Food, Music, Living

 

The inaugural seafood and music festival took place on March 25 and March 26, mimicking those held in the surrounding areas of Sarasota as well as Siesta Beach.

The committee that dedicated months to plan this event while using those events in Sarasota and Siesta Beach as inspiration, is called St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. The executive director of the Arts Alliance in St. Petersburg is John Collins.

“We are the umbrella organization for all of the arts in St Petersburg,” Collins said. “So that covers fine arts, performing arts, like music, and of course today fusion arts, if you will, the culinary arts.”

Collins helped bring the event to St. Petersburg and has hope that it will become an annual tradition.

The food at the festival ranged from different types of cooked fish, crab cakes, shrimp, lobster, Paella, crawfish, french fries and seafood jambalaya. The festival also included vendors that sold natural juices and even different types of art.

One individual that is working very closely with a vendor was very excited about the festival’s first time appearance. Bruno Baldrati, a Brazilian native, believes the food his tent is selling is very closely aligned with food from his home due to seasoning and the way the food is cooked.

“It’s good because we meet a lot of new people, a lot of families come here with their kids,to eat [at] the seafood festival and its good because I acquire some experiences from that,” Baldrati said.

The festival will be returning the following year in 2018. The next seafood and music festival will be held in Siesta Beach Dec. 2 and Dec. 3.

 

Feeding Tampa Bay, Home to Those Who Want to Help

Volunteers from all throughout Tampa Bay come out to give back to their community at Feeding America Tampa Bay every week Monday through Saturday.

Volunteers from throughout Tampa Bay come out to give back to their community at Feeding Tampa Bay every week Monday through Saturday.

Feeding Tampa Bay works with smaller organizations such as Metropolitan Ministries and Trinity Café to help distribute food to those in need.

The organization makes it easy for anyone who is willing to help out in the bay area to join.

University of Tampa freshmen, Peter Peirce and Kaelin Willette both volunteer at Feeding Tampa Bay. They learned about the organization through their school and have been coming voluntarily ever since.

“Every time that I’ve come since has been voluntarily just because the first time I did it I enjoyed it so much that I figured I’d keep coming back and it’s always been good to me,” Peirce said.

Feeding Tampa Bay is an enjoyable volunteering environment for all who come.

“I love the energy here, I think everyone that comes here has such a positive energy and vibe and they make it a lot of fun,” Willette remarked.

Megan Carlson the organization’s community engagement manager  has been working for Feeding Tampa Bay for two years now and enjoys her working environment immensely.

“There’s something for everybody and we kind of satisfy every desire that people might have to give back to the community which is really cool,” Carlson said.

To learn more about this organization, visit feedingtampabay.org

 

 

Local basketball team takes season by storm

BRANDON, FL–Red Storm Elite is an AAU basketball team whose focus is on developing its players.

Assistant Coach Inniss Goden Jr. knows the importance of his team maturing in basketball fundamentals.

“We want to see growth, maturity and an increase in basketball IQ,” Goden said. “We don’t want them to be robots, we want to see them be instinctive when they are running the plays and we just want them to grow every time.”

The team is entering its second season as a program and has 10th-grade players from various high schools in Hillsborough County. Big man Maurice Pickett believes playing for the Red Storm is preparing him for varsity basketball at Lennard high school.

“My coaches prepare me on that next level when the season comes up for varsity,” Pickett said. “I know that every day we practice, every day we play just gets me better.”

Red Storm Elite hopes to continue the success gained in its first season. The team placed in the top three in five out of eight tournaments.

“We can see that with each tournament that they’re getting better, trusting each other and we see ball movement,” Goden said. “We actually see them running the plays now instead of us yelling the plays out to them, gradually with each tournament they are getting better from tournament to tournament.”

The team is confident that their hard work and focus on development will benefit them against opponents in the upcoming season.

“Oh, this team, I don’t know what other teams are because this the only team I know that’s coming out with that trophy,” Pickett said.

To find a schedule of the AAU tournaments that Red Storm Elite will be participating in, visit their Facebook page.

 

Ice Bulls Make it To Nationals

 

The USF Ice Bulls make nationals for the first time in program history.

The University of South Florida Ice Bulls had a rough season, ending 10-18 before entering regionals. USF capitalized on two major games during the regular season, beating two top seeded teams.

Thanks to freshman goalie, Sam Coleman, who 60 minutes into the game blocked all incoming shots, the Bulls knocked out the University of South Carolina Gamecocks 1-0 in overtime in the first round of regionals at Florida Center Ice in Wesley Chapel.

The following night, the Bulls earned a nationals spot defeating the Liberty University Flames 6-3. Weston Moon scored the first goal early in the first period, followed by goals from Logan Sheehan in the middle of the second, Kenny Weightman late in the second, Huw Baveystock early in the third, Lukas Medo late in the third, and Michael Budd in the last minute of regulation.

Earning their place at nationals the Bulls had one more hurdle to overcome. In an attempt to cover the costs of the trip they started a GoFundMe page and asked fans for support.  They did not disappoint, the Ice Bulls fans raised over $11,000.

The following night, the Bulls earned a nationals spot defeating the Liberty University Flames 6-3. Weston Moon scored the first goal early in the first period, followed by goals from Logan Sheehan in the middle of the second, Kenny Weightman late in the second, Huw Baveystock early in the third, Lukas Medo late in the third, and Michael Budd in the last minute of regulation.

Nationals will be held at Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team will travel to Columbus, Ohio to fight for the title of  the American Collegiate Hockey Association division 3 national champions.

The Bulls will take on the number one seeded Calvin College Knights on March 14 to start their postseason.

To find out more on how you can support your USF hockey team on their road to nationals, visit www.gofundme.com/USFHockey.

Florida Focus News Brief April 5, 2017

In this news brief: new bell schedules are in the works for Hillsborough County schools to help the district save money; a Bradenton police officer speaks out after a vicious attack by a burglar attempting to rob a jewelry store; Panera Bread is being bought by more then seven billion dollars.

Small Berries, Big Punch

A pharmacist at the University of South Florida demonstrates the power of blueberries.

Starting in 2001, Dr. Paula Bickford along with her colleague set out to reveal the ultimate antioxidant properties that blueberries contain. Bickford, Ph.D. in pharmacology, proves that this fruit is the hidden secret to perfect aging and adaptive brain memory.

“We were first looking at a number of different fruits and vegetables. A colleague of mine, who works at the USDA, had categorized twenty or so different fruits and vegetables for the antioxidant capacity. Blueberries come up pretty near the top,” Bickford said.

Once fully understanding the potential of the fruit, Bickford began to discover other properties of blueberries. She studied dozens of potential ingredients that could effectively combine with blueberries and enhance certain mechanisms of the body, such as fight damaging inflammation and promote new cell growth.

“When we combine the blueberries and the green tea plus the other ingredients we were actually able to boost the activity of each of the individuals, so that the activity of the individual is more than the sum of the part,” Bickford said.

Through her research, Bickford concluded that blueberries are more than just the fruit that one blends in their smoothie. This impactful fruit is an added support system or a “Band-Aid for the body” that anyone can benefit from.

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.

Florida Focus News Brief March 6th, 2017

In this news brief: A man is charged after attacking his 14-year-old grandson; A video is released showing murder victim Dontae Lampkins boarding and exiting a bus two days before his body was discovered; A driver flees on foot after killing a motorcyclist in a hit and run; Tampa is looking to expand the streetcar system; and Pinellas County Deputies launched a new safety program for pedestrians and cyclists today

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Florida Focus News Brief March 10, 2017

In this education brief: Scammers are targeting college students in an employment scheme; thousands of Pasco County students will be changing school; USF Osher Lifelong Learning Institute expands senior learning to Brandon; three more Pasco Schools have been accepted to the Cambridge Education Program; the college of education in USF is establishing its first computer game design class.

 

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 21, 2017

In this news brief: A pregnant woman is the victim of a largo home invasion, neither victims have life threatening injuries and the suspect is in custody; two people accused of killing their landlord over two weeks ago appear in court today; Hillsborough Deputies are investigating a string of early morning robberies; Tampa Police are looking for a Walgreens cigarette thief; UPS announces that they are developing a new way to deliver packages right to your front door.

Holiday Fun For A Good Cause

 

The Festival of Trees offered an early holiday experience for visitors this past weekend. An entry fee of $5 allowed visitors the chance to venture through a gymnasium where hundreds of decorated trees were displayed.

In its 32 years of existence, the Festival of Trees has raised over $1 million toward its mission to foster community awareness, involvement and financial support for The Arc Tampa Bay, a non-profit organization providing services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Tampa Bay community.

Private citizens, craft clubs and even other nonprofit organizations donate their holiday themed decorated trees so that they can be sold in an effort to benefit the Arc Tampa Bay.

Kiersten Finchum, Festival of Trees Co-chair and Arc Tampa Bay volunteer, Driven by her passion to give back to the Arc  decorated her own tree for the festival this year.

“The Arc Tampa Bay is a great cause,” said Finchum. “I happen to be the parent of a special needs child and it’s nice to be working in a community with people who share a common thread.”

Although not everyone who walks through the Festival of Trees’ doors know the cause behind the annual event, they are certainly left enlightened by the end, much like Denise Fougere who came in support of a friend who had a tree on display.

“This is my first time visiting the Festival of Trees and I love it. It’s like a magical winter wonderland walking in the doors,”said Fougere. “the fact that all of this money and all of this is going toward that foundation is such a blessing.”

 

Riverfront Park asset to students

The University of South Florida Riverfront Park offers a unique experience to its students and alumni by providing outdoor recreational activities from canoeing to even a ropes course.

With the advantage Florida brings to its residents, USF is able to offer its students and alumni a place to de-stress and relax after a hard day at work or from studying. The park has a wide range of activities available. The ropes course is a common favorite among it students and is an activity many people have never done before.

“I take them up on the ropes course which is about 55 feet high and they go through obstacles and stuff and they eventually zip line down,” ropes course facilitator Hunter Mitchell said.

The park is also on the banks of the Hillsborough River, allowing the park to offer canoeing and kayaking to its visitors. Many times, canoeing and kayaking is very expensive to go out and experience. At Riverfront Park students can rent canoes and kayaks from $5 to $10 and a full usage pass for $45.

“At USF Riverfront Boat House, we provide students the opportunity to rent out kayaks, single-person kayaks, two-person kayaks and canoes,” boat house facilitator Esteban Baute said.

The park also offers team-building activities that help USF students build leadership skills and make new friends.

“It gets people talking in case they don’t know each other and we just really establish trust and communication and really get groups closer together after they come out here,” Mitchell said.

With over 49,000 students at USF, making friends can be tough. USF Riverfront Park allows students to make new friends easier and bring different people together by offering these activities.

USF Sport Clubs: A chance to play

Sport Clubs at the University of South Florida offer students the chance to be able to live out their sports dreams of being college athletes, but not necessarily playing at the Division 1 level.

 

“This way students that are not at as high a level as NCAA athletes, still have an environment where they can go out and have fun and participate in their sport of choice.” Supervisor Sam Cathcart said.

 

USF Sports Clubs offers many different types of sports to USF students. They also offer unique sports including Water polo, Quidditch, and even Kendo. The wide range of sports available allows many different students to get involved with the sports clubs.

 

Also, many students who play sports during high school assume they are going to play sports in college and are often disappointed when they try out for the college team and do not make the cut.  USF Sport Clubs allows these students to still be able to play the sports they loved back in high school. Club teams are often much more laid back than college teams allowing the players to enjoy their time more while they are playing.

 

Students are also able to create their own clubs if they wish to do so. “There’s Bullsync that you can go onto if you are interested in joining a sports club. That has all the information,” Jordan Mckenzie of USF Campus Recreation said. “As well as how to join a club. If you want to start a new club you are able to go on Bullsync and that’ll answer your questions as well.”

 

USF Sport Clubs give a unique future to something many students thought they would never be able to do again.

 

Mini Doughnut Factory Celebrates First Birthday

Mini Doughnut Factory Turns One

Tampa — They may be tiny, but they are the hottest shop on the block. The Mini Doughnut Factory is celebrating their one-year anniversary and the Tampa Bay community couldn’t be happier.

“I’m a regular customer, I come here all the time,” says customer Geena Casey, “I’m so happy for them reaching their one year anniversary.”

This is the first retail location in the country that specializes in gourmet miniature doughnuts.

The owners thought of the idea a few years prior to opening the factory but since it’s opening, they never looked back. In fact, they have plans to open another store in St. Petersburg in the beginning of 2017.

“Pat and Zee had the idea for about three years and just decided to go for it and now they are about to open another store,” employee Kayleigh Frank tells us.

Saturday and Sunday are when you will most likely notice a line wrapped around the building on South Dale Mabry Highway, and while this makes employees like Frank very busy, this makes the owners, Pat and Zee, extremely happy.

“The weekends are definitely the busiest but it just means we are getting more business so I can’t complain,” Frank says.

From bacon to Pop Rocks to Sriracha hot sauce, the toppings at the factory are endless.

For more information on the Mini Doughnut Factory, including store hours, head to their Facebook page here, https://www.facebook.com/minidoughnutfactory/.

Clinton celebrates 69th birthday at rally in Tampa

Hillary Clinton spent her 69th birthday on the campaign trail in Florida, attending rallies in both Lake Worth and Tampa. Early voting began on Monday in the state, causing both major party nominees to return to encourage supporters to show up to the polls.

The rally included guest appearances from Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett. All speakers emphasized the necessity of early voting and the weight the swing state holds in the general election.

Supporters let out a cheer as Hillary Clinton took the stage to speak at her rally at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa on Wednesday. By Breanne Williams
Supporters let out a cheer as Hillary Clinton took the stage to speak at her rally at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa on Wednesday. By Breanne Williams
Congresswoman Kathy Castor spoke prior to Clinton taking the stage encouraging attendees to vote early at one of the many polling locations in the area, which she reminded voters are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Nov. 5. “Everyday is Election Day here in Hillsborough County.” By Breanne Williams
Congresswoman Kathy Castor spoke prior to Clinton taking the stage encouraging attendees to vote early at one of the many polling locations in the area, which she reminded voters are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Nov. 5. “Everyday is Election Day here in Hillsborough County,” Castor said. By Breanne Williams
Secret Service agents lined the Tampa Museum of Art and other surrounding buildings in preparation for Clinton’s arrival at the rally. By Breanne Williams
Secret Service agents lined the Tampa Museum of Art and other surrounding buildings in preparation for Clinton’s arrival at the rally. By Breanne Williams
“We’ve actually learned in this campaign that Donald Trump is the poster boy for everything wrong with our economy,” said Clinton. She then detailed her plans to boost the nation’s and Tampa’s economy, including promising to give the high-speed rail rejected by Rick Scott in 2011 another look. By Breanne Williams
“We’ve actually learned in this campaign that Donald Trump is the poster boy for everything wrong with our economy,” Clinton said. She then detailed her plans to boost the nation’s and Tampa’s economy, including promising to give the high-speed rail rejected by Rick Scott in 2011 another look. By Breanne Williams
Many supporters brought signs and flowers for Clinton as the rally was held on her 69th birthday. The crowd sang happy birthday to the nominee both before the rally began and after its conclusion when she shook hands with many in attendance. By Breanne Williams
Many supporters brought signs and flowers for Clinton as the rally was held on her 69th birthday. The crowd sang happy birthday to the nominee both before the rally began and after its conclusion when she shook hands with many in attendance. By Breanne Williams
Secret Service lined the barricades separating the public from Clinton, where thousands attended to celebrate the nominee’s 69th birthday and hear her plans for boosting the economy, making college affordable and continuing the fight for women’s rights. By Breanne Williams
Secret Service lined the barricades separating the public from Clinton, where thousands attended to celebrate the nominee’s 69th birthday and hear her plans for boosting the economy, making college affordable and continuing the fight for women’s rights. By Breanne Williams
Sarah Gaines, an organizer often found on the USF campus, signed up volunteers both prior and following the rally. Both the organizers and Castor encouraged attendees to remain active in the last stretch of the election by knocking on doors and making calls for the Clinton campaign. By Breanne Williams
Sarah Gaines, an organizer often found on the USF campus, signed up volunteers both prior and following the rally. Both the organizers and Castor encouraged attendees to remain active in the last stretch of the election by knocking on doors and making calls for the Clinton campaign. By Breanne Williams
Protesters who were both pro-Trump and third party camped outside the entrance. Thomas Ciotola, a Gary Johnson supporter, protested the Tampa rallies this week for both major party candidates. “I don’t think there’s anyway to choose between the two," Ciotola said. “That’s like asking, ‘Who’s better? Hitler or Stalin?’” By Breanne Williams
Protesters who were both pro-Trump and third party camped outside the entrance. Thomas Ciotola, a Gary Johnson supporter, protested the Tampa rallies this week for both major party candidates. “I don’t think there’s anyway to choose between the two,” Ciotola said. “That’s like asking, ‘Who’s better? Hitler or Stalin?’” By Breanne Williams

Tampa Bay’s Best: The Florida Aquarium

Florida Aquarium employee Eric Hovland and guest Angela Moody share a passion for marine life and the environment in which they live.

Hovland has seen The Florida Aquarium blossom into the popular Tampa attraction that it is today.

“I’ve worked here at The Florida Aquarium for going on 22 years in May and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Hovland said. “Seeing the facility grow over the years and being able to work with all of the diverse species of marine life on a daily basis has been a dream come true for me.”

Located in downtown Tampa, right next to Port Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium offers its patrons a unique experience that is unlike any other aquarium in the United States.

“I had no idea until I got here that you could dive with sharks at this aquarium,” Moody said. “I’ve never heard of anything like that at any other aquarium I’ve ever been to.”

The Florida Aquarium was the first aquarium in the nation to offer an uncaged dive with sharks experience.

“We have the sand tiger sharks and all of our diverse fish that you can get to know,” Hovland said. “Learning about sharks can really accelerate when you can see sharks being sharks.”

People from all over the world travel to Tampa, which in turn brings many diverse people and cultures to The Florida Aquarium.

“Whether they’re getting off a cruise ship and stopping in for a visit, we really do get a diversity of the world’s culture,” Hovland said. “It’s nice to see our impact reaches much further than just the Tampa Bay area.”

For more information, please visit flaquarium.org

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.

International Players Represent More Than Just USF

The University of South Florida soccer defenders Estefania Fuentes and Grace Adams are not your typical college athletes, because both play soccer for their countries national soccer team.

Fuentes plays for Mexico’s and Adams represents Ghana’s national soccer team.

“In the national team you are representing a whole country, like everybody is paying attention to you and you need to be focused and know you can have fun, but with responsibility, because it’s not only you or your university,”  Fuentes said. “It’s millions of people on your back.”

Coming from opposite sides of the world, both players are strengthened by their strong religious beliefs, which they believe is the key to their success. Adams says she always prays.

“I talk to my God communicate with him to give me the strength and remind me off everything that I learned in the field that my coaches taught us,” Adams said. “That is what I always do all the time.”

While both athletes continue to have a successful season, they also face challenges within the team.

“The language is a huge difference here at USF,” Fuentes said. “The language comes slower than Spanish so I have to be more focused.”

The language barrier does not intimidate either player. Both defenders strive for a victorious season finale at USF.