Photo gallery: Fun in the Sunset at Pier 60

The Sunset at Pier 60 Daily Festival is located at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. It is a weather permitting event that is every day from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It starts two hours before the sun sets and lasts two hours after the sunset fades away.

At this event, skilled crafters and artisans come together to display their handmade crafts and entertainers perform their latest tricks for the public to watch. The Sunset Celebration Festival started on March 17th, 1995 and in 2015 the festival celebrated their 20th Anniversary.

Oxford Exchange mixes classic, contemporary

Many know the Oxford Exchange as a relaxing place to dine in, have coffee or shop, but what many don’t know is how the Oxford Exchange became what it is today.

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The building, located at 420 West Kennedy Blvd., has gone through numerous changes over the past decades. It was originally built in 1891 as a stable for the Tampa Bay Hotel, now the University of Tampa’s Plant Hall. The Oxford Exchange opened in 2012.

“The owner, Blake Casper, went to college in London and was inspired by the university libraries and the old clubs, all the architecture there. He really thought that sense of community was missing here in his hometown of Tampa,” said Sarah Dyles, the director of public relations.

 

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The idea started with a small bookstore and soon took off from there. The owner and his team have done their best at preserving as much of the old material as they could.

“The original brick walls are exposed,” said Dyles. “The original wood floors are actually above us on the ceiling. We found old horse shoes and milk bottles that were left behind from over a century ago.”

The building has an authentic, historic appearance. Its unique architecture and design helps draw people in.

“I would say the most unique thing is the space, all the different facets,” said sous chef Rachel Bennett. “They have the commerce club, the atrium, the conservatory and the retail shop. There are not very many restaurants where you get to have all these different kinds of elements.”

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Coffee and tea are common favorites. Many people enjoy sipping their beverages while lounging on the big, comfortable, leather sofas.

“I really like coming here on Fridays after my yoga classes,” said Daniella Salgueiro, a University of Tampa student. “The environment is very soothing and relaxing. I like to have my coffee here in the morning, and sometimes I’ll have a little treat.”

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In the center of the building is the atrium, a simple gathering space. The Oxford Exchange does not offer Wi-Fi. They prefer people are not staring at their phones all day long, but rather are interacting and collaborating with one another.

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“They’re doing things with people, the way they did back when this building was originated,” said Dyles.

Poetry highlight of USF German Day

This year’s German Day theme was “25 Years of German Unity.” The event was held on Oct. 23rd and was sponsored by the German Embassy in D.C.  The German Section at USF and the German Culture Club presented the event, which consisted of a poetry slam and a poster contest. There were also free refreshments, raffle prizes and other items given away. 

Trick or Trot brings donations, holiday spirit

As they approached the finish line, it was unclear whether Superman or the Ninja Turtle would get there first.

Eventually Superman edged to victory over Michelangelo, closely followed by Minnie Mouse, a pumpkin and a 6-foot Viking. This was all part of the Trick or Trot 5K Fun Run, which was held Oct. 24 by Help for the Homeless at the University of South Florida’s Fitness Trail.

“I think a lot of people had fun, and it was great with the music and with the raffle,” Stephanie Radu, president and founder of Hope for the Homeless at USF, said.

Radu, a biomedical sciences major, founded the organization in January of this year, with this being its first event. Each runner paid a $15 fee that was donated to the Ybor Youth Clinic.

“The money is going toward care packages that will all go to the homeless,” Radu said. “We will put a lot of effort into making and distributing them.”

Cameron Purvis of Florida College won the race with a time of 16:27 and was awarded a Halloween-themed trophy in the shape of a skull, despite not wearing a costume for the event.

“I actually kind of forgot about dressing up,” Purvis said. “Once we were on our way we were like ‘wow we forgot our costumes.’”

Purvis said he had not been training for this race in particular but decided to sign up when he saw the money raised was going to a good cause.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of mileage this season and was looking for a good race to sign up for,” Purvis said.

Over 100 people signed up for the race, which raised over $2,500 via donations and raffle ticket purchases. Radu’s goal was $3,000, but she was pleased with the result.

“I’m a little optimistic so I’m happy with $2,500,” Radu said.

Radu believes that not enough was being done for the homeless in Tampa, which is why she set up this organization.

“I feel very passionately about helping the homeless community,” Radu said. “We’re trying to get rid of that bad stigma that’s around them. There’s a lot of homeless youth in Tampa.”

After their first event, Radu is optimistic there will be many more. “We hope to hold another event in the spring and to make this event an annual one,” Radu said.

Some of the sponsors of the event had representatives at the race handing out free treats to participants. Amazon representatives, for example, were at the event giving out water bottles to runners after they had completed the race. They also donated items that were used as prizes in the raffle that took place.

There were many volunteers at the race who ensured everything went as smoothly as possible. The DJ, the referees and the event managers all volunteered to set up and run the event.

The DJ gathered a lot of attention after the raffle took place, playing “Cupid Shuffle” that made around 20 of the runners join in with the dance.

Even some of the adults dressed up. Photo by Connor Vice
Some of the adults even dressed up. Photo by Connor Vice.

Photo: Lunch at Trinity Cafe

Trinity Cafe is a free restaurant that provides hot meals to the homeless, hungry and working poor. However, Trinity Cafe is about more than providing a meal, It is about treating guests with compassion and respect they might not normally receive. Trinity Cafe’s lunch service takes place Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The lunch service includes enthusiastic volunteers who will serve guests drinks, a meal and provide them with conversation. At Trinity Cafe, you will find kindhearted people and delicious food.

Walk to benefit those with Alzheimer’s Disease

Someone’s parent, child or loved one can have Alzheimer’s disease, and while this disease is prevalent in seniors, it can affect anyone of any age.

Alzheimer’s robs an individual of their memory and other cognition functions and to date, there is no cure.

Participates in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s walk to raise funds for awareness of this disease and for caregivers.

USF students experience high intensity workout

At the USF recreation center, students have the opportunity to become physically fit. Recently, a new class is offered where students have the ability to test their limits and go above and beyond. This class is open for all students from beginners to expert level. What makes this class different from the others is that it is a full body intensity workout, it focuses on all part of the body and leaves you feeling pumped.

 

At the University of South Florida Recreation Center, students have the opportunity to become physically fit and active.

The full body high intensity workout class has begun in which students have the ability to test their limits and go above and beyond. The class is open for all students from beginners to experts.

This class is different from other ordinary classes because it is a full body intensity workout. This focuses on all parts of the body and leaves you feeling pumped and energized.

Photos: Students adjust to life in America

Traveling from the University of Exeter in England, Alexa Carter, 20, and Freya Owen, 20, are attending USF for a year studying abroad. Carter and Owen take pride in not forgetting their home country in their day-to-day routine as they live temporarily in America with the hopes to come out of the experience more culturally aware.

Traveling from the University of Exeter in England, Alexa Carter, 20, and Freya Owen, 20, are attending the University of South Florida for a year studying abroad.

Carter and Owen take pride in not forgetting their home country in their day-to-day routine as they live temporarily in America.

Local Artists Showcase Talent at Don’t Stop St. Petersburg

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg just came back for the event’s third year in the Arts District of downtown. Over 40 local and regional musicians came out to play on the streets showcasing some of the raw talent this city holds.

The event was crowded with people checking out all of the musicians, artists and other vendors that volunteered for the event. There was a wide variety of art styles and food, representing the artistic diversity in St. Pete. The event served as a great venue for bringing the community together for the day.

Several successful bands such as Underoath and Sleepwave have come out of St. Pete, and events like this are a great way for local musicians to get noticed and supported. The same thing goes for the other vendors that are hoping to grow their businesses.

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg was a great success, and there is no doubt that we will be seeing it come back again next year.

Photo: Training for success

Fitness enthusiast Tyler Butler is training to compete in the 2015 Strength Camp Challenge in late November. He has put in hard work and dedication, hoping it will pay off in winning the $10,000 prize. Butler aspires to be a good role model to family and friends and tries to inspire them to lead a healthy lifestyle.

 

Students promote old school game at Bull Market

USF students volunteer their time and work to help promote one of their favorite local spots around campus. Imraan Frook and Cris Dipiano set up a booth at this weeks Bull Market to help market and sell different kinds of boardgames for Armada Games. This spot is not your typical game store, it’s located about a mile away from campus and provides a different way of free socializing and entertainment for students. The USF volunteers hope to increase clientele, help the owners by advertising and spread the word about one their favorite places to hangout.

Chasco Fiesta was a success for New Port Richey

For decades, the Chasco Fiesta has been a mainstay in the New Port Richey community. The Fiesta is a weeklong celebration of the local Chasco culture, while mixing in various fair-like activities.

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Craig McCart, one of the chief organizers of the Chasco Fiesta, has been involved with the celebration for more years than he can remember.

“I’ve been involved since back in 1974,” McCart said. “But, I’ve been on the steering committee since 1998.”

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McCart explained there are nearly 30 non-profit organizations that have come out this year to take part in the Chasco Fiesta. One of those organizations, West Pasco Sertoma, is headed up by Michael Tyler.

“We support the All Children’s Sertoma Speech and Hearing Center,” Tyler said. “We come out to the Chasco Fiesta and cook for two weekends in a row. We cook so kids can hear.”

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Tyler is just one of many that come out to the Fiesta for a noble cause. Tara Londergan is part of a women’s motorcycle group called the Diva Angels. The Diva Angels are a non-profit organization that come out and donate their time for a good cause. This year, they were working with Tyler and West Pasco Sertoma to raise funds.

“We have poker runs, last year we had a spaghetti dinner for the homeless vets,” Londergan explained. “We hang out and raise funds for other charities.”

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With all the fun and festivities, there can be times where things get a little out of hand. That’s where Officer Greg Williams of the New Port Richey Police Department comes in.

“The only issue we have sometimes is the excess alcohol use,” Williams said. “But, for the most part, it’s a good event. All different classes of people come out.”

Like Officer Williams, mostly everyone seems to agree that the Chasco Fiesta is a positive event for the community and the surrounding areas.

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“Oh, it’s awesome,” Londergan said. “It’s great for the downtown, it keeps it alive.”

The Chasco Fiesta comes to Sims Park in March of every year. It includes a big parade on the first Saturday, along with concerts throughout the week in the Sims Park Amphitheater and finishes up with a boat parade on the final weekend.

The healing power of yoga

The co-founder of a new facility is taking a unique approach in helping veterans in the Tampa Bay area cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Janel Norton has served our country as a combat photojournalist for the U.S. Air Force, now she serves in her community by helping other veterans.

“I experienced what I now know was post-traumatic stress when I returned home” Said Janel.

After being stationed in both Liberia and Bosnia, she decided to come back to the United States, but the transition wasn’t easy.

“I got really angry when I came back,” Norton said. “People don’t even know what’s going on over there. I felt very disconnected with everybody and nobody understood anything I had been living through for the last couple of years”

She then discovered the healing power of yoga and had the idea of opening an establishment where local veterans could meet and experience this healing together. After meeting with a prior green beret, they started the Veterans Alternative.

Member and Afghanistan war veteran David Jones is only one of the many veterans that has benefited from this class.

“She’s done wonders as far as you know helping me sleep with this iRest,” Jones said.

iRest is a form of yoga made accessible to everyone. This stress reducing class helps veterans tap into their inner resource.

“We have a small population that we’re serving, but there’s many more,” Norton said.

Local bakery carries on a 100 year legacy

If fresh food and baked goods is what you’re looking for, Alessi Bakery is your place to find it all.

Alessi Bakery has served the Tampa Bay area its sweet delights for over a century. Founded in 1912 by the patriarch, Nicolo Alessi, the establishment offers a variety of baked goods, wedding cakes and a catering service. There’s one retail location and a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.

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With this sign out front, you won’t ever miss Alessi Bakery.

“We’ve got quite a brand,” said Phil Alessi, Nicolo’s grandson and former owner of Alessi Bakery. “If you ask anyone in Tampa about Alessi Bakery, they’ll be familiar with the name. Of course, we’ve been around 100 years and have always given back to the community.”

General Manager Tiffany Pennington says Alessi Bakery’s only location on Cypress Street is as crowded as any establishment in the area.

“We get a lot of neighborhood traffic,” she said. “Lots of traffic all day long with hundreds of people coming in the doors.”

Customers from around the Bay Area head to Alessi Bakery during the breakfast and lunch rush or some choose to receive something more personal.

“I had my wedding cake and baby shower cake from here,” Tammie Borden said. “I frequent here all the time to get lunch. It’s close by, with fresh food and good quality service.”

Besides decadent desserts, other featured items include Alessi’s signature scachatta pizza, guava turnovers and Cuban sandwiches.

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Doesn’t Alessi’s signature scachatta look delicious?

Walking into the place would make one easily aware of the plethora of items cooking, from one course to another.

“The catering is banging out all kinds of stuff,” Pennington said. “It’s really a big production going on almost all day long.”

The big production got its start from small, humble beginnings, something Phil Alessi will always remember.

“It took a lot of courage to do what he did,” he said, referring to his grandfather. “He didn’t have any money, didn’t speak the language. And he came in and started a business.”

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Creative signs like these make Alessi Bakery unique.

 

Local brewery informs beer lovers

 

 

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Some of Yuengling’s offerings
People lining up at the brewery
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The Yuengling bar area
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Visitors enjoying the tour
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Free beer samples

Although  D.G. Yuengling and Sons began selling beer in Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1829, this Tampa brewery has been making a southern name for itself and the Yuengling brand since 1999.

Hospitality Manager and brew house tour guide Elizabeth Moroney has been with Tampa’s branch from the start. When she left her job as an RN for a pediatrician in 1999, she says that the Yuengling sales force consisted of her loading six-packs into her car, and driving around Tampa asking restaurants to try the new beer in town.

Now, she says “People are crying out for this product. We are like the Coors of the 21st century now.”

Yuengling is keeping up with the demands as a “21st century Coors” beer company with the release of the Summer Wheat beer, a seasonal brew currently available on the Florida market. Although the beer made its debut in 2014, its recipe has since been tweaked for the 2015 summer season.

Yuengling tour guide Bredon Hobson explains, “It’s the first time we’ve ever done a wheat beer. We kind of got it a little bit smoother.”

Fellow tour guide Maureen Brake says “The impression of [the Summer Wheat] this year is very positive.” She says that those who are sampling the beer at the end of their brewery tour “are definitely asking where they can go about finding the product and how they can find it in the market.”

Brake also told me this is not the only exciting development at Yuengling. The company has plans to release yet another seasonal beer this November.  It will join the Summer Wheat and the Octoberfest on the list of Yuengling seasonal beers.

Brake says “Our brew-master developed it almost six years ago, it’s his baby.”

However, further details about this addition to the Yuengling beer menu, including its ingredients, recipe and name are still tightly bottled up.

Brake says “I don’t know if they’ve released the name of it yet, I think it’s secret. But we’ve tried it.”

And Moroney and Brake say they like it. Brake was actually recruited as a tour guide by Moroney in 2010. Brake says that teaching new tour guides is her favorite part of the job.

She says “Teaching them what I do and doing it well, and taking pride in the company is important to me.”

Moroney says she enjoys “the versatility of the job, working for a great company. It’s a family owned company, which makes a big difference.”

Brake says “Yuengling of Tampa specifically offers a very relaxed environment that is just fun.”

Those of legal age interested in visiting the Yuengling brewery of Tampa and doing what Brake says is “something that’s different and unique” can visit http://www.yuengling.com/breweries/tampa for more information on brewery tour times and Yuengling news. The website is also equipped with a “Beer Finder” to help customers locate the Summer Wheat or any beer near them.

 

Chasco Fiesta brings New Port Richey citizens together

Born in 1922, Chasco Fiesta has been a staple of Pasco County over the past hundred years. Citizens looked for a way to bring more families into the community while also raising money for the local library. New Port Richey’s first postmaster, Gerben DeVries, inspired by his love for the Indian tribes, created a fictional dance pageant. The event takes place right on the Pithlachascotee River in downtown New Port Rickey.

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Chasco Fiesta features memorabilia from past events. They feature information on how it started, who started it, and what types of events were held in each fiesta.

The Chasco Fiesta today has a host of events during its 9-day annual calendar. Starting off with a street parade and ethnic dance with native counterparts and leads off with a carnival in downtown New Port Richey, giving families the opportunity to bring their kids down for some enjoyment.

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Chasco Fiesta has many rides for families to come and enjoy. One of those rides includes the Sea Ray Orbiter ride.

Many large country talents have made their way through Chasco along their path to stardom. One in particular being country superstar Blake Shelton, who once performed at Chasco over a decade ago. Cami Austin, chairman of the steering committee, says, “We  pride ourselves on finding talent out there no one has heard of yet; it is what makes Chasco unique.”

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Chasco Fiesta features live performances from country singers who are not yet well known. These performances are considered to be the thing to make Chasco unique.

Resident Tyler Letts describes Chasco as an event where all aspects of Pasco are brought into one place. “Holiday, New Port Richey and Trinity are all kind of broken up, so an event like this is really good to bring everyone in the community together”. When we talk about the community, Chasco does a great benefit for many local charitable organizations.

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Chasco Fiesta celebrates all of the well known people in New Port Richey’s history; one of those well known people includes Dr. Edwin C. Brookman, one of New Port Richey’s first physicians in 1950. 

Austin describes Chasco as a “guardian angel” for some organizations because they rely on the funds they receive from Chasco to last them for their year-round operating expenses. She added, “We plan on making Chasco bigger and better every year, it’s our responsibility as long as I am head of the committee to make sure that happens.”

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Chasco Fiesta features pictures and memorabilia of well known people from the past.