Category Archives: Featured

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 and one of them is the money i have made thanks to the best trend strength indicator for my stock market. 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.

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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.
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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!

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Dining

You were busy. There were theme parks to visit. The stores were just “too” crowded. And you didn’t “really” want to cook. What’s a procrastinating food-loving Central-Floridian (or visitor away from the kitchen) to do? Here are some delicious restaurant options that will ensure a full belly (even if you have an empty ’fridge).

The Alfond Inn

Brunch is served at The Alfond Inn. A Chef-inspired Thanksgiving Buffet in their beautiful Conservatory and Park Avenue Ballroom awaits, but only at the noon seating (3p is sold out). Some of my favorites will be served including Hamilton’s Duet of Beet’s salad, Maple-Bacon Brussel Sprouts, and Shrimp and Grits. Of course you can expect all the traditional courses, but who wouldn’t want a few extras to fill up the plate(s)! Leave room for dessert because there will be pies aplenty and a gelato station. Fantastico!
Adults: $69+ Children 4-12 $25+ and reservations (required) can be made by calling 407.998.8090 or through this link.

American Kitchen at B Resort

I wanted to make the best turkey injection recipe and I was confused as of to which option to pick at American Kitchen: Herb Roasted Organic Turkey  or Smoked Grass-Fed Sirloin, but guests can flip a coin for a choice that will be tasty either way. To accompany the main will be Mashed Potatoes with Rosemary Gravy, Sage Stuffing, Candied Yams, Brown Butter Haricot Verts and Parker House Rolls plus a chef-created seasonal dessert. Served from 5 p to close, at $26 per adult and $10 per child (both subject to service charge and tax), this dinner is affordable yet impressive. Don’t forget to get your parking validated.

Rosen Shingle Creek

If you wanted to join the bountiful buffet at Cafe Osceola, it’s sadly too all booked up at this stage in the game. You’ve still got options for dining at A Land Remembered or Cala Bella: two of my personal favorites. Click here for more info. As of this writing they had reservations available in both restaurants from around 6p to as late as 9:45.

Westgate River Ranch and Rodeo

Ham, turkey, prime rib and more await at Westgate River Ranch for Thanksgiving. The buffet starts at 5 and there are limited spots available. Call 863-692-1321 x 40017 today (Thanksgiving eve) if you’d like in on the ranch-style feast. There’s no charge for parking and dinner’s just $34.95 for adults, $14.95 for children ages 5-12 and complimentary for kids 4 and younger. If you’re reading this on Thanksgiving day, call the main resort line for availability.

Swan and Dolphin Hotels

Bluezoo offers an a la carte menu in addition to a heritage turkey roulade;  Garden Grove offers a buffet with soups, a carving station with Apple Cider Glazed Smoked Ham and Roasted Turkey, plus an impressive hot station including Sweet Potato Gratin au Dauphinoise; Il Mulina offers Heritage Turkey Roulade, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry, Chestnuts, Porcini Mushrooms, Frisee.  For all the deets, visit their website.

While hardly an exhaustive list, this gets you started if you haven’t… well… started!

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Central Florida Top 5. We’re thankful for you.

Central Florida Votes: My Election Day 2016 Experience

The day is finally here, and like a kid at Christmas, most of us couldn’t be more excited to cast our ballots and be COMPLETELY DONE with the 2016 Election!

The last year and a half has been exhausting in many ways. Between having to decide between two candidates I either don’t like 0r trust in the Presidential election, to the barrage of mudslinging in our local elections… oy!

I certainly don’t mind putting in the work to research each candidate in order to make an informed vote at the polls, but wading through all the garbage? No thanks,I’ll just pop over to these guys instead. I am calling dumpster rental service trenton nj to help us out.

What I am done with are the crazy commercial spots, sponsored posts, wasteful mailers which immediately go from my mailbox to the trash, and repetitive robocalls at home, the flood of political text messages and emails asking for donations – DONE.

The Bright Side is…

People are talking about and debating civics! They’re getting involved in their own communities in record numbers, making the effort to research both National and Local candidates, and sharing easy-to-use research tools with everyone!

People who barely voted in the past are now phonebanking for the candidate they support. Citizens are not just inheriting their political choices from family, friends, or social circles but they’re actually owning them! We are indeed living in changing times, and that alone is something to get excited about, nevermind the divisive trash.

Vote! Please, vote!

Regardless of who you’re voting for, I have to admit I’m incredibly excited, not to mention encouraged, to see so many people across the state are getting out there to vote in this year’s 2016 General Election.

Today, lines could be shorter in your polling place, they could be A LOT longer. Bring your ID and some patience when voting today.

Before You Leave Home or Work…

Check your voter status and locate your precinct. Be aware of your rights and responsibilities. Help a friend or neighbor vote by carpooling. Make sure your address is correct (This can be changed over the phone in Orange County by calling 407-836-2070). Call the Florida Voter Assistance Hotline at 1-866-308-6739 for any other questions you may not be able to find answers to, or locate your local Supervisor of Elections Office here [Link].

Top 5 Voting Tips

  1. 1. Always have your valid photo ID (with signature) in hand. If you don’t have a valid photo ID, ask for a provisional ballot.
  2. 2. Utilize your sample ballot for a faster time at the polls.
  3. 3. Allow extra time – travel, wait, vote.
  4. 4. Physically able folks: Park further out to allow closer parking for those who may need extra assistance. (Your kindness will also help you get in and out more quickly.)
  5. 5. Once in line, DO NOT LEAVE. As long as you are in line before 7pm, you will still be allowed to vote. If you are told otherwise, call the Voter Protection Hotline at 1-888-525-8683.

Bonus tip: Once you’ve voted, leave the last 1.5 years of political stress and frustration BEHIND. No need to take it with you. You’ve done your part, it’s done.

My (Early) Voting Experience

I live in Orange County, Florida and voted last Friday, November 4th. Arriving at the South Creek Branch of Orange County Library, I thought Friday, in the middle of an afternoon, wouldn’t be terribly crowded considering it was right before rush hour. Boy, was I wrong!

In fact, a poll worker told me that the crowds were consistent and there was always a line. All 14 days – even in the middle of the work day!

Just how long did it take me to vote? 64 minutes total. Mind you, this was during last week’s early voting period but even still, it took a lot less time than I originally assumed. All in the plan.

With over 52% of the voters having already voted, we’ve got some precincts in this county that are well over 60% or 50% of their voters have already voted.” said Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles. “That was the goal of early voting was to take the pressure off the polling places on Election Day.

Via Instagram, here’s how my experience went…

(Please note: I received permission to take the images below. It is illegal in Florida to take photos in the actual polling room or of your voting ballot. Don’t risk not being counted. If you’re not sure, DON’T post it.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I wrote in my weekly Central Florida 100 column for the Orlando Sentinel, “The sacrifices of many gave us all this privilege, and I sincerely hope people realize the importance of this right. I also hope that our nationwide conversation will encourage Central Florida citizens to stay involved in their communities long after November 8th.”  So far, so good…

Celebrate Mad Cow Theatre’s 20th season like it’s 1776!

1776-1981776, Sherman Edwards’ beloved Tony Award-winning musical, celebrating a revolutionary moment in history has a bold new all-female voice! Truly an excellent choice this election year, 1776 is exact-LEE* the best way for Mad Cow Theatre to ring in their 20th season.

On Friday, September 22, join in on the 20th Birthday Celebration and Opening Night of 1776 (purchase tickets to this special event here). The cocktail party starts at 6pm with restaurant partner Ceviche, followed by the show and wrapping up opening night with a champagne toast with the cast. Tickets are $75 (and just $30 for Mad Cow Theatre subscribers).

I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace — two are called a law firm — and that three or more become a Congress.” So begins this patriotic musical depicting a contentious Continental Congress debating the pros and cons of ever agreeing “in the course of human events.”  If you thought bickering politicians was a new thing, you’ve got another thing coming. And this time the musical is presented with females in every role thanks to Mad Cow Theatre’s bold all-female casting.

Performances run Thursdays – Sundays, September 23 – October 23, 2016 in The Harriett Theatre. Save on special preview performances Wednesday, September 21 & Thursday, September 22 at 7:30pm. Visit Mad Cow’s website for additional specials or to purchase tickets.

Our Founding Fathers are seen in a whole new way. Should be one “mother” of a revolutionary tale.

*Enjoy “The Lees of Old Virginia” to get those patriotic juices flowing before the show.

 

One "Mother of a Cast" in a show about Our Founding Fathers

One “Mother of a Cast” in a show about Our Founding Fathers

 

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Review: ‘Snowden’ gives real Snowden story humility

 

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

Oliver Stone’s latest movie, “Snowden,” opens today and you should go see it.

Fathom Events invited Central Florida Top 5 to an advance screening of Snowden, followed by a live Q&A with Academy Award®-winning director,  Oliver Stone, actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley, and via satellite, the subject himself, Edward Snowden.

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[No story spoilers in this post.  Read freely.]

Snowden is a modern day thriller about Edward Snowden and how he became one of the most well known whistleblowers and privacy advocates. This telling of this story is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.

Stone presents the story without delving into the legality of Snowden’s actions. We, the audience, are allowed to learn more about who Snowden is before, during, and after he leaked information regarding various United States government surveillance programs. This film also shows how Snowden first got the media, in this case UK’s The Guardian, involved.



Stone’s casting selection feels authentic. Like many computer professionals I know, Joseph Gordon-Levitt appears intelligent and reserved as the character playing Edward Snowden. As a filmmaker and technology professional, I really appreciate that Snowden’s character wasn’t over popularized.

Many technology films lose the details which make computer programmer or hacker characters human.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt solidly performed the role of a cyber security professional without the usual Hollywood hipster hacker bells and whistles.

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

 

Snowden’s love interest is played by Shailene Woodley. Woodley, seems to just click with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Snowden. I have always appreciated each of Woodley’s film performances. Admittedly, when I first saw the pairing I thought Woodley was a bit Hollywood glitz. However, after researching Lindsay Mills, Edward Snowden’s actual girlfriend, I now see the pairing is quite good.

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

Snowden’s supporting characters, portrayed by the strong ensemble of Rhys Ifans, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Nicolas Cage, and LaKeith Lee Stanfield, were also believable in their roles. To me, they all felt like the technology and news professionals, or computer instructors I have known in the past. The details in this movie really give some humanity to the characters in the story, whether in the newsroom or hotel room, and allows the audience to sense some emotion of what may have been felt in the real life events.



Technically, the film stayed true to how computers work without the usual over the top hacker computer graphics displayed in previous computer films.  The fact that this was Stone’s first film shot digitally was both perfect and ironic. I really appreciate this approach. When I see Virtual Reality gloves or things flying in cyber space I usually am uprooted from the story immediately.  (Thank you Mr. Stone and art direction team.)



I have followed the actual news stories regarding Edward Snowden at arms length due to their content and a distinct understanding of what data may be present in its content. Much of the data is still considered sensitive or classified, including information presented in this film.

Snowden is a film to watch for anyone using the Internet or other connected computing device.  Watch with your opinions, and technology, put aside and emerge with new insight and a good story in the end.

Bonus: Check out Joseph Gordon Levitt’s short film, “Are you there, Democracy? It’s me, the Internet,” with Edward Snowden.

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!

Enter to win Discovery Cove’s Splashy Sweet 16

Coral, the first dolphin born at SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove to mother Jenny, turns Sweet 16 this year, as does Discovery Cove itself!

Coral sweet 16 Discovery CoveBorn October 4, 2000, Coral is having a party that’s going to last all year long, with one lucky person (and 15 of their friends!) receiving the gifts. To celebrate the momentous occasion, SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove is holding a contest where someone will win entry for 16 to Discovery Cove, including:

• 16 All-Inclusive Dolphin Swim Packages

• 2 Private Cabanas

• 2 Nights at an Official SeaWorld HotelCoral sweet 16 2

• Transportation to and from Orlando, Florida

• Tickets to SeaWorld and Aquatica

 

Enter here daily through August 14. A winner will be announced on August 15, 2016 via email.

 

Discovery Cove is what I like to call a Cruise Ship excursion, without the cruise ship! There guests can visit The Grand Reef®, which contains more than 10,000 tropical fish, and the Freshwater Oasis®, featuring playful Asian otters and curious marmoset monkeys. Our family has been just about every year for the past few years and we can’t say enough good things about it. Everything is included: delicious food, drink (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), treats, wet suit, animal-friendly sunblock… you name it!

Insider tip: Don’t let your kid have unlimited frozen fruit bars. Just one or maybe two. (Do NOT ask for the details on how we learned that, LOL!)

For three consecutive years, Discovery Cove has ranked as one of the top amusement parks and water parks in the world in the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards. For more information on SeaWorld’s gorgeous sister park, visit DiscoveryCove.com.

Did you know?
Coral is an eight-foot, 450-pound dolphin. Her female calf is named, appropriately, Reef!

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 at an igcse tuition centre in Malaysia.
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. Vendel Miniatures can guide you for better online shopping. To create product photography, Amazon SEO, video, & A+ Content, providing a cohesive look & feel visit amazon ppc management | Kenji ROI.
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 made with custom foil screen printing witch works perfectly on cotton and other  fabrics – 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.

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• 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. If you’re a little short on funds and you want to be able to purchase new clothes, you can sell your old or unused ones on sites and Selling apps.
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?

Look up, Central Florida! Perseids meteor shower TONIGHT!

If you’re outside and looking up tonight, keep an eye out for a Perseids meteor shower! It’s nature’s brightest light show of the summer!

According to NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, when these meteors slam into Earth’s atmosphere, they will be speeding at about 132,000 MPH, and burning bright at around 3,000 to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit!

Dedicated star gazers will also be able to see Saturn, the moon and Mars too!

Here’s more information from NASA:

Determine Meteor Shower Activity Where You Live
NASA Meteor Estimator

Fast Facts

  • Comet of Origin: 109P/Swift-Tuttle
  • Radiant: Constellation Perseus
  • Active: 17 July — 24 August 2016
  • Peak Activity: 11 — 12 Aug 2016
  • Peak Activity Meteor Count: Up to 100 meteors per hour
  • Meteor Velocity: 37 miles (59 km) per second
Photo Credit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Photo Credit: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

2016 Perseids Forecast
August’s Perseid meteor shower peaks for U.S. observers just after sunrise on Friday morning, August 12. It should also put on a great show this year for observers in Europe, with some predictions showing an outburst of up to 150 or 200 meteors at the peak, according to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke. U.S. observers will get a great view of the ramp up to the peak between moonset and sunrise on Friday morning, August 12.

About the Meteor Shower
The Perseids, which peak during mid-August, are considered the best meteor shower of the year. With very fast and bright meteors, Perseids frequently leave long “wakes” of light and color behind them as they streak through Earth’s atmosphere. The Perseids are one of the most plentiful showers (50-100 meteors seen per hour) and occur with warm summer nighttime weather, allowing sky watchers to easily view them.

Perseids are also known for their fireballs. Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak. This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of cometary material. Fireballs are also brighter, with apparent magnitudes greater than -3.

Viewing Tips
The Perseids are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, though at times it is possible to view meteors from this shower as early as 10 p.m

Find an area well away from city or street lights, and if you want, set up where you are shadowed from the moon’s glare before it sets. Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. Face whatever direction you like, the one unobstructed by trees, buildings or moonlight. Look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. If you have a group, each person should look in different parts of the sky. After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt, and you will begin to see fainter objects, including meteors. Be patient; the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.

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. By the very nature of its name you will find that a payday loan’s term is going to be around two to three weeks until you are paid. Some loan companies with no real hard credit checks will look at restructuring your loan should you not be able to pay it off once you have been paid. Because payday loans are so easy to get by comparison to other lending alternatives, don’t forget why you would want to get one and the typical fees, interest rates you will have to pay. So by all means enjoy the benefit of getting a loan quickly but only ever go for the least amount you need and take into consideration the impact the payday loans now will have on your cash flow when you get paid at the end of the month. 

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, you are #TRULYLoved

It’s been a heavy month for the world, and in Orlando specifically. Our local City and County government, as well as our LGBTQ and Latinx communities have been working through their grief non-stop since the tragedy at Pulse. People here are slowly healing but still, we can’t forget. But we can make it better, all of us.

#LocalLoveOrlando Map (Pulse Edition) by Macbeth Studio

#LocalLoveOrlando Map (Pulse Edition) by Macbeth Studio

As a citizen and resident, I knew I wanted to do something. More than just saying ‘thank you,’ more than just a friendly tweet of encouragement. Smiles were the first thing that came to mind. They’re free, and anyone can inspire one, anywhere and at any time.

Many individuals and Orlando agencies have had to work through their grief, non-stop, over the past month including; City of Orlando and Mayor Buddy Dyer‘s office and communications teams, City of Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Orange County and Mayor Teresa Jacobs‘ office and communications teams, Orlando Police Department and Chief John Mina, Orlando Fire Department and Chief Williams, The Center, Orlando’s LGBT Community Center of Central Florida, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Metro Orlando.

So… what’s the plan?

First things first – the smiles. I don’t know about you, but when I see one of Truly Nolen’s Volkswagen Bugs driving down the road, I immediately smile. From the ears on the roof to the tail on the back, I could be sitting in the worst traffic ever, see that mouse car, and smile. Did you know that Truly Nolen also has a Mouse Limo? It’s true! If seeing a huge, yellow Mouse Limo roll down the road doesn’t make you smile, I’m not sure what else will.

Truly Nolen Limo Side

Another thing that makes me smile? CUPCAKES. Win! Little cups of cake and icing, and enough joy to fit in the palm of your hand. Who doesn’t love a good cupcake? Even when they’re bad, they’re good. (Note: I have never had a bad cupcake, even ones I’ve baked myself. And I don’t cook.) 

So… I decided to combine the two, and thanks to Truly Nolen and Sprinkles Disney Springs, tomorrow’s JOYride will be a little sweeter!

How did I come to cupcakes and Mouse Limos?

At last month’s Mascot Games at the Amway Center, Jack Martin, who drives Truly Nolen’s Southeast U.S. Mouse Limo all over the country, offered to take me for a ride in the limo – and of course I said yes! After the attack on Pulse happened on June 12th, I knew I wanted to do more than just take a joyride around town in an unusual, but really cool limo.

Wait. JOY… ride. JOYride!! Makes PERFECT sense. 

Luckily Truly Nolen is as active in their communities (all over the United States) as Central Florida Top 5 and I are here in Orlando. In fact, we’ve teamed up a few times before. We received a not-as-scary-as-it-sounds bug education at Truly Nolen University and they also introduced us to a young quilting expert named Faith-Christina Duncan and her friends at the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.

After brainstorming with Truly Nolen’s Community Events, Social Media, and PR Manager, Toby Srebnik, we came up with a plan. Why not share smiles with everyone in Orlando (including those on the road) on our Mouse Limo JOYride through Orlando?

Next, I needed to locate cupcakes… dozens of delicious, colorful cupcakes. The first company that came to mind, who was equally as community-minded, was Sprinkles Bakery.  Sure, they have an amazing new Cupcake ATM at Disney Springs, but could they fill a very tall order of 5 dozen cupcakes? A quick call to Sprinkles Los Angeles and Sprinkles Disney Springs sealed the deal! The answer was an immediate YES!

The answer is always YES to cupcakes. Especially Sprinkles cupcakes!

The answer is always YES to cupcakes. Especially Sprinkles cupcakes!

[To learn more about them, read our 5 Things You Never Knew About Sprinkles Bakery post!]

So, tomorrow, I will be hand delivering smiles and Sprinkles cupcakes, via Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo (the Official JOYride Vehicle!) to – just a few – of the people who have tirelessly kept our Orlando community safe and loved; City of Orlando, Orange County, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and The LGBT Center of Central Florida!

Does all of this sound goofy or sweet? I’m okay with either. As long as smiles are smiled tomorrow, it’s a good day. We’ll have to play it by… ear. (Ha! Mouse… Ear.)

I will also make a small delivery of wheelchair afghans and cuddly stuffed frogs for an out-of-state friend to Give Kids the World at some point on Wednesday! Please, I-4, be kind to us!

You can follow my Orlando JOYride on Google Maps! I will also post a link tomorrow beginning at 1pm from the app Glympse, so you can follow our JOYride in REAL TIME, and maybe catch a glimpse of Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo. (More puns! Okay, I’ll stop.)

Want to join in on the fun? When you’re out tomorrow, if you see us on the road or at one of our ‘sweet’ stops, snap a picture of Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo and hashtag it #TRULYLoved!

Not in Central Florida? No problem! Snap a picture of you and your friends smiling or forming a heart (with your hands, arms, pencils, a drawing – anything you like) and share it on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook using #TRULYLoved! We’ll be sure to share them all!

Also, be sure to follow @TrulyNolen, @CentralFLTop5, and me, @jenvargas on Twitter for live, on the road and inside the Mouse Limo updates!

 

About Truly Nolen
Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family-owned pest control company in the United States. Our East Coast Operations Office is proudly headquartered in Orlando and is visible off Interstate 4. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and over 60 countries. To learn more about Truly Nolen, visit www.trulynolen.com or follow us on Facebook(www.facebook.com/TrulyNolenand Twitter (www.twitter.com/TrulyNolen).

About Sprinkles Cupcakes
Sprinkles Cupcakes opened “the world’s first cupcake bakery” in Beverly Hills, as reported by the Food Network, and is credited by the Los Angeles Times as “the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze.”  Founded by Candace Nelson, judge on Food Network’s hit show “Cupcake Wars,” and husband Charles, Sprinkles has inspired long lines of devoted Hollywood stars and serious epicureans alike.  From Tom Cruise to Oprah Winfrey, Blake Lively to Ryan Seacrest, celebrities are abuzz about Sprinkles!  Baked fresh in small batches throughout the day, Sprinkles Cupcakes are handcrafted from the finest ingredients and contain no preservatives, trans fats or artificial flavors.  Sprinkles has 20 locations nationwide, a traveling Sprinklesmobile – the world’s first cupcake truck, and sells its cupcake mixes at over 250 Williams-Sonoma stores throughout the US and Canada.  In 2012, Sprinkles debuted the world’s first Cupcake ATM and continued its foray into classic American desserts with the launch of Sprinkles Ice Cream. For additional information and a list of future locations, please visit www.sprinkles.com.

REVIEW: Ghostbusters (2016)

Deepest apologies to all the haters, but this year’s reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise wasn’t the catastrophe that they all professed it to be. It was not a catastrophe at all. This new Ghostbuster movie was wildly entertaining and maintained the spirit of the original while still carving out its own place in the franchise.

The Ghostbusters Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Patty (Leslie Jones) in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.

The Ghostbusters Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Patty (Leslie Jones) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS.

Here are a few things I enjoyed about this movie. [Spoiler free, of course];

1) The humor, pacing, and even the subtlety of some of the jalapeno jokes definitely fall in line with the style of the original Ghostbusters. Some of the laughs were so solid that the laughter from the audience drowned out the succeeding jokes. Anytime your laughs overlap each other; you can call that joke a win.

2) The characters are all extremely likable. The dynamics between them work well considering they aren’t even a team at the beginning. There’s some evolution before they become any sort of team.

3) Cameos, cameos everywhere. Keep your eyes peeled because everybody (and I mean everybody) gets one. You’ll find them in some unexpected places. A question many have asked themselves – how do these characters connect to their 1984 counterparts? You’ll have to watch the film to find out. It’s a fun kind of video scavenger hunt.

Director Paul Feig and DP Robert Yeoman on the set of Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.

Director Paul Feig and DP Robert Yeoman on the set of Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS.

4) Callbacks are plentiful. They aren’t afraid to remind the audience that there are roots shared between this movie and 1984’s Ghostbusters. Some reboots are a little ham-fisted with their callbacks, while this rendition of Ghostbusters balances honoring the source material while not particularly pandering to the existing fanbase.

5) There are no Mary Sues in this movie. In the quest for writing a screenplay with strong female leads, or in this case, an ensemble of strong female leads; writers can sometimes make the characters infallible, untouchable, and in many cases too good to be true. While on paper it may seem to work, the end result is often detrimental to the characters. As they are many times portrayed as immortal superwomen who can handle any situation they’re thrown into.

Ghostbuster's Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.

Ghostbuster’s Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS.

In the case of this iteration of Ghostbusters, I actually was concerned for the safety of the characters. Several parts had me guessing as to whether we were going to lose a member of the team. That, in itself, is the antithesis of a Mary Sue. I’m very glad they found their balance.

This is merely a handful of elements that I enjoyed about Ghostbusters. Overall, I can’t recommend this movie enough. It’s smart, clever, and very funny. All the elements that made the original film a darling amongst many of us 80s babies – it’s definitely worth watching.

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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, and stayed at the Powerscourt Hotel.  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.

 

OmarfromtheO visits Detroit, Michigan Part 4

In this final Detroit centric episode of #OmarfromtheO, Omar and the gang spend their last few hours enjoying the cool, 68 degree weather doing what? Roaming around and getting 100% all natural Angus Beef burgers from Brome Burger in Dearborn, of course!

What’s cool about Dearborn? Lots of things! It’s the birthplace of Henry Ford, The DHM (Dearborn Historical Museum) hosts regular adult Ghost Walks in Southeast Michigan, and their tourism guide turns into a really cool walk-or-ride tour of the city!

If any issues come across when accessing the pdf with the infromation try to use sodapdf.com to convert it online

Among all their cool projects, the Dearborn Community Fund hosts two donation-funded projects that caught our eye;

1) Pockets of Perception (POP) student design team works with local business people, instructors, and artists to design AND install a permanent public art project!

2) The Fund is partnering with the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority (EDDDA) to repurpose Dearborn’s historic City Hall building into an ArtSpace, an affordable work/live space for artists and their families!

Among the many things Omar’s Great/Good list for Detroit:

  • Great first trip to Detroit, Michigan!
  • Different, educational and fun!
  • See old faces (Hi Rose!)
  • Met new ones
  • Cool, cool hoodie worthy weather!
  • Going off the cuss cusp
  • Great group of friends

RoadTip: At some point you may have heard of Michigan referred to as “The Mitten State.” Here is a great story about how this came to be: http://michiganradio.org/post/when-did-we-start-calling-michigan-mitten-state#stream/0

Where did Omar find a little Magic in the Motor City? Watch Episode 4 to find out…

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. In other related post, If you're planning to put American Flag on your home to show your patriotism, Knowing what size flag to fly on flag poles of various sizes is a constant question we've seen. Fortunately, we found this helpful guide on Star Spangled Flags.

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 along with play free slots online games to fund them or visit sbobet online games website and find all gambling games..

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. A cursory glance at the Pepsi Center upcoming event schedule would tell you that this event would again take place at the Pepsi Centre.

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. Here on ecdel lot of things can be checked which will let you know more.

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

OmarfromtheO visits Detroit, Michigan Part 3

Still in Michigan, Omar looks for a coney with ‘character’ and decides to visit Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island. The gang waves hi to Canada and takes a casual stroll around Downtown Detroit. He wonders how his Floridian friends will stand wearing shorts in the not-so-hot Detroit weather.

The gang wraps up their last full day in Detroit by checking out Greek Independence Day parade, and doing laps around the old Detroit Tigers’ Stadium in Corktown. Really old. And (formerly) wooden?! People started playing baseball in this place in 1896! The stadium went all steel and fancy in 1912 and played its last game on “The Corner” on September 27th, 1999.

After several attempts to save Tiger Stadium, only its playing field remains, but the City of Detroit plans on repurposing this historic site for a youth sports complex and headquarters for the Detroit Police Athletic League. Atta boy, Detroit!

RoadTip: Keep your head up while being aware of killer potholes.

How exactly does one balance two forks and two toothpicks on top of a salt shaker? Be amazed and watch Episode 3 to see for yourself!

Get Social with Omar!

http://bit.ly/OM_Twitter

http://bit.ly/OM_Insta

#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 and moving company 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. On other news, if you have needs for infrared heating panels for your home or business checkout the link!

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

 

#OrlandoUnited: Five images of hope from the aftermath of hell

The Pulse nightclub slaughter has given Orlando the hellish distinction of being the site of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Early morning at the club on Sunday, June 12, [shooter’s name omitted] killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 people in a gory shooting rampage.

While the city — and the world — grapples with shell-shocked grief, mourning and bewilderment, many people from widely diverse backgrounds are calmly coming together to comfort one another, clean up the mess, and perhaps forge a stronger community for the long term. (Photos by Top 5’s Joe Thoma)

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Thousands gathered Monday night in downtown Orlando to grieve together and console one another.

LindaStewart-TimVargas

Former State Rep. Linda Stewart with Tim Vargas, executive director of the LGBT Center, Orlando, on Monday.

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Counseling volunteer the Rev. Frank Faine with Lt. James Young of the Orlando Police Department, and Galen Hentzell of The Center.

EolaSunday_20160612_182141

Impromptu vigil at Lake Eola just hours after the shooting.

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The Florida-Georgia District of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, invited the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs to work through Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Orlando. Trinity has a ministry of outreach to the LGBT community that surrounds their congregation.

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