They had quite the sendoff for outgoing St. Louis Cathedral Concerts founder and executive/artistic director JOHN ROMERI: A public farewell and award presentation for Romeri and his wife KAREN was witnessed by more than 1,000 people during the cathedral’s LIBERA concert earlier this month. Romeri, the Arch dio cesan music director for the past 18 years, has brought more than 60 performing groups to St. Louis, half of which had never before performed here. He’s headed East to lead the office of liturgical music for the Philadelphia Arch dio cese. He’ll also serve as music director and organist for the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Why can’t we be friends? If you haven’t joined us on Facebook yet, then you’re missing out on some fabulous prizes! Our next major prize up for grabs: a one-night stay at the MOONRISE HOTEL in the Delmar Loop. Your first-class boutique accommodations come with amenities such as luxurious Enrapture Eurotop beds, plasma TVs, iPod docking stations, and contemporary glass and tile walk-in showers. The drawing will be held for all fans once we reach the 1,000th-fan mark.

Paying it forward…12-year-old ELLY WELLER, an MICDS seventh-grader, was selected as one of 100 winners of a back-to-school essay contest at Walmart. After receiving her $100 gift card, Elly used it to buy school supplies for KidSmart, a local organization that helps students in need. Mom GAIL WELLER says she’s not at all surprised since Elly has volunteered with the organization before. Kudos to Elly!

The region’s first-ever performing and visual arts charter school makes its debut this week in the heart of Grand Center: GRAND CENTER ARTS ACADEMY (GCAA) will welcome students from 75 area schools on its first day of school, Aug. 16. The school’s tuition-free curriculum includes training in music, theater, visual art and dance. GCAA is temporarily housed Third Baptist Church on Grand Avenue, but will move one block north to its permanent home in fall 2011.

Pint-sized ‘competitive eater’ ALEXANDRIA O’HARA is the winner of Hope Montessori’s recent watermelon eating contest, earning the 2-year-old a trophy that’s almost as big as she is! Alexandria, the daughter of MICHAEL and MELISSA O’HARA, finished a record 21 pieces of fruit in one sitting, beating runner-up BRENNAN McFALL, who ate 14 pieces.

A big round of ap-‘paws’ to Humane Society of Missouri prez KATHRYN WARNICK, who was recently awarded the 2010 Humane Award by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The honor, bestowed annually to a non-veterinarian, recognizes Warnick’s leadership and dedication to animal welfare here and across the country.

Meet-and-greet…St. Louisans are invited to the Missouri Botanical Garden next month to welcome incoming garden topper PETER WYSE JACKSON and chat with president emeritus DR. PETER RAVEN. The Sept. 25 ‘Coffee with the Presidents’ at Spoehrer Plaza will feature light refreshments, and is included with garden admission.

Hoping to continue a family tradition, RACHEL ILYASHOV-ZOLOTOV, co-owner of Timekeepers, has branched out and launched her own jewelry line. Her ‘recycled’ antique jewelry pieces and engraving work are featured on Parents SEMYON and ALINA ILYASHOV brought Timekeepers to St. Louis in 1979 from Eastern Europe.

Christmas in…August? THE SALVATION ARMY has officially launched its search for the perfect tree for the annual Tree of Lights campaign. The Army is in need of a donated pine or blue spruce, ideally 30 to 40 feet tall, and easily accessible. The tree will be displayed at St. Louis Mills during the holiday season.