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Top 5 “Special Events” in November

1) Winter Park Harvest Festival

November 20 – in Central Park in Winter Park
Come check out the first ever Harvest Festival to come to the heart of Winter Park. Learn about local farmers and coops, farm to table dinner, tips for growing your own food, and other slow food items of interest. The day will culminate with a special outdoor screening of the movie FRESH. (You can even “adopt a local farmer”… love it!)

Organizer John Rife, a Winter Park High School grad who also blogs at A Local Folkus, came up with the idea for an event that is one part feast, one part farmer’s market, and one part gardening seminar.  There’s even an option to attend a high-end “farm to table.” Yum! (Get your dinner tickets here…limited availability.)

John Rife teaches elementary and middle school students about grow boxes.

Rife said he has always had a “bleeding heart” about such slow food issues. (Yes, slow food is a newish term to contrast fast food.)  Rife even produced a documentary on the subject of “locavore” when he was working towards a Masters degree in Digital Media at the University of Florida.

2) Light Up UCF

November 12 – January 2 at the UCF Arena
This has evolved into one of the most exciting events of the season! This year’s theme is “50 Nights of Music, Lights, and Ice” and it is going to be fantastic!

At this 50 day-event, there’s a featured outdoor Holiday Film Festival, special light shows, rides including the Holiday Santa Train, and Orlando’s largest outdoor skating rink!  And, UCF keeps this economy and local families in mind, as many of the activities are free or at least very affordable.

And, for long-time Central Florida residents, if you haven’t been to UCF in a while, you are in for a treat!  Long gone are the days of a commuter school; the University of Central Florida‘s campus and student life area are fabulously college-campus like!  There’s a reason it is the largest university in the state and the third largest in the United States! Go Knights!

3. 9th Annual Concours d’Elegance

November 6 -7 in Winter Park
Love vintage and luxury cars? Exotic machines are your thing? Then this is the show to see! Fabulous!

According to their website, the Concours d’Elegance is “one of the most highly-regarded, judged exotic car shows in the United States” and welcomes “over 120 of the world’s most prestigious automobiles.”   It is one of our favorite car events to attend, especially since it is held on lovely Park Avenue in Winter Park! Here was our trip there last year:

4. 12th Annual Central Florida Jewish Film Fest

November 7 – 9 at the Enzian Theater
Billed as a cinematic celebration of Jewish life, culture, and history, this is the 12th annual festival.

Poster image for the Enzian's Jewish Film Festival.

Co-oresented by the JCC of Greater Orlando, you can buy passes for the entire festival, or single for specific movies.

Here’s the line up:

The Enzian Theater has goal of being more than simply a movie theater, but rather they try to create an entire movie experience, from their fine menu offerings (love the gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches!) to their selection of wine and mixed drinks. You can dine while watching a movie, or by sitting amid lush trees, artsy sculptures and fountains of water while at Enzian’s outdoor Eden Bar.

5. ICE!

November 20 – January 2  at the Gaylord Palms
Direct from Harbin, China, some of the best ice sculptors in the world create a fabulous ice park, complete with 30 foot slides. (Don’t worry, parkas are provided for that 9 degree indoor-weather!)

From the ICE! website

The “ice” for ICE! is manufactured at an ice factory and is delivered over a three week time period. (Two trucks a day for 15 days!) And to get crystal clear ice takes a very special slow-freezing formula that allows the molecules to line up perfectly…in fact, this clear ice has been compared to Waterford Crystal! Then, Chinese artisans spend nearly a month indoors at the Gaylord Palms carving these winter wonder pieces. Kind of cool, no?

And while you are at the Gaylord Palms to see ICE!, you can also check out the live stage shows, holiday dining, early visits with Santa, and the Polar Bear Pursuit in the hotel’s 4.5 acre atrium. (Fun!) And this year, after you finish with ICE!, your children can go play in 40 tons of real SNOW! indoors at the hotel, too.

And how else is a Floridian going to see such cold weather without hopping on a plane?

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Filed under General Info, November 2010, Top 5 Special Events, Uncategorized, Uniquely Florida

Malibu Saves the Day!

The Top 5 is proud to be an official blogger for the Chevy “Girlfriend Getaway Florida” promotion. Please enjoy our recent post and video below, and then check out our other posts as well as the other Orlando area bloggers on the official site.

For our household, the grocery store is a frequent stop as we eat lots of fresh veggies. (I’m not a great cook, but I can cut up a mean cucumber!)  So, our grocery store visits result in a smaller amount of groceries due to the frequency that we go.  However, there is one particular visit that results in a huge amount of cargo:  the Pet Food Run!

We have two dogs and three cats, all of which LOVE to eat. And so once a month we have to stock up on the pet food, which is no small feat. The dogs eat a mixture of two brands, while the cats just eat and eat and eat. (On the video, notice the really Fat Cat, who often falls into a near diabetic coma when he slumbers…)

We have several clues when the time for the Pet Food Run is drawing near:

  • The sound of the scoop echoes particularly loudly as it drops back into the storage bin.
  • The dogs start eyeing the cats with a hungry gleam, as if they are estimating their respective running speeds.
  • The cats start eyeing my Achilles heel, perhaps determining the thickness of my skin and just how hard it would be to take me down. 
  • Both sets of animals keep an uncomfortably close eye on us when we lie down to sleep–they may be planning a joint attack, so we’ve never let the hunger go much past this.

At any rate, when we observe these tell-tale signs, we usually have to borrow my father’s pick up truck for this trip to the grocery store, but this month we ventured forth confidently in the Chevy Malibu.  At first my husband was a bit dubious of the space, as we were doing the Pet Food Run, but to his pleasant surprise, there’s a TON of space back there!  Not only did we fit two 50 pound bags of dog food, a 15 pound bag of a different brand, but also another 15 pound bag of cat food, but we also fit all of our people groceries, too.  And there was even extra space left over… we could have bought much, much more had our check book allowed us!

So, thanks, Chevy Malibu, for keeping the Pet Revolt down for the time being… you and your cargo space really saved the day!

And by the way, Top 5 Fans, you can test drive any Malibu now through June 3 and get a FREE MASSAGE at Massage Envy! (Seems like a no brainer to me! Go for it!)

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Blue Men Indeed

No matter what color you were Thursday night, hundreds of people came together to honor the Orlando Magic and the work their organization has done not only for the community but also for the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.  My husband and I attended this exciting event, which started at NBA City at Universal CityWalk.   There, former Magic greats Nick Andersen, Bo Outlaw, and Adonal Foyle greeted us as we walked in to enjoy sumptuous food  like shrimp and grits or an assortment of yummy desserts.  After a brief mingling, the reception officially started honoring several guests.  One was a former recipient of help at the homeless shelter, who had been hooked on heroin. After utilizing the assortment of programs available at the Coalition, he is now a proud married father who is gainfully employed.  Another honored guest was a woman who had been volunteering at the shelter since its opening in 1987. I was greatly inspired by her dedication.

After the reception, guests filed to the nearby Sharp Aquos Theatre where we anxiously awaited the start of the Blue Man Group show.  I have been to Cirque de Soleil and enjoyed this every bit as much. The group’s fast-paced, out-of-this-world entertainment is difficult to describe.  The three blue guys present an almost alien aura, but connect with the audience in a very real way. Whether it is shining a spotlight on Commissioner Bill Segal, who graciously agreed to come in late for the laughs, or having a gazillion rolls of toilet paper unravel over your head, the Blue Man Group is worth the visit!

If you would like to continue supporting the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, donations are always welcome and very much appreciated.

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Yow Dance – Second Annual Gala

Be sure to support the Yow Dance studio by attending the second gala, sponsored by The Westin. The gala is August 29 and the $40 ticket praice includes dinner, entertainment, and silent auction.

From yowdance.org

From yowdance.org

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Local 14-year-old Can Sure Play a Mean Guitar!

Those who attended the Green Day concert last week at Amway Arena were treated a a display by a very talented Central Florida resident.  Green Day is known for always pulling a local guitarist on stage to perform with them, and even the Twittersphere was abuzz speculating just who might go up at their Orlando concert.  Turns out Trinity Prep student Nicholas Amend had the honors…and he was nearly flawless in his outstanding performance!

This first video gives the background into just how Nicholas was chosen to be the one to come up:

This second video shows Nicholas from a much closer angle. He’s the one running around…

Congrats, Nicholas, and way to make Central Florida proud!

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Featured Central FL Artist: Linda Brant

We’ve decided to do a series of blog entries over the next few weeks featuring Central Florida artists. We are fortunate that art and culture are alive and well here–perhaps the beautiful scenery provides great inspiration? In addition to some wonderful artists, we also have some world-renowned museums, many of which go unvisited by residents, who are perhaps unaware of the high quality art they have living right beside them.

The first artist we are featuring is Linda Brant, this year’s recipient of the Cheryl Bogdanowitsch Scholarship for Sculpture from Crealde School of Art.

Brant states, “Although my formal education is in Psychology, I have been painting since I was a child. Many of the concepts behind my pieces are inspired by literature and expressed through motifs found in the natural world. Somerset Maugham, Hermann Hesse, Jack Kerouac and Carlos Castaneda are among my favorite writers. Crushed rocks, dried leaves, moss, insects, tree bark, glass fragments and spider webs have all been sources of inspiration to me. I use compelling ideas, feelings, experiences – even dreams – as a starting point for creating imaginative and expressive images.”

Dancing under the Autumn Sky (in praise of Tiffany)

Dancing under the Autumn Sky (in praise of Tiffany)

Untitled V (pastel)

Untitled V (pastel)

Walking

Walking

Leap

Leap

For more on this week’s featured Central Florida artist, you can visit her on the web at lbrant.net.

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Best Event of 2009!

First of all, Happy birthday, America! I celebrated your big day last night (on the 3rd) at Red, Hot, & Boom. If you were able to follow me on Twitter, you would have read that I had VIP tickets to the Embassy Suites tent sponsored by Omaha Steaks. There, I enjoyed a sumptuous feat of lamb, seafood pasta, a variety of salads and desserts. I ate at a table with Altamonte Springs mayor Pat Bates before we moved out to the masses. (I can’t wait to see the final estimate of how many people were squeezed into the narrow area known as Cranes Roost…wow!)

We got there just as Matt Nathanson came on stage, and unfortunately while our tent had closed circuit TV of the stage, it had very poor sound. So, while he looked like he was giving a good show, I actually have no idea.  By the time we got out, my son and friend had gone toward the stage to see Kevin Rudolf. Their review of him? “Awesome!” 

Then came the band I wanted to see: We the Kings. The stage, being set in the middle of the lake as it is, makes it difficult to see anyone too well but I think lead inger Travis Clark did a good job projecting and communicating to his distant audience. They did a fabulous rendition of Jimmy Eats World’s “It Just Takes Some Time” before ending with “Check Yes Juliet.”  Now it was my turn to review them: “Awesome!”

And on to the main attraction of the fireworks. Altamonte Springs does a nice job of “Disney-like” audio to accompany the fireworks. They had a mix ranging from Prine’s “Purple Rain” to Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” My personal favorite was the “Jaws theme song” going into Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” where fireworks literally launched from the water itself. Very cool effect!  (And, thanks to Guitar Hero, my son’s generation actually recognizes these songs!)

The only drawback? Too many people in too small a space!  How many sardines can you pack in one can? (Still waiting to hear the final estimate from City of Altamonte Springs.)   The hours-long traffic created a parking lot all through the Altamonte Mall, Cranes Roost, 436, and surrounding neighborhoods. After waiting 45 minutes on the top of a parking garage and not seeing one car move, we parked it and walked about a mile to where we had somebody pick us up. We made it home only to then receive a phone call from friends we left on top of the parking garage–they hadn’t moved yet!  Ugh!  Still, I’ll probably do it again next year. 🙂

Now, just twelve hours later, the EVENT OF THE YEAR is starting! Okay, so this isn’t in Central Florida, but in my book, it still counts because I am watching here in Central Florida: The Tour de France.  I have watched the Tour since the early 90’s while in college at the University of Florida. My husband and I would meet friends at the Copper Monkey and watch it there. (It was one of the few bars that had satellite TV.)  We spend each afternoon for nearly a month watching each stage. (At that time, Lance seemed like a nobody and dropped out more than one.) Later on, I listened to the Tour on the internet, buffering and streaming it live while calling in updates to my husband at work.

Now, we watch it live on VS Channel(102 on Brighthouse)…coverage is in the morning and takes a while because they ride for like 4 hours each stage, but with the commentary of Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin (and their English accents) it’s fun to pretend you’re in Europe watching it. (Oh, and Bob Roll is a major dweeb! His goofy commentary reminds me I still back here in the States!)

Now, why is this Tour my event of the year? Simple–Lance Armstrong is returning to ride! And, what makes it even more impressive, he is doing it as a volunteer. He is waiving the normal salary of a rider (which can be in the millions)  and is content to ride to spread the message about Livestrong. Simply amazing! 

Please visit his foundation to find out more and support his cause!

And, follow Lance on Twitter…pretty cool! 

Okay, the time trial are starting, so I’m cutting myself off…enjoy your fourth of July! And, viva le Lance!

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