Category Archives: Culture & Charity

Top 5 Community Spotlight: The Milk District

Orlando has ten main street districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one. If you haven’t explored one of these main street districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. This week: The Milk District(Check out our last community spotlight on Ivanhoe Village)

The Milk District is the newest addition to the Orlando Main Streets program, officially becoming a main street district only late last year. However, this unique neighborhood has been an established area for good food, good fun, and some retro flare for a years now.

Aptly named for the TG Lee Milk Factory that defines the district, the Milk District is made of established Orlando favorites and new up and coming businesses that are helping define the neighborhood.

1. Great Daytime Eats Spots:

If you are looking for the perfect spot to grab lunch, the Milk District will give you ample choices to choose from. Grab some Double Ds at Gringos Locos and load them up with some hot sauce.

Gringo’s ProTip: Happy Hour is every day from 4pm to 8pm. Free chips and salsa, $5 burritos, $2 tacos, and great drink specials!

For the best southern fare in town grab brunch or lunch at Se7enbites. Fill up on yummy vegan food while you shop handmade wares at Market on South. Pick your Pho destiny at Siagon Noodles and Grill, Pho Hoa or Pho Vihn, then get your caffeine fix or a bite to eat at Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar.

Sandwich lover? The Milk District is the perfect place to explore! There are so many sandwich inspired places to choose from, it just depends on what you’re in the mood for.

Eat the best steamed roast beef sandwich in town at Orlando almost 49 year old mainstay, Beefy King. If you are in the mood for gourmet chef created sandwich fare, wander over to food truck turned sandwich shop Bad As’s Sandwiches.

If you want a twist on tried and true classics, head over to Pom Pom’s Teahouse to grab a cup of tea and try Mama Ling Lings Thanksgiving sandwich or the Spicy Elvis for a twist on a PB&J. [Editor’s note: Pom Pom’s also makes a FANTASTIC Lavender Tea!)

2.  Relaxed Late Night Fun:

No need to dress to the nines to enjoy a night out in The Milk District. Throw on a fun t-shirt, your favorite pair of jeans and enjoy a fun, relaxed night out full of good drinks, fun atmosphere, and great music.

For an Orlando classic, grab a strong drink at Whiskey Lou’s (don’t forget to bring cash!). The Milk Bar is the perfect spot if you want to sip on craft beer or wine while enjoying local art and poetry.

A diverse crowd hangs out at Sandwich Bar to enjoy a beer and hear some great underground tunes.

For a great outdoor spot in the district, grab a drink at Barley and Vine Biergarten. Hit the dance floor at one of the best LBGTQ clubs in town at Southern Nights.

The best thing about the Milk District is there are new businesses popping up all the time as the area grows. Look for the Iron Cow, a new restaurant and hang out spot to open in the summer of 2017. It’ll be the only bar on Robinson with a full liquor license and will have an awesome event space to feature local performers.

3. Event Central:

The Milk District is quickly becoming place to find great local events to enjoy any day of the week. Along with all the regular late night spots to have fun at in the district, there are plenty of fun alternative things to do too.

Grab your skate board and learn a new trick at Orlando Skate Park. Head over to Colonial Lanes and enjoy that old school bowling feel. Another Orlando staple, these lanes have been in Orlando since 1959. (PBA Bowler Jason Couch’s dad is the General Manager!) On Friday Nights you can sing karaoke in the bar or enjoy a couple of hours of cosmic bowling featuring black lights and loud pop music.

Drive by on a random weekend and you might see a festival to explore or a live community concert at Festival Park. Of course, don’t forget to check out all the great live performances you can catch at the The Plaza Live.

There’s practically something to do every night of the week in The Milk District. For Bingo lovers, the Elks Lodge has bingo each Monday. You don’t have to be a member because the event is  is open to the public.

Tasty Takeover Tuesdays happens weekly. Come hungry and enjoy a rotating group of food trucks that takes over the area each Tuesday night. You can sample all types of flavors at the event then head over to one of the area’s local bars or shops. Many of them participate with weekly specials to coincide with this event.

In the near future look out for Thrifty Thursdays where visitors will be able to purchase vintage wares from vendors weekly.

4. Live Healthy and Stay Active

If a healthy lifestyle is important to you, it’s easy to maintain living in the Milk District. Work up a sweat at Crossfit Milk District or find some clam at  Orlando Power Yoga.

If you would rather get your activity outside, rent or buy a bike at Kyle’s Bike Shop. Alternatively, grab a group of friends and head out to Festival Park to play a round of sand Volleyball or Basketball.

Green thumbs can get a plot in the community garden at the park where you can grow your own healthy crop. For a quick nourishing juice to sip on, grab a drink at  Juice Bar.

5. Retro Alternative Community

There is definitely a community of alternative fashion and retro vibe that lives in the Milk District. If you have an old soul and love self expression, you’ll find a lot of ways to help your personality shine in the Milk District. Define your style at Etolile Boutique where you can find a collection of both handmade items and vintage finds.

Update your collection with a rare record from your favorite band at Retro Records who have been providing beats to the area since 1980s. Get some custom ink done at Little Joe’s Primrose Tatoo Parlor. The gentlemen can enjoy the old school barber haircut and straight razor treatment at Jusincredible Cutz, and Liberty Barbershop. If you love self expression and want to express your unique identity, the creative alternative community in the Milk District will help you shine.

Orlando Changemakers Unite to Form The Collective

Attention change-makers, activists, established and rising stars in the non-profit world, or anyone else who is passionate and dedicated to a cause they actively champion. A new initiative called The Collective is here to help cultivate the caused based leaders here in Orlando. The Collective is a free program that will meet monthly to discuss topics that are important to those who actively work to make the world a better place in some way.

What is The Collective Anyway?

The Collective is an initiative from the minds of collaborators Change Everything; Jon Busdeker–Digital Storyteller and former reporter at WESH 2 News; and CT-Social–a digital marketing agency dedicated to non-profit work here in Orlando (and the agency behind Central Florida Top 5’s big makeover in 2015!).

The idea grew out of a desire to build a network of support to those who dedicate themselves and their time to important causes. “We want to find people who are really passionate about social change. They can be passionate about the arts, social reform, homelessness, whatever it is,” Jon Busdeker explains. “We want to create a community and give them a space so they can become better at what they do.”

How Will it Work?

The Collective will meet once a month, with their first meeting to take place on March 29. Each meeting will focus on a different topic affecting those who work in cause based spaces. Some of the topics covered will be: media relations for causes, donor relations, emotional health and self-care for cause based work, and dealing with stress.

Meetings will also include expert guest speakers and group discussions. The goal is to build and cultivate leaders who are doing the hard work in the various causes they care about. Members will learn not only from experts but from each other. “We want to give people the tools to do what they’re most passionate about,” Busdeker said.

Who Should Apply?

The Collective is for anyone who is dedicated to making an impact on a cause they care deeply about.

  • Non-profit leaders or rising stars in the non-profit world.
  • Government employees who work tirelessly to make their community a better place.
  • Dedicated activists who are organizing groups to enact change.
  • Business leaders who champion causes in their free time because it’s important to their values like Lee S. Rosen.

Ready to Join?

The Collective is accepting members into this inaugural group. There is no cost to attend. If you are interested in joining and feel you’d be a perfect fit for this group, please apply on-line at http://collective.change-everything.com.

Community Spotlight: Mills 50

Orlando has ten main street districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one. If you haven’t explored one of these main street districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. This week: Mills 50 District. (Check out our last community spotlight on Ivanhoe Village!)

The Mills 50 Orlando Mainstreet District is named aptly for its prominent intersection; Mills Avenue and State Road 50 (also known as East Colonial Drive). Its home to Colonialtown, Lake Eola Heights, and Park Lake Highland neighborhoods. Although this district might feel like it’s just a drive by area, there is so much culture and interesting sites to see as this district quickly changes from one block to the next—making it one of the most varied districts in town. Mills 50 is also one of Orlando’s quirkiest areas.

The corner of Mills and 50 features two murals by local artist Andrew Spear, one dedicated to the victims of the Pulse tragedy on June 12, 2016.

Mills 50 Art Projects, Murals, and more

A large mural by artist Mark Ghmeling on the side of Snap! Space in Mills 50

Most of the Mills 50 district is composed of buildings that are older, mid-century strip malls. Because these boring cinderblock buildings, while functional, don’t offer much aesthetic appeal, artists have been commissioned to use the sides of the buildings like blank canvases to make their mark. These murals has given the area new life and vibrancy, and it is easy to spend your weekend exploring the neighborhood to fill up your Instagram with these beautiful and fun pieces.

Not only will you find epic murals on the side of buildings, but you will also see smaller pieces on everything from drains to electrical boxes, fences, and even dumpsters receive this special artistic touch. Most of the art has a street art aesthetic to it, adding to the urban vibe of this fun neighborhood.

Great Cheap Eats and Dive Bars

Outside of Will’s Pub in Mills 50

The Mills 50 district is one of the best places to go for a fun night out followed by some good, cheap eats. It’s no wonder this district is a favorite of the 20-something crowd as it is easy on their wallet and their dollar can go just a bit further.

Fun bars to explore include Wally’s which is an Orlando cultural mainstay, indie music venue Will’s Pub, and Uncle Lou’s Entertainment Hall just to name a few.

For cheap eats you can check out King Bao, Tako Cheena, Lazy Moon, Pig Floyds, Pho88, Little Siagon, or one of the dozens of other Asian resturants that line the main strip. If you have $10 and an empty stomach you’ll be able to find something yummy to eat while avoiding fast food drive throughs.

Eclectic Businesses

Mills 50: An Orlando Mainstreet District

Mills 50 is the most eclectic of all the main street districts. While the busy intersection of Mills and State Road 50 define the center of the district, only a few hundred yards away you will find quiet brick roads lined with homes.

The businesses in this district are varied too! The District at Mills 50 is a new addition, which is a mini-market of sorts featuring 30 different local artisans and their creations. You can also find a violin store, a print shop, multiple salons, many ethnic markets to explore, small art, hobby, and photography studios, tattoo shops, smoke shops, pop-up events, a costume store, and so much more. The eclectic nature of this district means you never know what kind of business you might wander in upon.

Cultural Diversity

This “Red Bull” mural can be found at Mills and Lake Highland. Artwork by: Andrew Spear.

Cultural diversity permeates Mills 50 everywhere you look – and it’s wonderful! There are many  different cultures represented through business owners who come from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Italy, and England just to name a few.

There is also a prominent LGBTQ+ community that is quite visible. Both the Zebra Coalition and The Center (The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida) call Mills 50 home. Such diversity shows through in the many different businesses that live in the district.

You can purchase beautiful Japanese from Dong-A Imports, pick up some Earl Grey Tea from The British Shoppe, and go to Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-jitsu to get a workout and learn the practice.

 Health Focused

Central Florida businessmen Terry Smith, Tracy Dent, and Dana Flugel opened on Track Shack on North Mills in 1977. In the years since, Track Shack has hosted many events, training programs, and has become a leader in road race management.

If you are looking to add variety to your fitness routine, you should definitely check out the Mills 50 district for a fun new class or activity to try. Learn some new dance moves at Jazzercise Orlando, Florida Tribal Dance or Russian Ballet Orlando. Find a personal trainer at Florida Fitness Concepts. Pick up a new pair of running shoes at Track Shack and start training for a 5k. Or learn kickboxing and MMA style fighting at The Jungle.

Behind the Fresh Market, you can hop right on the Urban Trail and take a bike ride to either downtown Orlando or Winter Park. You won’t get bored working up a sweat in this district!

#WelcomeHome: 5 things to know about the new Orlando City Stadium

#WelcomeHome, City fans! Kickoff Week is over, and your time is finally here! For those living under a limestone rock, Orlando City Soccer, Orlando City B, and Orlando Pride all have a new home in the Historic Parramore community – Orlando City Stadium! And if you thought City matches at Camping World Stadium were loud and rowdy, just wait until you experience this brand new, state-of-the-art stadium for yourself! Did we mention the natural grass pitch?

(BTW, how fantastic is the Welcome Home collage above by Derek Gores?!)

Here’s what the seating chart looks like:

Last week on our Facebook page, we showed you a very quick inside view of this gorgeous, very purple addition to the Downtown Orlando cityscape. In case you missed it, check it out here…

 

Here are 5 things we think you should know before leaving home:

1. SunRail WILL be running on Sunday!

2. Orlando City Stadium has a Clear Bag Policy

You’ll see this A LOT as people become familiar with the new Stadium’s rules. Each ticket holder (including kids) will be able to carry a clear bag no bigger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″ AND a small clutch type bag. (Click here for ADA information.)

You can bring a blanket, just carry it over your shoulder but no seat cushions. Diapers, wipes, additional clothing, small cameras, binoculars, cell phones, etc. are all okay as long as they are in an approved clear bag. (Exceptions for medical items will be made.)

Also, there is no storage for prohibited items. You’ll be asked to toss said item(s) or take it back to your car so make sure you and your purple fam are covered beforehand! Here’s a list of Orlando City Stadium prohibited items;

3. The LionNation App is AWESOME! Paperless Tickets!

Exclusive team access, live coverage of practices, interviews with your favorite players, get pre-sale access to team merchandise, complete ticket management right from your phone (paperless tickets & season passes!) – you can even order concessions from your seat (if you’re sitting in sections 133, 134 or 135)! This app is truly a new or seasoned Supporter’s best friend.

Get LionNation on iOS | Android!

 

4. Parking, Transportation & Road Closures

[Using Pine Street as a guide] If you have seats on the South side of the Stadium, use Gate A. East side seats, use Gate B. North end seats, use Gate C. Supporter section has its own gate. Club seats and Suites use Gate D (opposite side of Gates A, B, C). Click here to see all the transpo info, and click here to see road closure info!

 

5. Don’t miss the Season Opener Pre-Game Party on Wall St.!

A free Heine is not a bad way to start off the day, right? Get to Wall St. or Elixir Kitchen & Drinks early! Make a day of it! Don’t forget to sign up to get notified when the Academy Sports + Outdoors FANCAM goes live!

Sunday’s match is SOLD OUT so if you don’t already have your tickets, be sure to catch the national TV broadcast on ESPN, or listen live via Real Radio 104.1!

If you want to get a SUPER headstart, tune into WFTV at 8am to watch special Opening Day coverage!

 GO CITY!!!

Top 5 Community Spotlight: Ivanhoe Village

Orlando has ten Main Street Districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one.

The Ivanhoe Village District lives in the north quarter of Orlando and runs on Orange avenue along Lake Ivanhoe, all the way over to Princeton Avenue and snakes up towards Mills Avenue and up to Mills Avenue on Princeton Ave. It’s the quirky cultural district defined by artists, antiques, and oddities. Some of the most unusual spots in Orlando are tucked away in this neighborhood! (Check out our last community spotlight on Audubon Park!)

1. Artisans and Craftsman, and Oddities

There are many different places to find beautiful handcrafted wares in Ivanhoe Village and they range in variety from elegant and one of a kind to weird and macabre. If you’re on the hunt for something one-of-a-kind, Ivanhoe Village is the perfect place to go.

Paper Goat Post

Many craftsmen and artists make their home here and there is a lot of variety to choose from. For paper goods, check out Paper Goat Post. Boom-Art features brightly colored décor and is owned by Glenn Rogers, a former circus clown, who creates these unique, handcrafted pop art pieces.

Cloak and Dapper have hard-to-find men’s clothing, grooming products, and artisan accessories for men who want good solid craftsmanship. If you’re looking for the odd or unique, check out Curio Curiosity Shoppe. Weird finds like a two-headed calf skull, or a preserved pig fetus can be found here. If you are into the creepy and macabre or anything bizarre, this is the place to check out. Living Morocco is the place to find interesting imported Morocco finds.

Boom-Art

2. Antique Row

If your style calls back to a different decade or century, and you want to find the perfect piece of furniture to express your style, you can explore one of the many antique stores that pepper Ivanhoe Village. Once upon a time, the Ivanhoe Village district was just a warehouse district with old antique shops and mattress warehouses. While the district has become much

While the district has become much more hip and relevant more recently, the antique shops in the area give the area a rooted feeling and calls back to the time before the area’s revival.

A & T Antiques

A&T Antiques has been around since 1975. The 20,000 square foot showroom has a large variety of great antiques and a wide selection of stained glass pieces. If large eclectic pieces of furniture appeal to you, Washburn Imports is worth checking out. The owners travel the world and bring back one of a kind pieces that you can find in their shop. Visiting

Visiting Golden Phoenix Antique, you might feel like you’ve taken a trip to your grandmother’s house where delicate pieces of furniture, china wear, and antique hats and purses around the store. 1618 Something Different really has finds that you might not see anywhere else. If you are into midcentury design, this shop is definitely worth a look.

Editor’s Note: In high school, I spent many, many hours searching for rare vinyl from The Police, Michael Nesmith, and The Monkees in two places; East West Records & Tapes (now East West Music & More) on [the other side of] Orange Avenue and Ivanhoe Village’s Rock & Roll Heaven. I’m still convinced, you can find ANYTHING in Rock & Roll Heaven!

Washburn Imports

3. Cultural Haven

The cultural hub of Orlando makes it’s home in Ivanhoe Village. On the far eastern corner of the Ivanhoe district lives the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando Science Center, the Mennello Museum and the Shakespeare Theater. A bit further down Princeton near Orange Ave, you will also find the home of The Orlando Ballet.

In addition to these large cultural mainstays in Orlando, Ivanhoe Village is home to other small theaters and art houses. In May each year, theatre groups from all over the world come to participate in the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival which takes place in Loch Haven Cultural Park.

4. Lakefront Aesthetic

Small one and two-story storefronts neatly line the one side of the street on the half-mile stretch of Orange Ave from Lake Highland to Virginia drive. The other side of the street is Lake Ivanhoe which lines the Ivanhoe District along the North end of the area. Lake Ivanhoe stands as the focal point of the neighborhood and many of the nearby residents use the park for many different activities.

On the weekends, you might catch a few boaters or paddle boarders enjoying the lake on a hot summer day. A walking path runs along the lake with stopping points where you can do additional physical activities to ensure a good workout. The lakefront park offers a bit of natural landscape in the middle of a very industrial city area with companies with the best results in industrial properties thanks to Results Engineering BMS.

5. Interesting Eats and Drinks

The quirky, eclectic attitude of Ivanhoe Village also extends to the food in the area. There are a lot of unique and special places to get a bite to eat or drink. The most notable mainstay in the area is White Wolf Café which has been on Orange Avenue since 1991. Not only is there an expansive menu with lots of choices for both breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there’s also a lot of décor on the wall that will keep your eyes wandering.

If you are looking for a fun place to eat with friends, The Hammered Lamb has you covered. With ample outdoor seating that overlooks Lake Ivanhoe, it’s the perfect place to spend Sunday Funday brunch!

The Imperial at Washburn Imports

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary for date night, skip dinner and make a reservation at Better Than Sex Dessert restaurant. Then head over for an after dessert drink at The Imperial at Washburn Imports. The quirky furniture store turns into a place to kick back and relax with a drink in the evenings.

Or find a more traditional neighborhood bar at the Thirsty Topher. There are so many different places to choose from in Ivanhoe Village district, you won’t be able to hit everything in a single visit!

Top 5 Community Spotlight: Audubon Park

Orlando has ten Main Street Districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one. (Check out last week’s spotlight on Thornton Park!)

If you haven’t explored one of these Orlando Main Street Districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. This week: Audubon Park!

The Garden District (Audubon Park) is the hidden jewel of Orlando’s Main Street districts. The Main Street area on Corrine Drive feels like you’ve wandered into Small Town America, and you might forget that just a mile away cars are speeding by on I-4. The vibe here is upscale bohemian. With quirky little coffee shops, second hand stores, and even one of Orlando’s last remaining record stores, there’s a lot to see in this beautiful little district.

1. Leu Gardens

Image Credit: Harry P. Leu Gardens

Audubon Park is nicknamed The Garden District with good reason; At the north end of Corrine Drive lives Harry P. Leu Gardens. Take a stroll around the 50 acre gardens and make sure to stop to smell the roses when they’re in bloom. If roses aren’t your thing, Leu Gardens has the third largest collection of Camellias in the United States which bloom in January.

The Gardens were donated by Mr. Harry P. Leu and his wife Mary Jane, and was turned into public gardens back in the 1961. The Leus traveled the world and brought back exotic botanical findings to their garden estate. Years later, these exotic findings can still be enjoyed by the public along with many local varieties of Floridian plants too.

Monthly, the Gardens have a movie night where movie goers can snuggle up on the main lawn with a picnic dinner and some wine while enjoying a flick under the stars. Want to get in touch with your horticultural side? Find out what’s in bloom year round at Leu Gardens here. Go further and attend one of the many monthly society meetings at Leu Gardens! Orchids, and Ikebana, and Oranges – oh my! (We also hear dinosaurs are taking over very soon…)

Top 5 ProTip: Take advantage of Leu Gardens’ First Mondays, where admission is free! 2017 dates: January 2, May 1, June 5, July 3, August 7, September 4. FYI: The Leu House Museum (or as we affectionately call it, The Leuseum) will be closed in July for restoration.

2. East End Market

There might be replica markets in town where local small businesses gather together in a co-op space to sell their goods, but East End Market is the #LivingLocally and Good Food Movement OG here in Orlando. The first floor of the market is filled with some of the best food and drinks you can get in town.

East End’s focus is on local good food and community, and it shines through in everything they do from a garden right out front to community events focused on sustainability and urban living. Come hungry, so you can grab breakfast or lunch at one of the many vendors like La Femme Formage, Houndstooth Sauce Company, Lineage CoffeeFarm Hause, and new kid on the block, Gideon’s Bakehouse. If you love ramen, you’ll love Domu at East End Market which is open for dinner and weekend brunch.

East End Marketplace hours: Monday – Thursday, 8am to 7pm, Friday – Saturday, 8am to 9pm, and Sundays, 11am to 6pm.

3. Hipster Haven

With the 47 year old home of some, the trust of all Stardust Coffee on one side of Corrine Drive, and 32 year old indie land of music Park Ave CDs and a bright, young whipper snapper bar with rotating drafts called Redlight, Redlight making their homes on the other side, Audubon Park offers an eclectic old school vibe that makes you want to grab a book, throw on a hand-made knit hat (even in 80 degree temps), a quirky t-shirt, and spend a few hours reading a Hemmingway novel while drinking a craft brew or exploring the vinyl section of a record store for some rare indie find just like when you were a teenager.

On Monday nights, Stardust hosts a market where you can pick up some locally grown food or artisan wears. [Keep an eye on their Event Calendar here.] On weekends or during special events you can even catch a good food truck or two in the neighborhood to enjoy.

4. Cute Walkable Main Street

When this neighborhood says they have the best main street in America, they’re not exaggerating their claims. Audubon Park won the 2016 Great Main Street Award! What makes this Main Street so special is how much of a small town vibe Corrine Drive gives off with lots of little shops and merchants to explore.

Audubon Park is peppered with personal touches; second hand stores like The Lovely Boutique and The Owl’s Attic, locally crafted treats and sweet recipes from Kelly’s Ice Homemade Ice Cream, unique artisan bakeries like Blue Bird Bake ShopP is for Pie, and Palmer’s Garden and Goods. This is the perfect Main Street District to park your car at one end and meander around from shop to shop on a lazy weekend afternoon. You will want to come back again and again to explore.

5. Bike Friendly

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, you’ll often see a gaggle of bikes sitting outside of Bikes, Beans and Bordeaux, owned by longtime locals Jen and Darrell Cunningham, while their owners enjoy a leisurely breakfast and conversation after a their weekend long ride.

Top 5 ProTip: Reserve a bike 24/7 with Juice Bike Rentals! With nearly 40 Juice stations located in and around Orlando, there are no shortage of bright orange Juice bikes to ride around. Visitors pay as little as $8/hour, while locals can also rent as they go or sign up for a monthly membership. More at orlando.socialbicycles.com.

Audubon Park is an extremely bike friendly area with the entrance to the Cady Way Trail just a quick bike ride away. Its main street is even home to two bicycle shops: Winter Park Cycles and Ace Metric Cycles. With the construction of Bumby Avenue almost done, which will include a bike lane, cyclists in Audubon Park will be able to enjoy even more connectivity to the surrounding neighborhoods and some people like to train there for big sports events like the Cycle Gran Canaria (Spain) where people participate or visit the country to watch it, for this construction working there will be many materials and tools involved and hammers, screwdrivers and electric chainsaws that are even better that the normal ones, since people ask How good are electric chainsaws, they work more efficiently and faster.

Top 5 Community Spotlight: Thornton Park

Orlando has ten main street districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one. If you haven’t explored one of these main street districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. First up: Thornton Park!

The Thornton Park Main Street District lives in the heart of Orlando and includes some of the most iconic local Orlando spots. It’s home to both luxury apartments and bungalow style homes giving the feel of both a hip modern metropolitan city and turn of the century Florida.

The Thornton Park District website calls it “Downtown for Grownups” and that is definitely the feel of this district. As one of the most walkable districts in Orlando, Thornton Park’s luxury shops, resturants, and events attracts a crowd looking for a good time but with a bit of style and class.

1. Lake Eola

How could we start a post about Thornton Park and not start with Lake Eola. With the iconic fountain sitting right in the middle, Lake Eola is the symbol for the non tourism part that is Orlando. It is the epicenter for community activity. With a walking path that snakes the lake, you will always see people and pets walking (and running!) around or simply taking in the view.

Lake Eola is also a favorite spot for public classes like yoga in the park, and along the Central Street side of the lake, there are even a few resturants where visitors can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and scenery. If you want an up close view of the iconic Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain at Lake Eola, you can even rent a swan boat and paddle around the lake for a few hours.

And if you want an even closer look, check out Central Florida Top 5’s behind the scenes tour of the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain on Facebook. Top 5 recently shared an exclusive, very special look inside the fountain!

2. Brunch

If you want to meet friends for Sunday brunch, Thornton Park is a great place to meet up. There is so much to do here on a Sunday, it’s the perfect neighborhood to park your car and spend a few hours in the district enjoying your Sunday Funday.

There are plenty resturants that offer brunch like Dexter’s, Spice Modern Steakhouse, Baoery Asian GastroPub, and Sonoma Kitchen. Many of the resturants even offer great drink specials like bottomless Bloody Marys or Mimosas.

3. Farmer’s Market

After Sunday brunch, stop by the nearby Orlando Farmer’s Market at Lake Eola. It’s is one of the biggest markets in town and runs from 10am-4pm every Sunday. With an eclectic mix of food and artisan vendors, there are new things to explore every week.

At the center of the market is an area to relax with a drink and a good treat while you listen to a local musician play a few songs for the crowd. This market is dog friendly too, and many vendors will have some water waiting on hot days for your pooch to enjoy.

4. Second Thursday Wine and Art Walk

If you’re looking for a sophisticated version of a bar crawl, check out Thornton Park on the 2nd Thursday of every month where you can enjoy the Wine and Art Walk. Over 25 businesses participate in this walk every month where $15 will get you a glass and an opportunity to check out various shops, resturants, and bars you might not be familiar with in the neighborhood. While you explore the neighborhood, live music, artists, and DJs line the street to keep you entertained from stop to stop.

5. The Beautiful Bungalows

Drive or bike around the Thornton Park neighborhood, and you’ll see why it is one of the most desirable and expensive neighborhoods to live in Orlando. Lining the brick neighborhood streets are beautiful 1920 style bungalow homes tucked away under towering wizened oak trees with Spanish moss dripping down shading the streets. These beautiful bungalow homes harken back to a time when Orlando was smaller and Walt Disney World was only a dream of a young 20-something animator.

Give Smart, Give With Heart on #GivingTuesday

We hope our Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday guides helped make your shopping efforts successful this year! Are you ready to give BIG for #GivingTuesday? Seen or heard about this international movement or its hashtag but aren’t sure what it is or where to give? We’ve got some tips for you! First, a little heart-story…

Giving Tuesday heart

From givingtuesday.org, “#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.

It all started at New York City’s 92nd Street Y in an effort to be “a catalyst, with a mission to inspire action by bringing together today’s most exceptional thinkers and influential partners for social good.” Pretty smart and incredibly forward thinking for a 140 year old organization!

Giving Tuesday 2016
“Without the use of print ads or commercials, this grassroots effort has transformed into a global movement, sustained almost entirely through earned and social media—one press release, article, blog post, hashtag, “like,” tweet and #UNselfie at a time—completely saturating the media landscape during the giving season each year. At their launch in 2012, the #GivingTuesday movement brought together 2,500-plus organizations and people from all 50 U.S. states. By 2015, the movement was represented by partners in 71 countries.”

– Havas PR (PR partner for givingtuesday.org)

Did you know?

Of the Top 10 of Most Compassionate States, Florida ranks #7!

Below we list many of our favorite local organizations. We can vouch for them because we’ve worked directly with them over the years. However, it never hurts to do a little homework on a charity or non-profit organization before you donate.

Very helpful are websites like Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and Give.org from the Better Business Bureau‘s Wise Giving Alliance provide the most updated data on nonprofits from across the country. Charity Navigator even lists their Top 5 Questions to ask oneself before donating in their Holiday Giving Guide!

Note: All three of websites above are also charities, so if you like what they do, give to them too!

GivingTuesday

CFLT5 Archives: #GivingTuesday 2013, #GivingTuesday 2012

You can also give more than just money! While all nonprofit organizations will appreciate any monetary gift, you can give in ways that money cannot begin to match for an organization in need.

ProTip: Are you the head of a nonprofit organization, or are you thinking of maybe starting one? Here are some tips from the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College: 4 tips every nonprofit leader needs to know

Before we release our mega huge #GivingTuesday Kraken of Caring, here are 5 Tips to keep in mind when giving, especially when you think you may have nothing to give:

  1. 1. Donate your TIME. Of all things in life, time is the most valuable. No one is promised a finite amount of time in life so why not ‘spend’ it wisely, doing something or helping make someone’s life better, easier, or more enjoyable? You never know who you’ll meet…
  2. 2. Donate your TALENT(s). Love spreadsheets and finance? Own a large truck or trailer? Do you love organizing a messy space? Can you stretch a dollar? Play guitar? Have a knack for the web and social media? All of these (and more) are talents that most nonprofits would LOVE to have on their side to help spread the good in your community.
  3. 3. Donate MATERIALS. Ever make a Costco/Sams/BJs run and realize, “Do I really need all these paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning products, and food items?” Even if you haven’t when you go shopping and come across a great BOGO deal, pick up an extra deal and donate it!
  4. 4. Donate RESOURCES. Are you web or coupon savvy? Donate while shopping with Amazon Smile! Do you work in a warehouse or for a restaurant, construction or trade show company? If you do you many need to get a construction accident attorney in case accidents happen in the job. You may have very valuable resources at your disposal that can help in big ways!
  5. 5. SHARE your care with your co-workers, friends, family, and followers – connect them! If you’re on Facebook, share a cool photo or video that hits you in the feels! Visiting your favorite charity? Take a Snap or Instagram and tag the organization in it! (Don’t forget to use their hashtag.) With permission, post a fundraising poster at your favorite business or company break room!

ARTS/CULTURE

Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival [link]

A Gift for Music [link]

Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens [link]

Bach Festival Society of Winter Park [link]

https://twitter.com/BachFestivalWP/status/796427586155016193

Bok Tower Gardens [link]

Brevard Achievement Center [link]

Center for Contemporary Dance [link]

 

Central Florida Community Arts [link]

College Park Neighborhood & Arts Theatre Center [link]

Crealde School of Art [link]

Creative City Project [link]

 

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts [link]

Film Florida [link]

 

Florida Alliance for Arts Education [link]

Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra [link] (Happy 60th!)

Emotions Dance Company [link]

Garden Theatre [link]

Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida [link]

Mad Cow Theatre [link]

 

MicheLee Puppets [link]

Orange County Regional History Center [link]

Orlando Ballet [link]

Orlando Gay Chorus [link]

Orlando Museum of Art [link]

Orlando Science Center [link]

Opera Orlando [link]

Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra [link]

Orlando Shakespeare Theater [link]

Orlando Repertory Theatre [link]

Pine Castle Pioneer Days [link]

An annual family-oriented, community-sponsored/planned event promoting the living history of the Pine Castle area through demonstrations and other educational opportunities for attendees.

Timucua Arts Foundation [link]

United Arts of Central Florida [link]

Very Special Arts Florida [link]


BUSINESS/EDUCATION

A Gift for Teaching [link]

 

American Marketing Association Foundation of Orlando [link]

City Year Orlando [link]

The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center [link]

Early Learning Coalition of Orange County [link]

Junior Achievement of Central Florida [link]

Maker Effect Foundation [link]

Latino Leadership, Inc. [link]

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Orlando Foundation [link]

Orange County Library System [link]

Orlando First Robotics Education Foundation [link]


HEALTH

Compassionate Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Outreach [link]

 

Darcy J. Foundation, Inc. [link]

Give Kids the World [link]

Health Care Center for the Homeless [link]

Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation [link]

New Hope For Kids [link]

NextStep Orlando [link]

Orlando Health Foundation [link]

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida [link]

FYI: Appetite for the Arches is on hiatus! RMHCCF needs your help even more!

COMMUNITY

Art & History Museums – Maitland [link]

Camp Boggy Creek [link]

Center for Independent Living of Central Florida [link]

Children’s Home Society of Central Florida [link]

Christian Service Center for Central Florida’s Love Pantry [link]

Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida [link]

Community Hope Center (Osceola Co.) [link]

Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida [link]

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Central Florida Chapter [link]

Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida [link]

Dress For Success Greater Orlando [link]

Foundation for Foster Children (Orange Co., Osceola Co., Seminole Co.) [link]

Forward Paths Foundation (Lake Co.) [link]

Habitat For Humanity of Greater Orlando [link]

Hands On Orlando [link]

 

Harbor House of Central Florida [link]

Hope CommUnity Center [link]

 

iDignity (Orange Co., Osceola Co., Seminole Co., Volusia Co.) [link]

Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando [link]

Lake Cares Food Pantry [link]

Orlando City Foundation [link]

Orlando Magic Youth Foundation [link]

Orlando Solar Bears in the Community [link]

Orlando Sentinel Family Fund [link]

Quest, Inc. [link]

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida [link]

Seniors First, Inc (Meals on Wheels Orange Co.) [link]

United Against Poverty [Orlando] [Indian River Co.] [St. Lucie Co.]

On November 22nd UAP Orlando launched their #ThisIsOrlando campaign. Every day for 40 days Executive Director Eric Gray will share through social media what it means to struggle while living in poverty. (Happy Belated Birthday, Eric!)

United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida [link]

USO Central Florida [link]


PETS/NATURE

Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge [link]

Leash, Inc. [link]

 

 

Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando [link]

Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary [link]

SNiP-it of Central Florida [link]

 


PULSE ORLANDO VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS

GLBT Center of Central Florida [link]

Equality Florida [link]

onePULSE Foundation [link]

Pulse of Orlando [link]

YouCaring #SupportOrlando [link]


(Contributions go to National Compassion Fund via National Center for Victims of Crime)

Zebra Coalition [link]


USA & INTERNATIONAL

American Cancer Society [link]

Nation of Makers [link]

No Kid Hungry [link]

 

Sunshine Foundation [link]

The Trevor Project [link]

 

ONECampaign [link]
https://twitter.com/ONECampaign/status/803237404718960640
(RED) [link]
https://twitter.com/RED/status/803590891193663488

CHARITABLE APPS

Budge (in Beta) [iOS]
CharityBox [iOS] [Android]
Charity Miles [iOS] [Android]
Charity Navigator [iOS] [Android]
CharityTap [iOS]
DailyKARMA [iOS] [Android]
Donate A Photo [iOS] [Android]
DoGood [iOS]
DreamRun [iOS]
Feedie [iOS] [Android]
Fotition [iOS]
Forward [iOS] [Android]
Get Water! For India [iOS]
Givelify [iOS] [Android]
GoodGuide [iOS] [Android]
Instead [iOS]
Legacy [iOS]
MicroHero [iOS]
My Life as a Refugee [iOS] [Android]
Orange County FL Serves [iOS] [Android]
One Today [iOS] [Android]
Recycle Bank [iOS] [Android]
ShareTheMeal [iOS] [Android]
Stand4 [iOS] [Android]
TangoTab [iOS] [Android]
Viewers to Volunteers [iOS] [Android]
VolunteerMatch [iOS]
WE Day [iOS] [Android]

Happy Thanksgiving from Central Florida Top 5! Why are you thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We are thankful to you, dear reader, for your continued support! This year has been a tough one for each of us at Central Florida Top 5, for a multitude of reasons. It goes without saying that 2016 has been very tough for our friends and neighbors in Orlando. However, we still have much for which to be thankful in (cheerful) spite of it all.

I asked our Top 5 Team, regardless of how they felt about the holiday itself, why they were thankful and for what. I also asked the team to share a Local/Holiday #ProTip, or a unique way that we in Central Florida spend the holidays; fun things that maybe those outside of Central Florida may not have heard of or have the opportunity to do in their areas.

Here’s what they wanted to share with all of you;

 

Jen Lee BioAuthor and Top 5 Lake County Contributor, Jennifer Lee:

This year I am thankful for my health. I had my thyroid removed, I’m cancer-free, and doing well on medication, thanks to the online pharmacyhttps://www.ukmeds.co.uk/ which provides me with it. I’m also thankful to LEASH, Inc for the work they do to save pets in Lake County and for bringing our three new cats into our lives.

We’re not doing it this year, but a very Central Florida way to spend Thanksgiving is to enjoy the buffet at the Swan and Dolphin, then walk it off around Disney’s Boardwalk.

Holiday #ProTip: Take part in Small Business Saturday in Downtown Mount Dora! Lots of great shops, including an indie bookstore. Get a jump start on your Christmas shopping, then stay for Light Up Mount Dora!

 

 

Joe Thoma

 

CEO of Awareness Campaign and Top 5 Charitable/Arts Contributor, Joe Thoma:

I am most thankful for friends, family and colleagues.
* My true friendships in 2016 have transcended the strife and tumult of mere world, national and local problems, issues and politics.
* Family is more of a blessing each year. Partly because we all appreciate the precious gift of time with each other. (And partly because we’ve all gotten too old to start or maintain feuds!)
* Colleagues: I have connected with great new team members all over the world. My longtime teammates have strengthened our working ties and built on our combined strengths to do good work, have good fun and make good money.

Florida is blessed with a lot of casual attitudes. So Thanksgiving in Central Florida offers the opportunity to cherry pick the best traditions and dump the tedious parts. We’re such a diverse lot — Don’t like turkey? Do like many Italian families Up North and have lasagna, bracciole and even some pizza. Or go Puerto Rican with Pavochon, Mofongo stuffing and Arroz con Gandules. Or, like me, go out for a steak. If tragedy strikes, you can be sure to count on an experienced Nightclub Shooting Attorney in Clearwater

Holiday #ProTip: Great time to enjoy some lightly attended days at the theme parks before the Christmas rush. Google “disney world crowd calendar 2016” without the quotation marks.

 

Top 5 Contributors Carolyn Capern and Greg Trujillo (CT Social)

Top 5 Contributors Carolyn Capern and Greg Trujillo of CT Social

Digital storyteller at , Top 5 Web Team & Contributor, Carolyn Capern:

This Thanksgiving 2016, I am thankful for a healthy year and a year spent largely on projects that felt like they mattered. I’m thankful for the city leaders that are still working hard on issues like homelessness and making Orlando more green.

Spending Thanksgiving in Central Florida is the ideal time to get outside for a walk. Find a trail or a park or just head to a walkable downtown area like Lake Eola.

Holiday #ProTip: Don’t miss the Festival of Trees at Orlando Museum of Art! And after your Thanksgiving feasting, get in the festive mood by checking out the Orlando Philharmonic’s ‘Home For The Holidays’ concert this Saturday.

 

 

David B 1

 

Pro MLS Supporter and Top 5 Orlando City Soccer Club Contributor, David Blair:

Thanksgiving weekend is a good time for the family. I am thankful for my family. My beautiful wife and healthy little girl.

 

Local & Holiday #ProTip: If you have never been to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House in DeLeon Springs, go! They’re open Monday – Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm, and Saturday, Sunday, & Holidays from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Check out their website at: http://www.oldspanishsugarmill.com/.

 

 

 

Kari KleinCo-Host of Nerd Flix & Chill podcast and Top 5 Foodie Contributor, Kari Klein:

This year I’m thankful for friends who are more like family and a newfound ability to un-apologetically say ‘no’ as well as ‘yes’ – (see below)

I am celebrating Thanksgiving this year by getting a tattoo – no it’s not themed to the holiday and the date wasn’t planned, but when it’s a difficult place to get into and there’s an opening, you take it….or at least I did. It’s what the pilgrims would have wanted.  

Holiday #ProTip – Be patient and allow for extra time if traveling. Don’t let a few minutes of frustration (or more if you’re on I-4) ruin your whole day.

 

 

Allen Paschel

Central Florida Top 5’s Business and Tech Writer, Allen Paschel:

I am most thankful for scientists, engineers, and dreamers that brought us new technology in 2016.

A great, different way to celebrate Thanksgiving in Central Florida is to enjoy many of the great local restaurants that will be open for travelers visiting the area. If you haven’t bought your turkey or you’ve chickened out. Use Open Table to book a reservation!

Holiday #ProTip: his will be the first weekend with 300 DRONES flying over Disney Springs for an amazing light show called “Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration.” They’ll have nightly shows from now until January 8 at 7pm and 8:30pm. Check them out!

 

John DiDonnaCreator/Director of Phantasmagoria Orlando and Top 5 Arts Contributor, John DiDonna:

“Thankful for a community that can come together in times of fear and duress, thankful for families to support and love. Thankful that through personal and community tragedies that people are people – capable of so much love in the face of so much of the opposite.

Thankful for our community leaders like Buddy Dyer and Patty Sheehan who show us what commitment is – not just to budgets and planning – but to the hearts of all in Central Florida.”

 

 

 

Chris Collins

Filmmaker and Top 5 Guest Contributor, Christopher Collins:

“I am thankful to be alive. A year ago, I was in a car accident that could have ended my life. Obviously I survived, but the injury to my left foot & the trauma of the accident is something that has affected me even to this day, perhaps for the rest of my life, so I have to get the best Car accident lawyers to get compensation for that.
I have also the best Court Reporters from Naegeli Nationwide.
nationwide court reporters provide the most experienced and reliable court reporting in the country. We allowed NAEGELI to free you to focus on what you do best: Litigate your case.

With the help of my family & friends, I was able to recover from that accident, and this Thanksgiving I am grateful that I am still able to spend time with the ones I love.

 

 

 

Kelly Sharkey

Owner of SeaWorldMommy.com and Top 5 Contributor, Kelly Green:

I’m thankful for today. I’m not promised anything more than that. This year has been rough… for our community, for my family in some ways… and I’m reminded how brief this life is. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be kind to strangers, to forgive wrongs, and to press on to new beginnings.

Life #ProTip: Even if you aren’t thrilled with how you’re looking this holiday season, get in pictures with your friends and family! This is the only holiday season 2016 you’ll have. Remember it. Capture it. Relive it through photos. You’ll be glad you have those moments captured.

 

 

Jay DLSCinematographer and Top 5 Pop Culture Contributor Jay De Los Santos:

This year I’m just thankful to have a steady job! Florida’s entertainment incentive is next to non-existent right now, and finding film and tv work has been challenging not to mention next to impossible. My hope is that this will all turn around in the next few years so I can work in my field. In the meantime, I plan on joining Film Florida in 2017 so I can be part of this change.

Holiday #ProTip: Can’t wait for Amazon Prime to deliver? Shop Local Pop Culture! Hit up (not so) hidden gem Gods and Monsters at Orlando’s Anti Mall, Artegon Marketplace for unique and hard to find t-shirts, figures, comics, art, and more!”

 

Rich Bio

Co-Host of Over A Beer podcast and Top 5 Contributor, Rich Belsan:

I’m of course thankful for my family, friends, and amazing girlfriend. I’m also thankful for the continued growth and support of Over a Beer.

For a #ProTip? If you’re looking for some good beer for the holiday there are great breweries in town like Hourglass Brewing.

 

Host/Producer of FilmSlam at Enzian and Top 5 Managing Editor, Jen Vargas:

For the past two years, my reason for being thankful hasn’t changed. I am most thankful for my mom’s oncologist, Dr. Kalpesh Barot and his team at Southwest Cancer Center. They are the reason my mom is still around for another Thanksgiving, and words cannot pay enough tribute to Dr. Barot and his team for all they’ve done for her. Thank you, Dr. Barot!

Holiday #ProTip: If the elections come up at the dinner table, make sure to have Adele queued up.

A unique way to spend Thanksgiving in Central Florida? There are so many! We don’t have snow but if you’d like to see it, catch Now Snowing in the Town of Celebration from now through December 31st! Or catch ICE! at Gaylord Palms featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas! I’m a lifelong Snoopy fan and cannot gush enough about this year’s Peanuts theme. Bring gloves, a hat, and a scarf though – it’s only 9 degrees in there!

 

Brian might bring his Blogger Award from Give Kids The World!

Brian and his Blogger Extraordinaire Award from Give Kids The World!

And finally, Top 5 Owner (who we all miss!) and Contributor, Brian Wilson:

This year I am most thankful for my health, my parents, my brothers, and their families. So happy I get to be close to them right now.

A unique thing to do Central Florida I’d suggest making time to get to a national park or trail or something historic or special to you and yours.

My holiday #ProTip is to make time to do something with a friend or family member this season, or make something, whether it is a card, a letter, or go to a local arts event vs buying a gift – so something vs buying something – I love candles but a coffee date with a friend can be priceless.

 

THANK YOU, TOP 5 READERS!

Orlando City SC: The Thin Red Line and #RethinkHomelessYouth on 8/28

With only five home matches left in the Lion’s season, the push for the playoffs is in full effect!

OCSC

The City Lads currently sit just below the “red line” in the log jam that is the Eastern Conference. If the boys plan on making the playoffs this year, they are going to need a serious run of positive form for the remainder of the season.

The Lions return home to Camping World Stadium tonight, Wednesday, August 24th to take on Toronto FC.  The Lions defeated Toronto back in June, but is was no walk in the park.  Tied at 2-2 late in the match, it was Kaka who would step up hit the penalty kick in stoppage time to put the Lions on top for good.

The Lions will also be in action at home on Sunday August 28th, against New York City FC. This will be the third and final meeting of the year between the two clubs.

The Lions took the 1-0 win away at New York in the first meeting back in March.  Then in May, the Lions would come back from two goals down, to earn the point on a 2-2 draw in the Bronx.

This will be the first trip to Orlando for NYCFC this season. [Tickets are still available for this match.  Visit http://www.orlandocitysc.com/tickets to get yours!]

Image by Macbeth Photo

Images by Macbeth Photo

Whether in attendance or not, something special will happen on social media during Sunday’s match and you can be part of it! During the game (on August 28th), post on social media using the hashtag #rethinkhomelessyouth. Every post using this hashtag will be matched by a $1 donation from Orlando Health, up to a total of $20,000!

Supporters at Camping World Stadium can join the fight to end youth homelessness by attending the Rethink Homelessness advocacy campaign kickoff at the Orlando City Soccer match on August 28th (and the tailgate beforehand). 40% of homeless youth age 18-24 identify as LGBT, and with as hard as this community has been hit this year, we encourage anyone and everyone to help in any way they can.

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New Stadium News

The new stadium is coming along nice and according to the club, it is still on track for the beginning of next season.  If you don’t have the chance to drive by, you can follow the link below to the live construction cam.  There is also a very cool time lapse video which was compiled over the last eight months. [Link]

Away Days – City Pubs

Don’t forget that Orlando City SC also has official watch parties at five different City Pub locations.  All City Pub locations guarantee to show all 2016 matches with sound, as well as discounted Heineken on match days. The next big watch party to be hosted by the Orlando City promo team, will be September 24th at Wall St. Plaza.  The match against D.C. United is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 pm.

For your local City Pub, follow this link:  http://www.orlandocitysc.com/gameday/citypubs

Vamos Orlando!

Top 5 Back to School shopping tips from Goodwill Industries of Central Florida

School started back this week in Osceola, Lake, Seminole, Sumter, Marion, and Brevard Counties. Next week, Orange and Volusia Counties will begin their first days back in session.
When I was a kid, I never gave thought to what a stressful time back-to-school could be on, not just my teachers, but to my mom too. Back then, the internet was a tiny blip, and certainly no one had a tablet or laptop. The fanciest learning tool I needed was a graphing calculator!
I can remember my mom and I spending days looking for deals on notebook paper, pencils, clothes, backpacks, shoes… I even got new pajamas! My mom would chart our course just as she had during Black Friday. Being a single mom she did her best and made sure I had everything I needed, even if we had to shop at different times during the year to stock up for the next year.
Regardless of where you shop, these supplies can be costly, and that’s just for ONE child, at one school. Single parents and families with more than one child in school can spend a mint just preparing their kids at the start of the school year.
Parents: I have to ask. What’s up with all the checklists?! Shopping for school supplies almost seems like a scavenger hunt in most places, and judging by the parent’s faces, it doesn’t look to be too much… fun?
Aside from the basics, I am clueless on what today’s kids might need. So, we decided to team up with our friends at Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, who were nice enough to share their Top 5 Back-to-School tips with us!
Goodwill logo
Top 5 Tips for Back-to-School Shopping at Goodwill
The new school year is just around the corner – and if you’re like many parents, your wallet is already feeling a little lighter. According to the National Retail Federation, back-to-school shoppers will spend $76 billion this year, and families are spending 55% more than they did a decade ago.
Shopping at Goodwill Industries of Central Florida is a simple way to stock up on your kids’ back-to-school wardrobes – and make a difference in our community in the process! When you shop at Goodwill, you’re supporting free job training and placement programs for Central Floridians in need.
Goodwill Back to School 1
Here are 5 tips to help you stretch your hard-earned dollars at Goodwill:
• Used” may actually be new. Goodwill offers a wide range of gently used clothing – and many items have never even been worn! Be on the lookout for items that still have their tags. That trendy sweater would have cost $40 at the mall – and now it’s only $5 at Goodwill.

20160811_180907

• Thrift stores have sales, too. Goodwill discounts certain items every day of the week. Just watch for the “color of the day” tag on your items to enjoy an additional percentage off.
Goodwill has regular sales!

Goodwill has regular sales!

• Score high-quality brands. You may be surprised by the range of brands Goodwill offers. If you trust the fit and quality of specific children’s retailers, look for their clothes on the rack at Goodwill.
Goodwill has name brands, old and new

Goodwill has name brands, old and new

• Don’t forget gear and accessories. Backpacks, shoes, coats, sports gear, notebooks, the list goes on – and all these necessities add up! You can find many of these items at Goodwill for a fraction of the cost, also having a watch from zegarki is an accessories that every kid should have, make sure to get one.
I didn't know Goodwill sold porting goods?

I didn’t know Goodwill sold sporting goods?

• Find deals on textbooks. Did you know Goodwill Industries of Central Florida sells new and gently used books online? Check out Goodwill’s storefronts on Amazon and eBay.
Look for books in-store and online at Goodwill

Look for books in-store and online at Goodwill

With 29 retail stores in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard, Lake and Volusia counties, Goodwill is a great place to find bargains this back-to-school season – and all year round!
What are some of your back-to-school shopping tips?

What you need to know about tomorrow’s #OneOrlando Town Hall

Are you interested in providing feedback about how OneOrlando funds will be distributed to Pulse victims’ survivors and their families? Attend one of two Town Hall meetings at Amway Center on Thursday, and give your feedback directly to OneOrlando Board Members and representatives.

If you can’t make it in person, City of Orlando will livestream the meetings, in both Spanish and English, on oneorlando.org/townhall.

OneOrlando Fund Town Hall

 

Two town hall meetings will be held tomorrow, Thursday, August 4, 2016 at 12:30pm and 6:30pm. (Check in is an hour before each meeting.) Amway Center parking will be available at GEICO Garage (Parking/Directions: http://www.amwaycenter.com/plan-your-visit/directions-parking). Attendees are asked to enter through pedestrian bridge on the 5th floor.

Both meetings will be conducted by Fund Administrators to explain the contents of the draft Protocol and the claim submission process and to invite input and comments from potential claimants and the general public. Information collected from these group meetings and various communications and correspondence between the claimants and other interested parties and the Fund Administrators will be considered in finalizing the Final Protocol.

Osceola County has partnered with Pegasus Transportation to offer free transportation to the Osceola/Kissimmee victims’ families and survivors, and will be departing from Osceola Heritage Park, in front of Exhibition Hall. Departure times are 10:45 am (for 12:30pm) and 4:45pm (for 6:30pm).

Parking warning: Church Street and Division will be closed to provide parking for media live trucks. Church Street will close starting at 6 a.m.

Orlando City Soccer #OrlandoUnited

Here are a few frequently asked questions from OneOrlando.org:

Who is behind the OneOrlando Fund?

Following the horrific tragedy at Pulse, there was a tremendous outpouring from the community seeking to provide financial support. In response, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced the formation of the OneOrlando Fund.

On June 30, Equality Florida (website: www.eqfl.org/), the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida (The Center’s website: www.thecenterorlando.org/) and the National Compassion Fund (website: http://nationalcompassionfund.org/) announced a partnership with the OneOrlando Fund to ensure all funds collected for victims are disbursed in a unified process that will expedite funds, ensure transparency and safeguard against fraud. Equality Florida raised $7 million largely via social media in a campaign that has set records for online philanthropy. The statewide LGBT organization partnered with the National Compassion Fund, experts in managing disbursement following mass shootings.

How are the funds being distributed?

Attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg, considered the world’s foremost expert on victim compensation, will administer the OneOrlando Fund in partnership with the National Compassion Fund, a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime, a nonprofit group that is dedicated to assisting victims in the aftermath of mass shootings.The process will be open and transparent to ensure that these decisions are made with input from victims’ families, survivors and the larger community.

How will victims’ families and survivors be able to get money from the OneOrlando Fund?

Once the final process for fund distribution is approved, victims and their families will be able to submit a claims form that will be available on this website. Based on the current draft Protocol, claim forms will be available on August 11, 2016. The deadline for submission is proposed as September 12, 2016 and payment would then begin on September 27, 2016. 

I’m a family member or a survivor and I need support today. How can I get help?

While OneOrlando works through this process to get funds to victims as quickly as possible, the City of Orlando and Orange County Government have partnered with Heart of Florida United Way (Call 2-1-1 or go to http://www.hfuw.org/orlandounited-community-information/) to meet the immediate needs of those impacted by the Pulse tragedy through the Orlando United Assistance Center. This center serves as a navigation point for those who need support during this critical time of healing as well as moving forward. For personalized services, appointments can be scheduled by calling 407.500.HOPE or by visiting cityoforlando.net/hope.

What is the process for distribution of funds?

The Final Distribution Protocol, which will govern the OneOrlando Fund, will be developed by the Administrators, incorporating feedback from the OneOrlando Board, Equality Florida, the National Center for Victims of Crime/National Compassion Fund, the Orlando Community and the general public, including those present at the Town Hall meetings to be held by the Administrators on August 4, 2016.

A draft protocol is on the Process and Transparency page.

The proposed timeline based on draft protocol is:

  • August 4, 2016: Two Town Hall meetings at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. conducted by the Fund Administrators in Orlando, Florida, each lasting for 90 minutes.
  • August 11, 2016: The Final Protocol and Claim Forms disseminated to all known claimants and potential claimants who registered through the Fund website. These documents will be made available on the Fund website for families and all interested parties.
  • August 11 – September 12, 2016: Claim Forms completed and submitted to the Fund Administrators along with the required documentation.
  • September 12, 2016: Deadline for submission of Claim Forms.
  • September 12 – September 25, 2016: All personal meetings requested with the Fund Administrators completed.
  • September 12 – September 26, 2016: All claims reviewed by the Fund Administrators and recommendations for payments to eligible claimants submitted to the OneOrlando Fund Board for independent review and approval.
  • September 27, 2016: Payment Distribution to approved eligible claimants begins on a rolling basis.
  • After October 15, 2016: Independent Audit begins.

Who makes up the OneOrlando Fund Board?

The OneOrlando Board, chaired by Orlando Magic President Alex Martins, was developed to provide oversight and guidance to ensure that funds are dispersed in a timely, accountable and transparent manner.

The members of the board represent the diversity of Orlando, including those in the Hispanic and LGBTQ communities. OneOrlando Board members include:

  • Rena Langley, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & Worldwide Government and Industry Relations, Walt Disney World
  • Diane O’Dell, Vice President of Community Relations, Universal Orlando Resort
  • Stephanie Ghertner, Director, Darden Foundation & Community Affairs
  • Mark Meyer, Industry Manager, JPMorgan Chase
  • Paul F. Bryan, Chief Executive Officer, Grover Bryan, Inc.
  • Jennifer Foster, Owner and Executive Producer, Foster Productions, Inc.
  • Diana Bolivar, President, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando
  • Carlos Carbonell, Chief Executive Officer, Echo Interaction Group
  • Ken Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Phillips Inc. and The Dr. P. Phillips Foundation
  • Mark Shamley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals (ACCP)
  • Michael Farmer, Statewide Deputy Director of Development, Equality Florida Action, Inc.
  • Tim Vargas, Board President, GLBT Community Center of Central Florida (The Center)
  • Chris McCullion, Chief Financial Officer, City of Orlando
  • Walter G. Hawkins, Director of Urban Development, City of Orlando Downtown Development Board/Community Redevelopment Agency

Orlando City Soccer: The End of an Era

It has been a trying few weeks for Orlando City Soccer Club and their supporters. It started with a loss to instate rival, Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the U.S. Open Cup. The Strikers would take the 2-1 victory in the final seconds of the match, knocking the Lions out of the tournament. It was another defensive lapse at home, a theme that has plagued the Lions all season at Camping World Stadium.

On the 4th of July, the City Lads traveled to take on FC Dallas in a prime time holiday match up.  It did not end well. In what was the club’s worst loss of the season, FC Dallas proved why they were one of the best in the league. With a 0-4 loss and arguably one of the worst performances in the clubs six years in Orlando, something had to give. What gave was something that has divided fans all over Orlando, the club sacked head coach Adrian Heath.

OCSC Inchy Mastermind tifo

The Wall: United State of Inchy! Tifo Artwork by Earl Funk

He was one of the founding fathers, the “Mastermind” & “The Crafter” as the song goes, “Bringing trophies here to our town…“.  That is exactly what Adrian Heath did. He brought championships to a starving sports community. A community that has had to settle for mediocrity in the world of sports for so long.

 

In 2011, the Lions first season in USL, Coach Heath lead Orlando City to the best record in the league (Commissioner’s Cup) and the USL Pro Championship. During his four years in USL Pro, Heath would win three Commissioner’s Cups, and two USL Pro Championships.   The club would also post a 66-12-22 (W/L/D) record through their first 100 league games; the best record by any team in their first 100 league games, in U.S. Soccer history.

OCSC In Inchy We Trust

Artwork by Orlando City Soccer Club

Adrian “Inchy” Heath will be missed.  He made it a point to be more than just a coach, he was part of the community. For six years, Inchy was more than a coach, he was an ambassador for the beautiful game here in the City Beautiful. Long before Kaka came to town and became the face of the franchise, Adrian Heath was the franchise.  He is a man that loves the game, the fans, and the City of Orlando.

A passionate, heart on his sleeve, no nonsense coach, and the nicest guy you would ever shake hands with. A man that told it like it was regardless who or what he was talking about. Never above calling out his own players when they were lackluster, and always the first to praise when they were on point. He is a legend, he is Orlando, and this is FOREVER his city!

OCSC David Inchy

David and The Ruckus give Inchy a good handshake. Photo Credit: Orlando City Soccer Club

The Lions are on the road for their next three matches, but will return home on July 31st. Come out and support the club as they take on New England Revolution at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available on the Orlando City SC website.

 

Happy Independence Day, Central Florida! #WeAreAmerica

It’s in the air. You can feel it. You can SEE it. Something’s very different about the fourth of July this year in Central Florida. It’s in the way people treat one another. It’s in the courtesy shown in public places. It’s in the rainbow colors and flags seen waving proudly EVERYWHERE in Central Florida. It’s in the way people drive… well, maybe not yet on I-4, but we have HOPE!

One World Shelbie Press

Shelbie Press in Mills 50

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Central Florida has changed since the early hours of June 12th, and it’s been harrowing, emotional and beautiful to see. Constructive action over destructive assumption. Helpful gestures over harmful posturing. Doors are opening for all instead of closing in the face of most. More hands are being held in public, and more hugs are being given for all to see – by strangers, friends, and lovers alike.

Photo Credit: LoveHasNoLabels.com

Photo Credit: LoveHasNoLabels.com

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

John Cena put out a beautiful video this morning about, and yes I’m capitalizing it, Patriotism. “It inspires passion and debate, and it’s worn like a badge of honor with good reason,” he says. “Because it means love and devotion for one’s country. Love.

Facebook.com/PulseOfOurHeartbeat

Central Florida bloggers gather at WMFE to sing a song written by local mom, Kelly Green, “Pulse Of Our Heartbeat.”

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

But, what really makes up this country of ours? What is it we love?” Cena asks. “It’s the people,” he answers. “Almost half the country belongs to minority groups. People who are lesbian, African American, and Bi, and Transgender, and Native American, and proud of it.

We Are America gif

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

Cena continues, “After all, what’s more American than freedom to celebrate all the things that make us, US. This year, Patriotism shouldn’t be just about pride of country. It should be about LOVE. Love beyond age, disability, sexuality, race, religion, and any other labels.

Visit www.spearlife.com

“You Mattered” mural on the corner of Mills & Colonial by local artist Andrew Spear of spearlife.com

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

As Cena points out, quite correctly, “Because the second any of us judge people based on those labels – we’re not really being Patriotic, are we?

Things are different now. Thanks to terrible tragedy we have been left with 49 less neighbors, grieving parents, and a huge hole on the mend, in the heart of Orlando.

But we’ve also been left with love. 

Love for the friends and families of the 102 injured and slain at Pulse that Sunday, and for each other. The shooter’s act of vile hatred did not ultimately accomplish its intended goal. Orlando’s heart was ripped in half, but our community spirit was not. In fact, we became closer, stronger, and more unified than ever.

That is Patriotism.

Pride and Patriotism at Church Street Station

Pride and Patriotism at Church Street Station

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Read more stories of inspiration, and learn more about bias at lovehasnolabels.com, and add your photo to the gallery here.

Watch Ad Council’s full version of We Are America featuring John Cena here.

Dine Out for Orlando United TONIGHT!

Tonight, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association wants you to Dine Out for Orlando United. Employees and guests of a growing list of businesses will donate time, talents, resources, and money all with the goal of helping heal Orlando. Contributions from tonight will benefit Pulse victims and their families via the OneOrlando Fund.

We are grateful for the support and leadership of Florida’s hospitality industry as we continue to work
together to help the victims of this tragedy. We want to encourage everybody to dine out on June 30 to
help raise money for the families of the victims,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Anyone can help, and all are invited and encouraged to do so.

Led by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, the fundraiser, “Dine Out for Orlando United,” will be a day for Florida restaurants, their employees and guests to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the tragedy. All proceeds raised will be donated to the OneOrlando Fund, which is designed to provide a way to respond to the needs of the local community, now and in the time to come. We encourage everyone to get involved.

Guests: Dine at a participating restaurant on June 30, and/or choose to make direct donations.
Employees: Work a shift on June 30, choose to volunteer your time, or donate a portion of your tips.

Businesses: Join Dine Out for Orlando United and raise funds for us. This can include helping to promote, organize and/or donate.

Restaurants can participate today by:

– Donating a portion of total sales
– Making a donation for every guest served
– Collecting donations received from guests and staff
– Donating a portion of total profits
– Making a donation for every sales of a specific item
– Identifying a set donation amount that’s right for you.

PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS

Click on the name of the restaurant below (or its listed locations) for further information.

The 4 Three Nine, Saint Petersburg
4 Rivers Smokehouse, All Florida locations
45 Central Wine Bar, Santa Rosa Beach
60 South Restaurant & Bar at the Doubletree By Hilton Orlando Downtown
310 Restaurants, All locations
400 Beach Seafood & Tap House, Saint Petersburg
717 South, Tampa
1500 South by Chef Art SmithNaples
1884 Restaurant and BarEustis
A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando
Abe’s Place Tap & Grill, Clearwater
Alfies RestaurantOrmond Beach
American Kitchen Bar & Grill at B Resort & Spa, Lake Buena Vista
American Social Bar & KitchenFort Lauderdale
Amigos Original Tex Mex Restaurant & Cantina, Altamonte Springs
Anna Maria Oyster Bar, All locations
Another Broken EggLake Mary & Winter Park
Applebee’sOrlando, Tampa, Panama City, Tallahassee, Gainesville area locations
Applebee’sSouth Florida, Southwest Florida and Jacksonville area locations
Aqua Prime Seafood & Steaks, Indian Rocks Beach
Armani’s at Grand Hyatt Tampa
Asia Kitchen, Winter Park
The Attic DoorWinter Garden
Ava, Tampa
The Avenue Eat/Drink, Saint Petersburg
BackStreets Sports Bar, Cape Coral
Baoery Asian Gastropub, Orlando
Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria, Winter Springs
The Bay South Walton, Santa Rosa Beach
Beach Bar at Pier House Resort & Spa, Key West
The Beach House Restaurant, Bradenton Beach
bd’s Mongolian Grill, Lakeland
Beefy KingOrlando
Bella Bella, Tallahassee
Bella BravaSaint Petersburg
Bella Tuscany Ristorante Italiano, Windermere
Bern’s Steak House, Tampa
Berties Good Eats, Daytona Beach
Better Than Sex Dessert RestaurantOrlando
The Birch & Vine at The Birchwood, Saint Petersburg
The Bistro at Marriott Courtyard Cocoa Beach
BJ’s Restaurant & BrewhouseFlorida locations
Black Sheep Restaurant, Jacksonville
Blaze PizzaGainesvilleJacksonvilleOrlandoSarasota
Bikes Beans & Bordeaux Neighborhood Cafe, Orlando
blu on the avenue, Winter Park
Blue Bamboo, Jacksonville
Blue Door Farm Stand, Chicago, IL
Blue Door Kitchen & Garden, Chicago, IL
Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber, Clearwater Beach
The Boheme Restaurant at Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando
Bolay RestaurantRoyal Palm Beach
Bonefish GrillAll Florida locations
Bongos Cuban Café Orlando
Bongos Cuban Café Hollywood
Bösendorfer Lounge at Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando
Boston Lobster FeastOrlando & Kissimmee
Bowland, All locations
Brevard Zoo, Melbourne
Brimstone Woodfire Grill, Pembroke Pines
Broadway Ristorante & Pizzeria, All locations
Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, West Palm Beach
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, Orlando
Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant, Santa Rosa Beach
Buffalo Wild Wings, All Florida locations
Bull & Crown Public House, Saint Augustine
Burger Craft, Clermont
Burger U, UCF
Café Chardonnay, Palm Beach Gardens
Cafe Gala at the Dali Museum, Saint Petersburg
Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Orlando
Cala Bella at Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando
California Pizza Kitchen Miracle Mile, Coral Gables
Canvas Restaurant & Market, Orlando
Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort
Carrabba’s Italian GrilleAll Florida locations
Cask & Larder, Winter Park
Catch Grill + Bar at Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay
The Catfish Place, Apopka
Charlie Mac’s BBQ, Key West
Chick-fil-A, Orange, Osceola, Lake & Seminole county locations
Chick-fil-A, Westfield Sarasota Square, Edgewater, Port Orange Gateway Center locations
Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster, Orlando
Chuy’s Tex-Mex, Kissimmee & Orlando locations
The Cider Press Cafe, Naples & Saint Petersburg
Citrus Restaurant, Orlando
Cocina 214, Winter Park
Colorado Fondue Company, Casselberry
Compass Grill at Sirata Beach Resort, Saint Pete Beach
The Coop, Winter Park
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, All Florida locations
Cooters Restaurant & Bar, Clearwater Beach
Craig Miller’s Field House, Orlando
The Chef’s Table at the Edgewater, Winter Garden
Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster, Orlando
The Crooked Spoon Gastropub, Clermont
Charley’s Steak House, All locations
Chicago q, Chicago, IL
Chuck Wagon Home Cooking, Apopka
Cork & Fork American Grill, Orlando
Crispers, All Florida locations
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, Orlando
Dave’s Last Resort & Raw Bar, Lake Worth
Doghouse, Orlando
Don Juan’s Mexican Restaurant, Jacksonville
Donatello Italian Restaurant, Tampa
Duffy’s Sports GrillAll locations
Durango Steakhouse, Titusville
Earl of Sandwich, Lake Buena Vista
EDGE at Epicurean Hotel, Tampa
EDGE Steak & Bar at the Four Seasons, Miami
The Edison, Tallahassee
Elements Bar & Grille at Crowne Plaza Orlando Universal
Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ, Ocoee
Emeril’s Orlando
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando
Everglades Restaurant at Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando
Evo Italian Restaurant, Tequesta
Falcon’s Nest at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
The Fat Snook, Cocoa Beach
F&D Kitchen & Bar, Lake Mary
Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse at Hyatt Regency Orlando
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Orlando
First WatchMaitlandLongwoodPlaza VeneziaWinter GardenUCFAlomaMills Park locations
Fish City Grill, Lakeland
FishBones, Orlando & Lake Mary
Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill, Cape Canaveral
Five Star PizzaCentral FL locations
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine BarAll Florida locations
Flippers Pizzeria, Orlando, Clermont, Kissimmee, Lake Buena Vista & UCF 
Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse, Orlando
Froyo Fresh, Tampa
Funky Monkey Bistro & Bar, Orlando
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Sarasota
Gator’s DocksideCentral Florida locations
Glory Days Grill, All Florida locations
Grandaddy’s, Harmony
GrassLands Brewing Company, Tallahassee
Great Southern Cafe, Santa Rosa Beach
Green Parrot Bar, Key West
Grille 401, Fort Lauderdale
Grub Burger Bar, Tallahassee
Half Shell Raw Bar, Key West
Hamilton’s Kitchen at the Alfond Inn, Winter Park
The Hangar, Saint Petersburg
Harry’s Beach Bar at Sirata Beach Resort, Saint Pete Beach
Hash House A Go Go, Orlando
Hawkers Asian Street Fare, All locations
Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key
Haven, Tampa
HeadPinz, Cape Coral & Fort Myers
Hemingway’s  at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
High Tide Harry’s, Orlando
Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grand Lakes
Holy Hog BBQ, Tampa
House of Pizza, Orlando
House of Blues Orlando
Hubbly Bubbly Falafel ShopOrlando
Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, St Pete Beach
ICEBAR Orlando
Icy Paradise, Daytona Beach
IHOPFlorida locations
Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden, Orlando
Infusion Tea, Orlando
Island Dogs Bar & Restaurant, Key West
Jack’s Place at Rosen Plaza Hotel, Orlando
Jason’s Deli, Orlando & Southwest Florida locations
Jax 5th Ave Deli & Ale House, Lake Mary
Johnnie’s Hideaway, Orlando
Johnny Rockets The Pointe, Orlando
Jové Kitchen & Bar at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach
K Restaurant, Orlando
Kahwa Coffee, Saint Petersburg
Kelly’s Landing New England Seafood, Fort Lauderdale
Kiki’s Sandbar, Little Torch Key
Kings Orlando
KING’s Street Food Counter, Saint Petersburg
Krispy Kreme DoughnutsKissimmeeOrlandoWinter Park locations
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, All Orlando & Tampa locations
La Mar by Gaston Acurio at Mandarin Oriental, Miami
La Storia Ristorante, Chicago
Landry’s Seafood, Orlando
Larios on the Beach, Miami Beach
Lazy Lobster of Longboat, Longboat Key
Lee Roy Selmon’s, All locations
Liam Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant & Irish Pub, Lake Mary
Lighthouse Lobster Feast, Orlando
Lofty Pursuits, Tallahassee
LuLu’s Destin
Luma on Park, Winter Park
Madison Social, Tallahassee
Mama Della’s Ristorante at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando
Magnolia Grill, Fort Walton Beach
MainStay Suites, Port Saint Joe
The Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant, Longboat Key
Margaritaville, DestinKey West, Miami Airport, Panama City Beach
Marche Burrette Deli at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
Maria’s Italian Restaurant, Cape Coral
Marina Bar & Grill, Sandestin
Marlow’s Tavern, All Florida locations
The Meatball Stoppe, Orlando
Mediterranean BLUE, Orlando
Mellow MushroomOrlandoWinter Park & International Drive
The Melting Pot, Boca Raton
The Melting Pot, Coral Springs
The Melting Pot, Fort Myers
The Melting Pot, Longwood
The Melting Pot, Orlando
The Melting Pot, Palm Beach Gardens
The Melting Pot, Saint Petersburg
The Melting Pot, Sarasota
The Melting Pot, Tallahassee
Melts On Main Street, Winter Garden
Metro Diner, All Florida locations
Miller’s Ale HouseAll locations nationwide
Mitchell’s Fish Market, Winter Park
Mojo, Fort Lauderdale
MoonFish, Orlando
Morimoto Asia, Walt Disney World
Morton’s Steakhouse, Orlando
Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails, Jacksonville
Mulligan’s Beach House, All locations
Murray Bros. Caddy Shack, Saint Augustine
Nature’s TableParticipating locations
Nine 18 at Villas of Grand Cypress, Orlando
Noble Crust, Saint Petersburg
Nolan’s Irish Pub, Cocoa Beach
Noodles & Company, Orlando locations
North Quarter Tavern, Orlando
Nothing Bundt Cakes, Orlando Sand Lake Road location
O Bistro, Saint Petersburg
Oasis Restaurant at Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center
Ocean Prime, Orlando
The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Orlando
Oceans 234, Deerfield Beach
Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, Columbia, SC
Oleys Kitchen & BBQ, Orlando
Olio, Jacksonville
Olive Branch Mediterranean-Italian Grille & Bar, Mount Dora
The Original Crabby Bill’s, Indian Rocks Beach
The Other End Restaurant & Beergarden, Destin
Outback SteakhouseAll Florida locations
The Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen College Park, Orlando
The Oyster Bar, Saint Petersburg
Oystercatchers at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
Paradiso 37, Lake Buena Vista
Paramount Fine Foods, All locations
Parkshore Grille, Saint Petersburg
Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, Viera
Phat Thai Cafe, Apopka
Pho 88 Noodle Restaurant, Orlando Mills Ave location 
Pho Hoa Restaurant, Orlando
Pieology Pizzeria, Ponte Vedra
Pinon Grill, Boca Raton
PizzAmore, Mount Dora
Pizza Hut, Central FloridaAll Central Florida locations
Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria, Saint Petersburg
The Port Inn, Port Saint Joe
Portobello, Orlando
Prato, Winter Park
The Pub at Pointe Orlando
The Pub Waterfront Restaurant, Indian Shores
Raglan Road Irish Pub, Lake Buena Vista
Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs™, Lake Buena Vista
Ravello at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort
The Ravenous Pig, Winter Park
Rita’s, Orlando East & Apopka
Red Robin, All Florida locations
Residence Inn by Marriott, Amelia Island
Restaurant ASH, Orlando
Ritter’s Frozen Custard, Port Orange
Rose Villa Southern Table & Bar, Ormond Beach
Rum Barrel Bar & Grill, Key West
Rum Runners Bar & Grille at Sirata Beach Resort, Saint Pete Beach
RumFish Grill at Guy Harvey Outpost, St Pete Beach
RusTeak Restaurant & Wine Bar, Ocoee & Orlando
The Rusty Spoon, Orlando
Ruth’s Chris Steak HouseAll Florida locations
Sally O’Neal’s Pizza Hotline, Tampa
The Sandbar Restaurant, Anna Maria
Sandy Hook Fish & Rib House, Matlacha
Santiago’s Bodega, Altamonte Springs
Santiago’s Bodega, Orlando
Scolapasta Bistro, Fort Lauderdale
Seafood Shack, Marina, Bar & Grill, Cortez
Shake ShackWinter Park,  I-Drive
Shakers American Cafe, Orlando
Shogun at Rosen Inn, Orlando
Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Sarasota
Sinclair’s Ocean Grill at Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa, Jupiter
SLATE, Orlando
Smith & Adams Confections, Orlando
Soco Restaurant, Orlando
The Soda Fountain, Orlando
Sonesta, Fort Lauderale Beach
Souzou, Saint Petersburg
Spatz Deli & Billiards, Winter Park
Spoto’s Oyster Bar, Palm Beach Gardens
Square 1 Burgers & Bar, Winter Park
Stillwaters Tavern, Saint Petersburg
Something Fishy, Apopka
Sonny’s BBQCentral Florida locations
Splitsville Luxury Lanes, Orlando
Starbucks Coffee Company, Participating Orlando locations
STK Orlando
Sugar Daddy Bakery, Orlando
Suncoast Cafe, Venice
Sushi Maki, Miami area locations
Sweet Frog, Altamonte Springs & Orlando Avalon Park
Sweet Frog, Daytona Beach & Port Orange
Sweet Frog, Jupiter 
Sweet Frog, Riverside Jacksonville & Town Center Jacksonville
Swine & Sons Provisions, Winter Park
Taberna del Caballo, Saint Augustine
Taboon Bistro, Orlando
Tampa Airport Marriott, Tampa
Taproom at Dubsdread, Orlando
The Tasting Room at The Chef’s Table, Winter Garden
Teak Neighborhoord Grill, Orlando
Tee Jay Thai Sushi, Wilton Manors
Texas Cattle Company, Lakeland & Saint Petersburg
TGI FridaysCentral Florida locations
The Tennessee Truffle, Sanford
The Thirsty Goat, Port Saint Joe
Tijuana Flats, All Central Florida locations
Tommy BahamaJupiterNaplesOrlandoSandestinSarasota
Tony Roma’s International Drive, Orlando
TooJay’s Original Gourmet Deli, All Florida locations
T-REX at Disney Springs™, Lake Buena Vista
TR Fire Grill, Winter Park
Tryst, Saint Petersburg
Travinia Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, Miramar Beach
Trianos Taco Company, Big Pine Key
Turners Kitchen + Bar, Leesburg
Turtle Kraals Bar & Grill, Key West
Umi, Winter Park
Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, Ocala
Union Public House, Pensacola
University Center Club, Tallahassee
Uno Pizzeria & GrillFlorida locations
Uptown Cafe & Catering, Tallahassee
Urban Flats, Winter Garden
Verandah at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
Vito’s Chop House, Orlando
The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club
vomFASS, Winter Garden
The Wave Kitchen & Bar at Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa, Vero Beach
Which Wich? Superior Sandwiches, Orlando Doc Phillips location
Whirly Dome, Orlando
Windjammers RestaurantClearwater Beach
Wingstop, Hialeah-Miami Lakes
Wolfgang Puck Cafe, Orlando
WonderWorks Orlando Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show, Orlando
World of BeerAltamonte SpringsLake MaryUCF area
Yak & Yeti at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Zenith Company
Zona Fresca Fresh Mexican Grill, Winter Park

How to participate in tonight’s #PulseOfOurHeartbeat FlashCast

Tonight, something special will take place. Call it a ‘musical hug’ for the City of Orlando created by Central Florida mom, Kelly Green.

Members of the Orlando community are meeting tonight at host studio WMFE Orlando for a flashcast (think: FlashMob but performed by anyone online) of this inspired musical anthem honoring the 49 victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting and Christina Grimmie, shot and killed by a deranged fan.

Anyone with a social media account (Twitter Live, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, Blab, Instagram, Periscope, etc) is invited to participate in tonight’s flashcast and to share beyond this evening. Viewers are encouraged to learn this simple, one minute song and can sing, sign, dance, even play a favorite instrument along to the track and share it with the world using the hashtags #PulseOfOurHeartbeat and #flashcast.

No fear (of singing). No shame (of sharing). All love for Orlando.

Aren’t musically inclined? That’s ok. You can still take part by sharing the virtual, musical hugs of others.

Our Central Florida community, and the City of Orlando, are beginning to heal. There’s a long road ahead. It will not happen overnight but our community will never lose our love and light.

Upon hearing the news of Christina Grimmie death on Friday, June 11th, local mom and blogger, Kelly Green of SeaWorldMommy.com (also a contributor here at Top 5) found herself says, “I had insomnia the morning before and ‘watched’ the news of Christina Grimmie unfold on social media as it happened,” she shares.

As any mom and concerned friend would be, Kelly started to worry. “I was sick to my stomach as I had stood at that very spot numerous times,” Kelly says. “The next morning I saw even more horrific news on social media. I immediately started texting my friends who I knew might have been there.

Many Central Floridians were doing the same in the early hours of June 12th, and Kelly’s friends were among the fortunate ones. “My immediate friends were thankfully OK, but friends of theirs were not as fortunate. One friend lost five friends. Another knew a handful. Still another has the same last name as a victim and I called her immediately. She did not know him, but often got mistaken for being a relative, and was a sister in spirit.

So, Kelly did what many other creatives in need of an emotional outlet did – she wrote her feelings down. This stream of consciousness and deep emotional pain turned into a heartfelt song called, “Pulse Of Our Heartbeat.” Thus, the musical hug was born.

I’ve been writing music since I was 5, and seeing how my city… the city of family fun, incredible natural beauty, and all-out joy… was attacked truly shook me to my core,” she says. “The words and music poured out of me as I said musically what my soul breathed: We stand UNITED.

Be part of the live #PulseOfOurHeartbeat #flashcast TONIGHT, June 29 at 8pm ET across most social media platforms. This Anthem for Orlando is a musical hug to our city. Listen to it. Learn it. Sing it to your followers. Broadcast it yourself and keep the music rolling across the ‘net to all those affected by the tragedy that hit our city. We stand UNITED!

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnthemForORL/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnthemForORL

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/AnthemForORL

Valencia College Grad Brandon Chang starts ProjectPri.de

There is no doubt. Orlando is a town of love and compassion. Our community has shown its heart to the world this week. We’re more than just a vacation town. We are a town of culture, compassion, and creatives. Members of our arts, tech and digital media industries want to volunteer and help our families just as much as anyone else. Enter: local web engineer and graphic designer, Brandon Chang.

After moving to Central Florida with a good friend to attend Valencia College’s Graphic Design program, Brandon Chang fell in love with Orlando and made our city his home. After graduation, he got a cool job at PurpleRockScissors, a local digital design agency, and met and fell in love again with an even cooler lady named BG. Kingston, Jamaica may be the place of his birth but like many, he made Orlando his adopted hometown.

Upon hearing of the attack on Pulse Orlando, like all of us, Brandon immediately wanted to help his hometown. With a unique skillset and a simple idea, he turned to his co-workers at PRPL to make it happen. “I was inspired by the community and the people who decided to come together after the shootings, and took time to gather for a gesture towards the affected families and friends, and to the larger LGBTQ community,” he says. “I also could not of done this without the amazing talent of my peers and co-workers at Purple Rock Scissors who really helped make the idea a reality.

Check out Purple’s moving video tribute to Orlando called, “Orlando United.”

His idea has now turned into a website called Project Pri.de, a site where Facebook users can include their profile images on what he hopes will be an infinite rainbow flag on the web filled with pictures of Orlando’s LGBTQ community, its allies, and eventually the allies and members of the LGBTQ around the world. “I hope that with Project Pride, I can hope to bring the amazing sense of community that has been happening here, to places and people who want to show their support and make a stand, no matter how small, for those affected. I hope that over time, we can show this collaborative flag as a measure of the strength of the community.

Great idea from ‘just a guy with an eye for small details!’ A social show of solidarity to bring us all together. Simple, right? Brandon says, “Anybody can help by taking part! Add yourself to the project, and be a piece of the whole. Share it and hopefully share some love along with it.

Project Pride 2 #OrlandoUnited

Currently there are 819 supporters, including yours truly. How cool would it be to see this number grow into the tens of thousands… millions… BILLIONS?! Click on the image above to add your profile picture! Oh, and don’t worry Twitter and Instagrammers. Brandon and the team will try and support linkage to these social sites too, and as soon as possible.

Speaking of the Project Pri.de team, it’s a big one. Brandon wanted to make sure to extend gratitude and shout outs to all his co-workers for their time and extraordinary efforts. “I’d just like to to thank the people who took part in building this project along-side me, who really shaped and molded the idea into what it is today,” he says. “A huge shout out to Matt Eagle, Devin Jacoviello, Rob Ignasiak, Don Page, Dean Wagman, Erin Butler, Brandon Shaw, and others who took their time to make this happen. Also a thank you to all those who participated and added themselves to the project, and shared.

Find out more about Brandon Chang and check out his impressive portfolio here: http://brandonchang.me.

[UPDATE] Local note: In tribute to the lives lost at Pulse and in support of freedom lovers worldwide, tomorrow morning, June 17th, Orange County Government will display Section 93 of the Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag on their Administration Building at 201 S. Rosalind Ave. Today, Executive Director of LoveisLove Key West, Mark Ebenhoch will be in town with the flag. Find more information on their Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/179054329164226/

The Sea-to-Sea Flag has become a globally-recognized symbol of the LGBTQ movement and symbolizes acceptance, understanding, education, solidarity and inclusion.

The original rainbow flag was designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 as a symbol of gay and lesbian pride in response to anti-gay activities. In the spring of 2003, Baker and a team of volunteers cut and sewed a 1.25-mile-long version of the flag in Key West, to celebrate the iconic banner’s 25th anniversary. On June 15, 2003, some 2,000 volunteers unfurled the flag from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico along the entire length of Duval Street, in a sea-to-sea representation of pride and diversity. Sections of the flag have since traveled worldwide.

#WhyWeLoveOrlando: It’s our HOME

It’s been three days since the attack on Pulse Orlando. Forty-nine of our friends and neighbors have been killed, and over 50 more have been injured. We are still shocked, saddened, and angry to the point of tears. Not to mention this was the second senseless act of gun violence this past weekend. Acts like these are not the “norm” here, and they should and will not be the “norm” anywhere else if we have anything to say about it.

Orlando’s response to Sunday’s hateful act of terrorism? LOVE. Citizens of Central Florida are lining the streets, waiting in line for hours to donate blood, water, food, umbrellas, sunscreen, a hug – you name it. Local businesses of all sizes offer round the clock help to those caring for victims’ families and the survivors, local and federal law enforcement, medical personnel and for the staff at Pulse Orlando in every way possible. THIS is Orlando, and THIS has always been the heart of our Central Florida community.

THIS is #WhyWeLoveOrlando.

Such senseless acts of hate and violence should not be tolerated anywhere on Earth, and especially in our own backyards. Hearing stories of heroism from Pulse Orlando night club’s staff and patrons, seeing the names on the victim list grow, reading the social media streams from people in countries around the world… this worldwide call to love and action cannot be ignored.

Our community is hospitable and welcoming to all visitors, frequent or first time. We are known globally as the number one tourist destination IN THE WORLD. At a time such as this, we are showing the world what Orlando is REALLY about, no matter the county you live or who signs your paycheck. We will not allow these tragic events to define us nor stop us from living, working, and LOVING where we live.

For the past seven years, Central Florida Top 5’s heart has always been in and with our Central Florida community – and with that of our country and, yes, even our planet. This core philosophy is what made me fall hard for this website and [platonically] with our owner (and heart) Brian Wilson, who is a proud member of the LGBTQ community as are a few of our other writers.

Our entire writing team are of different ages and viewpoints, from different backgrounds, religions, languages… we have it. One thing we agree on, without a doubt; We are all as proud to be Central Floridians today as we’ve ever been, and this will never change. 

You know why WE love Orlando. Why do YOU? Locals respond:

https://twitter.com/AlexandraLoCruz/status/743454618391318528

https://twitter.com/eneffbuzz/status/743455158659612672

https://twitter.com/JeanMoorjani/status/743431770947846144

https://twitter.com/Bennie_39/status/743436905547710464

https://twitter.com/nehaadeshh/status/743449842060496896

https://twitter.com/JeanMoorjani/status/743430515357802497

 

Central Florida Asks: What is #RedNoseDay?

Here in the United States, Red Nose Day is celebration of silly that started just last year. What many (on this side of the pond at least) don’t know is, Red Nose Day was born over in the UK in 1988 as a way to make people aware of poverty and initiate change by using humor, celebrities, and squishy red noses!

I first learned about Red Nose Day in 2009 by listening to The Chris Moyles Show on, then, XM29. [Long live U-Pop & WorldSpace!] Chris Moyles, a crazy DJ on BBC’s Radio 1, had always been a huge supporter of Comic Relief. He stayed on the air for 52 hours straight in 2011, set a new world record and raised over £2Million for Comic Relief Inc., Red Nose Day’s parent organization. (And a completely separate organization from Billy, Whoopi, and Robin’s Comic Relief.)

Ever watch the movies Love, Actually, Bridget Jones’s Diary or Four Weddings and a Funeral? The writer (and sometimes director) of these great films and many more, Richard Curtis, partnered with British comedian Lenny Henry to create Comic Relief and Red Nose Day. If you know anything about his films, you’ll know straightaway that the concept of love is often a central theme. As a fan of his and all involved, I began supporting of one of Mr. Curtis’s other big philanthropic efforts, Make Poverty History (known as the ONE Campaign and Project (RED) in the US), in 2005. Red Nose Day, I believe, is an extension of Mr. Curtis’s huge heart because, as scary as the world can seem sometimes… Love really IS all around. Especially for children in need.

Red Nose Day 2016

According to its websiteRed Nose Day has raised over $1 billion globally in the last 25 years, and in the UK has become a cultural phenomenon where people across the country come together to have fun, raise money and change lives. Red Nose Day launched in the U.S. in 2015, dedicated to raising money to help children who are most in need, both in the U.S. and in some of the poorest communities in the world. The money raised by Red Nose Day in 2015 benefited children and young people in all 50 states and in 15 countries internationally. Here’s an example of how the UK does Red Nose Day…

How does the US do Red Nose Day? We do it just as big with as many laughs, celebrities, red noses and heart! Take a look at how last year went…

Here’s an alarming fact: One out of five children here in the United States lives in poverty. That is UNACCEPTABLE to me, and it should be to every resident. United Against Poverty Orlando reports, in Orlando 27.5% of children live in poverty.** Within the City Beautiful, there are neighborhoods with an alarming rate of at-risk kids, such as the Parramore Heritage community a 1.4 square-mile neighborhood that is nearby the CFOC campus. It is home to over 2,000 children, 73% of whom live in poverty.***

Red Nose Day Charities

Red Nose Day helps Covenant House and the charities above give back to their respective communities.

What can we do?  Donate your time, talents or resources to a local shelter or food pantry. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, a member of Feeding America, has a great page with ways to help. Be a mentor to a child. Be a friend to a family in need. Start a Red Nose Day FUN-raiser. Have fun with it! Red Nose Yourself! Buy a nose, take a #RedNoseDay selfie and share it with the world!

Or, just watch NBC (WESH in Central Florida) tonight at 9pm. Enjoy the show and consider making a donation. I’ll be live tweeting tonight’s broadcast on my personal account, @jenvargas, so please join me! (I’ll also be sharing goofy pictures on my Instagram page.)

Shout out to all Central Floridians rocking a Red Nose today. Thank you for helping change lives here in the United States AND in countries around the world! Don’t have a Red Nose? Head over to your local Walgreens and buy a nose for $1! Walgreens also has some awesome Red Flair – you can even buy a Red Nose for your car!

Watch how the kids and parents of Champions Gymnastic Club in Jacksonville and their local Walgreens are supporting Red Nose Day!

 

Happy Red Nose Day, Central Florida!! 

 

Stats from United Against Poverty Orlando:
*UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES,
POVERTY IN CENTRAL FLORIDA REPORT BY JAMES D. WRIGHT AND JANA L. JASINSKI, 2008.
**CITY OF ORLANDO EITC COMMUNITY CAMPAIGN PRESENTATION, 2009.
***CITY OF ORLANDO PARRAMORE KIDZ ZONE PRESS RELEASE, 2008.

Living Room Theater fuses authenticity and fun

Bear, Dog and Otter — collectively known as Living Room Theater — are systematically occupying Central Florida homes for evening gatherings of captivating engagement and heart-stirring pathos.

The Orlando-based immersive theater troup — Tisse Mallon (Bear), Jack Graham (Dog) and Banks Helfrich (Otter) — act out performance pieces, personal reflections and conversations that are profoundly human and ring with truth.

The performances are remarkable as much in what they do as what they don’t do. The three players don’t recite practiced lines of dialog or monologue, they don’t involve their audiences in interactive exercises and they don’t leave viewers with pat answers or easy lessons learned.

“Paths of absurdity, raw truth and love intersect as Bear, Otter and Dog invite you into a living room to share vignettes reflecting upon our humanity,” LRT’s promotional text says. “Through pensive to comical conversations, experimental performance pieces and live instrumentals, a story emerges. No two shows alike.”

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Randa Black recently was host of an LRT event at her place in Maitland.

Living Room Theater seeks out hosts who invite friends to an evening of food, drinks and the comfortable camaraderie of couches and chairs. Preparing a carefully curated half-dozen vignettes, LRT players rehearse loosely and privately before each show. After that, spontaneity rules in their live pieces: They search for words, self-edit, backtrack, clarify thoughts and amplify nuanced meanings. They argue, in the way close friends do, in trying both to explain themselves and to understand each other’s ideas and expression as they interact. The result has the unmistakable ring of believability.

Now Living Room Theater is coming to the 2016 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, which starts on Wednesday, May 18. The Fringe — held each May — is more than two weeks of theater, music, dance, and fine arts. Orlando’s was the first American Fringe Festival and has become one of the largest. (See http://orlandofringe.org for locations and lineups.)

In following up with LRT, we asked founder Tisse Mallon a few probing questions:

JT: How did this start, and how long have you three been doing LRT?

TM: My main work is I’m a life coach. I call myself a holistic lifestyle teacher, and one of the things I’m constantly telling my clients is, if you have an idea, if you have something that makes you happy, don’t wait. Just go do it. All of a sudden a few months ago, I realized, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been sitting on this idea for five or six years, I’m just going to go do it.”

Especially when Jack and Banks came into my life, I just felt like it was the right time for this. Now, in retrospect, I know that it couldn’t have happened without them. I told Banks about the idea and Jack about the idea, and they were both into it right away. When we started, I told them, “I don’t want to take forever to rehearse before we put something out there. I want to jump right into it, I just want to go do it and we’re going to fail our way forward. That’s how we’re going to learn, and that’s how we’re just going to dive into it.”

We just fell in love with it right away, and these last few months that we’ve been doing it, we’ve done more thank 50 performances and we have developed more thank 350 vignettes. We’re loving it.

JT: Why do you hold the performances in random living rooms? Why is the show always on the road instead of at a fixed location?

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Tisse Mallon grills Banks Helfrich about what he really means to say.

TM: This is how it happens. We go from living room to living room to living room. We are not intending to end up on a stage. That’s because we feel there is something really special that happens in an intimate environment where there is no delineation between audience and stage and the audience is a group of familiar people who have a shared experience. That’s the general concept of the show. We try to honor three things in each and every one of our pieces: fun, connection and authenticity.

JT: How do you find venues? How do you find homes to do it in?

TM: Right now it’s been mostly word of mouth, a little bit of Facebook, and when we invite people to shows, we at the end of the show, we invite that audience then to have one in their homes, and so then they can book with us. It’s easy to book online, we just have a simple form that they fill out with dates that are available, or when they see me, I pull out my calendar, throw them on, and it’s a done deal.

JT: How large and audience and how small an audience have you gotten? What’s the biggest and what’s the smallest?

TM: The smallest we have gotten is about five people. The smallest we really want to be doing is about eight people. The largest we’ve done so far has been 30, 33. That’s been great. We’re willing to take it up to 50. At 50, that’s where we’re doubtful as to how much of the intimacy will be lost. We’re willing to try out 50, but we haven’t gotten there yet.

JT: Before we saw LRT at Randa’s house, I had assumed there would be more audience participation, sort of like Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding. I  said, “Don’t sit in front — I’ll get called on.”

TM: As to why we are immersive but not participatory — We want the experience to be pressure-free for the audience. Not having to worry about being picked on, singled out, asked to do anything or potentially embarrassed in any way allows them to comfortably enjoy the show and be more in the moment with us.

JT: What’s it like to work so closely with such a small troupe?

lrtJack

Jack brings his solid musicianship to the evening. Lyrics and tunes are in perfect harmony.

TM: We’re all writers,  so for all of our little vignettes we keep creating new ideas and coming up with different things. We’ve found that we have quite a passion for it, and we’ve created a database where we’re constantly plugging stuff in. When we have a show coming up we sit down and we look at the list and we’re like, “What do we want to play with tonight?” This show was made just for you. It will never be repeated again

That’s one of the things that I find really beautiful about what we’re playing with here: The more honest each one of us is willing to be about what we’re dealing with, what we’re thinking about, what we’re feeling, the more we’ll connect. Because we’re all so much alike, and it’s sometimes difficult to remember that as we go about our lives. The moment that somebody’s willing to speak it, you see a sea of people that go, “Me too.” That’s really nice. It’s, I think, a fringe benefit of doing this type of work that you see how not alone you are.

JT: Why identify as the animal characters? Why don’t you use your real names?

TM: The reason that we do that is, with personal names, it’s so easy for any of us to have an association with a name. Like “Jack.” Maybe you have a brother or a friend or a neighbor named Jack, so as soon as we call his character, “Jack,” now all of a sudden you’re thinking about that relationship with your Jack. It pulls you out of the moment. We wanted something that would be neutral but still would honor who were are. Banks, when we first started this, asked us all what animal are you? That was really easy for all of us right away. I’m like, “I’m a bear.” Jack’s like, “I’m a dog.” Banks said, “I’m an otter.” People know kind of the spirit of the animal, but they don’t have strong, strong associations with it.