The Lights Fest makes Florida debut

For the first time ever, The Lights Fest and its incredible lantern launch took to the skies in the Sunshine State.

Over the past two weekends, the worldwide festival made its first stop in Florida at the Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City. Originally starting in Utah, The Lights Fest now spans across the United States and Europe. Each location includes food, games and live performances from local artists across the globe. It is a celebration for family and friends as well as a way to find closure and peace. Event Director Tiffany Townsend believes the festival is a way to put troubling matters to bed.

“The Lights Fest is special because it allows people to have closure about certain things,” Townsend said. “What happened in Florida, last week with the school shooting. Some people have bought tickets just to get closure about that, and really that’s what the company is about; giving people closure, giving people hope, giving them a chance to say goodbye to loved ones, and to pray for their loved ones if they’re injured or whatever it may be. So, it’s just a really good chance for people to think about their lives and basically look back at the good things and pray for the not so good things.”

The company has made a conscious effort to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Guests are reminded to properly dispose of their bottles and cans. The lanterns are designed for low flight, making them easier to track down and properly throw away. Even if one is lost, the lanterns are biodegradable, allowing them to break down naturally. The Lights Fest has also adopted a “Leave No Trace” policy, promising to leave venues the way they arrived.

While the festival is an all-day event, its well-known lantern launch is the grand finale. Each guest is given his or her own lantern to decorate and design as they please. Many are encouraged to write wishes, prayers and personal goals on their lanterns. Once they are launched, it is a remarkable sight to see. Samuel Malachowski, who acts as the master of ceremonies during the lantern launch, knows what the spectacle means to its guests.

“The main attraction why people come is for the lantern launch,” Malachowski said. “Just like what people have seen in the movie Tangled, you know it’s something seriously amazing, and it can become quite spiritual and very emotional for people. So, that’s what brings people to the event, and we’re just trying to leave good vibes, a good atmosphere for everyone to hopefully leave as a better person.”

For those interested in the event, The Lights Fest is planning to make Florida a regular stop with four planned events annually. The next two dates this year will be sometime in the fall. Cities such as Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee have already pre-registered to host future events. With The Lights Fest now touching base in the Tampa Bay area, it is encouraged that people experience the event first-hand.

“It’s just a really good experience. I think everyone should do it at least once in their lifetime, just because it’s a cool thing to experience. Very spiritual. Magical.”

Time Lord Fest comes to Tampa

By: Zach Wilcox

TAMPA, Fla. — Fans of Britain’s favorite doctor had the chance to celebrate his legacy in Tampa.

Time Lord Fest, an annual event that brings “Doctor Who” fans from around the Bay Area together, parked its TARDIS here. The event featured cosplay, vendors, guest speakers, panels and pretty much anything “Doctor Who.”

“Standard conventions focus a lot more on the celebrities that are coming in,” said Julia Langston, a vendor at the festival. “But Time Lord Fest has so much fun stuff going on. I mean there are games, and there are crafts, and there are radio plays.”

“Doctor Who” is a British science fiction television series that has been airing intermittently on BBC since 1963. The show features an extraterrestrial doctor who crosses space and time while solving mysteries and demanding justice. There have been 12 doctors, and the first female doctor was just announced.

giphy.gifCourtesy: Giphy

Time Lord Fest was held at the event factory on Hillsborough Avenue. The location has a collection of themed rooms that add to the aesthetic of the festival.

Related image

A forest-themed room at this year’s Time Lord Fest. Courtesy: theeventfactory.com

“What we hope for is when they walk in, it feels like they’re walking into a ‘Doctor Who’ episode,” said Ken Spivey, the organizer of the event. “Then there are vendors and there are other people dressed as the Doctor, and they feel at home immediately.”

The tickets for Time Lord Fest were $25 with discounts for both military personnel and students. Partial proceeds from the event went to the Livestrong Foundation at the YMCA.

Florida Focus News Brief March 28, 2018

In this news brief: a New York developer has big plans for Tampa; a three-car crash leaves one person dead and two others injured; a skydiver is injured after a hard landing; a shootout inside a home leads to several arrests; eat a sub and help a charity–today is Day of Giving at Jersey Mike’s.

Florida Focus News Brief Mar.27, 2018

In this news brief: Governor Rick Scott signs a bill aimed at helping Florida’s first responders; gun violence is the highest ranked issue for Florida Democratic voters; the University of Florida is teaming up with state transportation officials to make travel safe for seniors; one of Ybor City’s last wooden cigar factories will open in May as an apartment complex.

5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Attend Roast Battles

  1. Comedy competitions are mean but friendly.

Roasting has been around for decades. But, the excitement-inducing rap-battle/Friars Club Roast hybrid is only a young, alternative addition to the comedy world. It is believed to be a product of the Los Angeles comedy scene but has spread across the country like wildfire.

Which is an interesting coincidence because some of the things the comedians say to each other are like searing balls of fire spewing from their mouths. But, oh how it is entertaining.

There are other battles in places like New York and other big cities, and the interest is growing among comedians and audience members.

Image result for roast battles creative commons

  1. Roasts are a big part of comedy history.

Formal roasts with then Roastmaster Dean Martin would be a glamorous event including a dais of men and women comedians. Each of them would approach the podium and deliver the meanest yet funniest jokes that their minds could conceive. It became a way to honor a comedian or person of interest. Some of the biggest names in comedy and pop culture have been roasted, like Don Rickles, Bob Hope, and even President Donald Trump had his life held to the flames.

Comedy Central started doing their own roasts years ago and have continued to do them, which has made them a big part of pop culture.

  1. Everyone secretly wants to be a little mean.

It is human nature to get angry, sometimes. It is just a common emotion that human beings have to deal with on a regular basis.

But our society has created laws, manners and a social decorum that most try to live by. Although, on occasion, people don’t care about those things.

It is evident through the constant evolution of crime and war over human history, that anger isn’t going anywhere.

Maybe that is the reason Ann Coulter said yes to the Rob Lowe Roast when she knew she would be targeted.

Image result for roast battles creative commons memes

  1. Roasts are great with friends.

The show is perfect for a group of friends that loves messing with one another’s self-esteem Although, it may not be the best place for a date. If a girl sees a guy laughing at an extremely dark or mean joke, it could affect him negatively. But then again, it could bring someone closer.

Image result for roast battles creative commons memes

  1. It is the best entertainment when drinking.

If a person gets mean when they’re drunk, maybe instead, one should attend and even participate in a roast battle. They help focus one’s anger on a productive outlet. Even if you are a happy drunk, it is a cathartic time for most.

By Rachel Rowan

Florida Focus News Brief March 26, 2018

In this news brief: I-75 southbound lanes close after a crash involving four vehicles; a 350-acre brush fire is still active in Polk County; A new library is now open in the university area; and Clearwater Fire & Rescue and The Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition team up to raise water safety awareness.

#i75traffic #gibsonton #fdot #flhighwaypatrol #polkcountyfirerescue #PCFR #arthenialjoyner #clearwaterfirerescue #suncoastsafekids #watersafety #floridafocus #news

 

 

 

Tampa welcomes Bay Area Renaissance Festival

Hear ye, hear ye. The Renaissance Festival has officially made its way back to the Bay Area. This year, the festival is celebrating 39 years of existence. What started as a small get-together of Renaissance style partying and contests, evolved into what is loved by many today.

The festival opened its gates Feb. 10 and will continue to run through March 25. Operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekend, including Festival Friday on March 23. It’s located next to the Museum of Science and Industry and directly across USF.

It features 12 stages of various comedic Renaissance-themed shows, arts and crafts, roaming musicians and food that reflects both traditional and modern times.

Kiersten Lyons, a festival employee who has traveled with them for many years, expressed her excitement over the event.

“I absolutely love the fun freedom of all the different walks of life that come through here,” she said. “Anybody from the U.S. to the U.K. comes here. It’s an amazing event.”

Entertaining festival-goers this “statue” stays on his podium for most of the day. Photo taken by Yara Zayas.

Once you enter, you are immediately transported back in time. Everywhere you look you can see people dressed in Renaissance attire, speaking phrases like “huzzah” or “good morrow” and you may even see someone who will address themselves with a title of nobility, such as Lord or Lady.

“You got to get here! It’s awesome, it’s amazing to celebrate your heritage and your history,” said Lyons.

The gates have opened. #timetraveler #bayarearenfest

A post shared by Bay Area Renaissance Festival (@bayarearenfest) on

The event also features several activities that kids and adults will enjoy.

You can practice your ax throwing, try your hand at archery, ride a camel, test out your strength with a hammer game and do some bungee jumping. Also, if you know where to look, you’ll even find a mermaid cove or get a chance to have a photo taken with a unicorn.

“The mud show’s great, the jousting’s great, and they have a human chessboard,” said Lyons. “It’s absolutely wonderful. You get the best of everything around here.”

Lyons also made sure to mention how many of the people who put shows together make their living that way.

“The shows are definitely a great experience,” she said.

Festival-goers can also enjoy the shops that can be found throughout the grounds. You can find items such as swords, magic wands, hand-made mugs and art pieces from local artists all up for purchase. Prices vary with each vendor.

Most vendors and food booths accept credit and debit cards. However, you should always bring some cash. For convenience, there are ATMs available throughout the park.

The event offers seven differently themed weekends such as Pirates & Pets, Time Travelers, Shamrocks & Shenanigans, and Barbarian Brew Fest.

Travel back in time to the 16th century by visiting the Bay Area Renaissance Festival! With 12 stages of live…

Posted by Yara Zayas on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

If you’re interested in attending, tickets vary in price. Adult tickets are about $22, students with a valid ID can get in for about $18, and tickets for kids cost about $14. They also offer a military discount with proper identification.

Parking is always free for attendees, courtesy of MOSI.

Pets are also allowed inside the park after terms and conditions are met.

For more information visit the Bay Area Renaissance Festival site at http://www.bayarearenfest.com/.

Create wonderfully unique pottery at You Do the Dishes

At You Do the Dishes, guests can enjoy an array of specialty, well-made coffees while painting their potter. Photo by Sam Turke

With a cozy coffeehouse alongside an array of pottery waited to be made one’s own, at You Do the Dishes everyone can come make something that just won’t be found anywhere else.

 

The paint-your-own-pottery studio allows guests to choose any piece of pottery in the shop and hand paint it. One can find most anything from coffee mugs, to dinnerware, to animals.

The simple five step process makes things easier for everyone involved.

  1. Choose a piece
  2. Choose from a wide variety of colors
  3. Paint the piece
  4. Leave it at the studio to be glazed and fired
  5. Come back in a few days to pick up the finished product

With weekly specials running seven days a week, there is no reason not to take part in this wonderful experience. Nothing happening on a Monday? Bring the family for Family Night and enjoy a $6 flat rate per person from 7-10 p.m. During the Saturday night Friends Night special, paint for just $4/hour from 5 p.m. to close. On College Night, any student with their college ID can paint for just $6/hour from 7-10 p.m.

“We love coming to You Do the Dishes because of its practicality,” said Corie Tregoe, mother and wife. “Our first time here my husband painted a dinner plate that we still serve on two years later. We even use a bowl we painted for our dog.”

 

And not only is You Do the Dishes a pottery studio, but it is also a full-service coffee house. They serve locally roasted Buddy Brew coffee in a house brew, latte, iced latte, cappuccino, double shot of espresso and americano. They also have 11 flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, caramel, Irish cream and cinnamon. It does not stop there though. They also offer hot and cold teas, smoothies, milkshakes and more.

“This is one of my go-to study places,” said student Amber Norden. “Not only is the atmosphere so relaxing, but they offer the best vanilla lattes.”

Photo by Sam Turke

Anyone can come to study, or anyone can plan a one-of-a-kind date at You Do the Dishes.

“I actually came here on my second date with my current girlfriend,” Elijah Hudnell said. “She painted a cat to look just like mine. That same cat knocked it off of my desk and broke it. I felt horrible at first, but we look back and laugh about it now – the irony.”

The possibilities are endless. To follow all the updates on specials and get more information, You Do the Dishes is on Facebook and Instagram. Its website is www.youdothedishes.com. Its phone number is 813-975-1700, and they are located at 15357 Amberly Drive, Tampa, FL, 33647.

French bakery flourishes in downtown St. Pete

 

Streets along the Tampa Bay waterfront flood with a mixture of tropical colors. Hues of greens, blues and yellows pop against the cloudless sky on Beach Drive.

Skyscraping condos and small businesses share the small spaces between the land and the bay. The streets are littered with cars and small motorized bikes. The sun shines on shoppers eagerly entering and leaving the intricately decorated stores while strolling the sidewalks during the bright and humid afternoons.

Nestled directly in the middle of all the bustle and excitement is a taste of France.

Cassis Bakery is part of what used to be called Cassis American Brasserie. Its new name is Cassis St. Pete to avoid confusion and connect with the local culture. Cassis Bakery’s pastry chef, Katherine Williams, says the French-style restaurant is very convenient.

“Brasserie is sort of a thing in France that caters to all different times of the day,” said Williams. “Whether you want to get a cup of coffee, come in and get breakfast, or if you want to come in and have a nice dinner and a glass of wine, a brasserie caters to all that.”

Williams became the pastry chef at Cassis after her boss stepped down in January 2017. She graduated from USF with a degree in English but decided to pursue pastry at the Art Institute of Tampa after falling in love with her college hobby.

Starting at Cassis right after graduating, she now manages the entire bakery. Her responsibilities include scheduling, ordering inventory and recipe testing.

“I like to make sure we have seasonal stuff that’s fresh, Florida flavors, which we didn’t have much of before,” said Williams. “But also keeping a balance of French traditional style.”

This is the fruit tart at the Cassis Bakery on Beach Drive in St. Pete. Photo taken by Rachel Rowan.

The Cassis Bakery is a completely separate business from their savory counterpart, which is a French-American style restaurant that is one swinging door away from the quaint French bakery.

Running the kitchen is Chef Jeremy Duclut. He offers French fare such as French onion soup, braised escargot and a croque monsieur. Duclut also offers Bahn Mi sliders, fried chicken and a roasted cauliflower head. It is a menu that seems to appeal to every palette.

Not only is Cassis a region in France, it is also a food ingredient known as black currant. It carries the same flavor as a dark grape or sour blueberry. Both the bakery and restaurant carry on the Cassis namesake by including the flavor into their recipes.

Williams said that Cassis’ recent brand modernization shows that the restaurant and bakery dedicate themselves to bringing fresh flavors to the locals. At the same time, the brasserie is still dedicated to its French culinary traditions with a light American twist.

Both the bakery and the restaurant plan to remain a St. Pete staple and will continue to serve the community. Not only does Cassis love their patrons, it also loves their fellow businesses. The bakery tries to collaborate whenever possible.

Florida focus News Brief March 20, 2018

In this news brief: A Polk County 16-year-old is facing first degree murder charges for beating his friend to death.  A Dade City home burns down this morning. Pasco County fire rescue responded to the call and found the home engulfed in flames. The Pinellas County sheriff’s office wants you to know about a new phone scam. Port Tampa Bay strikes a deal to sell 3.4 acres of waterfront property.

4th annual Sarasota music marathon a major hit

Runners and spectators alike were treated to a unique musical marathon Sunday morning at the 4th annual Sarasota Music Half Marathon.

The event, which features both 10K and half marathon events through the city of Sarasota, does things a little differently. The race includes live performances from local musical acts scattered throughout the course. The result is a high energy event, drawing adept running and fresh challengers from local areas and abroad to experience the sights and sounds of Sarasota.

The course began at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, leading runners through local areas such as St. Armands Circle, along the Sarasota Bayfront and over the Ringling Bridge. Along the course, 18 bands ranging in genre from rock and soul to reggae and marching bands played for four hours, offering encouragement and ambiance to runners—and a free show for spectators.

Beginning at 6:30 a.m., runners had four hours to finish the 13.1 mile half marathon course and return back to the Van Wezel.  The runners were greeted with an event medal and invited to a festival-style after party, complete with a buffet, beer garden and yet another musical act.

The event, sponsored by Metro Diner, began in 2015 and adds musical acts as a unique twist on the common marathon. This year over 1,700 runners completed the half marathon route.

Attendance was high on the streets as well, despite the early start, as spectators cheered, waved signs and enjoyed the musical stylings being offered right in their own proverbial front yards.

Registration for the 2019 Sarasota Music Half Marathon has already begun and can be found at www.sarasotahalf.com.