Christmas Trees Light Up In Tampa

Story by Nadine Young

‘Ti’s the season for Christmas trees, families and a lot of lights. That is exactly what guests can expect to see at the 35th annual Victorian Christmas Stroll.

Lindsay Huban, the Henry B. Plant Museum’s relations coordinator, will oversee the day’s activity at the Christmas Stroll this year.

“We have a hundred Christmas trees, forty-thousand lights, carolers every evening, cider and cookies.” Huban said.  “It’s really a magical time to come visit the museum.”

Huban and her staff have prepared six months in advance, making sure all the details and decorations are set to perfection.

“We start planning for the Victorian Christmas Stroll way back in June,” Huban said.  “We start coming up with ideas, anything that relates to the Tampa Bay Hotel, or the Victorian period, or really the greater Tampa Bay Area.”

Sabrina Torres and Eli, her younger brother, were some of the guests who came to the grand opening of the stroll.

“My experience here has been phenomenal,” Sabrina said.  “As soon as you walk in the place is beautiful, the decorations are marvelous. I mean, the trees that they have set up are to-die-for,”

Visitors can explore the museum December 1st through the 23rd from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Proceeds from the Victorian Christmas Stroll benefit educational programming, preservation and restoration projects at the museum.

Hospital Holds Annual Veterans Day Parade

James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital honored veterans Nov. 11 in their ninth annual Veterans Day Parade. More than 1800 participants and 300 volunteers were in attendance for the momentous occasion.

Bruce Waters, U.S. Air Force veteran, learned many life lessons during his service and credits the military for helping him become the man he is today.

“Of all the things that can happen to you in the service, it makes a man out of you or a lady out of you, if you are a woman,” Waters said. “It teaches you responsibility.”

Retired veteran Connie White served in the Air Force for 20 years. She is now a member of the Military Women Across the Nation who walked the parade.

“I took that oath to protect my country, to guide my country in all enemies, foreign and domestic and that oath never ends,” White said. “It is always there.”

Rhonda Crawford grew up in a military family and says although it can be a challenging career, she encourages young women to join the service.

“Go for it—I enjoyed my experience so much,” Crawford said. “It makes you grow as a person that you would not believe possible; the people that you meet and the place you go, they last a lifetime.”

No Oven, No Problem

 

Roland Strobel is the co-creator of The Cider Press Cafe located in St.Petersburg. They create tasty dishes from natural ingredients without using an oven, stove or microwave.

“It is a vegan restaurant but we are mainly a raw and gluten free restaurant. We don’t cook a lot of our dishes but we prepare them in ways and process them without cooking them,” Strobel said.

Kitchen manager Christina Barbara has been working at the cafe since it opened August of last year. She has maintained a smooth operating kitchen by making sure the preparation is done correctly.

“The prep work is the main art of the food here basically. That is the most important, the most crucial thing cause if you don’t have that recipe down right then it doesn’t even taste right,” Barbara said.

Barbara has expanded her knowledge of cooking and combining of flavors from working at the cafe.

“Working here will definitely give you a different aspect of life. How to make your vegetables a new way of combining them into everyday eating and healthy living,” Barbara said.

The Cider Press Cafe incorporates paintings from local artists in the community to feature in the restaurant. The cafe also features an event night the first Wednesday of every month where guests can drink wine and beer and paint pictures.

Non-profit organization helps children succeed

According to the website, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay uses hands-on experiences to help young people understand the economics of life. In partnership with business and educators, Junior Achievement brings the real world to students, opening their minds to their potential.

Fifth grade student Sonja Assidy is the CEO of Bright House. She works hard to make sure her business runs smoothly.

“I take checks to Kane’s Furniture, I go get the checks from Kane’s Furniture, bring it here, make sure my CFO signs it and then put it where it needs to go,” Assidy said.

Sally Eidge is the Director of Junior Achievement and sees over a hundred students daily. She wants every student to learn a valuable lesson.

“They need to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, that you actually have to earn it and then spend it wisely,” Eidge said.

Before visiting JA BizTown, students complete a pre-visit curriculum program where they learn basic economic principles such as how to manage their personal bank account.

Kelly Thorne is a fifth grade language arts teacher at Deer Park Elementary and prepared her students for 12 weeks prior to coming to JA Biztown.

“We spend a lot of time on how to write checks, how to deposit checks, that whole process and how to budget their money,” Thorne said. “How when they get a paycheck, they have to make sure they save some money for their lunch, and then they have some spending money.”

Paralympic Sports Program Motivates Locals

 

Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay is a program of Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation with the mission to promote health, independence and personal growth through sports for people with physical disabilities.

Andy Chasnoff started the program 15 years ago and he, with the help of this staff, focused his time helping people reach their maximum potential in sports.

“We focus on their ability and not their disability,” Chasnoff said.

Logan Krepop, 14, is a student at Manatee School of the Arts and has been a member of Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay for the past two years.

“It’s a great experience with kids with my disability to throw the discus and do a bunch of sports with the kids that are like  them,” Krepop said. “It’s really nice.

Travis Leigh, 33, has cerebral palsy, but feels like everyone else. He is grateful the paralympic events in the area, because they were not around when he was young.

Members of the Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay are competing in local and national competitions. Over 300 athletes participate in at least one PSTB program or event each year.

“Well first I’m going to try and go to the Adaptive Sports National Championship and then once I get older, going to train up for the Paralympics,”said Krepop.