Tag Archives: mayor teresa jacobs

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.

#TBT: What was Orange County, Florida like before Mr. Disney came to town?

It’s Throwback Thursday and we saved an interesting snapshot of Orange County’s yesteryear just for you, courtesy of news legend Mike Wallace and CBS’s long running news magazine, 60 Minutes!

Central Florida natives (yes, they exist!) will know of an Orange County before Mr. Disney and his magical world of characters and adventure became neighbors. Nowadays, like cassette tapes, pagers and pay phones, this concept is completely alien to most visiting, and yes even living here, but not all.

Courtesy: Life Magazine

Courtesy: Life Magazine

I am not a Florida native (nor was I alive in 1972) but my family has a long standing history in Orange County and they, as residents, have seen a lot of changes firsthand.

In the late 1950s my grandfather, Walter Steib, was recruited by Martin Marietta, now Lockheed Martin (still located on Sand Lake Road). He worked for American Bridge Company and helped build Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which Walt Disney World’s website still describes as ultra-modern!

[Fun Fact: My grandfather was also one of the first Presidents of the Tangelo Park Civic Association, which was MUCH different in the 1960s but is growing again thanks to the help of another longtime Orlando resident and philanthropist, Mr. Harris Rosen.]

On June 18th, 1972, Mike Wallace filed a report on Orange County, Florida called “Will Mickey Mouse Eat Up Orange County?” The headline may seem a bit foreboding however, the report itself shared how, $400 million dollars later life was drastically changing in Central Florida.

In the report below, you’ll get a glimpse of a fledgling yet mature Orange County – and some really nifty fashion trends of the time.

In 1972, Walt Disney World was a year old and, as Mike Wallace reported, “It will be the most prosperous summer that Orange County Florida has ever known. Hotels are booked solid for months ahead, land prices are soaring there and more new tourist attractions are on the way.

Here, Mr. Wallace describes a pre-Disney era Orange County as a quiet town. “He could sail slowly through the unspoiled wilderness of its inland waters and not have to see a soul all day. It was the kind of place the chamber of commerce used to tout as ‘the perfect retirement community.’ Ranch country, orange groves, cheap living, ideal weather and best of all it hadn’t really caught on the way that beach resorts and retirement towns had.”

He goes on to foreshadow an Central Florida we are all familiar with, forty four years before the fact. “But then in the early sixties, a fella named Walt Disney began to buy up land in this part of Central Florida,” he reported. “It was going to be the biggest Disney enterprise of all, dwarfing the famous Disneyland out in California. Twenty seven thousand acres of Florida Scrub Pine to be transformed into the world’s largest resort complex. It would put Orange County, Florida on the map.

And it DID.

According to a Walt Disney World 2014 fact sheet, “Disney is the largest taxpayer in Central Florida, paying approximately $566 million in state and local taxes each year.

However back in 1972, from residents to politicians, not everyone was excited about this venture. Unending traffic and delays, lack of hotel rooms for visiting families, tax increases for locals were all unfortunate headaches.

Orange County Commissioner Paul Pickett, a customer of H&R Block himself  said, “I have to speak for ‘Mrs. Smith,’ meaning that hypothetical taxpayer who’s been here for fifteen or twenty years minding their own business in a little house she owns, going to work every morning and just paying a lot of taxes.” A valid argument, especially for the time.

Then Orlando Salvation Army head, Major Sydney Lynch, also shared concerns. Despite being only a year old, Major Lynch felt Walt Disney World wasn’t doing enough for the local community.

When Mr. Wallace asked him, “Has the Disney dollar reached you?” Major Lynch replied, “The answer is no. I understand their policy is they’re going to make contributions to local charities such as ourselves.” Major Lynch went on to surmise, “I’m sure this may change as they get into their profit situation a little bit better.” Remember, this was 1972.

Now, in 2015, Disney is heavily embedded in our Central Florida community, from a philanthropic standpoint and more. According to their website, “approximately 100 Disney Cast Members serve on boards of local nonprofit organizations.” Walt Disney World is also “the largest corporate contributor to the Heart of Florida United Way,” which serves Orange, Osceola and Seminole county residents.

Former Orlando Mayor Carl Langford, seen in the video sitting quite smugly in front of a Mickey Mouse clock, said, “I will tell you, the chambers of commerce in Florida for fifty years have had paid executives who have gone out and said to people up north, ‘Come on down!’ What I’m telling you, they all got here at one time. So, we don’t need to send paid executives to have to tell people to come on down. They’re here in droves and they bring money, and they bring happiness – and they bring jobs – and they bring opportunities for people.

And he was, and is, correct. Forty four years later, visitors to Orlando still ‘come on down.’ Over 62 million of them in fact!

Photo Courtesy: Mayor Jacobs

Photo Courtesy: Mayor Jacobs

In April, Orlando set a new record for tourism in the US, becoming the first destination to surpass 60 million visitors. Current Orange County Mayor, Teresa Jacobs, said, “The impact of tourism on our community is remarkable, and in fact, the travel and tourism industry is the largest generator of jobs and economic impact of our region.

Orlando and Central Florida are historic for many reasons, good and not so, with tourism having lead the way for a long time. Nipping at the heels of tourism is Orlando’s tech scene, which will continue to grow and evolve in huge ways over the next few years!

And, even though my personal history doesn’t go back as far as my grandfather’s, there are things I genuinely miss like, Polar Cup frozen lemonade near Conway! And the smell of eclairs and pumpernickel bread from the bakery at Ronnie’s Restaurant in Colonial Plaza Mall.

ProTip: If you haven’t already been,

Feeling throwbacky Thursday nostalgic too? The Facebook group, “If you grew up in Orlando, FL… then you remember” is WONDERFUL online comfort food for these feels! (Take in a quick history lesson from real Florida native, Bess Auer, in her Top 5 guest post, “Orlando – Please don’t redefine us.“)

I believe longtime Orange County Agricultural advocate Henry “Green Belt” Swanson, who died in 2012 with more than thirty years of service with Orange County, wins cheekiest anecdote. He said, “For years Orlando was known as ‘The City Beautiful.’ It’s changed it’s title to ‘The Action Center.” If you want a piece of the action, this is where to come.

I wonder what Mr. Swanson, Commissioner Pickett and Mayor Lynch would think of Central Florida now…?

#CFLT5Day and Launching a New Central Florida Top 5

The time is NOW. The steps have been stepped. SunRail has left the station.

After nearly a year of hard work in front of and behind the scenes, a new Central Florida Top 5 is here! What do you think? A big thank you to the team at CT Social​, for the fresh new look on desktop and mobile!

New Top 5

Fun Spot America on International Drive hosted us for a ‘huuuuge‘ launch party over the weekend with nearly all of our new team of writers, some of our readers, a few very special guests and we even met a few new fans! Our readers enjoyed 20% off of wristbands for mentioning us and using the hashtag #CFLT5Day! Thank you Fun Spot!

Special guests stopped by including our longtime friend Emily Ellyn, Central Florida’s own Retro Rad Chef and Food Network Star and David Hummer, Director of Marketing at Fun Spot America. Virtual well wishes were sent by many including our founder and Central Florida native Bess Auer, the Queen of Versailles herself Jackie Siegel and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs who surprised us with our own day – literally! Mayor Jacobs proclaimed Saturday, May 16th, 2015 “Central Florida Top 5 Day” in Orange County, noting our over six years of service to the community and longevity for years to come. Thank you so much Emily, David, Jackie and Mayor Jacobs!

So what’s new exactly? A BUNCH! Here are our Top 5 awesome new things about CentralFloridaTop5.com:

  • A beautiful new website and mobile site! How do we look? Let us know in the comments by signing into social media!

Top 5 Comments

 

  • Easier way to submit events to our calendar (Don’t forget the pictures!)

Top 5 Submit

 

  • The debut of our newsletter (Coming SOON!)
  • More opportunity for YOU to get involved! Whether you have a small business in need of a boost via paid ad space or a great event in need of eyes, we can help! Feel free to email us anytime at info[at]centralfloridatop5.com.

And last but certainly NOT least…

  • Our new team of writers spanning six (with more on the way) Central Florida counties! We attempted to broadcast a live Google Hangout on Air on Saturday, to introduce all of them to you, but sadly broke the internet. (Click the link for video of what did happen!) You will be seeing and hearing from each of them very soon…
Top 5 Team

Our new Central Florida Top 5 Team at Fun Spot: Allen, Jen V, Kari, Kate, Jay, Carolyn, Greg, Kelly, Emily, Lisa, Mark, Rich, JenLee, Bun (Not pictured: Brian, Jen L, David, Nando, Dani, Mike, Cody)

Look for more great posts, local information, reviews, interviews through +Google Glass, pretty pictures, video​ and some fun partnerships in the year ahead!

To our loyal readers, THANK YOU for bearing with us through the growing pains. We appreciate YOU!

Mayor Jacobs Fourth Annual Holiday Heroes Toy Drive

Good news: Mayor Teresa Jacobs‘ Fourth Annual Holiday Heroes Toy Drive was extended!

Not as good news: The deadline is today.

“For me, the best part of the holidays is seeing the joy on our children’s faces,” Mayor Jacobs said. “Together we can help restore the true spirit of the holidays, the spirit of giving and the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what we do best in Orange County.”

Orange County employees and citizens are uniting to help families in need thanks to the efforts of the Orange County Neighborhood Centers for Families, the Community Food and Outreach Center (on Michigan), Wraparound Orange (helps families whose children face social, emotional and behavioral health challenges), Orange County Public Schools and our Orlando Toys For Tots branch.

Mayor Jacobs and one of her youngest residents share a special moment at a Holiday Heroes Toy Drive distribution event last year.

Mayor Jacobs and one of her youngest residents share a special moment at a Holiday Heroes Toy Drive distribution event last year.

If you live in Orange County (heck, even if you don’t!), and want to donate one or many toys, please do so at the following locations:

  • All Orange County Fire Stations
  • Animal Services
    2769 Conroy Rd.
    Orlando, FL 32839
  • Barnett Park Recreation Center
    4801 W. Colonial Dr.
    Orlando, FL 32808
  • Bear Creek Park Recreation Center
    1600 Bear Crossing Dr.
    Orlando, FL 32824
  • Capehart Park
    715 Capehart Dr.
    Orlando, FL 32822
  • Environmental Protection Division
    800 Mercy Dr, Suite 4
    Orlando, FL 32808
  • Goldenrod Recreation Center
    4863 N. Goldenrod Rd.
    Winter Park, FL 32792
  • Human Resources Division
    450 E. South St, 1st Floor
    Orlando, FL 32801
  • Meadow Woods Recreation Center
    1751 Rhode Island Woods Cir.
    Orlando, FL 32824
  • Neighborhood Preservation & Revitalization Division
    450 E. South St., 3rd Floor
    Orlando, FL 32801
  • Orange County Regional History Center
    65 E Central Blvd.
    Orlando, FL 32801
  • Silver Star Recreation Center
    2801 N. Apopka-Vineland Rd.
    Orlando, FL 32818
  • South Econ Recreation Center
    3850 S. Econlockhatchee Trail
    Orlando, FL 32825
  • Utilities Administration Building
    9150 Curry Ford Rd.
    Orlando, FL 32825
  • West Orange Recreation Center
    309 S. West Crown Point Rd.
    Winter Garden, FL 34787

Orange County’s New Technology: #SocialMedia Workgroup to Advance Citizen Engagement and Support #DigitalCommunity

Successful Digital Outreach Initiatives in Orange County, Florida

As advocates for the region’s burgeoning tech community,Instagram Ads Agency, several online and social media influencers – who also played a significant role in amplifying the digital presence of Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ 2014 State of the County in June – will continue their role as innovators and collaborators in Orange County’s new Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

To expand the online conversation and facilitate a dialogue with a broader demographic, Mayor Jacobs invited online influencers to be Social Media Ambassadors during the Mayor’s 2014 State of the County in June. The Ambassadors, who have large followings on social media networks, engaged citizens by sharing messages on social media to increase public engagement and awareness regarding Orange County’s Year of Transformation.”  Google Glass was used to record and share live from the eyes of one of the Ambassadors, making the event the first State of the County address in Florida to feature Google Glass.

[Left to right] Nadia Vanderhoof, Carlos Carbonell, Ian Suarez, Josh Murdock, Necole Pynn, Laura Kern, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Bess Auer, David Glass, Jen Vargas and Ann Marie Varga gathered to discuss Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

[Left to right] Nadia Vanderhoof, Carlos Carbonell, Ian Suarez, Josh Murdock, Necole Pynn, Laura Kern, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Bess Auer, David Glass, Jen Vargas and Ann Marie Varga gathered to discuss Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

“Mayor Jacobs’ State of the County Social Media Ambassadors program definitely brought awareness to the region’s innovation that has propelled our community to the national stage as the new technology hub of the southeast,” said Carlos Carbonell, CEO of Echo Interaction Group andpresident ofOrlandoTech Inc.,a nonprofit organization supporting the Orlando technology community. “I look forward to Orange County’s new Technology and Social Media Workgroup which will further support our dynamic community.”

The Orange County Technology and Social Media Workgroup will operate as a think-tank to advance new technologies, social media and mobile applications supported and developed by Orange County Government. The workgroup will also collaborate on how to best enhance online public engagement and support the growing the technology and digital community in our region.

“It is really impressive the way Mayor Jacobs and Orange County has brought together individuals from different sides of social media and the technology spectrum to work together,” said Ian Suarez, graphic designer and social media coordinator for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. “It is important to increase public awareness on what the county is doing for our community in today’s tech savvy world. I am honored to be part of such a talented group of leaders in our community.”