March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Zebra at the Jacksonville Zoo (Duval County)

Filed under: Around Florida — Tags: , , — Administrator @ 10:49 am

Image Courtesy Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

You know we love baby animals here. A male Grevy’s zebra was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on February 26. He weighed 108 pounds and stood at three and a half feet tall. Today, guests can see him and his mother, Eclipse, at the zoo’s Plains of East Africa exhibit. He’ll be named at the zoo’s annual ExZOOberation evening fundraiser on April 16, 2001.

What makes this foal special is that he’s a Grevy’s zebra. The species faces extinction right now, as there are only around 2,200 roaming the wild left. The zoo is working to help ensure the species survives for future generations. It’s also the largest of the three zebra species and originates from northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia.

March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Barrel Rolling in DeLand (Volusia County)

Filed under: Around Florida — Tags: , , — Administrator @ 12:26 pm

Image Courtesy CMT

CMTs notorious TV show, My Big Redneck Wedding, is featuring a special episode entitled My Big Redneck Intervention. Airing tomorrow, March 10, at 9pm, it will focus on a DeLand family.

From the press release:

Bonnie Johnson started life out as a li’l country girl living in a single-wide trailer in Tennessee who watched soap operas and fantasized about being one of the beautiful people. Unfortunately for her redneck and proud family, Bonnie grew up and fell into a life of the “finer things” like expensive clothes, plastic surgery, and a customized golf cart she uses just to get the mail. But her still-countrified family wants to get her back in touch with her muddin’, huntin’ and 4 wheeling’ roots. So with some help from Tom Arnold, Bonnie’s kin are going to have a redneck intervention, topped off with a weekend of family fun in hopes of taking the city slicker and making her neck redder down in DeLand, Florida.

March 7, 2011

Book Blasts

Filed under: Around Florida, Events — Tags: , , , , , — Administrator @ 10:54 am

The Florida Department of Education has teamed up with Simon Malls to promote literacy with “Book Blasts,” free family events and book drives.

Reading is the most powerful skill a child can learn, as it influences success in school and improves the overall quality of life.  That’s why malls across the state of Florida will promote the importance of reading and collect new and gently-used books at each mall’s “Kidgits Book Blast” event that will take place on the following dates:

Coral Square (Coral Springs): Saturday, March 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Melbourne Square (Melbourne): Saturday, March 12 from 10 a.m. to noon
Miami International Mall (Miami): Saturday, March 12 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Seminole Towne Center (Sanford): Saturday, March 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Tyrone Square (St. Petersburg): Saturday, March 5 from noon to 2 p.m.

Simon Kidgits Club’s “Book Blast” events welcome children of all ages to celebrate the joys of reading.  Engaging activities and giveaways will bring to life children’s stories and help celebrate books and the importance of reading. In addition, select book blast events will also feature the Florida Department of Education’s “Find a Book, Florida,” tool, created by MetaMetrics, that will help attendees locate new and intriguing books tailored to their own reading interests based upon the attendee’s reading ability.

A two-week book drive will commence at each mall’s “Kidgits Book Blast.” Families are encouraged to donate new and/or gently-used books at each of the seven participating mall’s Guest Services Desks for two weeks after the events.  The books will support the goals of The Florida Department of Education’s “Just Read, Florida!” initiative and will be distributed to programs and schools in the vicinity of the participating mall through donations to the Florida Education Foundation.

The Simon Kidgits Club’s “Book Blast” event is free to all members. Families can sign up for the Kidgits Club, during regular mall hours, for a membership fee of $5.  Membership includes a Kidgits Club membership card and T-shirt, scheduled entertainment and activities for families, a Birthday Club (including birthday card and gift redemption certificate), unique programs and offers, discounts and a quarterly newsletter. For more information, visit

March 4, 2011

Florida Archaeology Month 2011

Filed under: Around Florida, Events — Administrator @ 2:19 pm

Did you know March is Florida Archaeology Month? It is! Coordinated by the Florida Anthropological Society, and supported by the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, the month is set apart to celebrate Florida’s diverse history and prehistory, which stretches back more than 12,000 years.

This month, expect statewide programs, each designed to encourage Floridians and visitors to learn more about the archaeology and history of the state, and to learn more about the importance of preservation. Florida Archaeology Month 2011 will explore how native people used plants, and how archaeologists investigate plant use by prehistoric societies.See information on those  plants here.

Information about local events can be found on the Florida Anthropological Society Website, or the Florida Heritage website,

March 3, 2011

Where To Go For Spring Break

Filed under: Around Florida — Administrator @ 9:12 am

Orbitz has released its top 10 spring break destinations for 2011, judged by its current bookings. Which state is the most popular? I’m sure you can guess:

Top Destinations:

1. Orlando
2. Las Vegas
3. Cancun
4. Phoenix
5. Fort Lauderdale
6. Fort Myers
7. Tampa
8. New York
9. Los Angeles
10. Denver

That’s right, Florida has four of the top 10 destinations. Clearly it’s the place to be this March!

March 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday – Billie Swamp Safari

Filed under: Around Florida — Tags: , , — Administrator @ 11:09 am

Photo courtesy Billie Swamp Safari

Located inside the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in Clewiston (Hendry County).

March 1, 2011

5th Annual Florida Book Awards Announced

Filed under: Around Florida, Events — Administrator @ 9:28 am

The Florida Book Awards recently announced winners for its eight categories of books published in 2010.

“The culture of books in the Sunshine State continues to prosper,” noted FBA Director Wayne A. Wiegand in a press release. “These FBA winners clearly prove it.”

The Florida Book Awards -the nation’s most comprehensive state book awards program- was established in 2006 to recognize, honor, and celebrate the best Florida literature published the previous year.

Here are this year’s winners:

Children’s Literature
Gold: Jan Godown Annino, She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader
Silver: Mary GrandPre and Jack Prelutsky, Camille Saint-Saens’s The Carnival of the Animals
Bronze: Henry Cole, A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home
Bronze: Brad Meltzer, Heroes for my Son
Bronze: Harvey E. Oyer III, The Last Egret: The Adventures of Charlie Pierce

Florida Non-Fiction
Gold: Margaret Ross Tolbert, AQUIFERious
Silver: Julian M. Pleasants and Harry A. Kersey, Seminole Voices: Reflections on their Changing Society
Bronze: Lu Vickers, Cypress Gardens, America’s Tropical Wonderland
Bronze: Anna Lillios, Crossing the Creek
Bronze: Randy Wayne White and Carlene Fredericka Brennen, Randy Wayne White’s Ultimate Tarpon Book

General Fiction
Gold: Mark Mustian, The Gendarme
Silver: Patricia Engel, Vida
Bronze: T.M. Shine, Nothing Happens Until it Happens to You
Bronze: Mary Jane Ryals, Cookie and Me

Gold: Carol Frost, Honeycomb
Silver: Lola Haskins, Still, the Mountain
Bronze: Kelle Groom, Five Kingdoms

Popular Fiction
Gold: William Culyer Hall, The Trouble With Panthers
Silver: Randy Wayne White, Deep Shadow
Bronze: Joyce Elson Moore, The Tapestry Shop
Bronze: Charles Martin, The Mountain Between Us
Bronze: James Grippando, Money to Burn

Visual Arts
Gold: Jason Steuber, Laura K. Nemmers and Tracy E. Pfaff, editors, Samuel P. Harn of Art at Twenty Years: The Collection Catalogue
Silver: Margaret Ross Tolbert, AQUIFERious

Young Adult
Gold: Christina Diaz Gonzalez, The Red Umbrella

Spanish Language
Gold: Jose Alvarez, Los Alamos del Parque

Many of these books can be purchased through the Florida Bookstore. Support Florida authors and check them out!

To learn more about Florida Book Awards, visit

February 25, 2011

Jacksonville’s Ten Under $10

Filed under: Around Florida — Tags: , — Administrator @ 3:48 pm

Knowing money is tight for many Floridians, VisitJacksonville has come up with 10 activities to do, each under $10. Read on!

Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier – Take in a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean and Jacksonville’s expansive shoreline from the pier, rocketing nearly a quarter mile into the ocean. Pedestrians, $1; children six and under, free; fishermen, $4.

The Ritz Theatre & Museum – Begin your discovery of Jacksonville’s African-American heritage with an animatronics story of native sons James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson who composed the Negro national hymn, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Stroll along recreated streets depicting the daily lives of African Americans in Jacksonville during recent history. Adults, $6.00; children and seniors, $3.00.

Tree Hill Nature Center – Minutes from Downtown, discover Florida’s ecosystems at Tree Hill’s interactive, natural experience. Explore 50 acres of trails, a Florida natural history museum, butterfly and hummingbird gardens and live animal displays. Adults, $4; seniors/students/military, $3; children $2.

Championship Sporting Events – Every spring, catch the 2009 and 2010 Southern League Champions, Jacksonville Suns, the double-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Games are played at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, with tickets starting at $6.50. In the summer, tackle a new sport – rugby – with the National Champions, the Jacksonville Axemen. All games are played at UNF’s Hodges Field and tickets are just $5. New to Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Giants, an American Basketball Association team, play in the fall/winter at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Tickets start at $8.

National, State and City Parks – With the largest urban parks system in the country, Jacksonville offers outdoor experiences for every level of adventure. From bird watching on the Great Florida Birding Trail at Huguenot Memorial Park to kayaking the creeks and tributaries winding through the Talbot Island State Parks and hiking the trails of the 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve. Most parks offer free admission. Some entrance fees required, but are less than $5.

Renowned Museums – Arts and culture is accessible in Jacksonville. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens and the Museum of Science & History (MOSH) all offer daily adult admission for $10 or less and offer special free admission days. Visitors will find exhibits to delight every age.

The Riverwalk – Stroll along the St. Johns River while taking in views of the Downtown skyline, boats and favorite attractions. Stop by The Jacksonville Landing for a family-friendly festival, concert or meal. Or continue along the Riverwalk on the Northbank to the Riverside Arts Market, Florida’ largest weekly, free arts festival. The market is held Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. under the Fuller Warren Bridge and offers fresh produces, local art vendors, live entertainment and more.

Kingsley Plantation – Tucked away in the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve is Florida’s oldest, still-standing plantation house. A living history exhibit includes the barn, plantation gardens, plantation house, kitchen and 20 remarkably preserved tabby slave cabins. Admission is free.

Beaches Museum & History Center – Relive the days when Jacksonville’s beaches first became a tourist destination with the expansion of the railroad. Walk along a replica boardwalk, while soaking in historical tales, including the story of devastating Hurricane Dora. Other exhibits outside the museum at Pablo Historical Park include the Mayport Railway Depot and a once-working Old #7 Locomotive. Adults, $5; Senior Citizens (65+), $4; Children (6-17), $3; Children 5 and under, free.

Quirky Museums – Explore Jacksonville’s colorful seafaring past at Jacksonville’s Maritime Museum, now located at The Jacksonville Landing. Or take in historical documents at one of only seven national Karpeles Museum located in historic Springfield. And don’t forget Jacksonville’s Fire Museum, which displays an Ahrens Fox steam pumper used in Jacksonville’s Great Fire of 1901. All museums are free.

February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo (DeSoto County)

Filed under: Around Florida — Tags: , , — Administrator @ 9:23 am

Photo courtesy Andy Gregory. Rodeo March 11-13. Click photo for more info.

February 18, 2011

Morse Museum’s New Tiffany Wing

Filed under: Around Florida, Events — Tags: , , — Administrator @ 10:33 am

After much renovation, the Charles Hosmer Morse museum of American Art, located in Winter Park, will open its new 12,000-square-foot wing on February 19. The museum is noted as containing the most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany materials in the world and the new wing only add to it, featuring  the resorted Daffodil Terrace from Tiffany’s Long Island home, Laurelton Hall, and around 250 art and architectural objects from or related to the estate.

Laurelton Hall, the 84-room, eight-level mansion, was built between 1902 and 1905 and destroyed by a fire in 1957. Morse’s 11 new galleries will showcase the surviving components, all designed by Tiffany, of the estate’s dining room, living room and reception hall. Included pieces are a mosaic-decorated marble mantelpiece, an Oriental rug, a domed leaded-glass chandelier, a suite of six leaded-glass wisteria transoms, four leaded-glass panels depicting the four seasons, five turtleback-glass hanging lamps, and more. This includes an award winning leaded-glass window and Tiffany lamps, as well as art glass and custom-made furnishings.

“The new galleries will suggest aspects of the actual rooms designed and decorated by Tiffany during his lifetime,” said Laurence J. Ruggiero, director of the Morse Museum, in a press release. “Visitors can no longer go to Laurelton Hall to appreciate Tiffany’s approach to design, but they can come to the Morse and, we hope, gain a more holistic sense of the man, his aesthetic, and the power of his imagination.”

The museum’s curators utilized photographs of the interiors of Laurelton Hall to recreate the experience of the estate. Even the lighting was designed specifically for the exhibit. The Daffodil Terrace, the focal point of the expansion, will be visible from both inside and outside the museum. It holds views of the museum’s expanded garden courtyard. Another new gallery will act as a study room, featuring accessible copies of books form Tiffany’s personal library. Through both the installation and the artifacts, the museum hopes to provide a fuller understanding of Tiffany’s originality and unique appeal.

“Laurelton Hall was Tiffany’s masterpiece, and it housed a self-curated collection of Tiffany Studios’ production,” said Curator and Collection Manager Jennifer Perry Thalheimer. “The objects he put in his home and the way he arranged them reflected his perpetual quest for beauty.”

The museum’s new galleries open on February 19th. The museum will be free to the public from February 19 through March 20. On Friday, February 25, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., there will be free family tours and crafts for children. Curator tours will start on April 5 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. and continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, visit

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