Tag Archives: orange county

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…

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.

NFL Pro Bowl comes to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium in 2017!

The National Football League made a very important announcement this week in a press conference at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World – Pro Bowl and Pro Bowl Week are both coming to Orlando and will be hosted here for the next three years beginning January 29, 2017! Visit Ticket4Football for more!

The NFL’s Pro Bowl game is an annual all star game that dates back to 1939, where pro all-star players from the 1939 season played in Los Angeles. World War II forced the game to be discontinued until 1950 where teams from both league conferences (winning teams and non) played. The Pro Bowl was played for a long time in Los Angeles, California until it moved to Aloha Stadium in Hawaii in 1980 where it was played every year until 2009.

Next year’s host city was rumored to be Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but instead will be played here in Orlando at Camping World Stadium on January 29th, 2017. Florida has hosted only one Pro Bowl game which was played at Sun Life Stadium in Miami in 2009. Now it’s back and in Orlando! People are going crazy and already getting tents from Survival Cooking to camp outside of the stadium.

We are thrilled to bring, not only the Pro Bowl Game here, but also to create a weeklong Pro Bowl experience for fans from across the country and around the world right here in Orlando,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s Senior Vice President of Events. “We can only do that with incredible partners, all of whom are represented here today; Florida Citrus Sports, Orange County, City of Orlando, Disney, ESPN, Visit Orlando, and Visit Florida, a great set of partners who have all made this come to fruition,” he said.

Edgewater Eagles Pro Bowl

Central Florida’s own Edgewater Eagles scrimmage with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Mickey Mouse at ESPN Wide World of Sports! [Image credit: Melinda Sparks]

Going from Hawaii to Orlando is a bit of a change, right? We thought so too. Why Orlando? O’Reilly responds, “We had a lot of very interested cities and markets, both domestically and around the world, who were interested in hosting the Pro Bowl but when it came down to it, there’s no more natural home for the Pro Bowl in a time where we want to bring together youth and families in a unique way and celebrate our 88 biggest stars than coming to the City of Orlando, and coming to Orlando, Florida.”

Here are my Top 5 reasons why Pro Bowl in Orlando is VERY COOL thing!

  1. Fans will get the chance to meet their favorite NFL players up close and personal during the Pro Bowl week before the game
  2. Fans can also participate in the NFL FAN EXPERIENCE where you can pass, receive, and kick in various NFL fan based games.
  3. Orlando can demonstrate to the NFL, and the world, that we deserve and would support a local NFL franchise.
  4. Orlando could now become host to USA Football’s Regional Development Camps and provide a great opportunity for young athletes to hone their craft.
  5. The Pro Bowl would provide an economic boost to the surrounding Orlando communities.

Pro Bowl fans can sign up for exclusive presale and pregame info in the next link! NFL tickets will go on sale to the general public this November.

#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!

Futbol Fiesta: Mexico vs Costa Rica

The City of Orlando and Orlando City SC recently announced an International Friendly match between Mexico and Costa Rica. Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Orlando City SC founder Phil Rawlins were on hand for the announcement at the Orlando Citrus Bowl.  This friendly will be the biggest international match up in The City Beautiful since the 1994 World Cup.

 

3-19-2015 Orange County to Host Friendly Futbol Fiesta Photo

(L-R) Orlando City Soccer Club Founder and CEO Phil Rawlins, City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs

 

The Orlando Citrus Bowl will play host to the match up on June 27th at 6:00 pm.  Leaders from both the city and county hope the two soccer giants will bring international media awareness as well as an economic impact to the area.

Mexico and Costa Rica have a rich football history together dating back to 1935.  The match-up in June will mark the 50th meeting between the two countries (all competitions).  This will be the first time both countries have faced off against each other here in The City Beautiful. For Mexico this will be their first visit to Orlando since their 2-1 win over Ireland in the 1994 World Cup.

Orlando City SC is offering a “Two Pack” starting at $45.  The “Two Pack” will include one ticket for the May 17th Orlando City match against LA Galaxy, and one ticket for the June 27th Mexico vs Costa Rica match.

https://oss.ticketmaster.com/aps/ocsoccer/EN/legacy/flexdiff/details/15OCFLEX

Individual match tickets for Mexico vs Costa Rica go on sale to the general public April 15th at 10 am.  Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster.

http://www.ticketmaster.com/Orlando-Citrus-Bowl-tickets-Orlando/venue/278605

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Orange/Osceola County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. G!

Thanks to our friends at Orlando Science Center, we had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Dr. Jan Garavaglia M.D. (aka Dr G!) before the “Demystifying Forensic Sciences” panel at Orlando Science Center’s Science Night Live event last weekend.

Being in the film industry, Dr. G has “performed autopsies” on many people I’ve known and worked with over the years (not actual autopsies mind you, local actors) for her show Dr. G Medical Examiner on Discovery Life Channel. After telling her this she shared a quick story about being scared on set of Dr. G. When things look so real on tv, even someone who sees grim images like Dr. G can be taken aback…

During her portion of the panel last Saturday, Dr. G explained the history of how the Medical Examiner came to be and what they do.

Science Night Live 2

Some tips to stay off of Dr. G’s table? In the simplest of terms, be a law abiding citizen and stay healthy. Dr. G says, “Don’t hang out with the drug crowd and know your partner. We see so (many cases) of domestic violence, so know your partner.” Got it, Dr. G! What’s next?

“As far as the health side,” she says, “I’d say it’s all about knowing a couple of florida rehab centers; your blood pressure – silent killer. I see a lot of blood pressure (deaths) in people. People who don’t know they have diabetes, that could be a silent killer. People don’t know they have coronary artery disease – know your cholesterol. Also exercise and keep your weight down. Do those simple things and you probably won’t end up on my table.

And, there’s that whole ‘life‘ thing. If it’s your time, it’s your time. Even Dr. G knows, “Some horrific, unbelievable accidents that no one could predict come through, I don’t want to say that you can totally avoid ever seeing me because sometimes… it just happens.

Science Night Live 1

Check out more of Dr. G’s tips on How Not To Die on hownottodie.com.

Let’s not leave this on such a morbid note. Being a public servant, Dr. G really is here to help us all. Whether it’s to give solace to a family who’s unexpectedly lost a loved one or to help local authorities solve a forensic mystery, at the end of the day, she just wants to help.

I really care. I care about people. I care about doing a good job, and I’m very passionate about that,” Dr. G says. “Every day, I come in and want to do a good job. I want to do a good job for the people who’ve employed me. I want to do a good job for my fellow co-workers. I want to do a good job for those that are dead, and that need an answer and a cause of death for their family members. That’s really what drives me. The passion to do the best I can at what I can do.

Find Out The State of I-Drive on March 11

the state of idrive

We know what’s going on in the International Drive area, do you? Join Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh on March 11th to see what’s in store for the I-Drive corridor! The event and registration are FREE, but make sure to register at http://ocpafl.org/help/trainingseminar/signup.aspx. Topics on the table: growth on I-Drive, international investment, commercial real estate, tourism, transportation and more.

We represent quality-oriented builders that can build just the home you’re wanting at a fair price. All of our real estate agent olathe ks are Certified New Home Sale Professionals (CSP’s). This means we have taken the initiative to get the formal education and gain the experience to help you through the new home construction process.

This address will take place at the Wyndham Orlando Resort (8001 International Drive, Orlando) from 6pm – 8pm and will be moderated by Channel 9’s Shannon Butler. Guests from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) will join Appraiser Singh as well as:

  • Chuck Whittall, President of Unicorp
  • Alejandro Pezzini,  COO of AMP Group
  • Joshua Wallack, COO of Mango’s & SKYPLEX
  • Susan Godorov, VP of Marketing & GM of Pointe Orlando
  • Rich Larkin, GM Wyndham Orlando Resort

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.”

Are you registered to vote, Central Florida?

Orange County
(407) 836-VOTE (8683)

Seminole County
(407) 585-8683

Volusia County
(386) 736-5930

Brevard County
(321) 633-2124

Lake County
(352) 343-9734

Osceola County
(407) 742-6000

Marion County
(352) 620-3290

Flagler County
(386) 313-4170

Sumter County
(352) 569-1540

Mayor Jacobs State of the County This Friday

What is the ‘Year of Transformation‘ all about? How can Orange County residents find out more and get involved?

This is what Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs plans to address in her 2014 State of the County on Friday, June 6, 2014. In this live chat, Mayor Jacobs will focus on the achievements and milestones Orange County has hit thus far, and give a peek of what’s to come.

Even more exciting is, for the first time ever the Mayor is inviting YOU to take part from the comfort of your own computer chair! Do you have any questions about Orange County or for Mayor Jacobs herself? Comment below or tweet us using hashtag #SOC2014 and we will ask her for you!

We hear the Mayor is very excited about this event and is becoming a big fan of social media – and being huge social media nerds ourselves – we couldn’t be happier! A little Twitter birdie may or may not have told us that news of Orlando City Soccer Club, the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, some cool theme park info, SunRail buzz and more might be mentioned during this address on Friday. Hmm… 

Join Mayor Jacobs at the Church St. Ballroom this Friday!

#YearofTransformation | #OCTransformation

State of Orange County Address 

Friday, June 6, 2014, 9 a.m.

The Ballroom at Church Street

225 S Garland Avenue, Orlando

 

The event is complimentary and open to the public. The speech will be televised live on Orange TV which is Bright House Networks channel 199, Comcast channel 9, and AT&T U-Verse channel 99, and will be live-streamed on www.orangetvfl.net.