Tag Archives: central florida

Announcing the December Top 5 Events!

Top 5 “Special Events”

Christmas in the Park
December 3
Central Park in Winter Park
Imagine strolling through lighted Tiffany windows on display while listening to the 150-member Bach Festival Choir performs…yeah, it’s all that!

Orlando Puppet Festival
December 3-10
Multiple Venues
IBEX Puppetry’s 6th annual festival…live shows, puppets, and more!

Leu’s Holiday House
Through January 3
Leu Gardens
The Leu House is decorated with different themes to celebrate the holiday season.

Holidays at the Waterhouse
Through January 9
Lake Lily in Maitland
After you stroll around the picturesque lake, stop in at the historic Waterhouse residence, decorated for the holidays.

Theme Parks (Yes, all of them!)
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Sea World’s Christmas Celebration
Sea World

Top 5 “Family” Events

The Little Drummer Boy
Opens December 4
Pinocchio’s Marionette Theater
This holiday favorite has become a tradition at Pinocchio’s…and it is fabulous!

Brunch with Santa
December 11
Central Florida Zoo
Watch the animals get their holiday gifts as Santa visits the zoo!

The Polar Express
December 17
Leu Gardens
One of our favorite holiday movies, starring the voice of Tom Hanks.

History Holiday Camp
December 20-22 and 27-29
Orange County Regional History Museum
Children in grades K-2 and 3-5 can attend a fun, educational and interactive camp featuring themes like “Holidays Around the World” and “Under the Sea.”

Parades (Yes, 3 of them!)
Christmas Parade
December 4
Winter Park or Mount Dora… your pick!

Lighted Boat Parade and Water Ski Show
December 11
Winter Park – Lakes Osceola and Virginia (Viewable from the Polasek Museum of Art)

Citrus Bowl Parade
December 30
Downtown Orlando

Top 5 “Performing Arts” Events

Chaps! A Jingle Jangle Christmas
Opens December 1
Orlando Shakespeare Theater
Get your cowboy hat on because this hilarious show will bring back our favorite cowboys (and songs) from yesteryear.

The Festival of Lights – An Evening of Stories in Celebration of Chanukah
December 2-5
Seminole State College Fine Arts Theater
Southern Winds Theatre presents a show honoring the Jewish holiday tradition.

19th Annual Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase
December 4-5
Enzian Theater
Support local filmakers as they feature their best and most entertaining videos, documentaries, animation, and experimental movies. A juried show, the winners will have a chance to be shown at the 20th Annual Florida Film Festival.

December 11-12
Center for Contemporary Dance
For a decidedly non-holiday event, the Moore Dance Projects in partnership with the Florida Museum of Art presents the story of a man discovering possibilities.

The Nutcrackers (Yes, plural!)
The Chocolate Nutcracker
December 11-12
Bob Carr
A multicultural and charming approach to the holiday tradition… well worth seeing!

The Nutcracker
December 17-19
Bob Carr
A holiday tradition from Orlando Ballet and favorite for decades. Love it!

Top 5 “Fitness” Events

OUC Half Marathon
December 4
Lake Eola
Billed as one of the Southeast’s top road races, over 3,500 runners will show what their made of, going anywhere from 3 to 13 miles!

A Bicycle Ride through Christmas Fantasy Land
December 11
Casselberry/Winter Park
Join hundreds of bike riders as they cruise through the brightly lit neighborhoods. Even registration benefits New Hope for Kids.

Dan Newlin Reindeer Run
December 11
Sea World
Run or walk the 3.1 miles through Sea World… how fun!

Elf Classic Running Festival
December 11-12
Moss Park
Billed as one of the best “off road” running events in Florida, there are a multitude of races and challenges for the avid runner.

5th Annual Kangaroo Run
December 11
Central Winds Park, Winter Springs
Almost a thousand students, grades K-5 from 12 schools, will be making the Kangaroo Run this year. All are invited!

Top 5 “Visual Arts” Events

Bizarre Bazaar
December 1
Washburn Imports
Featuring favorite artisans in jewelry, artwork, and accessories…fun! Sponsored by Orange Appeal.

The Grab & Go Show
December 11
Neon Forest
A group art show featuring works of art for $100 or less…how fabulous for a holiday gift!

Hoard by Tess Bonacci
December 16 only
The Daily City Mobile Art Show
Unusual artwork, indeed…this spotlights the strange disorder of animal hoarding. Definitely a must-see!

Cheers to the Holidaze!
December 16
Gallery on First, Sanford
Ring in the season with the annual Cheers to the Holidaze December street party, where the Vendo-Art machine will be full of affordable hand-painted artwork.

XX-XY/Gender Representation in Art
Opens December 18
Orlando Museum of Art
This exhibit will call upon the museum’s permanent collections as well as loans from other museums in order to examine the role of men and women in different cultures and time periods.

Top 5 “Charity” Events

2010 Taste of the NFL
December 2
Sonesta Hotel
Six local restaurant will work together to fight hunger. Wine sales, silent auction, and ticket sales will help feed the hungry by benefiting the Second Harvest Food Bank.

She Stoops to Conquer
December 2
Mad Cow Theatre
For one night only this hilarious show will have 20% of ticket sales benefit the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Nice!

Hoppen Family Holiday Show
December 4
Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center
Larry Hoppen, from the band ORLEANS who sings “Still the One” will fill the theater with holiday songs to raise funds and bring in non-perishable food for Sanford’s Rescue Outreach Mission.

Happy Hour for the History Center at Urban Flats Downtown
December 7
Urban Flats, Downtown
Wine, food and friends at a holiday happy hour? And it all benefits the Orange County Regional History Center’s educational programs for children and adults? We’re in!

Ugly Sweater Party
December 18
The Lodge, Downtown Orlando
Benefiting XL1067’s Baby DJ program, just put on an ugly sweater, bring a toy, and enjoy!

Top 5 “Other Music” Events

Christmas at the Casa
December 2
Casa Feliz
A holiday open house featuring Victorian carolers. We just love the atmosphere to get us in the seasonal spirit!

A Classic Christmas
December 11-12
Knowles Memorial Chapel, Rollins College
The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park presents its annual Christmas program, featuring the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
December 12
Amway Center
One of the bestselling concert acts in the world is back with its holiday magic…sounds ideal!

Merry TubaChristmas
December 18
Central Park in Winter Park
Brass and baritone players of all ages take center stage… what fun!

December 21
The Plaza Theater
With the success of Glee bringing fans back to this style of music, we can’t wait!

Top 5 “Literary” Events

Meet Author Marc Franco
December 3
Barnes and Noble, Colonial Plaza
Meet this local author as he signs his new children’s book Catching Santa: The Kringle Chronicles, Book 1.

Brown Bag Lunch & Learn – Yes, You! An Entertaining Autobiography in Three Easy Steps
December 8
Orange County Regional History Museum
Regardless of your writing experience, author Elizabeth Coursen can show everyone how to write an entertaining life story!

125th Anniversary Party
December 9
Winter Park Public Library
We just love the fact that there have been bibliophiles here for over a century! Let’s celebrate!

Meet Florida Lottery Winner: Richard Lustig
December 11
Orlando Public Library
Meet local author and seven-time grand prize lottery winner (Yes, 7 times!) as he shares his secret to winning.

Local Authors Festival
December 18
Orlando Public Library
Support Central Florida authors from a variety of genres and experiences…win prizes, too.

Top 5 “Sporting” Events

Florida Citrus Sports Shoot Out
December 1
Amway Center
Florida Gators vs. the UCF Knights in basketball… the first collegiate game in the new Amway Center… YES!

LPGA Tour Championship
December 2-5
Grand Cypress Golf Club
More than 100 professional female golfers will play for 1.5 millions dollars in prize money.

Conference USA Championship
December 4
Brighthouse Stadium
Congrats to the Golden Knights for taking UCF to the conference championships! Woot!

Champs Sports Bowl
December 28
Florida Citrus Bowl
The teams haven’t been announced yet, but as one of Orlando two bowls, we’re excited to see who’s coming!

Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks
December 30
Amway Center
Anytime the Magic take on the Knicks, you know it’s going to be good!

Top 5 “Popular Music” Events

Mix 105.1’s Holiday Soiree: The Goo Goo Dolls with Kris Allen
December 5
House of Blues
American Idol winner paired with one of our favorite bands? Oh yeah! Can’t wait!

Jim Brickman
December 8
Bob Carr
We’re hoping to get these tickets as an early Christmas present!

12 Days of Christmas: Amy Grant & Vince Gill
December 9
King Performing Arts Center, Melbourne
We just love this in-love couple…and we think they sing pretty darn well, too!

XL1067 XL’Ent XMAS 2010
December 12-14
House of Blues
Featuring a variety of acts ranging from Maroon 5, Train, Enrique Iglesias, B.O.B., Bruno Mars, Jay Sean, Paramore, and more, it looks like an excellent series of holiday concerts!

Huey Lewis and the News
December 15
Hard Rock Live
Be still our hearts as we are whisked back to the 80s!


Filed under December 2010, Top 5 Literary Events, Top 5 Other Music Events, Top 5 Performing Arts Events, Top 5 Popular Music Events, Top 5 Sporting Events, Top 5 Visual Arts Events

iChicken – Oviedo, FL

We spent much of our Saturday at the Taste of Oviedo, and it seems that the rest of Oviedo came right along with us! For those of you unfamiliar with this town, just imagine Main Street, USA and you get the idea.

Here, neighbors welcome neighbors and newcomers alike, and they take quite a bit of pride with their wild chickens that strut about town. (Yes, it’s true, the chickens do hang out in the parking lot of a Popeye’s Chicken!)

Special thanks to Shoreline Graphix, Inc. for the great iChicken T-shirt!

And, for those of you athletic types, Oviedo not only has the Oviedo Trail for running and biking, but its Olympic-sized pool is home to one of Central Florida’s oldest and best swim teams, the Blue Dolfins.

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Filed under Agriculture, Fashion, Fun, Just Plain Weird, Uniquely Florida

Sprout hasn’t Sprung in Central Florida

I am blessed with one beautiful child whom I love very much. [Note: My beautiful child is now a grumpy teenage boy who would like to spend most of his time with his rear end plopped on the couch playing X-Box and his fingers glued to his phone texting while speaking to me as little as possible…okay, okay, he’s a typical teenager! But I do love him very much.]

While he is too old for The Wiggles, Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine, etc. I have several nieces and nephews who are still of pre-school programming age. Since my son doesn’t tune in for any of these shows, I guess I didn’t really notice or care who showed what on Disney or PBS, until I had relatives in town for an extended stay. [Note: Does three days count as extended?]

At any rate, this is when I found out that my cable company did not carry a full line up of things. I have one niece in particular who has special needs, and so while physical activity may not be high on her list, The Wiggles are. Now, grown men in outfits resembling Star Trek don’t exactly appeal to me, but I can appreciate their appeal to children.

The Wiggles actually endeared themselves to me after hearing about their effect on Scotty Parkins. His mom Kathy is a good friend and her son was born with Down Syndrome and then diagnosed with childhood Leukemia at a young age. If ever a family needed a break, they did!  So, through the Make a Wish Foundation Scotty got to meet his idols, The Wiggles.  Not only did he get to go see their live show, those grown fellows spent so much time with little Scotty backstage afterwards that they instantly won me over as a fan! So, when my niece wasn’t able to watch them on TV, this bothered me.

Apparently Sprout is the sole carrier of The Wiggles and it is a channel that is carried on a limited basis by Brighthouse (my cable carrier) but the full line up is carried by Direct TV.  Now, I am not switching to Direct TV, as I am very happy with my cable service; however, I found out there is actually a movement called Sprout Please! trying to entice Brighthouse to carry the full line up.

Put it this way: Sprout is the only way The Wiggles are coming into this household unless my niece brings some DVDs!

So, if you have time, visit the Sprout Please! website to encourage the addition of the full channel line up. My niece (and her cousins as well as Scotty Parkins) would greatly appreciate it!

[Happy note: My son actually left his phone at home today and willingly talked with me as we drove down to the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida where we delivered 14 new blankets he bought with his own money. Good learning experience for him, nice talking time for me!]


Filed under Charity, family

Walking the dog (and remembering Hurricane Charley). Things I’m Thankful For.

So, I was walking my Big Dog late last night. [Correction: He was walking me–100+ pounds of Weimaraner galloping through our streets. There’s a reason we walk after nine at night…very few people left out to be terrified of a humongous grey ghost.] And, just as any cool night gives him an extra pep to his parading, the added wind sent his big ears flapping and set his tail to wagging even harder. It was pure bliss on the streets last night!

Now, you must know something…Big Dog is ten years old, which is “over the hill” in big dog years, and so he mostly just lies on his bed from morn until night. Somehow, though, that internal alarm goes off about nine each night. When that happens, he will come and sit staring at me with his big blue eyes (yes, some Weimaraner have blue eyes) and I hear the ever-present “tch-tch-tch-tch” of his tail wagging against the floor. This will progress to whimpering, and finally a gigantic paw on my lap if I don’t quickly proceed to the door to walk him.

So, I bundled a sweatshirt over my pajamas and ventured out alone because my husband and son weren’t budging. [Correction: They were actually involved in an online battle of Call of Duty 2 and totally ignoring everything non-virtual in the household, including me.] So, it was just my Big Dog and me. [Note: There is a Little Dog, a Yorkie, who slips through our fence daily to walk himself around the neighborhood. Joggers’ Achilles beware!]

We were only partway down the street when through the trees I could see the southern skyline, beautifully dark with these graceful white clouds silently sailing past. Funny how rain clouds look white at night. At any rate, these clouds weren’t just sailing past, they were flat-out motoring! [Note: At this point in our walk, Big Dog is hunched over to take a dump, so I am trying desperately to blend into the shadows because I’ve forgotten a “doggie bag.” Meanwhile, our Big Cat, a humongous Main Coon who is part bloodhound and leans more towards his dog heritage than cat, meows loudly from behind. He has decided to go on our walk with us. “Shhhh,” I hushed him, but Big Cat decided he was coming.]

Big Dog is finally off and galloping down the street, and so I avoid tripping over Big Cat and manage to return my attention to the clouds overhead. I find myself reminded of the clouds swirling the night Hurricane Charley made his riotous stomp across in Central Florida. We had recently moved into our current house, had an additional cat and big dog, as well as three giant Laurel Oaks in the front yard. My husband and I had sat in the front yard then, watching the clouds sprint past the setting sun. We all knew Charley was coming, but being native Floridians, we hadn’t made the ridiculous panicked raid on the grocery stores quite as aptly as our local weather men wanted us to. [Note: My father had actually done that for us. My parents had come over the spend the night in our cement block house–compared to their 1926 wooden house that sits underneath a giant oak tree–and he brought appropriate supplies consisting of the right amount of Sonny’s Sweet Tea and bottles of wine.]

My family’s ability to not worry too much about hurricanes probably dates back to my grandmother Agnes, who was born in Winter Park in 1900. [Note: She loved the beach, and her family would make the all-day trek to New Smyrna via horse and buggy and then ferry once they reached the intracoastal waterway. She and her sister Eleanor built a ocean-front home just as soon as they could afford to, and she would often spend weeks there at a time.] Part of our family lore now tells of Agnes and her sister sitting on the porch merrily watching Hurricane Betsy roll through. [Note: Eleanor’s husband was terrified!]

These hurricane stories entered my mind as Big Dog rounded the corner to head home. [Note: Big Cat has decided he is tired of walking and has rolled over onto his back in the middle of the street. I grunted as I picked up his 20+ pounds of sagging furry flesh lest a car decides to make a late night run.] Thus burdened, my mind returned to our neighborhood and how it changed in just a few short hours of Charley’s temper tantrum. All three oak trees down in our front yard. At least a hundred uprooted along the streets of our neighborhood, fully blocking the driveways, tearing down telephone wires and electricity. People had nearly drowned in their own sweat as the hot days slowly passed, and even worse, they suddenly had to entertain bored children who had no X-Boxes to play and no televisions or DVDs to watch.

Water stations were even taken offline. [Note: I am on the same a power grid as a nearby water station, so we received power back with three days. My brother who lived one street over had to wait over two weeks for power! Muhahaha! Okay, okay, I let his family spend quite a bit of time at my house…they even bathed in our pool!]

As Big Cat and I continued to walk [Note: I walked. Big Cat rode on my weary shoulder.] it was hard to believe our idyllic little neighborhood had ever been so rudely uprooted. New trees have matured to take the place of their fallen brothers. Grass and bushes have covered the scars in the earth. Memories have long forgotten the days of misery we all spent inside our houses, jumping into pools for showers, leaving windows open while hoping for a breath of wind. Thankfully, no sign of destruction was now visible.

Central Florida had seen the worst of a hurricane (a rare occurence in the middle of the state) but we had also seen the best in our neighbors. Strangers walked around with chainsaws. [Note: I normally run from strangers with chainsaws.] Those with power ran extensions cords to the needy. People smiled and offered water or ice to passersby. Children played in the streets. And so, another set of Dicken’s words come to mind this Christmas: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” I met neighbors I never even knew I had! [Note: I have rarely seen them in the years since.]

So, this holiday season, as I continue to find things I am thankful for, I’ve decided several things:
1) Big Cat needs to go on a diet.
2) Be thankful 2009 was hurricane light.
3) Appreciate my neighbors more.
4) Love Central Florida for everything it offers.
5) Cherish the times we have–both good and bad–because sometimes they are the only times you have.

[Note: My brother passed away last year. Every memory really does count; even those that include bathing miserably in a swimming pool.]

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Filed under family, History, Seasonal, Uniquely Florida

Full Moon Blooming Event!

Okay, so this isn’t an actual promotable event, but it has been 20 years in the making at our house! Under the light of the full moon, the elusive “Hylocereus undatus” opened its beauty to Central Florida for just a few hours. Why is this a big deal? Well, some species of this plant bloom just once a year (usually under a fullish moon) and they have to be quite old before they ever decide to bloom.

Here is a great link for more info on the plant.

Also known as the Costa Rican Pitaya, this plant produces the fascinating dragon fruit. Some species are prolific, growing and blooming quickly in the daytime, while a few rarer species are slow growing and bloom just the once in the light of the moon. This particular plant had been in our family for over 20 years and had never bloomed before; thus the excitement at our house.

So, Central Florida, here’s our beautiful night-blooming cactus, caught fading in the first few rays of dawn…hope we don’t have to wait another 20 years to see the next bloom!

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Filed under Agriculture, Just Plain Weird

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)





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

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Filed under The Arts, Uncategorized

40th Anniversary

It seems like I keep writing about space, space, space…well, perhaps that is appropriate with all that has been happening in Central Florida lately–five attempts before the Endeavor launched successfully and now the fortieth anniversary of the Moon Landing. 

I must be honest…my mother was pregnant with me when Neil Armstrong first stepped on the Moon, so I have never known anything but the space age. I was also home sick from Glenridge Junior High, and so I got to watch live both the first Space Shuttle flight as well as the opening  of Epcot.  (I watched as fellow student Jodi Crane, who was there with his family as the first official visitors to Epcot, smiled and told reporters, “I hope my teachers aren’t watching!”)

My son, too, has grown up with humans regularly going into space. Although there have been two terrible tragedies, I would not hesitate to jump at the chance to go into space myself. (If only I was a billionaire!) I do wish I had been alive to witness the man’s first footsteps on the moon; hopefully I will be alive to see man’s first steps on Mars. After all, my grandmother watched Central Florida change from a place where she took a horse and wagon to New Smyrna Beach to a place that launched high tech rockets into orbit, so there is hope yet!

Enjoy this video recap of the Moon Landing…provided by NASA.

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Filed under History, Shuttle