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Thom Fross President & CEO of Fross & Fross Wealth Management

GROWTHWITH COMPASSION Fross & Fross offers a wealth of knowledge so you can enjoy a stress-free retirement.

TALKING SHOP Our 2020 Gift Guide.


Meet first responder twins Austin and Zach Sullivan.


Couple starts a natural soap company.

NOW WE’RE COOKING! Akers Media employees share their favorite recipes.

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Close. Caring. Connected.

THE VILLAGES® is a federally registered trademark of Holding Company of The Villages®, Inc., and is used under license. UF Health The Villages® Hospital is a part of University of Florida Health.





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8/5/20 9:38 AM



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Great gifts galore right here Shop Local is more than a slogan; it’s a call to action this holiday season. Forget about Amazon and show your Christmas spirit and civic pride by shopping right here at home. Not sure where to look or what’s out there? Don’t worry, our elves have compiled a giftgiving guide full of whimsical, one-of-a-kind gifts offered by local businesses. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG, JAMES COMBS, ROXANNE BROWN


Having a blast (off ) Students in Leesburg schools are enjoying a rare opportunity to take their creative talents to new heights. They’re designing a virtual City of Leesburg, and their work will be stored onto a microSD chip that will be launched into outer space and placed on the moon. STORY: JAMES COMBS

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We Listen. We Care. We Educate.



Dec. 9th @ 9a.m.


TB Financial Group Inc. is a licensed insurance agency for life, health, and annuities. We are not securities licensed. We are not tax advisors. Our seminars are very general in nature and not meant to replace the advice of your CPA, Tax Preparer, Investment Advisor or Attorney. We will not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal professional for these matters.

Merry Christmas from the staff at TB Financial!


Liz Cornell, CAS®


TBFinancialGroup.com 3261 U.S. Highway 441/27, Suite F-2 Fruitland Park, FL 34731

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healthyfrom) Home 090 (Away living 089 for the Holidays How to

INSPIRATION 090 HEALTHY SPIRIT 092 be HEALTHY with yourBODY loved096 ones

in spirit this holiday season.



Give me a hint




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Just one more

120 E ON TH R C OV E


Thom Fross President & CEO of Fross & Fross Wealth Management




Meet first responder twins Austin and Zach Sullivan.

Fross & Fross offers a wealth of knowledge so you can enjoy a stress-free retirement.


Couple starts a natural soap company.


Akers Media employees share their favorite recipes.


Lake and Sumter Style

TALKING SHOP Our 2020 Gift Guide.


Meet first responder twins Austin and Zach Sullivan.


Couple starts a natural soap company.

NOW WE’RE COOKING! Akers Media employees share their favorite recipes.

Village Edition Photo: Douglas Tyler Model: Thom Fross


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Hey, readers! Is there a particular subject that you would like me to write a commentary about? Tell me, via email, at victoria@akersmediagroup.com.


Need another hint? It’s one of our favorites


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Guess what movie we decided to watch






and friends during holiday parties s dreadful 2020 they aren’t able to make it to. For my nears its end, most family, yes, my immediate family will of us are probably be together, but many of my cousins, thinking, “FINALLY!” aunts, and other relatives are across This has truly been a the country. What we have done year that will go down in the last few years is FaceTime on history for all wrong KITCHEN INtheTHE someone’s phone and pass the phone reasons. Many had high FORK ON THE ROAD around until everyone has at least hopes for the beginning SPIRITS said hi. My extended family is loud of a new decade, but let’s and big, so we’re usually on the phone hope 2020DINING doesn’t set GUIDE collectively for at least an hour. the precedent for how Another tradition my family has the next 9 years will go. had for years is watching Christmas That said, we do still movies together after dinner. After have a month of 2020 everyone eats, it’s nice to cuddle up left, so maybe we with blankets and hot chocolate or make the most of spiked cider and put on “Elf,” “The it, and at the very Polar Express,” or a cheesy holiday least, try to end this hideous year on rom-com. Netflix has an option to do some sort of high note. For me, that “watch party,” where one person will be done by spending time with FROM THEasends PUBLISHER a link to another, so you can my loved ones. Lucky for my family, AT YOUR SERVICE watch something together from my sisters and a few other relatives anywhere. are able to come down for a couple FINAL THOUGHTIf someone pauses, it pauses for everyone, so you can all weeks to spend Christmas together. stay on track. The best part – there is For others, I know that isn’t possible a chat feature where you can message right now, whether it’s due to travel one another throughout the movie. restrictions, health risks, or financial Although we have all been through reasons. However, there are still a lot of changes and hardships this ways you can be with your loved ones year, we can only hope it gets better during this special time of the year. moving forward, and try to find some One way, thanks to technology, is beauty in the ugliness of 2020. to Zoom, or FaceTime your family





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‘Tis the season of giving Spread holiday cheer by shopping locally. eason’s greetings to all the faithful readers of Style magazine. I hope this publisher’s letter finds you full of holiday cheer. I know I’m excited. There’s just something magical about Christmas. For me, seeing the smiling faces of my children and grandchildren on Christmas morning warms my heart like few other moments can. This year, I want to put smiles on the faces of small business owners. That’s right. The devastating effects of the coronavirus has left small companies reeling financially. We have new definitions of what constitutes busy shopping districts and packed restaurants. Some local establishments did not outlast the pandemic, and we certainly don’t want to add any more to that list. Therefore, when buying gifts for family members and friends, I’m going to frequent local businesses and do my part to help them recover. I urge all Lake Countians and Sumter Countians to do the same. What’s that you say? You usually drive to Orlando and do your Christmas shopping at the big malls and

endless outlet stores? Trust me, you’ll do just as well finding the perfect gift by shopping locally. Not sure where to go? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in this issue. Our staff spent numerous days combing every inch of the two-county area to make a comprehensive gift guide filled with stores and unique items local businesses offer. From the animal lover and collector to the foodie and fashionista, you’ll find perfect gifts for everyone on your list. I truly hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and creates memorable moments with their loved ones. We’re all excited to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and enjoy a fresh start. To me, that means putting aside our differences and coming together once again as Americans. Say a prayer for the healing of our country. God bless and Merry Christmas!


Have a story to tell? We’re always looking for stories about people who live and work in our area. Send suggestions to editorial@akersmediagroup.com.

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Kendra Akers Doug Akers

OWNER/PUBLISHER kendra@akersmediagroup.com




PRESIDENT doug@akersmediagroup.com




Steven J. Codraro James Combs

CREATIVE DIRECTOR steve@akersmediagroup.com

STAFF WRITER james@akersmediagroup.com

Michael Gaulin Theresa Campbell

SENIOR DESIGNER michael@akersmediagroup.com

STAFF WRITER theresa@akersmediagroup.com

Volkan Ulgen Victoria Schlabig

ART DIRECTOR volkan@akersmediagroup.com


STAFF WRITER victoria@akersmediagroup.com


Megan Mericle Roxanne Brown

GRAPHIC DESIGNER megan@akersmediagroup.com

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PHOTOGRAPHY douglas@akersmediagroup.com

Joe Angione Anthony Rao Dorothy Von Brook

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Nicole Hamel Gary Corsair

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER nicole@akersmediagroup.com

Thom Fross President & CEO of Fross & Fross Wealth Management




Meet first responder twins Austin and Zach Sullivan.



Fross & Fross offers a wealth of knowledge so you can enjoy a stress-free retirement.


Couple starts a natural soap company.


Akers Media employees share their favorite recipes.

TALKING SHOP Our 2020 Gift Guide.


Meet first responder twins Austin and Zach Sullivan.


Couple starts a natural soap company.

NOW WE’RE COOKING! Akers Media employees share their favorite recipes.



Lake County has bushels of berries and a bounty of agritourism sites.




Launch yourself into endless waterways and discover scenic wildlife areas.

Explore a fishing mecca with countless hot spots for anglers of all skill levels.

By land, sea and air, visitors can find adventure, sightseeing and recreation.

Hot off the press! The latest editions of Lake & Sumter Style, Village Edition Style, and Welcome to Lake County.

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VICE PRESIDENT, SALES tim@akersmediagroup.com

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to your home for just $84. Each subscription includes 12 consecutive issues of Lake & Sumter Style and Village Edition Style. Choose 2 or more magazines for $108 per year. To order, call 352.787.4112 or mail us at: Subscriptions at Akers Media, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749. Change of Address: If you are a seasonal resident or have moved, send your address change request to general@akersmediagroup.com or mail us at: Subscriptions at Akers Media, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749. Back Issues: Order a single issue by mail for $8. To pick up a back issue from our office, please call 24 hours in advance.

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Lake & Sumter Style. Published monthly by Akers Media, 108 South Fifth Street, Leesburg, FL 34748. All editorial contents copyright 2020 by Akers Media. All rights reserved. Lake & Sumter Style is a registered trademark of Akers Media. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. For back issues or billing information, call 352.787.4112. Return postage must accompany all unsolicited manuscripts and artwork if they are to be returned. Manuscripts are welcomed, but no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. “Paid Promotional Feature” denotes a paid advertising feature. Publisher is not responsible for claims or contents of advertisements. The ideas and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of Akers Media.

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SALT THERAPY Breathe easy this holiday season with salt therapy. As you lay comfortably in our salt cave room, you inhale salt-enriched air down into the lungs, reducing inflammation and opening up your airway.

FACIALS Celebrate yourself this Christmas with a full facial rejuvenation. We use 100 percent organic products to help you deeply cleanse and exfoliate your skin, leaving you feeling renewed and vibrant.

IV THERAPY Don’t forget your vitamins this holiday season. When vitamins are administered intravenously, they have a 100 percent absorption rate because they bypass the digestive system and delivered directly to your cells.

MASSAGES A massage is a gift with just the right touch. From detoxifying massages to body treatments, we use herbs and products that are 100 percent organic and rid the body of toxins.

BOTOX/FILLER ‘Tis the season to look younger than ever. With Botox, we’ll treat wrinkles, fine lines and other effects of aging. Botox gives skin a taut appearance, making us feel better and look younger.

EMINENCE When your skin features a glow, it makes for happy and healthy holidays. Eminence uses all organic ingredients with no toxic chemicals or additives, resulting in firmer, clearer and well-moisturized skin.

GIFT CARDS Cover everyone on your shopping list this season with one stop. Give the gift of health with an Immunity Health Spa gift card.

IMMUNITYHEALTHSPA.COM (352) 750-9909 480 N US HWY 27/441 LADY LAKE, FL 32159






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352.989.7757 1004 N. DONNELLY ST., MT. DORA



Meet Rob Price, the new Visit Lake director.

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THIS CHRISTMAS, TAKE A HIKE Tired of long lines? Having trouble finding the perfect gifts? Stressing out about organizing your family’s annual Christmas party? Certainly, the hustle and bustle of the holidays can leave us saying, ‘Bah humbug!’ Perhaps a date with nature can alleviate those Christmas blues. Fortunately, Lake and Sumter counties have plenty of hiking trails where you can renew your Christmas spirit. PEAR (PALATLAKAHA ENVIRONMENTAL AND AGRICULTURAL RESERVE) PARK Enjoy a guided hiking tour with Lake County park rangers, or simply discover this amazing 318-acre park by yourself. PEAR Park is home to 160 species of birds and 40 species of butterflies. 4800 University Avenue Leesburg, FL. 34748 352.253.4950

LAKE OKAHUMPKA PARK Enjoy a one-mile paved walking trail with multiple fitness stations, plaques that identify trees, and a wide variety of plants. 6085 E. S.R. 44 Wildwood, FL. 34785 352.689.4400

FLAT ISLAND PRESERVE Enjoy old ancient oak trees and unique birding opportunities as you hike at this 2,300-acre conservation area in the Okahumpka Marsh. Flat Island Preserve features two wooded islands, as well as a 440-foot boardwalk leading to a canoe launch. 2301 Owens Road Leesburg, FL. 34748 352.343.3777

LAKE LOUISA STATE PARK More than 20 miles of hiking trails through thick Florida vegetation provide plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing and bird watching. 7035 U.S. Hwy. 27 Clermont, FL. 34714 352.394.3969

DID YOU KNOW? Forty-six years ago this month, the Mote-Morris House was added to the National Register of Historic Places. E.H. Mote, who served eight terms as Leesburg mayor, built the home for $9,000. In 1918, the house came into the possession of the Morris family, which resided there for the next 70 years. The home known for its Victorian Revival architecture contains some interesting features, including an L-shaped stairway leading to three bedrooms on the second floor, a clawfoot, cast-iron tub, and a four-story turret, or small tower. The Mote-Morris House is located at 1195 W. Magnolia St., Leesburg.

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PUT CAITLYN JENNER OR SNOOP DOGG UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE Looking for the perfect gift for that someone who is hard to shop for? Cameo.com has the answer: a personalized video message from a celebrity. For $2,500, Caitlyn Jenner will be happy to say Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, or just about anything you request (within reason, of course). Too pricey? How about a message from Snoop Dogg for $900? On a tight budget? Steve Spurrier will talk for $149. Still too much? Consider lifeguard/ boxer BrawlnBarnes. She’ll say hello for a mere $7. Cameo.com offers a choice of more than 30,000 athletes, musicians, actors, reality TV stars, and creators from YouTube, TikTok, and more, so you’re sure to find something special for anyone. Prices range from $1 to $2,500 for each personalized one-minute video to anyone you want to surprise. Visit cameo.com to find your favorite celebs and purchase.

Mickey Mouse photo: gesrey - stock.adobe.com

BUILDING PLAYHOUSES FOR CHILDREN Kudos to local teams and businesses who signed up to build and customize wood playhouses as a special holiday gift to children during the second annual Jingle Build-Off, hosted by Habitat of Humanity of Lake-Sumter. Teams will do onsite building on Dec. 5 at The Square, 122 E. Main St., Tavares, or offsite at a location, date, and place of a team’s choice. All building supplies, instructions, coaching, tools, paint, and paint supplies will be provided by Habitat. Families selected to receive a playhouse were chosen by schools and community members throughout Lake and Sumter counties. The playhouses will be designed to fit each child’s interests or special accessibility needs, such as a wheelchair access. The builders’ playhouses will be on display in downtown Tavares as part of the city’s Christmas Celebration. The public can also view them online for one week as part of Habitat’s Virtual Christmas Village, Dec. 5-8. Online voting at habitatls.org/jingle-build-off will determine the winner of the Community Choice award for the public’s favorite playhouse, and also the top winner of the Jingle Build Playhouse Pro’s award. Winners will be announced Dec. 9. The 2019 Jingle Build-Off winners at the inaugural event were: First National Bank of Mount Dora (top prize); Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty (most creative playhouse); Florida School Nutrition Association Lake County Chapter (Team Spirit award); and Lowe’s (First to Finish award). BP Smith Construction, Lake County Eagles Aerie No. 4273, Data Graphics, and VoluntEARS also participated in the first build-off.

CELEBRATING THE MAN BEHIND M-I-C-K-E-Y Disney venues may be some of the happiest places on earth year-round, especially during December. That’s because Walter Elias Disney – aka Walt Disney – the famous entrepreneur, animator, voice actor, creator of Mickey Mouse (in 1928), film producer, and theme park namesake – was born on Dec. 5, 1901. This year would have been Walt’s 119th birthday. With that said, this month may also be a time for lament since Dec. 15 is the anniversary of Walt Disney’s death. This year marks 54 years without him. And for those that may not realize it, Walt Disney has ties to

Lake County. His grandparents and parents lived in Paisley – a small unincorporated village on Lake County Road 42 that meanders along the southern edge of the Ocala National Forest just about 56 miles north of Walt Disney World. According to Florida-back-roadstravel.com, Walt Disney’s grandfather Charles Call, a teacher and a farmer, lived

in Paisley with his wife Henrietta and daughter Flora. Charles and Henrietta Call are buried side by side in the small Ponceannah Cemetery, just west of Paisley on CR-42. Their graves are marked by a vertical white stone log toward the back of the cemetery. Documented history also tells us that Walt Disney’s parents lived in Florida long before they moved to Chicago, where Walt was born, then later moved to Missouri, where Walt spent much of his childhood. Walt’s father, Elias, married Flora Call on Jan. 1, 1888, in Kismet, Florida. Today, Kismet is a ghost town, but back then, it was located north of Paisley in the Ocala National Forest.

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JAZZ AT THE MANSION Jazz diva Michelle Amato is slated to sing a combination of classic and holiday jazz tunes at 4 p.m. Dec. 27 on the outdoor terrace and spacious lawn of Howey Mansion, 1001 N. Citrus Ave., Howey-in-the-Hills. Michelle trained at the University of Miami’s School of Music and has toured or recorded with Yanni, Quincy Jones, Jon Secada, Al Green, Donna Summer, Michael McDonald, and Celia Cruz. She also has been a featured soloist with the Memphis Symphony and the South Florida Pops. Guests will be able to maintain social distancing at the concert, which is the second event of the Howey Mansion Music Series for 2020-’21. “Scheduling a full season of music during a pandemic has certainly been a new challenge, but we are so fortunate to have a unique outdoor venue that enables us to welcome audiences on

the terrace of the mansion to enjoy music in a safer environment,” says Arisa Kusumi Sullivan, executive and artistic director for Howey Mansion Music Series. The December concert will also feature a contest for the best decorated holiday-themed lawn chair, and the winner will receive a prize. Guests may bring a picnic. A cash bar will be available, too. General admission for the Dec. 27 concert is $23 per person; children 12 and under are free. Visit howeymusicseries.org to purchase tickets. A rain date has been set for Jan. 3. The Howey Mansion is a 7,188-squarefoot Mediterranean Revival Style home of 20 rooms on 15 acres in Howey-in-theHills. It was built in 1925 by citrus land baron William J. Howey, who was also the founder of the town.

Michelle Amato

PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING According to recipeland.com, various pudding recipes, especially bread pudding, have been traditional Christmas dishes since the 10th century. The website goes states that the treat was known as “poor man’s pudding” because it was created as a means of salvaging stale bread back in the day. The bread was soaked in milk or water, then sugar, butter, fruit, and/or spices were added, and then it was baked. Sometimes the mixture was housed in a “sop” – a hollowed-out loaf of bread. Modern bread pudding is made by pouring custard and other flavorings over cubed bread and baking it. Other types of Christmas puddings include “figgy” pudding famously mentioned in the Christmas carol of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” the plum pudding Mrs. Cratchit presented during Christmas dinner in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas

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Carol,” rice pudding, and English-style meat puddings. Many current Christmas traditions, including culinary ones, can be traced back to Victorian era England, where various puddings – including bread pudding – became classic Christmas fare. If craving some, but baking is not your thing, visit Turners Kitchen+Bar, 114 S. 5th St. in downtown Leesburg for a scrumptious slice of the restaurant’s very own White Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding. You won’t be sorry. The perfectly textured, vanilla custard-filled bread pudding served warm and topped with white chocolate chips, bourbon raspberry sauce, and whipped cream, is reminiscent of something straight out of grandma’s kitchen, with its sweet and tempting aroma radiating straight from the plate and into your mouth.

Jack Braton, Turners owner and chef, says he learned how to make bread pudding from an old Gullah woman in South Carolina, where he grew up. Jack says the woman’s recipe was much like the old traditional-style Christmas recipes, right down to the use of stale bread. He took her recipe, changed it a bit and refined it into what he serves at the restaurant. He says his secret is that he uses par-baked French Batard bread he expertly shingles and weaves together with the other ingredients until it is structured into something resembling a cake. “It has all the flavors and goodness of bread pudding, but it’s just more refined in the way it’s built. There’s no doubt it’s bread pudding, but it behaves more like a warm, gooey, piece of warm delicious cake,” Jack says, adding that he has been serving the dessert at Turners for the past six years, and before that, for brunch

A TIME FOR GIVING We usually feel generous around this time of the year and want to share what we can with the less fortunate. These charities will appreciate you showing your holiday spirit with monetary donations: LAKE CARES INC. LakeCares.org 352.383.0100

WE CARE OF LAKE COUNTY INC. WeCareLakeCounty.org 352.742.0021






LEESBURG FOOD BANK LeesburgFoodBank.com 352.326.5463


LEESBURG HUMANE SOCIETY LeesburgHumaneSociety.com 352.669.3312


SPECIAL OLYMPICS FLORIDA SpecialOlympicsFlorida.org 352.243.9536


HUMANE SOCIETY OF LAKE COUNTY FOUNDATION INC. HumaneLake.com 352.589.7400 / 352.343.7936


Bread pudding photo: Nicole Hamel


at the Glenview Country Club in The Villages, where he worked previously. “It’s a simple recipe, but a very technical process.” Jack takes pride in comments he hears from people about how much they like his bread pudding. “I love it. I have been making this bread pudding for over 20 years and I never get tired of hearing it,” he says. But perhaps the very best thing about the bread pudding at Turners is that you don’t have to wait until Christmas to indulge, since it is available year-round. It could just become one of those things you start dreaming of after dinner while cozying in front of the television under a blanket or craving for breakfast to complement a fresh cup of hot coffee or tea. Either way, why not savor a heavenly slice of this White Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding, then steady yourself for a New Year’s Resolution to ween yourself off of your Christmas – and no occasion needed – dessert addiction.

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Rob Price New Visit Lake director wants county to be a place where tourism comes naturally. INTERVIEWER: JAMES COMBS



• Previous director of tourism development for Visit Tampa Bay. • Certified Destination Marketing Executive (CDME). • Rob and wife Lisa have two children: Ryan, 10, and Jacob, 7.

Before applying for your current position, had you visited Lake County? I used to be an avid triathlete and cyclist and competed in various racing events in Clermont. That was my exposure to d as the county up to taking the Starte r of directo on job. I was blown away by ake Visit L the hills. I had no idea that . Aug. 17 anywhere in the state had this type of typography. It felt more like South Carolina or the foothills of Georgia.

You haven’t been in Lake County very long. What do you like about it? The outdoors and smalltown feel. I also have two children, and I think Lake County is a great place to raise a family. We moved from St. Petersburg, so we enjoy the slower pace, less congestion and more open spaces.

How do you plan on getting people to visit Lake County? I’m working with other tourist offices in surrounding counties to take a much more collaborative approach. We’re stronger together than if we go out in the marketplace alone. We can have a louder voice promoting the entire region. Fortunately for Lake County, we’re within close proximity to Orlando, so we need to market effectively and get the millions of tourists there to add on a day and come to Lake and see everything we have to offer.

Indeed, you’d think those Orlando tourists would like to escape the big crowds and hustle and bustle of the city, right? Yes. Research shows that visitors to Orlando theme parks have visited Lake County multiple times. They enjoy our great lakes, our outdoor trails, our camping and fishing opportunities.

Speaking of Lake County’s vast outdoor opportunities, have you been able to get outside and explore the county since moving here in August? My family has hiked at Lake Louisa State Park, and we’ve also visited the downtown areas of Leesburg and Mount Dora. We pick different destinations to go to in Lake County so we can learn all the different facets. Lake County is such a big place and is different from town to town.

Who’s someone in the tourism industry you admire? DT Minich, who is CEO of Visit Kissimmee. I worked closely with him in my previous position. I admire his leadership style, how he treats people and how he’s open to new ideas.

Know a person of interest? Tell us! Email your recommendation to james@akersmediagroup.com

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Nellie Onugha LMHS scholar and athlete sprints toward career in medicine. INTERVIEWER: JAMES COMBS


• Graduated from Lake Minneola High School in 2020. • Finished high school with a weighted 5.08 grade-point average. • Freshman at the University of South Florida.

What activities were you involved in during high school? I ran track all four years and I was a member of the Key Club, Varsity Club, National Honor Society, and Student Government Association (SGA).

What track events did you compete in? I mostly did the 200-meter dash and the 4x400 relay. My best time in the 200-meter dash was 27.6 seconds.

Do you have any idols in track and field? I really like Allyson Felix. She had a baby, then jumped right back into track and is doing amazing. For a male idol, I like Tyson Gay. He has a daughter around my age and is still running and working hard. He’s very inspirational.

Why did you choose to attend USF? It was always on my radar because my dad is an alumnus. I was also considering UF, but the truth is Tampa has always been my second home because I have family down there. Plus, USF offered me some good scholarships.

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL Speaking of scholarships, I understand you received a $10,000 scholarship from Project Scholars, a nonprofit organization in Clermont? Yes, and I also received a Bright Futures scholarship. I feel very fortunate.

Getting accepted into college is competitive these days. What advice would you give students? You can’t just get by doing the bare minimum. You have to put the work and effort into everything you do.

What are you going to major in? I am going to major in psychology on the pre-med track. Why psychology? Both my parents are in the medical field and so are my cousins. I’ve grown up around medicine. As far as psychology, I’ve always had an interest in mental health. What do you do in Tampa when you want to temporarily escape the college life? I love walking downtown at night with friends. The Tampa Riverwalk is beautiful.

Give me two words that best describe yourself: Determined and conscious.

Know an outstanding student? Fill us in!

Email your recommendations to james@akersmediagroup.com

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Phil Stokes Safe danger at 40 mph 100 feet off the ground. INTERVIEWER: GARY CORSAIR

wanted to do something that’s not necessarily jumping out of a plane, but still getting my feet off the ground to an extent. The safest route was to drive 35 minutes to a place in Ocala that did ziplines. They had three levels of, I guess, danger, if you will. Or adventure.

I took the lowest level. I’m a grown man, but I’m also cautious. If I break a leg or fall on my tailbone I would miss work, and I don’t want to do that. So, logically, I went on the beginners’ trail. They had two tour guides who were very entertaining. We went up as a group, with the tour guides. They don’t let you go up by yourself. We went down five different, obviously easy, ziplines. We have

What about your first time?

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fun, no one gets hurt and it was exhilarating. And entertaining. They let you know, if this is easy for you, you can come back and do the advanced courses. Three weeks later, I came back. And I had a blast. It was no more safe, or dangerous, than the beginners’ course. There was longer free fall time, if you will. It’s a dangerous experience, but completely safe. They

make you feel comfortable the entire time. Overall, I’d take one of those trips over jumping out of a plane any day. It is in fact a ride, because you’re going down this zipline and you get to see everything around you from that vantage point of being up 50, 60, 100 feet in the air. You have a sense of security, to an extent. Does it get your blood pressure up? Does it get your adrenaline going? Absolutely! It’s a unique experience.

To share a story about your first time doing something significant, email gary@akersmediagroup.com.

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Speak PA I D




eceiving a cancer diagnosis can be like having an out-ofbody experience. Sometimes one hears nothing after “You have cancer,” even though the doctor is still talking. How do you make informed decisions about your care? “Deciding how much you want to know about the cancer and its treatment is the first step in being able to talk comfortably with your doctor and the rest of your cancer care team,” says the American Cancer Society. Some people want to know as much as possible upfront, while others want to be told only on a need-to-know basis. “Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor how much or how little you want to learn.”

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To make sure you get the information you need, you can: • Take notes during your appointment. • Ask to record your talks. • Take a family member or friend with you.

You can also write down and bring any questions you have, like: • What type of cancer do I have? Where is it? • What treatment do you recommend and why? What are its benefits and risks? • What side effects can I expect, and what can be done about them? • Can I work during treatment? • Who and where do I call if I have

a serious problem, including after office hours? What counts as a serious problem? • Who can help me deal with costs and insurance coverage?

More questions may arise during treatment. Make sure you understand what was said before you leave the office. You can ask your doctor to repeat information or to use simpler terms. Some questions may also be handled by phone or email. “Without doubt, communication is crucial to good health care,” says RBOI social worker Wendy Hall, LCSW. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and understand what your options are. When we take an active

role in our health care, research shows we fare much better.” RBOI’s social workers and navigation coordinators can help you manage information from your medical team, provide counseling for you and your family, and link you to practical assistance programs. These services are available regardless of where you are being treated and at no cost to either you or your insurance. Give us a call.

Be Your Own Advocate “I have recently met people in the cancer arena who were dropped in the process of appropriate follow-through by the medical establishment, possibly due to the chaos of COVID-19,” says Wendy Hall, LCSW. “Being your own advocate means making your health a priority and following up with all things necessary. If you are to be scheduled for a test, and it does not happen in a timely fashion, make the call to get it moving.” Sources: - .chronicleonline.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/communicationcrucial-to-good-health-care/article_25888808-de6a-11ea-bbb5e31146afc303.html - health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2015/02/12/cancer-patientsrarely-request-unneeded-tests-treatments-study - cancer.org/treatment/finding-and-paying-for-treatment/choosingyour-treatment-team/the-doctor-patient-relationship.html - cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/adjusting-to-cancer/communicationhp-pdq - cancer.net/blog/podcasts/improving-communication-betweenpatients-and-health-care-providers-with-timothy-gilligan-md-fasco - jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2551984 - ascopost.com/issues/november-25-2017/helping-oncologists-tobecome-better-communicators-with-their-patients/



Amount of information given at a medical visit that patients accurately remember

More than

90% Patients with advanced cancer who say they want to be actively involved in their care)


The Myth of the Demanding Patient A study done at three Philadelphia hospitals debunked the myth that cancer patients make unreasonable demands for tests and treatments. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reported in 2015 that, contrary to expectations, “patient demands are low and cannot be a key driver of increasing health care costs.”

Patients who reported a benefit from reading their doctor’s clinical notes


First publication of patient-clinician communication guidelines by the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Patient-centered radiation oncology close to home The Villages 352.259.2200 Ocala 352.732.0277 Timber Ridge 352.861.2400 Inverness 352.726.3400 Lecanto 352.527.0106 RBOI.com

Like us on Facebook

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USB NMLS# 419535

Let the USB Residential Lending Team help you find the perfect place to cozy up with family and friends and make new holiday memories.

352.669.2121 unitedsouthernbank.com

Downtown Leesburg For this and every Season. #ShopLocal

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Mountain Aire

Great Selection/Volume Pricing/ Legendary Service New Aire

Dutch Star


Kountry Star

Canyon Star

2021 Newmar Ventana 3412

Independence RV is the only authorized Orlando Newmar dealer. Our knowledgeable sales team will assist you in matching the right model, length and floor plan with your RV lifestyle need. These diesel pushers and gas motorhomes are suitable for coast-to-coast and year-round travel!

Bay Star

Full Detail (Blanket)

Bay Star Sport

Only Independence RV and two other dealers out of Newmar’s 81 dealers was awarded, in its first two years of existence, Newmar’s coveted Diamond Award - acknowledging a greater than 95% Customer Satisfaction Rating for the sales, service and delivery presentation.

Sales: Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. | Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Sunday Closed

Parts & Service: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Saturday & Sunday Closed

IndependenceRV.com 12705 W. Colonial Drive ▪ Winter Garden, FL ▪ 34787 ▪ Toll-free (877) 281-9625 Independence RV is located just 14 miles west of downtown Orlando on Hwy. 50, and west of the Florida Turnpike 267B Exit in Winter Garden.

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Investing in Life Together A wealth of knowledge for clients who are handled with compassion and care. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

hough The Villages has continued to grow and Fross & Fross has grown with it, you’ll find they still offer the same compassionate and caring service each client has always come to expect. Neither their objectives nor their process for unwavering standards of service has changed. Their relationship with their clients comes before the financial aspects. Since beginning to offer Wealth Management Services in The Villages over 19 years ago the business has continued to evolve, not just with the incredible growth of the community, but also with drastic changes in the market environment. Cofounding twin brothers Thomas “Thom” and Robert “Rob” Fross say the growth they’ve experienced is reflected in better service and availability for clients. “There are no mulligans in retirement,” Thom says. “Most clients have never retired before and this is unchartered territory for them. They’ve only one shot to do it right the first time. Fortunately for them, we’ve gone through this process with hundreds of clients. It’s not unchartered territory for us. We’ve retired with client after client and they are leaning on us for our wisdom and guidance.” “We are staying true to our philosophy of being selective with the people we work with,” Thom adds. “But we have added additional staff to better serve our clients.

It’s better service to our clients and that’s our aim.” Rob adds, “Every client is so important to us, and all of their needs are unique. We want to make sure we were able to scale in anticipation of the unique needs that a growing aging clientele brings.” The two brothers also offer advice to a growing audience such as Forbes columnists and CNBC & Fox Business contributors. When Fross & Fross advisors meet with a client, there is a clear objective in every meeting. They utilize a four-phase process of establishing what their clients need and how to fulfill those needs through goals and objectives. The four phases are: discovery, strategy, implementation, monitoring/adjusting. Discovery for Fross & Fross means getting to know you personally: your family, your hobbies, your future plans, your ideal financial perimeters. You’ll notice the financial element of this process is at the bottom of the list because it’s important to the wealth advisors at Fross & Fross that they know their clients on a personal level first so that they can truly understand their unique needs. “We must always anticipate growth,” Thom says. “However, we also strive to provide the same personal touch we’ve always given our clients.” With strategy comes the development of an effective, long-term investment plan. With constant communication, research, and the work of their highly skilled staff, Fross & Fross strives to make this process quick and easy for you.

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In 2018, the professionals at Fross & Fross became a part of LPL Financial, the largest * independent broker/dealer in the United States for 21 years straight. LPL shares the same philosophy that Fross & Fross does by stating on their website that “social responsibility is integral to who we are as a company, how we interact with each other, our communities, and our planet, and how we conduct business.” “The reputation Fross & Fross has developed by giving white-glove treatment to clients means we’ve had to grow to continue to provide the personal service clients appreciate,” Thom says. The implementation phase of the Fross & Fross process is meant to be done fastidiously but in a stress-free and prompt manner for the client. This phase is when staff members come together as a team to successfully execute your investment strategy. “We don’t go into any meeting thinking of one product to fill every need of a client,” Thom says. “We provide a personalized plan for every household. There is no cookie-cutter plan at Fross & Fross.” The final phase of this process is where the relationship with the client is most important. Accounts are monitored regularly to ensure they perform according to the intention of the client. When circumstances change or a shifting global market requires a

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OUR MISSION STATEMENT: At Fross & Fross Wealth Management, we believe our clients have unique needs and deserve an advocate. We exist to provide financial confidence through knowledgeable, independent, and ethical advice. Fross & Fross Wealth Management… Friends & Family Investing in Life Together.

different approach, Fross & Fross never hesitates to make adjustments and keep clients informed. “It’s a team effort,” Thom says. “We make sure we’re all on the same page on investments. We see clients as real people with real needs, and we want to ensure those needs always reflect positive growth and success.” One of those team members is Casey O’Rourke, who works as an advisor with clients alongside Thom. Casey is a member of the investment committee and is

responsible for much of the research used in the development of their portfolios. “He’s an essential part of our firm’s investment committee,” Thom says. “His remarkable skill with research and asset allocation is vital to the company’s success.” Casey truly enjoys being able to create a strategy for retirees as well as monitoring their well-being. “I give them the best resources they can possibly have. My parents live in The Villages, so I can relate to our clients in that way,” Casey says. “I am always putting my best foot forward to help clients improve their lives, just as I would do to help my own family.” “We are friends with our clients, we are family, and they appreciate that. We meet with them regularly and get to know them,” Casey says. “Trust is very important and it happens naturally. We pride ourselves in going the extra mile.” In addition to wealth management, the financial firm is also well known for the personal time they spend with their clients. Fross & Fross clients are invited to exclusive events such as company cruises, polo tournaments, drive-in movie nights, happy hours, dinner dances, shopping days, online virtual events, and many more. “This is a way of deepening our relationships on a more personal level with our clients, as well as a way for them to meet each other and form relationships and friendships of their own,” Thom says. Another integral part of Fross & Fross’s growth has been in their ability to help women who are recently widowed or divorced. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, men have a 60 percent higher mortality rate than women. “We have noticed this to be true in The Villages and have taken steps to anticipate the needs this fosters,” says Renée Springstead, the firm’s first female financial advisor. Focusing on financial planning and investments for women is essential, and Renée Springstead is a strong resource. She understands firsthand as she originally came to Fross & Fross as a client. “I know personally as you’re going through this kind of difficulty, it’s important to have a strong team on your side,” Renée says. “I quickly learned

what they do here not only aligned with my fundamental belief system, but also made me realize I could be a part of this same team and help those who need it just like I did.” A now long-term employee, Renée also serves an integral role on the investment committee and as a wealth advisor who specializes in working with female clients. “Renée is a dedicated wealth advisor and is an incredible asset to the firm,” Thom says. “Renée understands the challenges women may face during the most difficult times of their lives. She assists them and makes the process of what they need to do easier.” “This is a very fulfilling role. I know firsthand how important it is to have a place to turn to, to have someone to help you through situations you’ve never faced before,” Renée says. “I enjoy helping a widow who may have been previously uninvolved in their investment portfolio gain knowledge and confidence because of the education we provide.” Renée sees herself as a team member with these women and takes very seriously the responsibility of explaining and providing them the finer points of budgeting and financial planning and helping them transition to a new way of life. “As you deepen these relationships, the women become more comfortable with the financial aspects and I feel I become their teacher, counselor, and confidante as well as a shoulder to cry on when needed,” Renée says. “No one has to put that in our job descriptions. Having the type of personality where you want to help people is an expectation here.”


Patrick Fross, RICP, vice president and wealth advisor is the much-appreciated older brother of Thom and Rob. He holds the Retirement Income Certified Professional designation**. “I feel the team approach we have adds value to what we do. Growth is a natural, evolutionary part of business,” Patrick says. “Rather than turn clients away, we have increased staff making us able to assist new clients and still provide the Ritz-Carlton experience for those already with us.” Patrick notes that the firm is always looking for areas to improve and he firmly believes in the “one size does not fit all” philosophy. He provides in-depth financial planning for those newly retired or about to retire. “Clients need to know if there is sustainability in a portfolio for the next 30 years,” Patrick says. “Everything changes at retirement—wealth distribution and wealth protection. We do not pigeonhole clients into one specific products. Their goals, objectives, and needs dictate our plans.” Patrick compares financial planning to the important task of selecting a doctor: you can go to your favorite family physician for most problems, however, if

you’ve had a heart issue you want to see a cardiologist. “Our goal is to help people plan for retirement, and then retire and stay retired.” One way Fross & Fross is focusing directly on retirement issues is by their creation of a Retirement GPS model: growth, protection, and spending. “We want to determine what your most important needs are so we can create a strategy based on the answer to those three significant parts of retirement,” Thom says. “It’s possible some of our clients will spend more years as a retiree than they did working to get here,” Thom adds. “How do you make sure they don’t run out of money before they run out of breath?” One single message comes through when talking to Thom and the other members of the team at Fross & Fross— they really do care what happens to their clients. “We view our clients as fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents,” Thom says. “We fall back on our Midwestern values that our grandmother and great-grandmother taught us. We’re able to use our experiences to make the trip down this retirement road less intimidating.”

352.205.7800 / frossandfross.com / 910 Old Camp Road, Lake Sumter Landing Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC *As reported by Financial Planning magazine, June 1996-2020, based on total revenue. **Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) conferred by The American College.

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his Christmas, if you want to give back big, then think small. Small businesses, that is. Local mom and pop shops have suffered devastating economic blows due to the coronavirus. Therefore, shopping local for the perfect Christmas gift will light up the holidays for small business owners throughout Lake and Sumter counties. The exciting part is that Style is taking the guesswork out of your shopping experience. Three of our staff writers spent days out on the shopping trail and discovered plenty of cool and unique treasures offered at just some of those local stores. We’re showcasing these treasures to help you find the ideal gift for a loved one. Happy shopping. Remember, think small.

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Welcome mats that show guests who really runs the house. PIGLET’S PANTRY-DOG BAKERY 400 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / 352.735.9779

De-stress your dog and help ease anxiety with the Thundershirt. KAREN’S CANINE KITCHEN 725 N. 14th St., Leesburg / 352.729.3302

It may be impossible to keep fur totally off their seats, but these car coasters will keep their vehicle somewhat clean.

One way to a furry friend’s heart is through the tummy.

PAWS & EFFECT 18 N. Eustis St., Eustis / 352.357.0200

WOOF GANG BAKERY & GROOMING 1670 E. Hwy 50. Suite F, Clermont / 352.708.4544

Cozy cat and dog socks to keep their feet warm all winter. PAWS & EFFECT 18 N. Eustis St., Eustis / 352.357.0200

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Let your dog have a ball this Christmas – literally – with Fahall squeaky reindeer, Santa, and snowman dog toys. KAREN’S CANINE KITCHEN 725 N. 14th St., Leesburg / 352.729.3302

This glitter face mask will help keep you covered with style and pizazz. DANA TYLER 970 Old Mill Run, The Villages / 352.355.0374

Dazzling ear bling to dangle straight into someone’s Christmas stocking. ORANGE BLOSSOM BELLE 752 W. Montrose St., Clermont / 352.267.5735

A vintage statement handbag. WILDWOOD ANTIQUE MALL 349 Plaza Drive, Eustis / 352.602.7536

A handbag set so she has the perfect size bag for any occasion.

Some images are courtesy of the respective manufacturer’s websites

MALENA AND MAGDA’S 402 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / 352.729.2121

These beautiful Swarovski crystal earrings they can show off at holiday parties. JEWELRY BY TFC LOCATED IN PAPILIO 429 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / 352.552.2332

An eye shadow palette or fragrance from a local vendor. PURGARTORY - LOCATED IN PAPILIO 429 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / 407.489.2768

e h t r a t Fo s i

n o i h s a f

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A blast from the past to delight newbies.

BARREL OF BOOKS AND GAMES 128 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora / 352.735.1950

HAPPY TROLL GAMES 155 US-27, Clermont / 352.460.2621

Game sets to keep them busy when they’re not in school. Let the force be with your child with this cool backpack shaped like The Child from The Mandalorian.

NONI 418 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / 352.383.3333

THE PURPLE PIG 1050 Canal St., The Villages / 352.753.2202

A STEM puzzle set to help them figure out what they want to be when they grow up. BARREL OF BOOKS AND GAMES 128 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora / 352.735.1950

A portable tea set perfect for carrying to a friend’s house or picnic site for the young or young at heart. ERIKAS’ TEA ROOM & GIFTS 787 West Montrose St., Clermont / 908.670.2305

Some images are courtesy of the respective manufacturer’s websites

Kid-friendly books about important historical figures.

Unique teapots that will stand out from other collectibles. WILDWOOD ANTIQUE MALL 349 Plaza Drive, Eustis / 352.602.7536

Throwback Disney figurines for the collector. CARRIAGE & KEY ANTIQUES 639 8th St., Clermont / 321.228.9855

A cool pick to strum your blues away or go viral. CORNERSTONE MUSIC 798 W. Montrose St., Clermont / 352.242.1838

POP-ular character bobbleheads of all your favorites. HAPPY TROLL GAMES 155 US-27, Clermont / 352.460.2621

An antique porcelain doll to keep other dolls company. WILDWOOD ANTIQUE MALL 349 Plaza Drive, Eustis / 352.602.7536

A Santa wine bottle is the perfect addition to any holiday setting. Pour and be merry. THE PURPLE PIG 1050 Canal St., The Villages / 352.753.2202

Pin ’em up. COMIC CONTROLLERS 639 8th Street, Clermont / 407.476.132

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PIG illages / 352.753.2202

Nothing like some cute sayings and reminders of a favorite adult beverage for your fridge.

Tins filled with buttery sweet goodness from a faraway land.

A set of sitcom playing cards. BARREL OF BOOKS AND GAMES 128 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora / 352.735.1950

A smart and stylish way to track your speed and distance.

This cool product from Stay Breezy is a wearable, hands-free wireless fan for relief from the sizzling Florida sun.

DASH SPORTS 741 W. Montrose St. Clermont / 352.394.7434

THE PURPLE PIG 1050 Canal St., The Villages 352.753.2202

These beautifully decorated face masks are nothing to sneeze at. Show pride in your favorite team while protecting yourself. GRAND GATOR 717 W. Main St., Leesburg / 352.787.6761

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Some images are courtesy of the respective manufacturer’s websites

LAKERIDGE WINERY & VINEYARDS 19239 U.S. Hwy. 27 N., Clermont / 352.394.7490

CORELLI’S PANTRY 732 W. Montrose St., Clermont / 352.708.4805

A collection of flavored sugars to compliment coffee or tea. SPICE & TEA EXCHANGE 431 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / 352.729.6762

Comical mermaid ornaments. PEDDLER’S WAGON 25 E. Magnolia Ave., Eustis / 352.483.2797

Play your day away. HAPPY TROLL GAMES 155 US-27, Clermont / 352.460.2621

Help for the hard to catch.

g n i k stocffers stu

THE FLORIDA ANGLER 786 West Montrose St., Clermont / 352.255.2335

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Handmade soaps to leave you squeaky clean and smelling fresh. BELLADONNA APOTHECARY online shop Etsy.com/shop/BelladonnApothecary / 352.406.7594

Roll-on essential oils to take anywhere they go. HEALTH BASKET 18040 US HWY 441, Mount Dora / 352.735.1166

Relaxation never tasted so good. ONE UTOPIA located in Montrose Street Market 793 West Montrose St., Clermont / 407.575.7616

Flavored CBD oils that calm when injested. HEALTH BASKET 18040 US HWY 441, Mount Dora / 352.735.1166

Take stress off your legs with a battery-operated, motorized electric bike. VILLAGE CYCLES 1102 Bichara Blvd., Lady Lake / 352.751.3443

A little pick me up for the senses. ONE UTOPIA located in Montrose Street Market 793 West Montrose St., Clermont / 407.575.7616

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Zen and peace to you. ENCORE HOME DÉCOR 782 W. Montrose, Clermont 352.242.5142

This Mexican pottery duck planter to give their outdoor area a burst of color. NONI 418 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / 352.383.3333

Pretty crystal decorations to make you smile.

Some images are courtesy of the respective manufacturer’s websites

THE BROOM TREE 777 W. Montrose St., Clermont / 352.536.1880

for the

homemaker Bring the beauty of nature inside. ONE UTOPIA located in Montrose Market 793 West Montrose St., Clermont 407.575.7616

Naturally pretty home décor perfect for a peaceful porch or windowsill. ORCHIDS BY CHARLENE 639 8th St., Clermont 321.258.2890

Drank all your wine, but want to cherish the memories? Here’s the perfect place to cork them. LAKERIDGE WINERY & VINEYARDS 19239 U.S. Highway 27 N., Clermont / 352.394.7490

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Spread Muscadine joy for the holidays! LAKERIDGE WINERY & VINEYARDS 19239 U.S. Highway 27 N., Clermont / 352.394.7490 Go from zero to delicious in 90 seconds with the Molly & You Cake Single. THE PURPLE PIG 1050 Canal St., The Villages / 352.753.2202

e h t for

e i d foo Assorted seafood spices they can get creative with. MOUNT DORA OLIVE OIL COMPANY 351 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / 352.735.8481 Put fancy scones on special order for the tea lover. ERIKA’S TEA ROOM & GIFTS 787 West Montrose St., Clermont / 908.670.2305

Bon Appetit! Starter pastas to make into your own culinary masterpiece. CORELLI’S PANTRY 732 W. Montrose St., Clermont / 352.708.4805

A set of best-selling spice blends. SPICE & TEA EXCHANGE 431 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / 352.729.6762

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A reading light so they can read after bed.

A lemon-scented soap set for the kitchen.

BARREL OF BOOKS AND GAMES 128 W. 4th Ave., Mt Dora / 352.735.1950

NONI 418 N. Donnelly St., Mt. Dora / 352.383.3333

for the

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Malena and Magda’s, welcomes you to our new location in beautiful Mount Dora. 100% cotton clothing from Cottonseed and Giocam, Handbags by Nicole Lee, The incredible Sunvisor, Leggins and many other accessories 352.729.2121 402 North Donnelly Street, Mount Dora

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Georgia on their minds Meet the Georgia Club.

The keys to happiness John Roberts plays the piano for hospital patients.

Planting seeds for better health Learn about The Villages Grown.



’Tis the ‘slow food’ season Villagers proclaim Christmas as ‘time-out’ from fast foods. STORY: JOE ANGIONE

ost of the year, Villagers eat their share of fast foods— burgers, pizza, fried chicken, Chinese take-out, tacos, heroes, subs—anything they can pick up that is ready to go and ready to eat. And when they’re not consuming fast foods, they’re often dining home on prepared foods, prepackaged, quick meals that just need a little heating in the microwave. True, some still cook full meals at dinnertime, but as they age, they do it far less often. But for nearly everyone around here, the Christmas holidays are the “slow food” season. It’s the time when cooking

traditional, festive meals from scratch is a highly anticipated treat. And that’s doubly so for seniors who knew little about fast food when they were growing up. Back then, it wasn’t just Christmas dinners that were slow food; all food, all the time, was likely to be considered “slow food.” If you’re over 70, you probably remember when there were no McDonald’s, Burger Kings, or Taco Bells. Back then, you ate at home on food cooked lovingly every day by mom, soup to dessert, at the family dinner table. Mouthwatering thoughts of those slow foods are fond memories we bring back to the table each year when Christmas rolls around. This Christmas Day, whether we eat at home or go to a restaurant, slow food is what most will order: turkey slow cooked to perfection for hours, white meat or dark, with rich gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry and at least three or four savory vegetables. Some might prefer a big baked ham, or a juicy roast beef, each with an array of side dishes usually seen only on the dinner table on Christmas and New Year’s Day. And then there are the wonderful chocolate cakes, fruit-filled pies, and holiday cookies for dessert – all made from scratch and so deliciously tempting that we might want to begin our holiday dinners with huge helpings of them. At Christmas, gone will be thoughts of burgers and other “take-out eats” that suit our tastes on ordinary days, but don’t come close to equaling the rich, festive wholesomeness we crave during “slow food” season.

Joe Angione loves to share stories of his adventures. If you want to contact him, email joeangione@aol.com.

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John ‘Jack’ Roberts Retired principal enjoys playing Broadway show tunes on grand piano at Villages hospital. INTERVIEWER: THERESA CAMPBELL


• Resides in Village of Hacienda South, moved to Villages in 2016. • Married 25 years to wife Deborah. • Has three children, four grandchildren: two boys, two girls.


• Retired in 1999 as principal at Valley Forge High School, Olmsted Falls, Ohio. • Coached students who became professional actors, including Alan Ruck (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) and Michelle Federer (original Broadway cast of “Wicked”).

Playing the grand piano at The Villages Regional Hospital: I have been playing at the hospital since we moved here. I currently play four hours a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.

Why I do it: I like to be able to give back to the community. No one really wants to be in the hospital, so I try to brighten their day by playing music. I do take requests. I like to play Broadway show tunes for people. I play from memory because I have directed many of the shows that I play.

Most requested songs: “Moon River” and “Phantom of the Opera.” Something people would be surprised to know about me: I considered myself to be shy. Although, when I am playing the piano, I tend to reach out to people.

My favorite activities: I enjoy watching old classic movies and I have two favorites: “Goodbye Mr. Chips” and “Lost Horizon.”

While directing and being involved in 100 plays: I met Alan Ruck as a high school sophomore when he auditioned for a play called “Now is The Time for All Good Men” at Parma High school. He was in three musicals for me and the last one was “Oliver” in which he played Fagin. Alan went on to star in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ” as Cameron, the rich kid who wore the Detroit Red Wings jersey. We have stayed in touch all of these years and remain great friends.

Directed and/ or produced 100+ plays.

My guilty pleasure: Chocolate. My motto: Live one day at a time. Do you know an interesting Villager?

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Email theresa@akersmediagroup.com

It’s more than a magazine.

It’s a lifestyle. lakeandsumterstyle.com

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Villages Grown

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Support your community, buy local, and enjoy the freshest veggies available, grown in your neighborhood. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

he Villages management team’s longtime desire to create a local food system to help residents achieve healthy, full, and long lives has come to fruition in the form of The Villages Grown. The project is an 84-acre plot of land designated for growing fresh, non-GMO, herbicide and pesticide-free produce, 365 days a year. Seed2Source – an agriculture and wellness consulting company founded by Managing Partner Jennifer Waxman; also the executive director of The Villages Grown – is the visionary behind it. She says the goal is establishing a food system to best benefit residents of what is the largest retirement community in the world. “A lot of Villagers, as we all know, are seeking to live their best lives, their healthiest lives, and it’s no secret anymore that food is medicine. To know that we are here as their local food system with their

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL name on it, with a solution [to health] that’s so delicious, so they [the Villagers] are getting reinvigorated and excited about eating vegetables,” says Jennifer. Jennifer is an expert on the “food as medicine” approach, based on eating more greens and vegetables as a preventative health measure. After receiving an MBA from Rollins College with a focus on agribusiness in 2000, she travelled the world working with farms, greenhouses, and controlled environment agriculture (CEA) technology. “We all just started with a brainstorm and realized that we could really change the world with this project, and we believe we can,” she says. For now, the goal is to change the way residents of The Villages eat. The Villages Grown is the intersection where agriculture meets wellness. “When you separate the two, we become ill, and that’s the state of the world. So that’s what Seed2Source’s vision is as consultants, and that word got out and resonated with The Villages,” says Jennifer, who hopes the food as medicine approach benefits everybody’s physical and mental well-being. “It’s going to be a tremendous project for that,” she adds.

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What is The Villages Grown? The Villages Grown is a Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) operation that grows a variety of produce. Most CEAs are category pillars in which only one product – such as leafy greens or tomatoes or herbs – are grown. The Villages Grown is growing six types of tomatoes – specifically heirloom – as well as a variety of lettuces, collard greens, microgreens, herbs, and different types of cucumbers. Jennifer, Director of Operations Adam Wright and Director of Production, General Manager Tracey Herrera, and Wellness Dr. Bill Huggins, are excited to offer chemical-free, “clean tech” vegetables, herbs, and microgreens to Villagers and surrounding communities.

The Villages Grown launched in 2018, started construction in 2019, and by the summer of 2020, the farm was semi-operational. Phase one consisted of nine acres of greenhouses being fully planted by the end of November. Those nine acres will yield roughly six million pounds of produce in one year. A total of 40 acres are dedicated to greenhouse space. “We’ll move pretty quickly and take on several iterations of phases which will position us to be one of the largest operations in the Southeast of its kind, which is exciting,” Jennifer says. Numerous greenhouses allow growing 365 days a year. Not being beholden to seasons means that a

Tracey Herrera, Jennifer Waxman, and Adam Wright

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consistent product is delivered over and over again. That excites Jennifer. “Our first thing we teach someone when they tell us they don’t like vegetables or don’t like tomatoes is that they probably have never had a real one. We’re so disconnected from our food supply, by the time you’re eating a general tomato on your plate it might have been harvested, in inventory and transit for up to five weeks. It is tasteless, it’s not delicious. They [other farms] are gassing it, coloring it, doing so many things to preserve it, and we do none of that,” Jennifer says. Local artisans have also gotten involved with The Villages Grown, using their farm products to make “amazing culinary wellness products such as fermented vegetables, vegan meat solutions, jams,” and so


on. Many of these products can be found at Brownwood Market and the Mobile Airstream Market that cruises neighborhoods in The Villages. “We have a whole line of perfectly curated products for optimal wellness that are all plant-based, to make it exciting for people,” Jennifer says. The company also implemented hydroponics, a method of growing plants, usually crops, in water, as opposed to soil or fertilizer. Jennifer emphasizes that vegetables are harvested and made available to consumers within 48 hours, whether business-to-consumer or businessto-business, “which means the nutrient values and shelf life is still intact.”

What are microgreens? “Microgreens are the first food category in the world to be categorized as medicinal food,” says Jennifer. “This has been backed up by Johns Hopkins University and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who were

the first research bodies to go out on a limb and say that this is a medicinal food due to phytochemical compounds that fight chronic diseases.” According to Jennifer, John Hopkins and Sloan Kettering lost significant Big Pharma money when they published the studies, but they knew it was an important thing to do. The Villages Grown leads with microgreens in its mission statement because they are one of the easiest – and most beneficial – things to incorporate into your daily diet. To give you an idea, the nutrients in a cup of broccoli microgreens grown the right way is equivalent to eating a bushel and a half of full-grown broccoli, Jennifer says. She explains that microgreens are the second phase in a plant’s life cycle after it sprouts, which she compares to a three-year-old who has stopped crawling and is running and full of energy, about to have a growth spurt and grow up. “It’s the same thing with a plant, and that’s why the energy and nutrient levels are at its optimal peak at that time, which is why that is the

best cycle in a plant that we should be consuming as food,” she says. The Villages Grown grows microgreens with hydroponics in 14-day cycles. Using hydroponics produces an acre of microgreens each week. Microgreens are typically seen as a garnish because they are visually beautiful on the plate, but Jennifer says they also have an enhanced taste and amazing smell. The Villages Grown is trying to re-educate and change views on microgreens as only garnish, because the nutrient values are so high. A third-party nutrient analysis is being done to prove that the microgreens are, in fact, medicinal and full of value. The goal is to have everybody consuming a cupful of microgreens each day. In order to make even better use of the greenhouse space, The Villages Grown has implemented a vertically integrated hydroponics model in the microgreens house, which means there will be “shelves” up to the ceiling to create much more growing space, thereby multiplying yield.

Where can I find The Villages Grown products? The Villages Grown already supplies a number of restaurants, and increased distribution is planned. Vegetables are also sold to the hospital system, assisted living facilities, and even local school systems. Chef Jack Braton of Turners Kitchen + Bar in Leesburg is what Jennifer calls one of their “tasting test pilots.”

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John LaPierra and Julie Greenwalt

The Villages Grown mobile store

Turners is well-known for being farm-to-table. It gets the majority of its ingredients from several local farms, as well as from Turners’ own farm in Yalaha. Jennifer and Adam are valued customers of Turners and often bring Jack complementary samples of staples to test and give feedback on. On occasion, Jack also buys tomatoes from The Villages Grown. “It’s an excellent farm. The product that we’ve received has been first rate,” Jack says. “Any time that you’re growing food locally as opposed to importing it is a good thing.” Jack adds: “Anybody that would say otherwise just doesn’t understand community-supported agriculture. The more we can source right here in our neighborhood the better off we all are. I believe that and that’s why I’ve stood by that idea since the day we opened our restaurant.” La Hacienda Catering also started a relationship with The Villages Grown in July that continues today. During weekly meal deliveries, they advertise The Villages Grown. If a customer wants to buy a box of fresh produce from The Villages Grown, La Hacienda picks up the box and sells it to the customer, which saves a visit to the store. Customers are able to get that box with their weekly meal delivery if they like. La Hacienda often purchases fresh staples from The Villages Grown for

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catering orders, salads and other meals. La Hacienda has also purchased tomatoes to Where can make stewed tomatoes or I buy the marinara sauce. freshest produce? “Freshness, better taste, the longevity of the product is better because it is so local. We get THE VILLAGES GROWN product from them within a couple TheVillagesGrown.com of hours from harvest basically,” says 352.775.7333 La Hacienda Catering office manager Beth Parker. BROWNWOOD MARKET “I believe the local access to fresh grown, consistent product will benefit 2666 West Torch Lake Drive, anyone who values farm-to-table The Villages style eating,” Beth adds. “Their 352.775.7866 microgreens are amazing. The taste Hours: Open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday - Saturday is definitely different than anything from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. you could buy in the store. They’re fresh, I know they’re nutritionally potent, and I love adding them MOBILE MARKET to all kinds of salads, wraps, just For location and hours visit even as a side to a cooked meal. thevillagesgrown.com/mobile-market They’re delicious.” You can find The Villages Grown produce at Brownwood Market in Paddock The Villages Grown Brownwood Market Square and the Mobile Airstream Market, which you can track online. Produce from The Villages Grown is close within your reach, every day of the week, and you’re sure to find your favorite vegetables there all year round.

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Georgia Club Just Peachy Seven months of idleness ends with burst of activity. STORY: GARY CORSAIR


he states clubs of The Villages are anything but united when it comes to dealing with coronavirus. Many clubs, like the Central States Club, remain crippled by the pandemic, which has produced 825 cases in Florida’s most social hometown according to Inside the Bubble, a newsletter published by author Ryan Erisman. “I am sad to report the Central States Club officers decided to cancel our meetings for November and December due to the pandemic threat. Our next meeting is scheduled for January 28,” says club president Don Maddox. While central staters play it super safe, many clubs are taking tentative steps toward the normal routine enjoyed prior to March. “Our last entertainer was in December. Then we cancelled everything else. So far since then the golfing groups have still been playing,” says Colorado Club president Jackie Weimer. “Then, in September, we had 40 people go to Havana to see Clark Barrios and eat supper. We also had our first meeting in September, which was just

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a general meeting. We have also started our men's breakfast, women's luncheon and the women's game group back up in about the last six weeks.” The State of Georgia Club members are also boldly trying to resume activities they enjoyed before COVID-19 reared its ugly head. “We have not met since March so we are anxious to get back together,” says enthusiastic fifth-year Georgia Club President Carolyn Christensen.

Scott and Kim Widmer, Mimi Goodman, Beverly Harvey, Carolyn Christensen, Karen Jones, and Jim Christensen

“WE HAVE NOT MET SINCE MARCH SO WE ARE ANXIOUS TO GET BACK TOGETHER.” — C A R O LY N C H R I S T E N S E N Club Members enjoy their first meeting since March.

The anxiousness Peach Staters felt was all but relieved in November. The club met Nov. 5 at Lake Miona Recreation Center (masks required, only six chairs per table), Georgia Ladies enjoyed their monthly luncheon on Nov. 12 (potluck hosted by Kim Wilder and Mimi Goodwin), and golfers teed up Nov. 21. The club’s getting up to speed just in time for the big event of the year. And Carolyn is ready for a big dose of merriment. “I have the holiday party all planned and ready to go in December,” she says. Revival of club activities has been well received. “As for new members, we had three people join at the last meeting and I had a lot of calls through the summer asking questions,” Carolyn says. “I think when they know we are back up and running we will see a lot of those callers coming to the club meetings and joining.”

Want to see your club in Social Club Spotlight?

Helena and Ted Prindle, Sandee Walloch, Beth Minski, Donna Modine, and Jack Minski

Send your suggestions to gary@akersmediagroup.com.

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The Great Alone Alaska is a main character in Kristin Hannah’s fictional historical novel. STORY: DOROTHY VON BROOK, CALUMET GROVE, THE VILLAGES

laska is the backdrop of Kristin Hannah’s historical fiction novel “The Great Alone,” a multi-layered love story – whether toxic or nurturing, familial or romantic, doomed or hopeful – in which she presents a descriptive picture of the unique experience of living in Alaska, circa 1970s. The plot of “The Great Alone” revolves around the Allbright family

moving to Alaska to start a new life in the untamed wilderness. The family consists of 13-year-old Leni, her Vietnam veteran father Ernt, and her mother Cora. Their objective: get off the grid, leave the past (and creditors) behind and embrace an unknown future. Ernt, feeling that all he needs is a change in geography, prepares for the trip with some money inherited from his father, but is sorely lacking in material and enough money for the great move. Before long, in frigid weather, the days grow shorter and the family prepares for their first winter in Alaska.

The real story in “The Great Alone” is Leni and her Alaskan friend Matthew – two teenagers in a desolate and often terrifying landscape, who fall in love. Leni, at far too young an age, is faced with some of the most difficult choices she will likely ever make. Ernt battles Vietnam-related trauma, memories of being a prisoner of war, alcoholism, and paranoia. Cora struggles between her love for Ernt and her desire to protect her daughter. Leni charts a safe path to adulthood despite the violence and secrets of her family home. The author captures the raw emotions – similar to the territory – in this compelling read.

Want to experience Alaska throught the eyes of Kristin Hannah? “The Great Alone” can be found at Target, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, or on Amazon.

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Healthy for the Holidays! HOLIDAY HOURS: Nov 26th-27th - Closed Dec24th - Half day Dec 25th - Closed Dec 31st - Half day Jan 1st - Closed CALL US FIRST! Even when our office is closed, you can reach someone at 352.205.4302 We offer video and phone visits that are easy and convenient!



When you need treatment right away for minor illnesses and injuries.

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heart for


electrophysiology Village Heart and Vein Center welcomes Dr. Christopher Jones. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE


he Village Heart and Vein Center welcomes heart rhythm specialist Dr. Christopher Jones, MD to the group. Dr. Jones is a Cardiac Electrophysiologist and has all the attributes a patient wants in a physician. He blends education, knowledge, and experience with a strong passion for providing the most comprehensive cardiovascular care possible. Now, he’s bringing these desired qualities to Village Heart and Vein Center, where he officially started December 1st. Dr. Jones says, “I am excited to be working with such a dynamic team of physicians, nurses and staff who share my patient-centered treatment philosophy and are dedicated to providing exemplary patient care.” As an Electrophysiologist, Dr. Jones specializes in treating abnormal heart rhythms, also known as arrhythmias. “An arrhythmia is the abnormal beating of the heart, whether too fast, too slow or irregular. Each heartbeat

occurs due to brief electrical impulses conducted through the heart in an orderly fashion. Abnormal heart rhythms occur when these electrical impulses become disordered.” When speaking with Dr. Jones about his specialty, his enthusiasm is clearly evident and is especially passionate about a particular irregular rhythm, atrial fibrillation (Afib). “Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia affecting men and women and is commonly associated with a multitude of symptoms, some of which include irregular heartbeat, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, light-headedness, and chest discomfort,” Dr. Jones says. He adds: “In my experience, patients with abnormal heart rhythms can feel physically limited by their symptoms and apprehensive to engage in once enjoyable activities.” Dr. Jones prides himself on keeping the patient at the center or any plan of care. “I fully believe in shared decision making when it comes to treating my patients. This begins with educating them on their rhythm disorder and their possible treatment options.”

He says, “While many patients with Afib and other arrhythmias can be managed with medicines, certain patients are best served with specialized procedure called ablation. My training allows me to provide this specialized minimally invasive procedure that allows me to locate and stop the cause of the problem with the goal of eliminating the need for daily medications to maintain a normal heart rhythm.” Dr. Jones comes to the practice with impressive credentials. He attended medical school and completed a residency in internal medicine at East Carolina University. He then completed a fellowship in general cardiology at Marshall University and went on to complete two years of advanced training in Electrophysiology at the University of Chicago. To say Dr. Jones is passionate about heart health is an understatement. “Heart health is very important to me and keeping my patients’ hearts in rhythm helps them maintain active, heart healthy lifestyles.

352.674.2080 / villageheartandvein.com / 8575 NE 138th Ln #203, Lady Lake

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11/5/20 10:51 AM


Mission possible: Leesburg students shooting for the moon. STORY: JAMES COMBS


iley McDowell cannot wait to launch her science project beyond the classroom laboratory and into outer space. It’s a dream come true for Riley, a 2020 graduate of The Villages Charter High School who has long dreamed about traveling through outer space and landing on the moon. “This is so exciting to think about,” says Riley, who was crowned Junior Miss Leesburg

in 2020. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Riley is one of many students participating in a project designed to spark interest in space exploration and elevate their pride in Leesburg. Students from all public schools in Leesburg are creating a virtual City of Leesburg on the moon. They’ll design computerized images of buildings and streets and parks, write essays, and provide photos of their loved ones. Content they create will be stored onto a micro SD card with 2 trillion bytes. In Spring 2021, the micro SD card will be placed aboard a rocket that will launch

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from Spaceport America in New Mexico, officially putting Leesburg into space. Afterward, students will have several months to polish their original work and load it onto a second micro SD card. That chip will be placed inside a space canister and placed aboard a rocket leaving Cape Canaveral in Summer 2021. After the rocket reaches the moon, a landing capsule will place the canister on the northeastern part of the moon known as the Lacus Mortis region. The project is spearheaded by entrepreneur Dave van de Velde, a resident of The Villages and founder of Van Gogh Vodka. Several years ago, he formed an anti-bullying program at Leesburg High School. When coronavirus forced schools to close last spring, he sought another outlet to reach students. “We couldn’t do anti-bullying because the kids didn’t come to school,” he says. “I was thinking of ways to keep kids involved on a computer and teaching them to use the Internet to research space. Since space is where the future is, only good things could come out of a project like this.” The project also helps promote Leesburg, which Dave refers to as “a special and unique city.” In recent years, Dave has arranged for crews to take

Leesburg High School’s flag to historic and hard-to-reach locations, including Normandy beaches and the South Pole. In addition, the flag has flown atop Mount Everest and draped the gravestone of famous explorer Ernest Shackleton. Giving Leesburg a permanent home on the moon seemed like the next logical step. “I’m not sure if there is any other school in this country that has done all these things,” Dave says. “Our virtual City of Leesburg on the moon is going to be a city of peace, no harassment and no bullying. Kids have to pledge not to bully or we send them back to Earth.” Dave says the project is an invaluable learning tool because curiosity will prompt students to research facts about space exploration and the moon. Moreover, they’ll be able to express themselves creatively by designing the entire city, ranging from a futuristic classroom on the moon, to a space vehicle that transports moon dwellers from one building to the next. “One student wanted to grow sunflowers on the moon, but the student realized there is no air,” Dave says. “So, the student came up with the idea to make a dome with some water to grow flowers. This allows students to live their

Venetian Gardens is known for its lush landscape, picturesque bridges, and stunning lakeside views. For one day, however, the venue will host a spaced-themed event that is out of this world. The Leesburg Lunar Festival, on March 27, will drum up excitement before rockets officially launch Leesburg into outer space and to the moon. This free, family-friendly event will also educate children and adults alike about the moon and outer space. Everyone from kindergarten students to adults will enjoy a slew of activities, including robotics competitions, solar oven bake-offs, and listening to the 18-piece LC Swing Band. Guests will also chat with a NASA astronaut. The event is being organized by the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce and members of the Leesburg Noon Rotary Club. “People can come out and celebrate with their families,” Dave says. “It’s educational, and that’s important because space and science are where it’s at. I also think this event will equip parents with the necessary knowledge and provide them with the necessary tools to help their children. That is the purpose of this event.” For more information, visit leesburglunaralliance.com.

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own fantasy and learn as much as they can during the process.” That’s especially true of Kierstyn Riley, an eighth grader at First AcademyLeesburg. She says working on the project has taken her imagination to new heights. “Not a lot of students get to be involved with something like this,” she says. “I learned about space last year and was surprised how long it takes to get to Mars. Now, I’ll only be a few light years away.” The project has sentimental value for Alexis Gamez, a senior at Leesburg High School. She plans to send a picture of her grandparents to the moon. “I love my grandparents, and they love me just as much,” Alexis says. “One day when they’re gone, I can walk outside each morning when the moon is out over the horizon and cherish all the memories I made with them.” Leesburg High School senior Julia Emmons hopes the project boosts Leesburg’s image. She feels that her city has developed an unfair reputation. “Some people are down on Leesburg, which is unfortunate because many good things happen here that are overlooked,” she says. “Things like this put us on the map and gives Leesburg bragging rights. This is a great city, and I’m proud to be part of this project.”

Alexis Gamez

Julia Emmons


While students are responsible for designing the virtual city, Dave says the project is a community-wide effort. In fact, he has tapped into his creative entrepreneurial and marketing skills to include Leesburg businesses and residents. For $20, businessowners and individuals can put a photo on the moon, whether it’s a picture of a satisfied customer or a memorable photo of a loved one. “Let’s say we want to get a local dealership on board our program,” Dave says. “The next time a customer buys a vehicle from that dealership, the owner or car salesman can say to the customer, ‘Let me take a picture of you and your car and put it on the moon.’ The customer is going to be ecstatic and tell all his or her friends.

That’s branding, and branding is what I’ve done all my life.” Dave is also involving city officials and employees. In fact, the virtual city will feature buildings and roads bearing their names. There’s the Elise Dennison SpacePort, named after the mayor, the Al Minner City Hall, named after the city manager, and the Danielle Parker Parkway, named after the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s operations director. “I’m happy to be the first mayor on the moon,” Elise says. “I got my pilot’s license so I think that will help me in operating an efficient SpacePort. Seriously, what excites me about this program is that it will inspire kids to learn, and if this inspires kids to be excited about their

education, just think how much better Leesburg will be down the road.” Danielle echoed those sentiments. “Space is something I’ve always loved, so I think this project is fantastic. We live in Florida and should be excited about our space program. To take the space program to a local level and have everyone in the community participate is really awesome. And for businesses to be able to market themselves is very important.” Dave, a stickler for details, expects the project to be completed in a comprehensive, professional manner. After all, an opportunity like this comes around once in a blue moon. “We have one shot to be number one,” Dave says. “If we don’t do it well, then we won’t be number one anymore.”

Kierstyn Riley Riley McDowell

Caliza O’Bryan

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Bill Van Riper, 91, proves you’re never too old to sing.

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REVVING UP FOR CHRISTMAS The Villages Christmas Cruise-In featuring The Geezers’ Non-Club on Main Street. Free live entertainment on the main stage with Rocky & The Rollers. Sumter County Sheriff’s Office will conduct a toy drive for underprivileged children in the tri-county area.

The Spanish Springs Classic Christmas Tree Lighting Festival is a free event and will feature a projector light show, live entertainment by Cool Yule Band, and performances from Aloha O’Ka Hula, Mystic Jewels Dance Troupe, The Original Villages Belly Dancers and The Villages Twirlers and Drum Corps. The event is sponsored by Verizon.

Dec. 19, 4-9 p.m. at Spanish Springs Town Square, 1120 Main St., The Villages thevillagesentertainment.com/event/christmas-cruise-in-2

Dec. 2 @ 4-9pm / Spanish Springs Town Square / 1120 Main St. / thevillagesentertainment.com/event/tree-lighting-festival-2





Help support Mount Dora High School FFA and Run 4 a Cause Foundation by participating in the Mount Dora Half Marathon. Choose to run a half marathon or 5K. Dec. 21-22 / 100 N. Donnelly St. / mountdorahalfmarathon.com

ONGOI NG L I GHT D ISPL AYS Events are subject to change and cancellation.

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Lighting the way to holiday spirit

Ferran Park, Eustis 250 Ferran Park Dr., Eustis Donnelly Park 420 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora Mount Dora City Hall 510 N. Baker St., Mount Dora

Dancing Lighted Christmas Tree Sunset Park 230 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora Tavares Union Train Station 305 E. Ruby St., Tavares

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The 28th Annual Mount Dora Christmas Walk will get you in the holiday spirit. This family-friendly street party in downtown Mount Dora features music, food vendors, toy vendors, and shopping. Also, take advantage of free pictures with Santa in Sunset Park. Dec. 4 from 6-9 p.m. in downtown Mount Dora. Free shuttle parking and service is offered at First Baptist Church, 1000 E. 1st Ave., Mount Dora.

Wooton Park 100 E. Ruby St., Tavares

City of Clermont Lights Display Throughout downtown Clermont

Winter Wonderland Lights Walk Venetian Gardens Park 109 E. Dixie Ave., Leesburg

Chick-fil-A Christmas Spectacular at the Citrus Tower 141 S. Highway 27 Clermont

dec.JAMS Move to the beat of one of your favorite performers at one of these great concerts or local venues!

Strumming the right chord Well-known Central Florida guitarist Greg Pando will be missed.

12/4@9:30 p.m.

12/13@1 p.m.

PAPA WHEELEE DUO Oasis Saloon, Sorrento

MANFREDI ROCKS Ruby Street Grille, Tavares

12/8 -12/9@7 p.m.

12/17@7 p.m.

BACH TO BROADWAY The Sharon, The Villages

ORANGE BLOSSOM Opry Showcase, Weirsdale

12/10@7 p.m.

12/18@9:30 p.m.

ORANGE BLOSSOM Opry Showcase, Weirsdale

RACHEL AND RALEIGH Oasis Saloon, Sorrento

12/10@9:30 p.m.

12/19@7 p.m.

HYPERSONA DUO Oasis Saloon, Sorrento

MAIDEN VOYAGE BAND Gators of Umatilla, Umatilla

12/11@5 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille, The Villages

12/19@9 p.m.

12/11@8 p.m.

12/19@9:30 p.m.

SEPTEMBER DOGS Crossroads 44, Eustis

SKID RODEO Oasis Saloon, Sorrento

12/11@9:30 p.m.


CYCLONES Oasis Saloon, Sorrento

C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

12/12@9:30 p.m.

12/26@5 p.m.

DONNIE LEE Oasis Saloon, Sorrento

MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille, The Villages


SEPTEMBER DOGS Frank’s Place, Leesburg

* Dates and times are tentative due to COVID-19 guidelines. Contact the venues for updates.

He played a mean guitar. And he played it alongside legendary musicians. Some say he could’ve gone big time, but he chose to stay home and perform for his hordes of fans in Central Florida. Musician Greg Pando died on Sept. 27 after a long battle with cancer. But the majestic sound of his guitar won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Greg, a native of New York City, honed his guitar-playing skills as a teenager. By age 16, he began performing at New York City’s most recognized music venues. He moved to Ocala in 1991 and later played in the original Katie Bar The Door Band at Katie Belle’s in The Villages. He would eventually form his own band, Rewind, and become a regular performer in The Villages, as well as The Mojo Grill and Catering

ONGOI NG EVENTS Events are subject to change and cancellation.

Howey Mansion Christmas Decorations 1001 Citrus Ave., Howey-in-the-Hills, Tues-Sat. 10am-2pm

Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest 35317 Huff Rd., Eustis, Wed. mornings

in Ocala. Rewind opened for and performed with notables such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Bo Diddley. The band also performed at many blues festivals throughout Central Florida. Those who knew him best offered heartfelt words for the talented musician and even better man. “An incredible husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, and musician all rolled into one,” says his wife, Debbie. “Always ready to help or play. Well known for his hugs. If you needed help, he’d be there. If you needed music for a benefit, he’d be there. If you needed someone to talk to, he’d be there. Always hugging, always smiling, always ready to help. He was intelligent and he was deep. No problem was too small. He was the best friend a person could have.”

Santa’s Enchanted Forest Lake Catherine Blueberry Farm 5849 Lake Catherine Rd., Groveland

Winterland Adventures Lake Square Mall 10401 US Hwy 441, Leesburg

Presidents Hall of Fame 123 US-27 N, Clermont

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Our Restaurants are Open

Our Shops are Stocked

Over 2 Million Christmas Lights around Town

Stroll the downtown and enjoy your time

Live Music


Holiday spectacular lights at the marina

www.cityofmountdora.com The city continues requiring face coverings and social distancing for our safety

When you want to make it

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Living a ‘Wonderful Life’ Nonagenarian Bill Van Riper delights by crooning on stage at venues around The Villages. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

ill Van Riper, 91, proudly takes credit for being the oldest singer on stage when he performs at Barb’s Barn Country Music in Oxford, Orange Blossom Opry in Weirsdale, or Morgan’s Music Junction in Summerfield. “Every time I sing, I break the record again,” says the New Jersey native who has lived at Spruce Creek South, near The Villages, for 25 years. He was 85 the first time he publicly sang “You Are My Sunshine” in a duet with Suzanne Morgan at Orange Blossom Opry. From there, Bill has been a weekly regular singing and dancing at Barb’s Barn. Since COVID-19 restrictions began easing, he has been invited to area venues and churches, and even asked to sing a cappella at small funerals. His most requested song is Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Bill is thankful to wake up each day. “The Lord has blessed me with good health, no heart problems, no stents, no


diabetes. Doctors predict I’ll live to be 100, but 92 is my next goal,” he says in anticipation of his June 5 birthday. Most days, Bill says he feels like he’s 75. In addition to singing, he keeps active as a volunteer at The Villages Regional Hospital, delivering 14 meals to the homebound in Fruitland Park, sitting on the Spruce Creek advisory board, spraying and pulling weeds for four neighbors, serving as visitation minister at Community United Methodist Church in Fruitland Park, and even carpooling a 100-year-old friend to the Opry. The retired life insurance agent who outlived two wives had six children, 15 grandchildren, and seven greatgrandchildren. In addition to singing, he has kept active by swimming, bowling and playing tennis for 72 years. Five years ago, he won a gold medal in The Villages Senior Games with a 90-year-old tennis partner. “I’ve been called Romeo,” he says, quickly noting that in his case, the name is an acronym for “retired old man entertaining others.” “I’m just happy doing what I’m doing and keeping busy,” says Bill, adding that he has one goal when he sings: “I like to make people smile.”

Do you know talented people in the community? Send recommendations to theresa@akersmediagroup.com.

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Let there be lights Citrus Tower owners hope the return of their Christmas Light show inspires happiness. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

Jay Peterson, Scott Homan, and Rocky DeStefano.

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he extremely popular Citrus Tower Christmas light show featuring snowfall, over 25,000 lights synchronized to music and more has returned after a two-year hiatus, and it’s bigger than ever before. Citrus Tower owners Scott and Heather Homan decided to finish off 2020 with a bang – or at least a lot of lights – at the 226-foot-high landmark at 141 North Hwy. 27 in Clermont in response to an outpouring of community support. Scott credits locals and area businesses for stepping up to make it happen. He promised to reward that support with a more amped-up show. “A lot of people wanted the light show,” Scott says in reference to comments he heard around town about how much people missed his holiday display. The Citrus Tower Christmas light show was introduced in 2010 by Scott’s father Greg Homan, who then operated the tower. The show ran for seven years, until Greg cancelled it due to concerns about space, safety and lighting in the parking lot at the tower’s base where people gathered to watch. Greg gifted the lights to Real Life Christian Church, and Jay Peterson of Jayslights LLC – the creative mastermind behind the Citrus Tower Christmas light

show since its beginning – went on to engineer Real Life’s show as well. In February 2019, after taking over operations at the Citrus Tower, Scott and Heather looked into bringing the show back. The following year, influenced by two years of comments on social media by people who missed the Citrus Tower light show, they announced their intent. But there was a catch – they couldn’t afford the more than $40,000 needed to present the light show. In January 2020, they posted this appeal on the Citrus Tower Facebook page: “WE NEED YOUR HELP!” Scott’s idea was to sell 400 $100 annual memberships (good for daily rides to the top for the purchaser and four guests) to cover the cost of new lights and equipment, safety barricades, and LED lights to brighten the parking lot and make it safer for pedestrians. Scott promised nightly snowfall if he sold 500 memberships, and other surprises if 600 were sold. “We were trying to think creatively about how we could bring it back, so instead of just doing a fundraiser, we thought about what product we have that was underused, and it was the membership,” Scott says. Scott and Heather set a deadline of April 1 to allow enough time for planning. The community immediately jumped on board and within weeks, more than one fourth of the goal had been reached.


Wheatley Realty Group and Success Mortgage Partners donated to the cause, as did Texas Roadhouse with an amount equivalent to about 50 memberships. Real Life Christian Church even gifted a portion of the equipment back – a gesture Scott says was worth about 68 memberships. The game changer, however, came when Chick-fil-A of Clermont owner Rocky DeStefano heard of Scott’s plight and threw in vouchers for 20 free chicken sandwiches (a $73.80 value) for each person who bought a membership. Sales spiked and goals were surpassed. “We love partnering with other great businesses in the community, and I think the Citrus Tower is awesome,” Rocky says, explaining that he and his kids loved driving by the Tower to watch the light

This view from Hwy. 27 to Lake Minneola was once filled with citrus groves.

show. “I was sad to see it go, although I understood why, then happy to see it come back, so we wanted to do whatever we could to help in any way.” Scott says he appreciates the community outpouring. To honor Rocky’s continued support, he dubbed the show “The Chick-fil-A Christmas Spectacular at the Citrus Tower.” Since July, Jay worked on engineering a show that provides a treat for the eyes and senses like nothing before – more than 50,000 lights, new and exciting music and sequences, double the snow, nearly seven miles of electrical wiring, and more. “Nothing can ever, ever compete with the tower. I’ve looked around all over the country and haven’t found anywhere that lights up a building like this from all sides,” Jay says. Scott, Jay and Rocky say they are enthused about the smiles they hope and believe the light show spectacular elicits. “I’m glad it all worked out because I feel people really need something to get excited about this year,” Rocky says. The 20-minute light show started Nov. 27 and runs all month on a continuous loop from 6 to 10 p.m. each night and through midnight on Dec. 31. For more information, visit citrustower.com or follow the Citrus Tower on Facebook.

Want to see your event in Social Spotlight? Contact us at least three months in advance and provide all the details to roxanne@akersmediagroup.com.


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Melinda Barber

Robert Weller

Matt and Sarah Uhrik

Chad and Dr. Candice Humphrey

Robert Durand and Allison Wilkinson Ketchma Gomes, Hannah Davis, Sakia Duperme, Julian Lopez, Imre Hocker

See all the photos for this event at lakeandsumterstyle.com/hisociety

Dr. Laura Byrd


Dan and Kathryn Thomas, Cindi and Ron Falanga, Amanda and Josh Gonzales

LS S C’ S E ST EEM ED ELIT E @ MISSION INN ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. The ninth annual Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame celebration honoring outstanding service by Lake-Sumter State College alumni, faculty, and staff members was hosted Oct. 13 at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills. The 2020 honored recipients were Robb Elmatti, Sgt. Fred Jones, Dr. Candice Humphrey, 2nd Lt. Brianne Cook, Kylie Smalt, Nora Rackey, Carolyn Scott, Tim Morris, and coach Mike Matulia.

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Julie Manning, Jordan Hawkins, Karen Levy The Heintzelman Family

Hannah Goldberg, Holly Hemingway, Emily Fine, and Paulette Williams

Dr. Jack Cassell and Alan Stoneking

Brooke, Justin, and Bobby Stoneking

Brienna and Eddie Boscana

Deborah Duncan, Gage, David and Lisa Fine

F I S H F RY F O R S M A L L F RY S @ UMATILLA ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. The Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida’s 16th annual Fish Fry on Oct. 22 at Sunsational Farms in Umatilla benefitted the club’s northeast Lake unit. Aluminum Boat Cradles Inc., Rotary Club of Lake County Golden Triangle, and Lucas Air Conditioning and Heating served as sponsors. Since 1944, Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida’s mission has been to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens.

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See all the photos for this event at lakeandsumterstyle.com/hisociety

Ruby and Devon Newsome, Gage Fine








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Maxwell Spann, Mark Starcher, Travis Rima, John Christian, Elise Dennison, Dan Robuck, Al Minner, Mike Pederson, and Cliff Kelsey Davis Talmage, Jeff Sustarsic, and Doug Childers

Back Row: Kierstyn Riley, Caliza O’Bryan, Riley McDowell Front Row: Shaylin Shumate, A’zyrani Taylor

Mayor Elise Dennison

Danielle Parker, Rosanne Brandeburg, Tracey Samples, and Dina Simpson

Betty Stevens Coney, Community Development Corporation

AQUATIC CEN T ER GROU N DBR EA K I NG ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. Leesburg leaders hosted a public groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 30 for the new aquatic center to be constructed at the corner of Canal and Pine streets. The $5.2 million facility will include an eight-lane competition pool, zero entry multi-purpose pool with slide, and a 2,100–square–foot building to house administrative space and restroom/shower facilities. The new facility designed by CPH Engineering with its partner Water Technology, Inc. will be built by Evergreen Construction.


City Manager Al Minner

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See all the photos for this event at lakeandsumterstyle.com/hisociety

Dr. Dee and Dr. Erika Jasper


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BM lueedMiVillages, edYiSneakers VuFaeBare lM u(P e04(5PO3P32163 )latrademarks p2l0a2n0ia_sM vilatrademarks ilbalbeleonolnofylyTivity akkee, ,M M rand/or Ssubsidiaries m tteerr32162 CCoand/or ..OOvveiner-rthe t-htheUSA -ec-ocuoand/or nutnetreaother awnacnescedsWe odnocomply ont rootllrwith qeuxcivil registered or Health, Inc., itsS countries. FL Villages, FL ThisTBhliuseThe e01c0_aV1Frae1Blaws l_M )_Op11 vaaon athe inincolor, LaLThe aarorigin, iioonn&&age, uudisability, m ougender. unnttiieaffiliates essATENCIÓN: rllaolw lotiene oolvleapplicable orvteogratuitos rthtoe tnFederal heedextnasistencia tarqteu■ra. rFtleorr.idFlaoBrilduae Bisluae is a Y0ict0ah1rarights 0a4and 5e3P _o11 2discriminate 0t2.nE0n_isrM do not basis ofrirace, national or Si habla español, alsu disposición servicios P P O P l a n w M e d i c r c n t r a c o l l m e n t i n F l o d a B l u e d e p e n d s o n c o n t r a c t r e n e w a l . 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O u t o f n e t w o r k / n o n c o n t r a c t e d p r o v i d e r s a r e u n d e r n o o b l i g a t i o n t o t r e a t F l o r i d a B l u e m e m b e ssystem. ,bers, Inc., DBA Florida Blue Medicare, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating © 2020 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc., DBA Florida Blue. All rights reserved. rating Blue, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Out-of-network/non-contracted providers are under noFive obligaout tion toof t®reafive t Floridstar a Blue m erm Y0011_FBM0453_11 2020_M Your Local Agency in The Villages Applicable to 2020 HMO plans on contract H1035. Other providers are available in our network. We comply with applicable Federal civil rights laws and do not discriminate e x c e p t i n e m e r g e n c y s i t u a t i o n s . 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Tcio2583 vm itypH e a l t h a n d S i l v e r S n e a k e r s a r e r e g i s t e r e d t r a d e m a r k s o r t r a d e m a r k s o f T i v i t y H e a l t h , I n c . , a n d / o r i t s s u b s i d i a r i e s a n d / o r a f fi l i a t e s i n t h e U S A a n d / o r o t h e r Our HMO plans received Medicare’s gen ly(TTY: with1-877-955-8773). applicable FederATANSYON: al civil rightSi s lawwpale s anKreyòl d do nAyisyen, ot discrim inasèvis te onèdthpou e balang sis oki f radisponib ce, colorgratis , natiopou nal ou. origRele in, ag1-800-352-2583 e, disability, or g(TTY: end1-800-955-8770). er. ATENCIÓN: Si h©2020 abla Blue counetThis rsipeasñ.BlueMedicare W e c o m p l y w i t h a p p l i c a b l e F e d e r a l c i v i l r i g h t s l a w s a n d d o n o t d i s c r i m i n a t e o n t h e b a s i s o f r a c e , c o l o r , n a t i o n a l o r i g i n , a g e , d i s a b i l i t y , o r g e n d e r . A T E N C I Ó N : S i h a b l a Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc., DBA Florida Blue. All rights reserved. ol, tiene a su dValue ispos(PPO) ición splan ervicisioavailable s gratuitoonly s deinasLake, istencMarion ia lingü&ísSumter tica. Llam e al 1-85Over-the-counter 5-601-9465 (TTallowances Y:1-877-95do 5-8not 77roll 3). Aover TANtoSYthe ONnext : Si wquarter. pahighest le KFlorida reyòl Arating yBlue isyeisn,agPPO efor nsèPlan vquality is èwith d pou Counties. espalñaanoMedicare lg, tkiiedniespaocontract. snuibdVillages igsrpatoEnrollment s i c i ó n s e r v i c i o s g r a t u i t o s d e a s i s t e n c i a l i n g ü í s t i c a . L l a m e a l 1 8 5 5 6 0 1 9 4 6 5 ( T T Y : 1 8 7 7 9 5 5 8 7 7 3 ) . A T A N S Y O N : S i w p a l e K r e y ò l A y i s y e n , g e nsèvis èd pou in Florida Blue depends on contract renewal. Health coverage is offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc., DBA Florida Blue, an Independent is pou ou. Rele 1-855-601-9465 (TTY:1-800-955-8770). lang kLicensee i disponofibthe graY0011_98890_M tis pCross ou ouand . ReBlue le 11019 -Shield 855CMS -6Association. 01Accepted -9465 (TOut-of-network/non-contracted TY:1-800-955-8770). Blue providers are under no obligation to treat Florida Blue members, except in emergency situations.


28 YEARS Of Innovation In Cardiovascular Care Reaching one of life’s milestones is cause for celebration. Cardiovascular Associates is proud to celebrate 28 years of providing the latest in cardiovascular care to our patients. As a full service cardiology practice we were the first to bring comprehensive cardiac care—including nuclear medicine and heart catheterizations—to Lake County. We were also the first in the country to offer cardiac electrophysiology (EP) and establish accredited echocardiography and nuclear medicine labs. We also opened Lake County’s first cardiac PET lab, which includes the latest in image technology and diagnostic accuracy. All of us at CVA say a “hearty thank you” to all our patients and referring physicians for allowing us the privilege of providing innovative cardiovascular care for 28 years.

LEESBURG 352.323.5700 – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday 705 Doctors Court - across from UF Health Leesburg

TAVARES 352.742.1171 – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday 1879 Nightingale Lane, Suite A-1 & C-1 - across from AdventHealth Waterman


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The Only Ringing You Should Hear This Holiday Season... From all of us at Lake ENT’s Hearing Aid & Audiology Team, we wish you a happy, healthy holiday season and look forward to treating your hearing concerns (including ringing in the ears) during the year ahead. Call Today for Your FREE Hearing Screening & Consultation.* * Excludes diagnostic hearing test.

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Leesburg: 352-728-2404 The VillagesÂŽ: 352-753-8448 Tavares: 352-343-7279


healthy living MIND. BODY. SOUL.

Lakshmi Trambauer teaches students to downward-dog into uplifted state.

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Taking on a spiritual role Yoga instructor Lakshmi Trambauer strives to create atmosphere fit for mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

racey Trambauer instantly fell in love with yoga when she took her first class in the late 1990s. She soon became an avid student, practicing yoga almost daily, and eventually filling in as a substitute teacher. In 2000, Tracey visited the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp in Quebec, Canada, for her first yoga teacher training. “I started teaching in various places around Clermont, but eventually wanted to open my own studio just to have a home for the students. A place where I could really control the atmosphere,” she says. Her first studio in Clermont was open for 17 years. She now owns and runs Eustis Yoga, which celebrated its fifth birthday in October. In addition to the instruction received in Quebec, she travelled to India in 2005 to take advanced training in Sivananda Yoga, a spiritual yoga system founded by Swami Vishnudevananda that takes a classical and holistic approach to yoga that stretches and tones the whole body, pairing physical postures with breathing techniques. During her advanced training, Tracey received her yogi name, Mahalakshmi, through the Sivananda tradition of name initiation. “You basically take on a yoga name or a spiritual name. It resonated with

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL me, so I finally decided to make it official in March and I had my name legally changed,” she says, going by Lakshmi for short. Her favorite type of yoga to practice and teach is her own take on Sivananda yoga. “I was drawn to Sivananda yoga and continue to be inspired by it because it emphasizes not only the postures but also breathing exercises, relaxation, diet (plant-based) and meditation. It’s a comprehensive system for wellbeing,” she says. Her version isn’t as structured as a classic Sivananda class. “It’s not so gentle that you don’t feel like you’re waking up the body, but also not so quick and extreme that you feel like you’re in the gym throwing your body around,” she adds. Lakshmi also focuses on providing a holistic experience. “Students are coming in and realizing that through the practice they can gain strength, but they can also gain confidence in themselves and a good body image, and for the senior population it even helps with things like balance and bone strengthening. So I’ve just felt really happy that I could help people,” she says. Lakshmi has been teaching yoga full time for over 20 years. “It’s the ideal job because I get to help people on all these levels, and I look forward to meeting everybody that walks through the door because the people that come in to do yoga are generally a really lovely population of people.”

Do you know someone who is a healthy inspiration? Email your recommendations to victoria@akersmediagroup.com

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Seeing double In Lake County, a set of twin first responders are ready and raring to save the day, but can you tell them apart? STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

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s kids, twin brothers Zach and Austin Sullivan frequently caused confusion since they looked so very much alike. “They (the twins) went to a Montessori school in Leesburg and every morning the teacher would greet the students, so one day she greeted Zach and he went to his desk but then there comes Austin, which confused the teacher. She said she wondered how Zach had gotten out without her noticing,” Paula Sullivan, Zach and Austin’s mother, recalls with a chuckle. Zach and Austin could pass for each other, but what really stood out was the tight bond they shared, how they loved spending time together and always looked out for one another. “They always did well on their own in the classroom, but the teacher said they would always find and go straight to each other at playtime and just stay together the whole time,” Paula says. Paula adds, “They were very different in their own ways, but they were very close and in tune with each other.” Yet they had their own tastes and personalities. Growing up, Austin, the older twin by one minute, with his Type-A personality and preference for trendy clothes from places like Hollister, was considered the family’s “city boy.” Zach, who was calmer, laid back, and perfectly happy in Levi’s jeans and boots, was considered their “country boy.” Today, the 28-year-old Sullivan twins continue to have much in common... yet they are distinctly different. The brothers still look very much alike, which on occasion causes confusion at work. However, they live very different and separate lives. For instance, they have different hobbies – Zach likes bow hunting and Austin enjoys flying drones. Still, they talk every day without fail, and still look out for one another. To top it off, they are both first responders, a profession both got into on a whim, but their different taste in clothing has never been so pronounced. That’s because Zach wears a Lake

County Sheriff Office (LCSO) deputy uniform, and Austin sports a Lake EMS paramedic’s uniform. The brothers are Lake County’s only known twin first responders. “There have been brothers and sisters, but there are no other twins that I know of,” says LCSO Sgt. Dave McDaniel, Zach’s supervisor. Lake EMS Deputy Director John Simpson, who works with Austin, says he’s experienced the confusion that follows the twins. “I had a person come to me and say, ‘I didn’t know Austin left to become a deputy,’ and I personally had to do a double take one day when I saw his brother in a deputy uniform on the side of the road doing some work on a call,” Simpson says. Zach and Austin say they personally don’t think they look that much alike. They find humor in such incidents. “We work different sides of the county, but in the past, we have been on a couple of calls together and you can see the weird looks on people’s faces and you can tell they want to say something,” Zach says. They both, however, understand how people who don’t know them well could confuse them. “Austin is a little taller and has a little more weight on him, but people who don’t see us every day definitely do double takes. If he could wear my uniform, I guess he would look a lot like me,” Zach says. He then added: “I’ve had firefighters talk to me like I was their friend and I’ve finally had to say, ‘I have no idea who you are.’ Then they realize that, ‘Oh hey, it’s his brother.’ Austin has similar stories. So how can you tell who’s who? Zach shares a few secrets: he is right-handed, Austin is a lefty, and now has a full sleeve tattoo on one arm. And just a couple months ago, he started wearing glasses. People who know he has a twin continue to tell Austin that they saw his brother. What really gets him is when people ask him what it’s like having a twin. “I say, I don’t know what it’s like NOT having a twin,” Austin says. “When you have siblings who are older or younger you kind of grow up in different timeframes, but it’s never been that way

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for us, so I wouldn’t know. We’ve just always been close and I remember us always doing everything together.” Zach, previously an equipment operator in the construction industry, has been with the LCSO for about two-and-a-half years. He says he didn’t really plan on changing professions. Zach and Austin “Everybody has a story on how they got into this, but I kind of just woke up one day and thought it would be something I’d be interested in. There’s really no rhyme or reason for it, just maybe that I have some friends in the business and they said, ‘Yeah, you should go ahead and try it,’” Zach says. “Austin being a paramedic kind of had something to do with it too, but being a firefighter or paramedic were both things I didn’t want to do, and since basically there are three lines of service as a first responder, that left law enforcement.” Austin, at one time, planned to join culinary school. Like his brother, he hadn’t planned on becoming a first responder until one day while driving down the road. “I really don’t have any rhyme or reason. I was on the intersection of Picciola and 27 (near Fruitland Park) and I saw an ambulance with its lights and sirens go through the light and I said, ‘Hey, I bet that’s a fun job,’ and the next week I signed up for paramedic school,” says Austin. “I worked for an EMT crew for one year, then went to medic school for two years and became a paramedic.” Both brothers are glad they followed their gut. Both feel they’ve found their calling. The only thing that worries them is the climate between the public and law enforcement these days, though in Lake County, they say it’s not as bad as in other parts of Florida or other cities across the country.


Zach Sullivan

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“Doing this job takes a toll on you. We see things that most people will never see in their lifetime and we hear things that most people will never hear. There are also a few things you sacrifice, like holidays, sleep, family life and social life, but I like helping people. Most of the time, you deal with people on their worst days, but when you are able to make a difference in somebody’s life, it makes you feel really good,” says Zach. Austin says, “The way you learn to look at it is that on people’s worst days, we’re there for them, so you do have the potential to make a lifesaving difference in their lives. I enjoy working in the field.” For the moment, Austin does not have a family of his own to juggle into the equation. Zach has a wife, Courtney, (though she understands the law enforcement life since she is a Tavares police officer) and Everleigh, their three-month old daughter, to consider. Regardless of what they do or how busy life gets for them, Zach and Austin find time to call one another every day. They also stay connected while out in the field, by “listening out for each other” on emergency scanners of each other’s agencies. Most of all, they try to always heed their gut when it comes to feelings they may get about one another. And that’s nothing new. An elementary school science project on twin telepathy they worked on together suggested their intuition was on point. “Sometimes you get a feeling about something and you just have to call the other one. I don’t know how to explain it, but nine times out of 10, one of us will call the other, and the other one will say, “I was about to call you too.” Paula says sometimes she can feel how strong their bond is when listening to them talk to one another. “You hear people talk about twin bonds and with them, it’s just incredible,” Paula says. “You can tell they are in tune with each other, they’re very intense, and if they are talking, it’s very hard to break into their conversation and they literally finish each other’s sentences.” Zach says, “It’s hard to explain, but it’s not like I am thinking about Austin all the time, it’s just a feeling I get sometimes like I can sense something about him or that something is going on with him.” Overall, Paula says she is happy to see that Zach and Austin have remained close as adults, adding that she, her husband Keith and their youngest son Mason are proud of what the twins have become. “The mindset of a first responder is to help people and to know that both of them have chosen to go into that field makes us very proud,” Paula says. Austin Sullivan

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It just makes scents Reunited couple finds happiness in home-based business and each other. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

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iving frugally, clean, and happy are the main goals for Ken and Alex O’Bright of Fruitland Park. They found that out serendipitously. In fact, it is how most things in their lives seem to happen, including how their company Belladonna Apothecary came to be, how they ended up back together after being married to each other and then going their own separate ways for 15 years, and how they found their perfect home. “All these things just brought us to this point. It’s like the universe was grooming us and that’s ok, because we are always creating something in some aspect of our lives. Every day is something new,” Alex says. Before founding their ETSY-based shop, Alex traveled the country for 18 years for TJX Corporation, launching Home Goods, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx store openings. One day, while on a trip with her boss, she unexpectedly called it quits. “I was on the road 48 weeks a year. Finally, about three years ago, I was kind of burnt out from traveling. I was never home, and I was like, ‘I can’t do it anymore,’ so I told my boss, “I’m done,” Alex says. “It was never a planned thing that I was gonna quit and I was scared to death going from a reliable income every single week to being without that safety net and realizing it’s all on us.” Ken, who has worked at Disney for 13 years, says, “It came as quite a shock.” Soon after Alex’s resignation, the two were out shopping when she came out of a popular beauty store with what Ken considered over-priced soaps. It got him thinking, and the universe must have liked his idea, because later, after frying bacon at home, he experienced an undeniable “ah-ha” moment. “As a guy, I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I cannot see spending $80 on six bars of soap,’ and that’s what led me to think of reusing and recycling the waste bacon grease I saw sitting there, rendering it down to a cake of lard and researching YouTube on how to make a bar of soap,” says Ken, laughing about how the first bar of soap he ever made was from bacon grease. Today, the soaps they sell at Belladonna – some Vegan and none bacon – are made from all-natural ingredients, including French lavender, pine tar, patchouli, rose petals, pumpkin, apples, honey, oatmeal, goat’s milk, bayberry, sage, sandalwood, and many more.

In fact, it sems that no ingredient is off limits when added to the 7-oil blend Ken’s got down to a science. “Each oil has a different characteristic. It’s all chemistry,” Ken says of the precise blend of olive, palm, coconut, almond, sunflower, and castor oils he uses as a base for every batch. The soaps can be made into any shape and personalized for occasions like bridal showers and weddings, to beautify bathrooms, and more. With all, the art takes patience. Ken mixes each batch’s star ingredients into a 10-pound crate with the oils and some lye. After solidifying for about 48 hours, the soap is cut with a mandolin cutter, then cured for 30 days before it can be packaged and sold. “I have about 30 scents available at all times,” Ken says. Alex however, had other ideas. Hence the second half of their business – handmade jewelry made from interesting and unique vintage pieces.

“I don’t like anything new, so I repurpose old things,” Alex says. On Belladonna’s ETSY site, there are all kinds of jewelry choices, including necklaces made from old belt buckles, from kyanite, sea glass and crystals, vintage stained glass, and pendants made from wooden ayahuasca mother vine slices from Peru. Alex also has a patent on her one-of-a-kind ‘potion-naries;’ Boho-inspired charms that feature glass vintage vials wrapped with custom cut definitions taken from antique dictionaries with yellowed pages from throughout the world, and filled with complementary substances like rose petals for love, magnetic sand for luck, etc. All in all, the pair says they plan on continuing what they are doing and rely on kismet’s direction, with Ken’s soaps and her potion-naries as their main staples. She also says they’ve avoided a storefront to keep prices affordable. “We keep our overhead low and then our prices can stay reasonable for every income,” Alex says. She says most of their handcrafted soaps are $7 and all other items range from $5 to $200. Every order includes a small gift and free shipping. “We may not be the richest at this, but we are beyond happy,” Alex says. If interested, people can browse Belladonna’s product line at etsy.com/shop/ BelladonnApothecary or call 352.408.8183. They also sell at farmer’s markets and arts and craft fairs throughout central Florida and at Renninger’s. Select soaps and products can also be found in area shops, including Mia Bella Salon and Spa in Fruitland Park and Love on the Rocks in Mount Dora.

Alex and Ken O’Bright

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The Best of Health this Holiday Your thoughtful end-of-the-year planned gift can benefit you and help us continue to bring our community the gift of preeminent care. New tax incentives put into place for 2020 with the passage of The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, make this a great time to show your support of the UF Health Leesburg Hospital Foundation. As part of the bill:

• Individuals and corporations that itemize can deduct much greater amounts of their contributions.

• Non-itemizers can take an above-the-line deduction for their charitable contributions of $300 per person — in addition to their standard deductions.

• Individuals who were previously limited to deduct donations up to 60% of their AGI can now deduct a full 100%. Additionally, corporations can deduct up to 25% of taxable income, up from the previous limit of 10%.

• For those who itemize deductions, appreciated non-cash assets, such as stocks, ETFs and mutual funds held more than one year, may offer an additional tax benefit. To learn more about the benefits of year-end giving, contact Erica Lebo, Executive Director/Foundation President at (352) 323-5501 or email UFHealthLeesburgFoundation@centflhealth.org.

The UF Health Leesburg Hospital Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, supporting the programs and services of UF Health Leesburg Hospital.


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Cheers! Lakeridge Winery is a great place to wine down this holiday season.

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Savories and something sweet From us to you, Style staffers share cherished family recipes for the holidays.


avoring enjoyable food is one of life’s joys. With that in mind, here are some of our favorite food traditions, just in time for holiday get-togethers. We hope these special “must-have” dishes we and our loved ones crave will become your favorites as well. We hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we delight in sharing our memories about them.

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Holidays in the Mericle household mean making lots of food, baking something sweet, and breaking out additional savory homemade recipes. When I decided to go vegan in 2017, my mother Marsha and I realized we needed to rethink some of our traditional recipes. At first it was trial and error, seeing which substitute worked best to replace ingredients if the recipe called for eggs or dairy. I’m happy to say that the vegan versions actually ended up tasting better than the originals. One recipe my mother changed to accommodate my vegan lifestyle was her baked cheesy potatoes. This dish was usually for special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas or family get-togethers, but I found myself asking for them on random weekends with no other reason than, “They are just that good!” The consistency is even creamier than the dairy version and my mother always knows how to get that satisfying crunchy layer on the top. Using substitute ingredients like vegan cheeses, vegan butter and almond milk, this particular recipe really stands out as one of my favorite homemade vegan dishes. These potatoes pair well with vegan meat-less balls and a vegetable such as asparagus or broccoli. Some days we make the potatoes the main dish and serve it with a vegetable. Either way, you won’t leave the table hungry.

V E G A N C H E E S Y S C A L L O P E D P O TAT O E S INGREDIENTS 1/4 tablespoons Earth Balance spread (or other vegan butter 1 /4 spread) 1/4 2 tablespoons flour 1/4 1 2 /2 cups almond milk 1 8 ounces vegan cream cheese 5 2 cups vegan shredded cheddar cheese



teaspoon minced garlic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt Earth Balance (or other vegan butter spread) in a medium saucepan; whisk in flour. Cook 2 or 3 minutes without browning; stirring constantly. Whisk in almond milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add vegan cream cheese, vegan shredded cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Stir until cheese melts. Peel and slice potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Layer potatoes and sauce alternately in a buttered 9 x 13 casserole dish, pour remaining sauce on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours uncovered. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving to allow sauce to thicken.

teaspoon salt teaspoon pepper teaspoon cayenne pepper pinch nutmeg medium baking potatoes


Some of my earliest memories were of Christmas Eve while growing up in Maine. Each year my family went to my Aunt Jeanne’s house. I love spending time with them. We rarely visit now that I live out of state. We would watch movies, talk about various topics, share old stories, and give gifts. She would have lots of different appetizers and desserts to choose from. But what I enjoyed the most was her famous Lobster Stew. It is so delicious! No one can say no to seconds! Depending on how many you want to serve, purchase lobster by the pound, already picked. It should include tail, claws, knuckles. Approximately 1/2 pound per person. This recipe feeds about 10 people.



pounds lobster meat


quarts of half-and-half Regular milk as needed



stick butter


Separate tail sections into pieces. Pull apart the claws. You want to break up the meaty pieces so every spoonful will have some. Sauté several pieces in butter. This will become the reddish tint to the stew. Combine half-and-half with remaining meat. If needed, use regular milk to cover or to add volume. Add in sauteed butter pieces. Warm through but do not boil.

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We always had Spanakopita at family parties, whether it was a birthday, Christmas, Easter, or, well, any special occasion. At first glance the recipe probably looks complicated, but it’s smooth sailing once you know how to fold the triangles. I love this recipe because there’s variations of it, like tiropita, which is basically the same but without spinach, and my favorite – which substitutes leeks for spinach. As a kid, I fondly remember learning to make it, helping mom mix ingredients in our giant “Greek salad” bowl, and then my sisters and I learning to fold the tiny triangles without ripping the ever-sodelicate phyllo dough. It’s tough before you get the hang of it because the dough rips so easily, but after the first few triangles, the big bowl of spinach and cheese is gone before you know it. It’s a recipe that has been shared among my family members for years, and it’s always the first plate to disappear from the buffet table.



pounds spinach, fresh or frozen



cup fresh parsley


pounds feta cheese, crumbled



tsp dry minced dill


pound cottage cheese




bunches scallions, finely chopped

3-4 sticks butter, melted

Salt to taste 2

boxes phyllo dough sheets


Steam spinach and squeeze it in a towel to drain moisture. Chop roughly and set aside. Steam chopped scallions and squeeze in a towel to drain moisture. In a large mixing bowl, add cottage cheese, feta, scallions, parsley, dill, eggs, and salt. Mix well, then add spinach and mix until fully combined. Take one phyllo sheet and place on a clean surface. Brush one half with melted butter, then fold in half lengthwise. Place 1-2 tablespoons of spinach mixture on the corner nearest you. Fold the corner over the mixture to make a triangle. Continue folding (like a flag) until the phyllo strip is completely folded over the spinach mixture. Repeat until all filling is used. Place folded triangles seam side down on greased baking sheets and brush tops with melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees or until golden and crispy, about 30-35 minutes. Easy way: Line a buttered 12x18 pan with 10 phyllo sheets, buttering between each layer. Spread filling evenly over phyllo. Top with 10 phyllo sheets, buttering between each layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden and crispy.

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As a little girl, I was captivated watching my grandmother roll out pastry dough to make pies, and pie always seemed to be the preferred dessert of special people and loved ones in my life. My Crumb Top Apple Pie was a three-time award winner at the Apple Fest in Frankton, Indiana, in the 1990s, which was a thrill. To this day, the pie is what my youngest daughter Maria, 27, requests as a Christmas gift. She wants her very own pie, so I use alphabet cookie cutters and spell out her name in extra pastry dough for a personalized, special touch. “It’s the pie I grew up with and loved since I was a kid. I never had an apple pie that tastes better than my mom’s,” says Maria. My oldest daughter Julia, 36, feels the same way. Julia once wanted me to bake an apple pie and send it to her home in California, so she could have a contest against an apple pie made by the mother of her boyfriend at the time. “You would have totally won hands down if that ever happened,” Julia declares to this day.



cups all-purpose flour


teaspoon salt /




6-8 Fuji apples (or your favorite baking apples) peeled, cored and sliced to make 6 cups worth

cup butter-flavored Crisco

5-7 tablespoons very cold water




Sift flour and salt together; cut in shortening until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle water over mixture to moisten. Form into a ball; flatten on a lightly floured surface and roll out the dough. Fit into 9-inch pie plate; flute edges. Extra dough may be used later to decorate top of pie. FILLING


teaspoon cinnamon


cup sugar


tablespoons all-purpose flour

cup flour



cup sugar


cup butter



Combine first three filling ingredients; stir into apples. Turn into pastry shell. Combine crumb topping ingredients of flour, sugar; cut in butter until topping mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.



Oh, Pho Good Pho Sai Gon brings new flavors, old family recipes to your table. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

his month we traveled a bit off our beaten path – all the way to Oxford – to experience Vietnamese cuisine at Pho Sai Gon. And boy was it worth the trip. My co-workers and I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch, the decor, and friendly, accommodating staff. Prior to moving to the United States, Bryan Hoang and his family owned a restaurant in Vietnam and catered birthday parties, weddings, and other events. The family first moved to Iowa. They made it down to Florida 15 years ago after living in a few other states. Pho Sai Gon in Oxford

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opened two years ago with a menu of traditional Vietnamese flavors. “When we moved to the United States, we always tried to bring the authentic food with us and introduce it to the people here, and the recipes and the ingredients that’s been generations passed down, family recipes passed down from my great grandfather,” Bryan says. “We try to continue the food business and keep everybody healthy, and we try to get the Vietnamese culture to some people and introduce them to pho and a variety of food, and just bring a different kind of food to this area,” he adds. Bryan encourages customers to try the pho, his favorite, which is very healthy, and which he eats almost every day. Pho has become popular in recent years, and everyone has their own way of making it, but Pho Sai Gon’s recipe has been passed down from many generations and

Spencer Nguyen

Spencer Nguyen and Owner Bryan Hoang

was well known in the family’s restaurant in Vietnam. “We cook basically really healthy food. The Vietnamese herbs and the broth cooks for almost 20 hours,” Bryan says. “A lot of people don’t realize how long we cook the broth and how healthy it is, so I really encourage people to try the broth.” I decided to give the pho a try after Bryan’s suggestions, choosing the Pho Rau Cai, veggie pho. The bowl of vegetable broth and rice noodles was full of tofu and fresh veggies, including broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, bell pepper and my favorite, bok choy. The “small” size I ordered was enough for two or three people, so I had plenty left over to take home. The veggies were bright and fresh, and the bowl came with a side of fresh bean sprouts and jalapeno slices. I also added sriracha to my bowl, which gave the simple dish a spicy, peppery flavor. I also enjoyed the Goi Cuon: spring rolls with shrimp, lettuce, rice noodles, and whole mint leaves, all wrapped in a chewy rice paper. The rolls were fresh and light and tasted amazing with the peanut dipping sauce. Style writer Roxanne tried the Mi Xao Mem-Don Bo: pan fried chow mein egg noodles with beef and vegetables. “Not only did my plate come out of the kitchen looking totally beautiful, but it tasted delicious,” she says. “The dish was loaded with a variety of vegetables you could clearly tell were fresh and quality picks.” Roxanne wasn’t sure what to expect since it was her first time eating Vietnamese food, but she plans on returning to try more of the menu.

carrots, which added a colorful touch. “Overall, my meal was a delightful and delicious taste sensation of different textures and flavor,” Theresa adds. Style writer James was the most adventurous of the group, ordering the Saigon Special Rice Platter for $17.95. “The meal came with a little of everything – Jasmine steamed rice, a grilled pork chop, shredded pork skin, meatloaf, an over-easy egg, radishes and cucumbers. The plate presentation was beautiful, and the food was delicious. I give this restaurant 10 stars and would visit again in a heartbeat,” he says. Overall, my team and I enjoyed a cuisine we weren’t previously familiar with and are already planning on returning. Knowing that the meal was healthy – on top of being filling, flavorful, and reasonably priced – was definitely a bonus.


Roxanne also commented on the restaurant’s inviting decor, which included beautiful hand-painted murals of Vietnam completed by an artist from Orlando. The murals depict a Vietnamese supermarket on one wall, and the Vietnamese countryside on the other. Bryan says the supermarkets are well known in Vietnam: “You can find anything you want from A to Z.” When you go to Vietnam, Bryan adds, you can see all kinds of scenes like the one in the countryside mural. Akers photographer Nicole tried the Com Ga Rau Cai: steamed rice with stir fry vegetables and chicken. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I ordered that. But it was delicious. The chicken was easy to chew and well marinated,” she says. Style writer Theresa was immediately amazed – as we all were – by the large portions of food for such reasonable prices. “My Bun Dac Biet featured rice vermicelli and a combination of perfectly charbroiled shrimp and pork, mixed with a nice crunch of small bites of egg rolls,” she says. The dish also included fresh lettuce and


PHO SAI GON 11717 US-301, Oxford 352.492.9423 phosaigonoxford.com Hours: Open Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., Saturday noon-8 p.m.

Let’s do lunch or dinner Tell us about a great restaurant by emailing victoria@akersmediagroup.com.

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Mastery of Muscadines Lakeridge offers 1,600+ reasons to visit Florida’s largest premier winery. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL eanne Burgess’ eyes light up when she talks about wine, and her words clearly indicate she knows her stuff. That’s no surprise considering she has been the one-and-only winemaker at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards since it opened. Her specialty? Anything Muscadine, the first native grape species cultivated in North America. “Muscadines are pretty over the top. They’re intensely fruity and you can ferment the wine to dryness. But it’s not very appealing that way because you’ve got this extra fruity aroma and your expectation is that there is going to be some level of sweetness with that,” Jeanne says about the muscadine wines she helps produce. Jeanne’s knowledge and passion is shared by the winery’s entire team. Muscadines are Lakeridge’s pride and joy.

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“Here at Lakeridge, we focus on Muscadine wines. In fact, Muscadine grapes are the only grapes that grow here naturally,” says Barry Hus, Lakeridge’s chief operating officer and overseer of vineyard productions. “We can’t grow the same grapes you grow in California or upstate New York, only Muscadines, and we pride ourselves on that and what we produce from our harvest each year.” Lakeridge Winery is Florida’s largest premium winery, founded in 1988 when Gary Cox and other Orlando investors decided to open a winery in Central Florida. The 125-acre facility opened in 1989. Gary’s son Charles joined the Lakeridge team in 1992. The business prospered, so the Cox family opened a second location – the San Sebastian Winery in St. Augustine – and began marketing their wines in retail stores throughout Florida and southern Georgia. Each year, the winery processes 1,000 tons of Noble, Carlos, and Welder Muscadine red and white grapes, and bottles 130,000–150,000 cases (12 bottles per case) of wine per year. And there’s nothing ordinary about the wine. Lakeridge has won over 1,600 awards for their wines (most for its Southern Red and Southern White). In Clermont, free tours of Lakeridge include a complimentary wine tasting to sample the goods before deciding on a favorite or two. And Lakeridge has a large gift shop where wine and other items can be purchased. The winery also hosts themed outdoor festivals throughout the year. Not sure where to start? Expert wine tasters Thomas Murphy and Nick

Herrera are there to steer people in the right direction and offer words of wisdom regarding Lakeridge’s 13 varieties of wine. “We start with dry, and then we graduate into sweet and we do it in that fashion because you’re tasting a lot of wine in a short period of time and your tastebuds are gonna go kind of crazy,” Thomas says of the tasting process. “If you put sweet wine in your mouth from the get-go, what happens is that it kind of dominates your tastebuds and it will mess up your tasting.” With that said, I – with help from Style photographer Nicole – got to tasting. Like most people, we found the Muscadine varieties quite tasty. At the very top of Nicole’s list was Lakeridge’s Southern Red, described to us as “smooth and bursting full of fruit” and “light bodied.” The wine, served slightly chilled, pairs well with rich desserts and cheese, but we had it solo, and for Nicole, the verdict was, “My favorite! Smooth, fruity, and delicious.” Nicole also liked that the Southern Red can be purchased in a regular bottle or one shaped like the St. Augustine lighthouse, with part of the proceeds reserved for its preservation, (a San Sebastian shout-out). As for me, a self-proclaimed Pinot Grigio fan, I actually leaned towards Muscadine varieties like the Chablis, labeled as semi-dry, and the Sunblush, considered semi-sweet with coloring Nick calls “a homage to the Florida sunset.” Both were delicious, light-tasting, and not necessarily sweet, but still fruity. Nick also sold us on the Pink Crescendo, a sparkling wine he says is great for mixing. “It’s made from the double fermentation process from Muscadine grapes and it

tastes phenomenal mixed with guava juice, mango juice, and orange juice for Bellinis and Mimosas,” Nick says, adding that it’s perfect for holiday functions. Thomas pointed out that the Pink Crescendo’s label features a musical stanza and actual notes to “Swanee River” by Stephen Foster. Looking for drier, non-Muscadine wines? Lakeridge offers a few varieties it produces and labels in collaboration with wineries throughout the country, including a 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, a killer 2017 Petite Sirah from California, a Chardonnay, and a very nice, semi-dry, fruity, and un-oaked Pinot Grigio. Keep in mind that, much like other businesses nowadays, some of Lakeridge’s normal practices and events have been modified because of COVID-19 concerns and masks are required inside. However, many of Lakeridge’s weekend music and wine centric events are still a go.


LAKERIDGE WINERY & VINEYARDS 19239 U.S. 27 North Clermont, Florida 34715 Hours: Mon. - Sat. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Wine tasting and special event hours may vary). For more information call 352.394.8627 or visit lakeridgewinery.com.

Do you know a place where we can drink? Comment on this article or send story ideas to roxanne@akersmediagroup.com.


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OUT From classic diners and lakeside restaurants to fine dining and everything in-between, Lake County’s culinary scene is booming. Your favorite meal is sure to be served with a side of hospitality. Denotes locations where you can find Lake & Sumter Style A S TAT U L A


Race Car Diner 25641 Monroe St. 352.253.6940

Akina Sushi Bar & Asian Fusion Bistro 4300 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.8988

ASTOR Blackwater Inn 55716 Front St. 352.759.3802 Castaways Restaurant 23525 US SR 40 352.759.2213 Sparky’s Place Restaurant 24646 SR 40 352.759.3551 Williams Landing 55716 Front St. 352.759.2802

Cheeser’s Palace Café 707 W. Montrose St. 352.404.9431 Clermont Brewing Co. 750 W Desoto 321.430.2337 Corelli’s Italian Restaurant 1042 E. Hwy. 50 352.989.5924


Devenney’s Irish Pub 16909 High Grove Blvd. 352.432.3925

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s 2586 W CR 48 352.568.7000

El Cerro Restaurant 811 W. Hwy. 50 352.241.9884

Darryl’s Diner 2237 W CR 48 352.444.2318 Howie’s Family Restaurant 840 N. Main St. 352.793.8582 TJ’s Family Restaurant 412 W. Belt Ave 352.793.8877

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Friar Tuck 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd. 352.404.6818

Stavro’s & Sons of Eustis 2100 W. CR 44 352.589.9100

Lil Anthony’s Pizza 7965 SR 50 352.429.7499

Taki’s Pizza House 2824 S. Bay St. 352.357.0022

Red Wing Restaurant 12500 S. SR 33 352.429.2997

Thai Sushi America 925 N. Bay St. 352.357.1949


The Crazy Gator 402 N. Bay St. 352.589.5885 The Oyster Troff 936 N. Bay St. 352.357.9939 Tillie’s Tavern & Grill 31 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.602.7929 Tony’s Pizza & Subs 2760 E. Orange Ave. 352.589.9001 F RU I T L A N D PA R K Fruitland Park Café 3180 US Hwy. 441/27 352.435.4575

Guru Restaurant 2400 S. Hwy. 27 352.241.9884

Troy’s Cuban Deli 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.241.4295

ibar-be-que Express 3170 Hwy. 27 352.315.4227

Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.243.1118

Uncle Kenny’s BBQ 157 Hwy. 27 352.394.1225

Legends Cafe 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.728.0006

Lilly’s on the Lake 846 W. Osceola St. 352.708.6565 Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 230 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.394.0036 Robata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar 1500 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.404.9688 Root and Branch Bistro and Bar 1200 Seaver Dr. 352.708.4529 Sanctuary Ridge Bar & Grille 2601 Diamond Club Road 352.243.0411

G’s NY Pizza 12346 Roper Blvd. 352.243.8900

Sarah’s Greek Cuisine & More 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd., Ste. 305 352.404.8031

Gators Dockside 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.242.1825

The Crooked Spoon Gastropub 200 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.404.7808

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EUSTIS Jeannie’s Place 209 E. Gottsche Ave. 352.359.0027 Gators Dockside 15241 US Hwy 441 352.357.1255 Kiku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 15211 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.483.8288 LaCabana Mexican Bar and Grill 2060 S. Bay St. 352.357.4600 Nalan Sultan Mediterranean Grill 1 N. Eustis St. 352.357.4444 NightOwl Caribbean Restaurant 929 S. Bay St. 352.589.0256

NY Deli N Diner 3325 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.365.0051 Rae Rae’s Restaurant 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.323.1595 Stavro’s 3223 US Hwy. 441 352.315.0028 The Rose Plantation 200 Rose Ave., Fruitland Park 352.805.4340 G R OV E L A N D Coyote Rojo 214 W. Broad St. 352.557.8999 Ikaho Sushi Japanese Restaurant 7965 SR 50, #900 352.557.8988 James Barbeque 262 W. Orange St. 352.557.4050

Frank’s Place 201 N. 1st St. 352.323.1989 Gator Bay Bar & Grill 10320 CR 44 352.365.2177 God Café 300 W. Main St. 352.801.7447

JB Boondocks Bar & Grill 704 S. Lakeshore Blvd. 352.324.3600

Great Chicago Fire Brewery & Tap Room 311 W. Magnolia St. 352.474.2739

La Hacienda Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.3910

HP Grill 1403 S. 14th St. 352.314.0006

Nicker’s Clubhouse Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.2718 L A DY L A K E Bamboo Bistro 700 Hwy. 441 352.750.9998 El Ranchito 1 Lagrande Blvd. 352.750.3335 Harbor Hills Country Club 6538 Lake Griffin Rd. 352.753.7000 Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 504 S. U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.753.2722 OakWood Smokehouse & Grill 860 S. Hwy 27/441 352.751.5640 Takis Greek and Italian Restaurant 13761 U.S. Hwy. 441 N. 352.430.3630 LEESBURG Bloom’s 610 W. Main St. 352.787.1004 Brick & Barrel 209 W. Main St. 352.431.3069 Cedar River Seafood 8609 S. U.S. Hwy. 441 352.728.3377 Chesapeake Bay Grill 4467 Arlington Ridge Blvd. 352.315.0066 Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.2442

Ichiban Buffet 10301 Hwy. 441 352.728.6669 Kountry Kitchen 1008 W. Dixie Ave. 352.323.0852 La Palma Mexican Grill 1690 Citrus Blvd. 352.323.1444 Lilly’s Super Subs 2339 CR 473 352.343.4663 Magnolia’s Oyster Bar 201 W. Magnolia St. 352.323.0093 Main Street Cantina 205 W. Main St. 352.435.7279 Mamma’s Pizzeria 27405 US Highway 27 352.728.2020 Mammoth Oak Brewing Company 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.326.0100 Mrs. T’s Place, Southern Restaurant 305 Pine St. 352.431.3217 Naples Italian Restaurant 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.323.1616 Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 2775 U.S. 27 352.435.4633 Arigato Steak House 1401 Citrus Blvd. 352.728.0788 Pine Street Bar-B-Que 408 Pine St. 352.728.1293 Plantation Oaks Restaurant 4720 Plantation Blvd. 352.530.2680

Ramshackle Café 1317 N. 14th St. 352.365.6565 Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 US Hwy. 27 352.319.8093 San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant 1337 S. 14th St. 352.805.4174 Sip Restaurant and Wine Bar 707 W. Main St. 352.435.7840 Stokes Seafood Market and More 719 W. Main St. 352.787.3474 Sully’s Smokehouse 10820 CR 44 352.483.7427 Takis Pizza Restaurant 1205 N. 14th St. 352.787.2344 The Florida Porch Café 706 W. Main St. 352.365.1717 The Kitchen Cafe & Cooking School 712 W. Main St. 352.901.6537 The Mojo Grill & Catering Co. 9925 US-441 352.787.0494 The Old Time Diner 1350 W. North Blvd. 352.805.4250 Turners 114 S. 5th St. 352.530.2274 Wolfy’s 918 N. 14th St. 352.787.6777 MASCOTTE Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 Rainbow Restaurant 704 E. Myers Blvd. 352.429.2093 MINNEOLA Lil Anthony’s Pizza 205 N. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.1516 Minneola Grill 117 W. Washington St. 352.394.2555 Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 Hwy. 27 352.243.7500

The Surf Bar and Grill 650 N. Hwy. 27 202.527.0100 Tiki Bar & Grill 508 S. Main Ave. 352.394.2232

Olive Branch MediterraneanItalian Grille 115 W. 3rd St. 352.729.6734


One Flight Up 440 N. Donnelly St., Ste. 100 352.758.9818

1921 Mount Dora 142 E. Fourth Ave. 352.385.1921

Pisces Rising 239 W. 4th Ave. 352.385.2669

Anthony’s Pizza 17195 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.357.6668

PizzAmore’ 722 E. 5th Ave. 352.383.0092

Barnwood Country Kitchen & Smokehouse 3725 W. Old US Hwy 441 352.630.4903

Shiva Indian Restaurant 140A W. 5th Ave. 352.735.4555

Beauclaire Restaurant at Lakeside Inn 100 N. Alexander St. 352.383.4101 Bocce Pizzeria 925 E. First Ave. 352.385.0067 Café Gianni 425 N. Alexander St. 352.735.3327 Cody’s on 4th Cafe 111 E. 4th Ave. 352.735.8426 Copacabana Cuban Cafe 320 Dora Drawdy Way 352.385.9000 Fiesta Grande 421 N. Baker St. 352.385.3540 Frog & Monkey English Pub 411 N. Donnelly St. 352. 383.1936 Highland Street Café 185 S. Highland St. 352.383.1446 Jeremiah’s 500 N. Highland St. 352.383.7444 J.K. Thai & Sushi 116 E. 5th Ave. 352.385.5470 Let’s Do a Maine Lobster Roll 426 N. Donnelly St. 352.735.3702 Magical Meat Boutique 322 N. Alexander St. 352.729.6911 Mount Dora Pizza & Subs 2718 W. Old U.S. Hwy. 441 352.383.5303

Sidelines Sport Eatery 315 N. Highland St. 352.735.7433 Sugarboo’s Bar-B-Que 1305 N. Grandview St. 352.735.7675

Hurricane Dockside Grill 3351 W. Burleigh Blvd. 352.508.5137

BlueFin Grill & Bar 2738 Brownwood Blvd. 352.571.5344

Kalua Hale Beach Bar 181 S. Joanna Ave. 352.609.5910

Cane Garden Country Club 1726 Bailey Trail 352.750.0627

Lake Dora Sushi & Sake 227 E. Main St. 352.343.6313

Chengs Chinese and Sushi Restaurant 4050 Wedgewood Ln. 352.391.9678

Mary’s Kountry Kitchen 15945 CR 448 352.343.6823 O’Keefe’s Irish Pub and Restaurant 115 S Rockingham Ave. 352.343.2157 Palm Gardens Restaurant 1661 Palm Garden St. 352.431.3217

Mezza Luna Italian Restaurant and Bar 320 Colony Blvd. 352.753.3824 NYPD Pizzeria 4046 Wedgwood Ln 352.750.1994

The Mason Jar 37534 State Rd. 19 352.589.2535

Palmer Legends Country Club 1635 Palmer Way 352.750.4499


China Gourmet III 343 Colony Blvd 352.750.4965 Chop House at Lake Sumter 1045 Old Camp Rd. 352.750.6000

RedSauce 1000 Canal St. 352.750.2930

Continental Country Club 50 Continental Blvd. 352.748.3293

Evans Prairie Country Club 1825 Evans Prairie Trail 352.750.2225

Ricciardi’s Italian Table 3660 Kiessel Rd. 352.391.9939 Sakura 265 Colony Blvd 352.205.7393

Puddle Jumpers 111 W Ruby St. 352.508.5862 Ruby Street Grille 221 E. Ruby St. 352.742.7829

Giovanni’s 3439 Wedgewood Lane 352.751.6674

The Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille 925 Lakeshore Dr. 352.753.7800

The Country Club 1900 Country Club Blvd. 352.735.2263

Sunrise Grill 462 E. Burleigh Blvd. 352.343.7744

The Goblin Market 331-B Donnely St. 352.735.0059

Tavares Ice Cream 214 E. Main 352.508.5342

Glenview County Club 3914 Glenview Rd. 352.753.0077

Tierra Del Sol Country Club 806 San Marino Dr. 352.753.8005

Vincent’s Italian Restaurant 5914 Orange Blossom Trl. 352.735.4578

The Hideaway 11912 Lane Park Rd. 352.343.3585

Habaneros Mexican Grill 3551 Wedgewood Ln. 352.633.2080

VKI Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar 1004 Old Mill Run 352.259.9887

Whale’s Tale Fish House 2720 W. Old U.S. Hwy 441 352.385.1500 SORRENTO Del Franco Pizza Place 31436 CR 437 352.383.8882 Lisa’s Kountry Cafe 23911 CR 46 352.735.3380 TAVA R E S Bella Nona Pizzeria 280 Silverado St. 352.508.9370 BTW (Burgers, Tacos & Waffles) 115 E. Main St. 352.508.9287 Fish Camp Lake Eustis 901 Lake Shore Blvd. 352.742.4400

Tiki West Raw Bar and Grill 118 W Ruby St, Tavares 352.508.5783 THE V I L L AG E S Amerikano’s Grill 998 Del Mar Dr. 352.633.8027 Belle Glade Country Club 446 Moyer Loop 352.205.8208

Shang Hai Restaurant 531 N. Central Ave. 352.669.2004

Orange Blossom Country Club 1542 Water Tower Circle 352.751.4501

Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill 297 Colony Blvd 352.751.0400

The Bavarian Haus 433 N. Alexander St. 352.735.8387

Old Crow Real Pit Bar-B-Q 41100 SR 19 352.669.3922

Hemingway’s at Havana Country Club 2484 Odell Circle 352.430.3200 Legacy Restaurant Nancy Lopez Country Club 17135 Buena Vista Blvd. 352.753.1475 Margarita Republic 1102 Main St. 352.753.4600

China Jade 420 W. CR 44 352.330.5913

Cotillion Southern Café 101 N. Main St. 352.748.1223 Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant 346 Shopping Center Dr. 352.461.0577 O’Shucks! Oyster Bar and Grill 1016 S Main St. 352.399.2200 Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria 2468 Burnsed Blvd., 352.626.1059


Traditions Café 3107 Hwy. 44 352.748.1077

Combat Café 831 S Central Ave. 352.483.0250

Woody’s Bar-B-Q 1220 S. Main St. 352.748.1109

Fish & Chix 100 N. Central Ave. 352.669.7145


Gators Dockside Grill 9 N. Central Ave. 352.669.6969

Yalaha Bakery 8210 CR 48 352.324.3366

Greg’s Haystax 526 Umatilla Blvd. 352.669.1555 GOOD GRUB


Ramshackle Café A staple in Leesburg for many years. Maybe that’s because the restaurant offers one of the area’s most diverse menus. Patrons can order everything from fajitas and steaks to seafood and ribs. Other traditional favorites include cheeseburgers, Buffalo wings, Cuban sandwiches, wraps, salads, and chicken tenders. Diners can enjoy indoor and outdoor patio dining. Be sure to bring family members and friends because you’re sure to have a good time! 1317 N. 14thSt. Leesburg / 352.365.6565

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The Kitchen Café

Tuesday-Saturday 9am-2pm

352.901.6537 | 712 W. MAIN ST., LEESBURG GETCOOKINGWITHZE.COM Culinary creativity comes alive at The Kitchen Café, tucked away inside the Southern Gardens Mall in Downtown Leesburg. The “create-your-own-bowl” option allows diners to choose a base product such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, good rice and riced cauliflower. From there, pick your choice of veggies, and a plant or animal based protein options like citrus grilled, herb roasted chicken, or personal meatloaf. Other menu items include thier made from scratch soups, chicken salad, and flavorful breakfast items like sweet potato hash, and a breakfast sandwich made with homestyle yeast rolls. Partnering with local food purveyors bring “fresh” back to the table.

Mamma’s Pizzeria 352.728.2020 & 352.365.9004 | 27405 U.S. HWY. 27, LEESBURG MAMMASPIZZERIAON27.COM Step into Mamma’s Pizzeria and step into Little Italy. Owners Jimmy and Shawna Pancari have created an authentic, hometown restaurant adorned with an Italian flag, chandelier lighting and photos of New York City—fitting since Mamma’s specializes in New York-style pizza, the thinner the crust the better. Get any toppings you want up to super-deluxe pizza with everything on it. Other favorites include chicken parmesan, chicken marsala, classic lasagna and a variety of salads. Jimmy and Shawna’s four children also work at the family business. Jimmy spent 31 years in the Coast Guard, and Mamma’s takes care of veterans, residents from nearby retirement communities and Northern transplants, all of whom are a big part of the devoted customer base. The restaurant offers online ordering, catering and delivery.

Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 352.753.2722 | 304 US-441, LADY LAKE Mom and Dad’s Italian Restaurant in Lady Lake has the distinct honor of calling itself a true family-owned restaurant. In fact, five generations of family members have represented the restaurant since its humble beginnings in May 1962. As many generations of customers have dined there throughout the years thanks to the outstanding service and scrumptious dishes such as Spaghetti a la Bruzzi, Delmonico steak, and lasagna. This food savvy family prepares everything from scratch, crafting everything with love to satisfy your taste buds.

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Monday-Thursday 11am-8pm Friday 11am-9pm Saturday 3pm-9pm Sunday 12pm-7pm

Wednesday-Sunday 4pm-9pm Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Full Gluten-Free Menu

Custom-made, fresh sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads made right before your eyes. The “healthy” alternative to fast food.

Subway SUBWAY.COM LADY LAKE | 208 W. GUAVA ST. | 352.750.4929 EUSTIS | 469 PLAZA DR. | 352.357.7827 MOUNT DORA | 18870 U.S. HWY. 441 | 352.735.4376 LEESBURG | 2013 CITRUS BLVD. | 352.787.6442 10135 U.S. HWY. 441, SUITE 4 | 352.326.3234 27405 U.S. HWY. 27, SUITE 4 | 352.314.8847 THE VILLAGES | 1580 BELLA CRUZ DRIVE | 352.750.9600 8796 S.E. 165TH MULBERRY LANE | 352.750.9991 1070 LAKE SUMTER LANDING DRIVE | 352.205.8535 349 COLONY BLVD. | 352.391.1657 WILDWOOD | 480 W. GULF TO ALANTIC HWY. | 352.748.8800

Open Daily 8am-7pm

Yalaha Bakery 352.324.3366 | 8210 STATE ROAD 48, YALAHA

A German Bakery Like No Other!

The family owned German Bakery since 1995, is an award-winning Bakery that offers to customers high-quality German products made with the highest culinary standards. Fine European pastries and breads are made with organic flours, chocolates, and spices, butter, and imported European ingredients. Take home tortes, tarts, and wonderful pretzels, but before you go home, enjoy something from our delicious deli menu. We serve breakfast from 8-11am and lunch and dinner are served 11am-7pm. Enjoy German specialties like Nurnberger breakfast, Hunterschnitzel with Spätzle, Bratwurst, Reuben, Quiche, typical German soups, and maybe Semelknoedel (bread dumplings with mushroom sauce) for lunch or dinner. We offer a fine selection of German beers and wines. Whatever time of day, you’ll find something you love at Yalaha Bakery. On the weekends you can come and enjoy various events and music concerts on Saturdays and Sundays at our Beer Garden. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or via our website www.yalahabakery.com

Would you like to see your restaurant in our dining section? CALL US AT 352.787.4112

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Thank You

We are so blessed to have each of these donors support AdventHealth Waterman this year through the Foundation by giving to Feed the Front-line, Disaster Relief, Emergency Services, Cancer Care and Area of Greatest Need. 3D Print Orlando 4Rivers Smokehouse Mr. and Mrs. Vim Abanador Ms. Rozann Abato Abundance of Love / Creative needles of Water Oak CC Estates Ace Hardware, Inc. Mrs. Anna L. Addis Ms. Harilyn Adler AdventHealth Daytona Beach AdventHealth Marketing AdventHealth Waterman Gift Shop AdventHealth Waterman Food & Nurtitional Services Adventure Landing Mr. Carl Alessandra Alexandre and Company Gary S. Allen, M.D., F.A.C.S. Ms. Jean M. Ambro AMC Theatres Mr. Thomas Anderson Ms. Robin Armitage Mrs. Sandra K. Arnold Arthur’s Creative Events & Catering Mr. and Mrs. Jack P. Baggelaar Bella Toscana Spa Belton Financial Group of Raymond James Tracy M. Belton, CFP Mr. and Mrs. Bob Berry Mr. and Mrs. Abel Biri Ms. Mary F. Bodanza Mr. Jason Bole Bosshardt & Marzek Plastic Surgery Associates Bowen, Schroth, Mazenko & Broome, P.A. Ms. Beatrice C. Boyce Ms. Nicole Boyd Ms. Lorre Bradbury Bradford Renaissance Portraits Mr. and Mrs. Greg Braithwaite Mrs. Rosanne Brandeburg Mr. Jack G. Branthover Commissioner Wendy Breeden Mr. & Mrs. Roger J. Bricault Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Briggs Ms. Denise Bronson Anonymous Bruce Wilson Photography Dr. Miguel Bryce Buckmann Insurance Group Mr. and Mrs. Robert Buckmann Anonymous Mrs. Angella Bundz Busch Gardens Mr. and Mrs. James Busko Dr. Susan G. Caddell & Mr. Danny Caddell Cagan Management Group, Inc. Mr. John W. Campbell Campione & Hackney, PA Cardiovascular Associates of Lake Co. PA Ms. Patricia Carroll Ms. Donna Carruth Cason Photography Ms. Rena Casterline Central Florida Cardiology & Vascular Center, LLC

Central Florida Cardiovascular Center, P.A. Central Florida Pathology Group, P.A. Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens Chamberlain University Mr. Jeff Chastain Chick-fil-A Chill Baby Productions Mrs. Ruth A. Christensen Mr. Ronald J. Christiansen Rosemary A. Cirelli, M.D. CLIF Bar & Company Cobb Theatres Mr. Michael Coffman Mr. and Mrs. Angel Colon Lynda W. Comfort Complete Care Mr. Michael Conley Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Corliss Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc. Country Club of Mount Dora Women’s Club Country Club of Mount Dora Covelli Family LP a franchisee of Panera Bread Anonymous Cozy Nest CRAVE Bakehouse Crayola Experience Crothall Healthcare Mr. and Mrs. David Curtis Anonymous Eustis Fire Department Eustis Police Department DASH Sports Data Graphics, Inc. Ms. Gina Davis Mr. and Mrs. Sal DiDonna Dillard’s Seminole Towne Center Dinosaur World Mr. and Mrs. Bill A. Dixon Mrs. Bonnie Donihi Donnelly Euro Footwear Dora Queen Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Douglass DPR Construction Mr. Bill Draper Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Dunlop Mr. and Mrs. Robert Eades Eduardo’s Lokos Tacos Electric Services, Inc. Mr. and Mrs. James W. Emerson Enterprise Holdings Foundation Mrs. Janice Epaillard, CTFA Mr. Nestor A. Estenoz Eterna Studios Mr. Tim Farley FEP of TEAMHealth Mr. and Mrs. Robert Feustel The Florida Aquarium Florida Cancer Specialists Ms. Clara B. Foley Ford Press, Inc. Mr. and Mrs. Larry Fortna Anonymous Moises Fraifeld, M.D., F.A.C.C. Garden Theatre Gateway Christian School Mrs. Joanna Germain

Anonymous Mrs. Shirley J. Gerwig GFWC Mount Dora Women’s Club, Inc. Mrs. Nancy V. Gill Girl Scout Troop 1218 Umatilla Ms. Janet Glock Anonymous Ms. Judith A. Goode Mr. Steve Gordon and Ms. Ann Robbins Mr. Richard Gouttiere Mr. Clinton I. Gove Grace City Church Ms. Jeannette B. Gregory Gresham Smith Louis M. Guzzi, M.D., F.C.C.M. Mr. Louis Hall, Jr. Mr. and Mrs. Philip E. Hamos Harbor Hills Country Club Harden-Pauli Funeral Home Anonymous Mr. and Mrs. Peter A. Harrison Ms. Mary Louise Hatfield Ms. Roberta Haupert Mrs. Lynn M. Haynes Mrs. Suzanne W. Hazelton Mr. and Mrs. Christopher L. Hazen Mr. and Mrs. John Helms Mrs. Ernestine C. Herndon Ms. Sandra L. Herstowski Mrs. Suzette K. Hicks Mr. and Mrs. David H. Hilsenbeck Mrs. Deb Hitchcock Mrs. Jimmie Jo Hixon Mr. and Mrs. Larry Hoag Anonymous Ms. Judy Holtz Home Depot, Inc. Home Proud Services Honey Baked Ham Mr. and Mrs. Harley Horn Barbara C. Howard, Ph.D. Mr. and Mrs. Don Howard Mr. Sam Hudman Hunton Brady Architects Mrs. Myrna Huthmacher Mrs. Binky Ianonne Ms. Patricia Infurchia Insight Credit Union International Diamond Center Mrs. Josefa D. Ivey Jackson Dentistry Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Jackson Ms. Judith Jackson Anonymous Mr. and Mrs. Paul Jodray Mr. & Mrs. Kevin Johnson Johnson-Laux Construction Mrs. Margie Johnston Jones Brothers & Co Air & Seaplane Adventures Anonymous Anonymous Dr. and Mrs. Chris Kechriotis Kendra Scott Mrs. Susan Kerr Mr. & Mrs. Floyd Kestner Anonymous Anonymous KindHandmadeCo.com

Mr. and Mrs. Howard S. Kleeman Ms. Helga Kling Anonymous Dr. Ramona Kyrillos L.A.S.E.R. Mrs. Varsha H. Laheri Lake Cares, Inc. Lake County Emergency Operations Center Lake County Firefighters Charity Lake County Quilters Guild, Inc. Lake County Sheriff’s Office Lakes at Leesburg Ladies Golf Association Lake-Sumter State College Foundation, Inc. Lake-Sumter State College Mrs. Jennie LaMoreaux Barbara Lange, Ph.D., RN Mr. and Mrs. Mike Lannon Mr. and Mrs. Dale Law Dr. Kehinde A. Layeni and Ms. Donna Wilson Dr. and Mrs. Ernst Leberzammer Leesburg Boat Club Dr. and Dr. J. Henry Lesmes Mr. Frank Libby LipSense - Jenna Krager Mr. David A. Lock Anonymous Mrs. Beth A. Long Mr. and Mrs. William Lowery LSI Mr. and Mrs. Joe Madonio Ms. Mickey Mahoney Mrs. Rochelle Markowitz Ms. Kathleen McCann Mr. and Mrs. Norman A. McCrae The Medical Staff of AdventHealth Waterman Medtronic, Inc. Mrs. Indra Mehrotra Mel’s Sparkling Posh Michelle Sperry Photography Anonymous Mr. & Mrs. Danny Miller Ms. Shelia Moore-Miller Ms. Deidre Mosher Mount Dora Pizza & Subs Mr. Kress Muenzmay Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Mulholland Mr. and Mrs. Frank C. Munroe Sgt. Maj. Freddie Murray, USMC (Ret.) and Mrs. Sheryl Murray Dr. Nagy Nashed and Mrs. Nancy Farah Mr. David Navarro Ms. Janet Nehring Ms. Loretta P. Nelson Mr. and Mrs. Richard F. Norford Nothing Bundt Cakes Winter Park Sgt. Maj. Gilbert R. Oliver, Retired Origami Owl - Debbie Sturgill Orlando Cat Café Orlando Solar Bears Mr. and Mrs. Jerome T. Paananen Painting with a Twist Mr. Robert Paladino Paparazzi - Glenda DiGuardo Mr. and Mrs. Krishnavadan Patel Paulhamus Produce, Inc.

Mr. John D. Pease, IV Ms. Barbara Peterson Phoenix Salon & Eustis Day Spa Ms. Gina Picarelli Pisces Rising Mrs. and Mr. Jean H. Pizarro Pizza Hut Ms. Cynthia Poirier & Carol Bligh Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Poorvin Mr. Bill Powell Robert and Patricia Powers Premier Boat Tours Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehab PRP Wine International Publix Super Markets, Inc. Puff ‘n Stuff Pure Oils Are Essential - doTerra Mrs. Merrisa Purvis Dr. and Mrs. Floriano Putigna Quail Creek Resort Quilting Sisters Guild Raymond James Red Lobster RedTail Golf Club Ms. Barbara Rigel Mr. and Mrs. Miles Riley Mr. and Mrs. Donald Riley Mr. Hill Robertson Robins & Morton Group Florida Division Ms. Ellen Robinson Mr. Walter Rodriguez Ms. Sherie Ross Rotary Club of Oviedo Mrs. Ann Huffstetler Rou Rover.com Rsource Ruby Tuesdays Lt. Francis A. Rudden, USN (Ret.) Mr. and Mrs. Raymond A. Rust Mr. and Mrs. Michael Rutherford SAK Comedy Lab Sample Handbags Sassy Yard Cards Mr. David Schack Ms. Barbara J. Schaehrer Ms. Diane Setler Dr. and Mrs. Vinaykant N. Shah Mr. and Mrs. Keith Shamrock Mr. and Mrs. Earl C. Shaner Shared Health Services, Inc. Mr. Bruce Sherwood Ms. Donna Short Silver Threads Mr. and Mrs. Jon Singletary Smallwood Sign Company, Inc. Ms. Alicia Smith Mrs. Kit Smith Anonymous Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Smith Ms. Sylvia Smithen Ward Sonnentag Theatre at the IceHouse Sonny’s BBQ - Eustis Ms. Michelle M. Sperry St. Patrick Catholic Church

Starbucks Mr. and Mrs. Richard Statz Mr. Charlie Stoothoff & Ms. Anne Stose Mrs. Darlene A. Strama Mr. David G. Stratton Style Magazine Mr. Buzz Summerford Superwash Express Surface Loft Hair Studio Ms. Kelli Swisher Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tavares Pavilion Mr. and Mrs. Bret C. Taylor Ms. Donna Taylor Mrs. Rose M. Tench Mr. and Mrs. James N. Tenney The Donut Box The First National Bank The Sonshine Quilt Ministry or Reach Church The Wayne C. & Neva Jo Bailey Charitable Fund Ms. Laurel Thorel Puryear Anonymous Total Wine & More United Southern Bank Universal Orlando Resort US Anesthesia Partners Mr. and Mrs. David M. Valentine Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Van Dellen Ms. Colleen Van Fleet Ms. Janice Vance Vann Gannaway Chevrolet, Inc. Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Vehmeier Mr. and Mrs. Terry Verity Mr. Noel Vincent Ms. Kathy Vine Ms. Vicki Vining Vitas Healthcare Wallace Fitness Wal-Mart H. St. John Webb Weiss CPA Services, LLC Ms. Kendall Weldon Mr. and Mrs. Robert K. Welter Mrs. Jane Werner Mr. and Mrs. Thomas L. Werner Mrs. Carol A. West Mr. Robert D. White Mr. and Mrs. Robert Whitton Wild Birds Unlimited Mr. and Mrs. Grant Wilinski Ms. Marcia Wilkins Mr. Michael Willis Mrs. Tracy Wilson Pierce Mr. Ricky D. Wolsch Ms. Kelly Wood Anonymous Mr. Don Yancey Mr. and Mrs. Dalton Yancey Mr. Robert Yates, Sr. Zellwood Station & Country Club


Donors listed through mid-October

You won’t believe who we invited to this year’s black-tie Gala. (Virtually everyone!) Featuring:

Expert Speakers l Panel Discussions l Music & Entertainment l Online Auction l


Remote “House Parties” throughout the community

Join us for our 15th Annual Hearts for Our Hospital Gala Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 6:30pm - Live Stream Clark Barrios, Master of Ceremonies accompanied by the Clark Barrios Band. Our theme this year is “Believe” because, in trying times, hope is our greatest asset. We have to believe that, together, we can persevere and overcome the many obstacles life throws our way, and still bring hope to so many. We believe. We want to make you a believer, too!

Can you still make a real difference, even with everything going on in the world today?

You better believe it!

For more details visit: www.tvrhfoundation.org/believe


To our Customers and Friends,

Thank You Gift

For the of Being able to Serve


Like Citizens First Bank on Facebook!

www.MyCitizensFirst.com | 352-753-9515 BauerFinancial 5-Star Rated Bank, Since 2014

December 2020 Lake and Sumter Style Ad.indd 1

11/19/2020 2:34:26 PM



(Away from) Home for the Holidays How to be with your loved ones in spirit this holiday season. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

s dreadful 2020 nears its end, most of us are probably thinking, “FINALLY!” This has truly been a year that will go down in history for all the wrong reasons. Many had high hopes for the beginning of a new decade, but let’s hope 2020 doesn’t set the precedent for how the next 9 years will go. That said, we do still have a month of 2020 left, so maybe we make the most of it, and at the very least, try to end this hideous year on some sort of high note. For me, that will be done by spending time with my loved ones. Lucky for my family, my sisters and a few other relatives are able to come down for a couple weeks to spend Christmas together. For others, I know that isn’t possible right now, whether it’s due to travel restrictions, health risks, or financial reasons. However, there are still ways you can be with your loved ones during this special time of the year. One way, thanks to technology, is to Zoom, or FaceTime your family

and friends during holiday parties they aren’t able to make it to. For my family, yes, my immediate family will be together, but many of my cousins, aunts, and other relatives are across the country. What we have done the last few years is FaceTime on someone’s phone and pass the phone around until everyone has at least said hi. My extended family is loud and big, so we’re usually on the phone collectively for at least an hour. Another tradition my family has had for years is watching Christmas movies together after dinner. After everyone eats, it’s nice to cuddle up with blankets and hot chocolate or spiked cider and put on “Elf,” “The Polar Express,” or a cheesy holiday rom-com. Netflix has an option to do a “watch party,” where one person sends a link to another, so you can watch something together from anywhere. If someone pauses, it pauses for everyone, so you can all stay on track. The best part – there is a chat feature where you can message one another throughout the movie. Although we have all been through a lot of changes and hardships this year, we can only hope it gets better moving forward, and try to find some beauty in the ugliness of 2020.

Hey, readers! Is there a particular subject that you would like me to write a commentary about? Tell me, via email, at victoria@akersmediagroup.com.

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Guess what movie we decided to watch Give me a hint

Need another hint? It’s one of our favorites Just one more





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The All-New 2020 Toyota Highlander

Go beyond what’s expected.

Highlander Highlander's bold new design is hard to ignore. It's chiseled shape and contoured lines display the perfect balance between power and refinement. Get ready to turn heads wherever you go.

DELUCA TOYOTA SR 200 • Ocala, FL 352-732-0770 DELUCATOYOTA.COM A bundle of active safety features standard on every new Highlander at no additional cost ©2019 Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.


Urology Institute of Central Florida Introduces

Dr. Jeffrey Thill Board Certified Urologist

UICFLA is proud to announce the addition of Dr. Jeffrey Thill to our Lady Lake office as an office-based urologist. Dr. Thill is a board-certified urologist and has been practicing urology in Central Florida since 1993. During his tenure, he has specialized in kidney transplantation, laparoscopy, and robotics surgery in addition to general urology practice. Dr. Thill is an office-based urologist. He no longer admits patients to the hospital nor does he perform hospital-based consultations or procedures. Dr. Thill is accepting new patients in our Lady Lake office. To make an appointment, please call 352-751-0040.

Same day appointments are often available

808 Highway 466, Lady Lake, FL 32159


(352) 751-0040



Holiday Glow







352. 259.859 9 | PL A S T I C SU RG ERY V I P.CO M 6 07 CR 4 6 6 A , FRU I TL A N D PA RK

Profile for Akers Media Group

STYLE magazine, Village Edition, December 2020