; a printed English translation was available so all the guests could follow along. It was significant that pr. Künka gave 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. 

 

A delicious lunch followed the formal program. 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.

 

We offered a champagne toast to Estonia: Elagu Eesti! We had fun with the loterii. 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 ended up rocking, rolling and clapping along. Though we didn't offer a rahvatants/ folk dance program this year— we missed you, Rannapiigad—we concluded our musical activity with a huge circle of guests dancing the Perekonna Valss. Bringing our celebration to an end, we adjourned outside for a group photo on the balcony and conversation that didn't want to end.

 

Photos of our event and information about upcoming events may be found on our website: https://floridaestos.blog/.

 

We hope you’ll plan to join us when you’re in our area this year and next!

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