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y a d i l o H e h T

DEC. ‘19 LOCAL GIFT GUIDE HOLIDAY PLAYLIST WINTER QUEERSTICE

p o o c S e d i s n I d a e H s a t ' n Sa Tell s All ! Elf

Also in this Issue:

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DOWNTOWN CROWD DECEMBER 2019 Publisher Malcolm Ballinger Owners Malcolm & Glenys Ballinger Executive Editor Kelly Oden

Editor’s Letter

CONTENTS

Gina Castro, Editor

Editor Gina Castro

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Art Director Guy Stevens Graphic Designer Bara’ah Jaraiseh Editorial Assistant Dakota Parks Advertising Account Executives Paula Rode Paula@ballingerpublishing.com Geneva Strange Geneva@ballingerpublishing.com Becky Hildebrand becky@ballingerpublishing.com For advertising rates or news tips contact Phone: 433-1166 · Fax: 435-9174 DOWNTOWN CROWD is published by Ballinger Publishing. Offices located at 314 N Spring St., Ste. A, Pensacola Florida 32501 Published by Ballinger Publishing

Downtown Crowd is locally owned and operated. It is published monthly for distribution in Pensacola, Florida. All Right Reserved. Reproduction or use of the contents herein is prohibited without written permission from the publisher. Comments and opinions expressed in this magazine represent the personal views of the individuals to whom they are attributed and/or the person identified as the author of the article, and they are not necessarily those of the publisher. This magazine accepts no responsibility for these opinions. The publisher reserves the right to edit all manuscripts. All advertising information is the responsibility of the individual advertiser. Appearance in this magazine does not necessarily reflect endorsement of any products or services by Ballinger Publishing. © 2019

Do you know a question that is more divisive than “Who are you voting for in the next presidential election?” It’s probably “When do you start decorating for Christmas?”

can read all about that new brewery later in this issue. I even enjoyed being one of those early birds hunting for presents downtown for this year’s holiday gift guide. What really sealed the deal for me was chatting with Santa’s Head Elf Jacob. It’s not often that you get to discover the true magic behind Winterfest. You can read this elf’s tell all in this issue, too.

You have the people who dive into their Christmas bins the day after Halloween, then there are the people who won’t dare acknowledge Christmas until they’ve had their Thanksgiving dinner and then, of course, there are the people who fall We decided to spread the holisomewhere in between. day cheer even more this year I have always been the type by doing a giveaway! Jacob the of person who cringes at the Elf is hidden all throughout this sight of anything Christmas issue. Count how many times related before Thanksgiving. you see him and send me an That is until I became the edi- email with your guess, GinaC@ ballingerpublishing.com. The tor here. person with the closest guess Let me reveal a couple of se- will win two tickets to the Pencrets for you. In order for us at sacola Little Theatre’s producBallinger Publishing to produce tion of Miracle on 34th Street. this December issue of Downtown Crowd, we have to get Our Military Matters section into the Christmas spirit a tad is out of this world, too. Penearly-- like Oct. 24 to be exact. sacola State College’s graphic At first, the thought of getting design students are presentChristmas glitter on my hands ing the “50th Anniversary of before Halloween sounded like the First Step,” which pays homage to the moon landing. a crime against humanity. If that doesn’t rock your world But somehow boppin’ to our enough, we also have an ex“Not your mama’s holiday play- clusive interview with one of list” while writing about J.W. the first women to bomb ISIS. Renfroe Pecan’s sweet new Caroline Johnson is a spitfire spot downtown, really had me you just won’t want to miss. filled with holiday spirit. However, Emerald Republic, the Happy holidays! newest brewery downtown, may have had a little to do with that, if you catch my drift. You

G. Castro

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31 9 Local Gift Guide 10 Emerald Republic 13 Not Your Mama's Holiday Playlist 15 5 Questions with Creatives: Eliza George

17 Winter Queerstice 20 Santa's Head Elf Tells All 25 Renfroe Pecans 26 Man on the Street: 2020 28 Calendar 31 Military Matters DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 7


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Local Gift Guide

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By Gina Castro + Bara'ah Jaraiseh

Finding the perfect gift for your loved ones can be a difficult task. If you’re looking for a unique, thoughtfully made gift, then buying locally handmade products should be at the top of your list. To help spread the holiday cheer just a little more this year, we decided to focus our gift guide on locally made products. All of the gifts featured can be purchased downtown.

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1. Glass Snowman by Jacob Alan Moody - $50 | First City Art Center 2. Vine Vase by Jacob Alan Moody - $45 | First City Art Center 3. Wooden Pen by Dick McNeill - $25 | Blue Morning Art Gallery 4. Business Card / Soap Holders by TLC Pottery - $14 | Blue Morning Art Gallery 5. Soap bar made with Bodacious Olive Oil - $8 | Bodacious Shops 6. Hand Cream made with Bodacious Olive Oil - $21.95 | Bodacious Shops 7. Bodacious Olive Oil - $12.99 | Bodacious Shops 8. Pensacola Ornament Designed by Deborah Dunlap - $36.95 | Rusted Arrow Mercantile 9. Hot Sculpted Glass Shell by Joe Hobbs - $140 | First City Art Center 10. Stemless Wine Glass from the Florida Collection - $25 | First City Art Center DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 9


Symbol of the Brewing Company and painting by Loren Miller

Despite the growing number of breweries in Pensacola, owners Phillip and Veronique Zayas do not view the local breweries as competition, rather as a community that is elevating the quality and love of craft beers. “There’s a lot happening in the beer community here and we feel like there’s a place for everyone. I’m really excited to plug into that. We see it as a very positive thing for the growth of our community and the elevation of quality—that is, what should be expected from craft beer,” said Veronique Zayas.

By Dakota Parks | Photos by Guy Stevens

According to the market research company C+R Research, Pensacola ranks number nine in the country on a list of breweries per capita. Since that list was compiled in early 2019, even more breweries have been added to the list, including Emerald Republic Brewing Co. set to open in early December. 10 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

Nestled in an old autobody mechanic shop, the brewery has retained a rustic, industrial vibe while creating a mixed atmosphere that retains history and adds what Veronique Zayas calls “90s grungebaby aesthetics.” Saturated in dark black paints, concrete flooring, antique style Edison bulb light fixtures, lush green plant features in cinder blocks, and a touch of antique throne style furniture, the brewery gives off a cozy, industrial vibe. Original roller doors from the

mechanic shop contrast the new garage-style door that allows for easy indoor and outdoor access. The design and aesthetics of the brewery are the contrivance and brainchild of Veronique Zayas, while her husband and business partner Phil Zayas is the man behind the beer. Veronique Zayas runs HatchMark Studio, a graphic design, marketing consultant and brand agency in Pensacola. Her design work of Emerald Republic is rooted in not just cozy vibes but also community involvement. With 10,000 square feet of fencedin outdoor space, complete with games like bag toss and a 16-foot long outdoor picnic table, the brewery is both family and pet friendly. Dogs will be allowed outside on a leash and kids are encouraged to come enjoy the outdoor space created for hosting art, music and community events. Veronique and Phil Zayas are dedicated to eliminating communication barriers in their space, including removing televisions from the


equation. The two pillars of the brewery are community and craft beer. “We wanted to create a space for people to talk, hang out and drink good beer. That includes an open dialogue and community collaboration. We want customers to feel comfortable enough to come up to us and give us suggestions for new styles of beer to brew or ask us promote and host their bands or events,” said Phil Zayas. Phil Zayas has brought together his 12 years of experience in the beer industry, Cicerone certification, and completion of the Master Brewer’s Program at UC Davis in California with his love for craft beer. It all started with an at-home brewing kit that Veronique Zayas bought for him. He spent nearly a decade learning the ins and outs of the beer industry including distribution, merchandizing, sales and branding before branching out to his own craft brewery. Together, Phil and Veronique Zayas have created an atmosphere influenced by their travels and Eastern culture. The symbol for Emerald Republic is a dragon. As Phil Zayas explained, the dragon is a deity of wisdom and a protector of water, and water is the most important ingredient in beer at nearly 95 percent. In many ways, the vibe of the brewery becomes an experience of its own— it's like walking into a dragon’s lair. With an exposed ceiling, revealing black wooden drafters and the appearance of faux, chiseled rock, the ceiling feels like a cave to a lair. The focal point on the back wall is a large painting of a dragon looking out across the bar. The focus on artwork and hand-crafted pieces stand out as another founding belief system of the bar.

Emerald Republic's 10,000 Sq. ft. outdoor space featuring artwork by Dago Martinez

“So many people view beer as something that they just drink on the weekend, but it deserves a lot more respect than that. Brewers pour their heart and creativity into what they’re making.”

Phil + Veronique Zayas, Owners

- Phil Zayas “Beer is an art form. It’s a combination of science and art. It’s four ingredients that nature gave us that come together to create a wonderful product,” said Phil Zayas. “So many people view beer as something that they just drink on the weekend, but it deserves a lot more respect than that. Brewers pour their heart and creativity into what they’re making.

Just like how wine makers go into their vineyards and push and feel the texture of their grapes, brewers hold and check our malt and hops.” Emerald Republic is brewing up tasty art and a community centered atmosphere. Their plans for the future include hosting art and music events and even beer-education events for

learning about beer-pairing and developing a palette for different styles of beer. The brewery is located at 1414 W. Government Street, Pensacola, FL 32502. To keep up with them and find out more, check out www. emeraldrepublicbrewing.com.

DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 11


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Miracle On STREET

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Adapted by Mountain Community Theatre Based on the Twentieth Century Fox Motion Picture “Miracle on 34th Street”

From The Novel By Directed By

Valentine Davies Kathy Holsworth

December 13-15, 19-22, 2019 Pensacolalittletheatre.com

Produced by special arrangement with THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANYof Woodstock, Illinois.


Not Your Mama's

Holiday Playlist

By Tana Rogers WELL EVERYONE, ITS OFFICIALLY THAT TIME OF YEAR – okay, I’m pretty sure that the holiday season started just after October (at least in the retail world), but now it’s December, and that means it is officially holiday season! That also means it’s time for festive music to fill the air. Now, no matter what you celebrate, we can all agree that music brings joy and enlivens the soul. Keeping that in mind, this season’s playlist has been curated specifically to showcase some of the lesser known holiday songs along with the classics. So, if you love a traditional jingle or perhaps the more modern contemporary tune, make sure to turn up this playlist because it has a little bit of everything on it to put you into the spirit of the season. Happy holidays and I hope you enjoy!

1. “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande 2. “Last Christmas” by Wham! 3. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms 4. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by My Chemical Romance 5. “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” by Weezer 6. “Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer 7. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams 8. “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson 9. “Baby, Its Cold Outside” by Brett Eldredge and Megan Trainor 10. “Secret Santa” by Gwen Stefani 11. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love 12. “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” by Nat King Cole 13. “Sleigh Ride” by Ella Fitzgerald 14. “This Year for Christmas” by Phil Wickham 15. “Run Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry 16. “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues and Kristy MacColl 17. “Ho Ho Ho – Dirty Christmas” by The Ying Yang Twins 18. “White Christmas” by Michael W. Smith 19. “O Holy Night” by Nina Nesbitt

Scan this image in the Spotify app to start streaming !

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5 QUES TIONS WITH

CRE ATIVES E L I ZA GEOR GE BY GI NA CAST RO

One of the best parts about the holiday season is all of the joy and excitement in the air. What if those feelings could last all year through? If you take a look at Eliza George’s art, you can’t help but get those same warm fuzzy feelings. George started off making art that didn’t fuel her creative soul, but after experiencing a dream one night, she decided to tread her own path as a watercolor artist. Now she makes art for one reason: to make other people smile. You can check out this local artist’s art on her Instagram @ElizaGeorgeArtist. You can also purchase her art through her Etsy account www.etsy.com/shop/elizageorgeartist.

Snitches Get Stiches

Have you always been an artist? I have always loved creative things, and I have always loved art, but I really didn’t call myself an artist until I was an adult. I just always felt like one day I’ll be better and earn the title. Meanwhile, I was always telling people “Of course you are an artist, you make art.” But I couldn’t seem to apply that to myself. So, yes, I’ve always been an artist because I have always loved making art, and I think everyone is artistic in their own right. Spirit Kitty

The Moth + The Moon

You haven’t always done watercolor painting, so how did you start? I had a dream one night, and in my dream, I was watercolor painting. I know that is so crazy, but it’s true. I woke up the next day, and I was completely obsessed with the idea. So, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos on watercolor. I had seen it before, but I had never painted it before. So, I watched videos and went to Hobby Lobby and bought a bunch of stuff, and then I just never stopped painting. That was about four and a half years ago. I loved it from the moment I tried it. Your art is very optimistic and motivating. What inspires you to create that? I am very inspired by plants, animals and nature in general. Any of my friends will tell you. I am obsessed with plants and leaves. I have a lot of plants that I grow, and I’m always snapping pictures of leaves. I’m really dorky about it. I love my

Tiny Monster

plants. To be able to grow something is just magical. I am always snapping pictures of bugs. I think it’s so awesome that we live our lives with these little tiny things. Their little lives are going on all around us. It’s like we’re living in Horton Hears a Who and Bugs Life. That inspires me a lot. Your art has a lot of vibrant colors. What’s your process for establishing a fluid color scheme? When I paint, I use only three colors of paint. I mix all of my own colors because I like my colors to be very bright and vibrant. I use the primary colors, and that way, all of my work looks cheery and all of the colors match so they can all be on a wall together. That’s why all of my stuff is very rainbowy because I’m literally using the primary colors. I noticed your signature is also a sketch of a cat. Is there a story behind that? I love cats. Everyone who knows me knows I am a total cat lady. I always thought I didn’t like cats until I got my first cat nine years ago. When I first started painting, I used to paint a lot of cats because I really like my cat. The more art I made, the more cats I painted. I kind of became known as always having a lot of cat art. So, I started putting my name inside a little cat outline. When I go to my shows, I’m usually wearing cat ears. DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 15


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WINTER N IO T A R B E L E C Y A ID L O LA'S ALL INCLUSIVE H

PENSACO By Dakota Parks

When people think of the holidays, they often picture food, family and friends. For the LGBT+ community, however, holidays can be alienating. Especially for those with strained or intolerant family relations. One local clinic, Pensacola Osteopaths is hoping to change that by creating a holiday party that everyone is welcome at. Winter Queerstice is a holiday party and a public fundraiser to raise funds for the clinic’s LGBT+ and gender-affirming health care costs.

The traditional way of handling HRT at medical practices is to require transgender patients to obtain a letter of recommendation from a therapist. This requirement can often take months of therapy sessions and prohibit low-income patients from acquiring medication. Bailey is not only the program manager at Pensacola Osteopaths, but she was also the first transgender patient of the program.

When Dr. Alexys Hillman, an Army veteran, opened Pensacola Osteopaths in May 2018, the focus was on a clinic that provided holistic healthcare, including manipulation services. Osteopathy is a branch of medical practice that emphasizes treatment methods through the manipulation and massage of the bones, joints, and muscles. As Dr. Hillman describes it, osteopathic doctors try to focus on natural remedies and assessing the entire body and mind before prescribing medications.

“I swear, every day I’m still meeting a new transgender person that thinks they’re the only one. Being a face of an organization allows me to educate people and promote visibility,” said Bailey. “We aren’t just giving out hormones like candy—people actually think that we just give hormones to everyone that walks through the door. We still do lab tests and assess overall health including mental health. We just promote this level of believability—if a patient comes in seeking treatment, we believe them. There is no need for gatekeeping in the medical community. And that’s an amazing thing, as a patient, just to be believed.”

However, Dr. Hillman quickly realized there was a serious need in the community for more than just osteopathic manipulation. At her clinic, they now offer a discounted disability program, primary care for uninsured and

low-income patients, rapid HIV testing, free birth control consultations and reduced medication, at-cost Pap smears, and sliding-scale appointments for transition management for transgender and non-binary patients. When Ariel Bailey left the U.S. Navy and transitioned from male to female two years ago, she struggled to find adequate health care providers in the Pensacola region. When she lost insurance and could no longer afford her medical provider, she reached out to Dr. Hillman. Together, they have created the only informed-consent clinic in the entire region for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Now, Bailey serves as the program manager for their gender-affirming health care program.

Dr. Alexys Hillman, D.O. and Founder

Ariel Bailey, gender-affirming healthcare program manager

The clinic itself is a warm, inclusive environment. From the literature on DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 17


WINTER the coffee tables promoting LGBT+ comics, feminist magazines, and even educational children’s books to a year-round clothing transfer for both homeless and transgender patients to exchange clothing at, the office is rich in diversity. It even features a tiny food pantry. This advocation for patients is at the heart of the Winter Queerstice event. Dr. Hillman’s team at Pensacola Osteopaths believes that medical providers owe their patients a “degree of wellness” and advocation behind and in front of doors. Other HRT providers in town, for example, do not promote hormones for transgender patients on their websites or office literature.

The event is not just about community building, education, and visibility while raising medical funds, it’s also about people.

“If you’re going to treat them, don’t treat them like they’re a secret—these are people too. Transgender patients should feel just as welcome to walk into a clinic and get their medication as any other patients in there. I don’t know how anyone can get good health care when they’re not allowed to talk about what they’re getting or what their doctor is doing for them,” said Dr. Hillman.

Clocking is a term used to describe when transgender people have been recognized as transgender, or outed as such, rather than the gender they are presenting. Deadnaming is another phrase used to describe when family and friends continue to call transgender people by their pre-transition names, or dead names, rather than their newly adopted and accepted names. The

18 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

“I’m really looking forward to having people mingling and laughing. It’s such a weird thing, but the thing I’m looking forward to the most is just the laughter and the joy. Being able to bring people together that don’t have to worry about being clocked or deadnamed that typically goes around the holiday season. The whole event concept started from a conversation with one of my patients about LGBT people that don’t want to go home for the holidays,” explained Dr. Hillman.

holidays can be a hard time for both of these issues. Winter Queerstice is providing a safe space, free of that struggle, donned with festive decorations, photo stations, refreshments, raffles, and live entertainment. Winter Queerstice will be held on Dec 18, from 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. at the Pensacola Opera, located at 75 S. Tarragona Street in Pensacola. Tickets for the fundraiser are $40 in advance or $50 at the door. Pensacola Osteopaths is located off University Parkway and is open Monday through Friday, by appointment. They can be contacted at (850) 368-7528.


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p o o c S e d i s n I d a e H s a ' t n Sa Tell s All ! Elf

By Gina Castro | Photos by Guy Stevens

As journalists, our duty is to give the truth to the people. One of the biggest mysteries of them all is Santa Claus. Somehow Santa is able to fly around the world in one night with the help of only a dozen reindeer, and Santa's elves work all year through making Christmas presents for millions of children. Just how do they do it? I decided to take a crack at this unsolved mystery by sending a query letter to none other than the man in the big red suit: Santa. Well, I actually had to send 20 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

the letter through his publicist first, but it got to him nonetheless. I received a response within 24 hours. I guess accomplishing things within 24 hours is their thing. The letter was addressed in crayon and sealed with a melted candy cane. The letter said that Santa is far too busy to speak with me this close to Christmas, but his Head Elf Jacob is happy to chat with me over some milk and cookies.

Did you Know? In their natural environment, elves can be seen frolicking through candy cane fields.


Fun Fact

Elves have 20/20 vision, so they see all the good.

y y, hear no naughty, speak no naught

See no naught Thank you for agreeing to speak with us, Jacob the Elf. It’s not often we get to speak with Santa’s Head Elf. No problem at all! Thank you for the chance to be interviewed. It’s not everyday you get a chance to be interviewed by the Gina Castro. So, as head elf, what exactly are your duties? Making sure all of the elves are keeping up with their quotas, making all of the toys in time for Christmas, making sure everything is organized, all of the reindeer are fed, and at the end of Christmas, I carry Santa Claus up the stairs to his bedroom so he can sleep. Because after eating all of the cookies and drinking milk, he’s exhausted. But elves are pretty tiny, so how are you able to muster up the strength to pick up such a… jolly, well, heavy set man? I go to the gym.

We humans are always raging about the latest workouts. So, tell us your secret for being able to eat your weight in cookies without gaining weight. Is it crossfit? Kinda. I get a big workout from running around making sure the elves are working, reindeer are fed and that Santa is well rested. I get a ton of cardio throughout the week. So, here’s something I’ve always wondered about. Since you’re always eating sweets, how do you avoid cavities? We brush our teeth a lot. We brush our teeth 16 times a day, actually. However, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone outside of elves. You hear that, kids? Don’t try this at home. So, what kind of relationship do you have with Santa? Is he like a father figure, a boss or a BFF? I think he is my home slice. My homie.

"

We like to have a list of things that are considered the lesser of the evils. Of course, if you accidentally bump into someone and are apologetic about it, you’ll still be on the nice list. But if you purposely do something bad, then you’ll be on the naughty list."

Fun Fact

South Pole Elves are mean.


d a e H s a ' t n Sa Tell s All ! Elf

My best friend. He trusts only me to help him with the naughty and nice lists. He gave me a raise and tells me a ton of stories. I never thought I would become head elf. I always thought I would stay a wood shop elf. Let’s talk about the deal with the Elf on the Shelf. That has got to be a strange job for you, right? Sitting there people watching all day? In a way, yes but also no. I think it’s fun because it’s about as close as we’ll ever get to special ops training. Elf on the Shelf was designed so that elves could make sure that the kids are good and make sure that they aren’t bad so that Santa can keep an eye on the kids. It’s a fun elf job. Whenever they see us, we have to act very still like a stuffed animal or as if we’re a toy. It’s like a game of freeze. It’s fun for us.

Speaking of fun elf jobs, what’s your favorite job as an elf? Probably sleeping. Sleep counts as a job? I wish my boss were like Santa. It’s important to the process. When it’s close to Christmas, we lose a lot of sleep. But whenever Christmas is all over, we have enough time to sleep as much as we can so that we’re ready for next year. Reasonable. Sleeping on the job sounds great. How does one become an elf? And are y’all hiring? You have to be born an elf. Buddy the Elf was a one time thing. Today’s toys like an XBOX and a hoverboard have got to be difficult to make. How do you and all of the other little elves manage to make 2019 toys? Well, it’s definitely an eco-friendly process. Santa is big on that. But

Winterfest Events Visit Santa

Reindeer Games

Santa Claus is waiting to take a picture with you in his sleigh in downtown Pensacola. Pictures with Santa are always free!

All of your favorite games and activities are back, from Reindeer Freeze Dance to Letters to Santa!

December 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 18- 24

Performance Tour Dec. 6, 7, 13 and 15

Winterfest's premier tour features nearly 20 performances along a 60-minute trolley trip through Downtown Pensacola. Along the way, Scrooge, The Polar Express, Peanuts, and even the Grinch will get on board to share the spirit of Christmas. 22 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

December 6, 13, 14, 15 and 14—24

Santa’s Lego Workshop Dec. 7

Designed for children under age 12, participants are invited to come construct a Lego creation at Christmas Town! The event will be on Dec. 7 from 11 am to 2:30 pm.

Santa’s Puppy Party Dec. 8

Many children ask Santa for a puppy, so he’s decided to bring the

for the most part, it’s magic. We don’t like to dive into the technicalities of it. You know, trade secrets and all. So, tell me Jacob, how technical is this naughty and nice list? Like if I do one bad thing but then like a handful of good things, can I still land a spot on the nice list? I’m asking for a friend, of course. Good question. I’m glad your friend asked that. We like to have a list of things that are considered the lesser of the evils. Of course, if you accidentally bump into someone and are apologetic about it, you’ll still be on the nice list. But if you purposely do something bad, then you’ll be on the naughty list. However, we try to be as forgiving as we can, so it really depends on the circumstances.

puppies to Winterfest. Children will have an opportunity to adopt a puppy courtesy of the Escambia County Animal Shelter.

Grinch Mini-Tour Dec. 14 and 18-23

All aboard for an exciting adventure to Whoville, with the Mayor himself…and the meaniest, greeniest grouch of all…the Grinch!

Polar Express Mini-Tour Dec. 18-24

Catch a ride on the Polar Express with the dedicated Christmas Week tour! This 20 minute tour immerses

" We’ve

been watching you."

you in the story of the Polar Express with visits from your favorite characters.

Santa Send Off Dec. 24

Six children are recognized for their “Letters to Santa” that best represent the true spirit of Christmas, with the “best” letter writer presented with the bell from Santa’s sleigh and a special “Santa Scholarship” of $500.00 The scholarship money is raised from Cookie Festival entry fees.


Did you Know? You’ve come to Pensacola every year for Winterfest. Do you have any favorite stories of your time as an elf in Pensacola? Yes. There was a time that a kid was using a marker on her parents’ white sofa. So, Santa confronted her about it, and she was so shocked. Like speechless. She had no idea how Santa knew. She never marked the couch again. So what do you do to the children on the naughty list? We give them coal and write them a letter. The letter says “We’ve been watching you,” and we tell them that we know what they’ve been doing. That’s all we’ll put in their stocking. That’s a solid tactic. I think that’ll scare just about anyone straight. Do adults make it on the naught and nice list? Of course. All of the time, and surprisingly, I think there are a lot more adults on the naughty list than the children are. One of your jobs during Winterfest is to entertain the line of people waiting to see Santa. How do you entertain people while they wait in line? It depends on the circumstances. If it’s a child who seems a little bit more shy, I try a couple magic tricks without any words. I have this nifty magic stick that starts off small, but then it grows way to big to fit in my backpack. If that doesn’t do the trick, I bring out the big guns, which is my recorder. I play a couple of really bad songs on it and dance a little bit.

The Polar Express is how elves get to and from work at Winterfest

Do's and Don'ts of Winterfest Do

• Make a reservation to Winterfest events to save time • Be cheery • Come early to get a good parking spot.

Don't

• Take pictures with Santa when he is eating, drinking, or off duty • Sit in Santa's lap unless you are a child, not just child-sized • Show up after having too much Christmas "spirits"

Beach photos provided by Winterfest

Also...

that Santa and Jacob the Elf are celebrating 80 years of friendship this Christmas!

Fun Fact

If you say an elf's name three times, they will dance for you!

Perhaps the most pressing question I’ve been wanting to ask you is why has no one been able to find the North Pole? We have a magical cloak that disguises the North Pole as a pile of snow. Alrighty, Jacob the Elf. It’s been a pleasure learning about you and all of the other elves. Where can our readers find you at Winterfest? The readers can find me on Palafox Street across from Graffiti Pizza. Hope to see y’all there! DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 23


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J.W. Renfroe Pecan Company Opens Second Retail Location By Gina Castro The fourth-generation, family-owned business J.W. Renfroe Pecan Co. opened its second location on Main Street, across from Joe Patti’s Seafood, just in time for the holidays. Ben Renfroe said that they opened another location to appeal to Pensacola’s changing demographics. “The town’s demographics have changed a lot since we started in the 1950s,” Ben Renfroe said. “So, we needed to shift with it. We’re excited to be a part of Pensacola’s heritage. When I was growing up, downtown was dead. Now, downtown is blasting off. It’s incredible.” Renfroe Pecan Co. has been a Pensacola fixture for more than 60 years. In the 1930s, J.W. Renfroe Sr. began dealing in pecans a little ways away in Troy, Alabama. The family then planted its roots in the city of Pensacola in the 1950s and opened the main retail store on Fairfield Drive we know today in the 1970s. Don’t worry, this new location will still fulfill your sweet tooth. The new downtown store will feature a retail shop and kitchen and offer the same

pecan-themed gift items, nut mixes, candies, jams, coffees and other miscellaneous items that you can find at its original retail location, including the family’s famous Pensacola-style pralines and homemade fudge. Ben Renfroe said that the cook from Sam’s Seafood, which was once in this building, will be this location’s “fudge guy.” You must try the seasonal cranberry fudge and pumpkin nut fudge. They are here for only a limited time. “We are thrilled to offer this new downtown location to our customers,” said Dee Renfroe, manager of retail and mail order. “Our entire family has worked hard over the years to provide an excellent product for the community. We are excited to continue our work at the Fairfield location and to develop new relationships at the new Main Street store.” Renfroe’s Main Street location hours will be Monday-Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm and Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm.

DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 25


ON THE STREET Looking forward to 2020

By Scott Emerline

As December winds down, we begin to reflect on what 2019 meant to us and set our eyes on the upcoming year. Resolutions become our first speculation on how we’ll make next year better than the last. Whether the resolution is to lose five pounds or to learn a new language, the New Year is a time to focus on growth, reevaluate your goals and chart the best course for your future. We wanted to see what our community was thinking about as our current year comes to a close, so we took to the street to see what local Pensacolians thought of 2019 and what they hope to see from 2020.

26 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

BRITTON Youth Minister What was the best thing that happened in 2019? Well, I moved to Pensacola, so that was big. I always wanted to move to a place where I can bike to work and be close to the beach. It’s like a big city feel but a small town, and moving here’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? Say "yes" to less.

MĒGAN Wedding Planner

BRANDY Business Analyst

What are you expecting from 2020? I think it’s going to be a big year. I’m in the wedding industry, and just because of the number 2020, it’s going to be a big year for weddings. I think Pensacola will just keep getting bigger and attract more people to the city. Have you made any resolutions for next year? Like everyone else, just be healthier in mind and body.

What was the best part about 2019? My first grandchild was born this year. What are you expecting for 2020? Hopefully, not another grandchild.

DUV Musician

RICK & PENSACOLA GEORGE Business Owner

What was the most exciting part of 2019? That’s so hard, but I dropped my first official single, man. So that was the most exciting thing for me. Do you have any expectations for 2020? Dude, Fame. Have you made any resolutions for next year? Work harder. Get famous.

What was your favorite thing about 2019? I learned a lot about wines, so that’s made it a good year. My blood pressure went down. All kinds of good stuff happened in 2019. Do you have any plans for 2020? I’m a builder, so I’d like to build about four houses next year.


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CALENDAR Taco and Tequila Brunch at Perfect Plain Brewing Co. December 1 Join Perfect Plain in their taproom on the first Sunday of every month for a new series: Themed Brunch! Each month will feature a kickin' concept along with a food and beverage pairing. Chapitos Tacos will be cookin' up the grub while Garden & Grain head man Nathan Simmons and Director of Brewing Operations Reed Odeneal pair their favorite cocktails and beer with the menu of the month. Each month will be totally different experience; beer releases, dance parties, cocktail collabs and more are on the horizon for upcoming brunches! Stay tuned to our social media platforms as we start to release each month's theme. Christmas Arts & Crafts Show December 6 – 8 Stop by St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church to find some unique holiday gifts and treats. The Christmas Caravan Arts & Crafts Show will feature about 40 different vendors, a delicious bake sale, a silent auction and raffle, yummy concessions, children’s activities on Saturday and Flori-Bama Small Breed Pet Rescue adoptions. Toy Drive at the Rex Theater December 6 Come watch the Christmas essential movie Elf at the historic Rex Theater! The whole family is invited to celebrate the season and give back to their community by helping children in need at this event. Just bring an unwrapped gift donation from 7-9 pm to participate. Even Santa is getting in on the action! Help Levin Rinke and the Children’s Home Society reach their goal of giving back 1,000 presents to children in need. Monetary donations will also be accepted on site. For more information about the Children’s Home Society or to simply donate visit chsfl.org. Pictures with Santa and Mutt Parade December 7 ‘Tis the season to be jolly and not forget about our furry family members. Spend some time this holiday season supporting the Escambia County Animal shelter by coming out to their Christmas celebration. Kids and fur babies alike can take pictures with Santa, participate in the pet holiday costume contest, buy some yummy food and walk in the mutt parade! So, bring the whole family down to the Spahr Brewing Company from 1 pm to 4 pm. Everyone is welcome, especially those with four legs. 28 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

The price to purchase your loved one’s pictures is a suggested $10 donation and to walk in the parade is $5. Santa’s Lego Building Party December 7 Be in elf in Santa's workshop for a day at Santa's Lego-building party! Children under age 12 are invited to build a Lego creation in our Christmas courtyard, or bring their very own masterpiece from home. The top three creators will receive special prizes from Santa himself! Santa Paws December 8 Tis the season and everyone's favorite Holiday Pawty is BACK! Enjoy some holiday spirits, pictures and pitchers with Santa for you and your pups! Come down to Gulf Coast Brewery on Sunday, December 8, 2-5 pm, and get your pictures taken with Santa on a beautiful Holiday set by Fabadashery! Our photographers will be on-site ready to take pictures with your camera for the purrrfect holiday cards and posts! Free to attend, families welcome, donation recommended. All proceeds benefit Pensacola Humane Society! Christmas on the Coast December 13 -15 The best times of the holidays are the ones spent together. Your family won’t want to miss Christmas on the Coast, where we’ll transform sunny weather into a winter wonderland. Christmas on the Coast is a wellloved holiday tradition on the Gulf Coast, featuring some familiar PCC classics as well as exciting new material under the direction of Artistic Director, Alex Gartner, assisted by Hanan Tarabay Katie Powell, and Shelby McConnell. Enjoy dynamic choreography by Michael Dennis, dazzling costumes by Heidi Jade Warriner and set design by Dom Johnson will be sure to impress and entertain! Experience all the sights and sounds as we sing in the season with the Pensacola Children’s Chorus at Christmas on the Coast Hot Glass, Cold Brew December 13 This Hot Glass Cold Brew event will also include a gallery opening, showcasing works from FCAC’s Gallery 1060 artists, and an Art Market featuring a Holiday Ornament Sale. Patrons will enjoy light fare along with two complimentary beers from Pensacola Bay Brewery. Additional beer tickets available for purchase at the FCAC merchandise tent. Bring the whole family! Reduced Admission (without signature cup) for children over 12

Pensacola Christmas Parade

December 14 Possibly the biggest event of the season, you do not want to miss the annual Cox Pensacola Christmas Parade. The parade is so huge that it boasts over 110 entries, more than 70 floats, Eight different bands from Escambia country, New Orleans, and Mississippi, pays tribute to the Navy’s Blue Angels, and to top it off, the whole event is televised live on WKRG-TV5 (CBS). The parade will be held in downtown Pensacola and begins at 4:15 pm. For more details about the parade visit coxpensacolachristmasparade.org. is $10. Children under 12 are free. Weather permitting, there will be a children’s activity area set-up. The event is rain or shine! Equestrian Chaos: Christmas at the Grounds December 13-15

Located at The Grounds in Mobile, AL., Celisse’s School of the Equestrian Arts (CSEA) is hosting their 4th annual holiday fundraiser with Equestrian Chaos, a performing arts horse-riding group. Together, they are raising money to support their adaptive/ therapeutic horseback program that benefits hundreds of children and adults with adaptive/special needs each year in the Gulf Coast area. Come join us and witness a heartfelt, unforgettable presentation of horses, stunt riders, trainers, and riders from all walks of life in a fun, uplifting, 90-minute holiday presentation celebrating the benefits of our partnership with the horse. Breakfast with Santa December 14 This season, the restaurant Jo’s as Always will be hosting a Christmas themed break-

fast for the whole family. Enjoy a delicious meal and decide if you want to meet with Santa or Sing with Carolers – or both! Because it’s Christmas, and who doesn’t want to sing a carol or two with Santa? The event is by reservation only and held hourly from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Pricing is $10 for kids and $15 for adults (Oh and there will be $10 bottomless mimosas or sangrias)! To make reservations call (850) 466-5136. Star Wars Week at Odd Colony Brewing Co. December 16 - 20 There’s Been an Awakening! The end to the saga is nigh. Nostalgia of the highest order is in tow. As lifelong Star Wars goobs, we are elated to dedicate Odd Colony as your hub for all things Star Wars during the week leading up to the release. With the closest thing to Mos Eisley Cantina as your base, we will have everything from Star Wars trivia to movie marathons in the taproom. Not to mention we should have a few intergalactic libations brewed specifically for this special occasion. We welcome all gungans, wookies, ewoks, hutt’s, zabraks, Jawas, etc to the colony for what’s sure to be a doozie.


Grinch Mini Tour December 18 – 23 Who is going to join you on this mini tour? Well the Whos from Whoville, of course! Join the Mayor of Whoville, for $8 to $21 a ticket, as well as the Grinch for this 30-minute tour that entails the Grinch trying to ruin Christmas while the other Whos and other Dr. Seuss characters sing for your enjoyment. Dress up in your best Whoville Christmas attire for a chance to win a prize from the Mayor of Whoville himself! More information can be found by searching Grinch Mini Tour on Facebook. Polar Express Mini Tour December 18 – 24 Come dressed comfortably in your favorite pajamas as the conductor of this 30-minute Polar Express tour recounts the wonderful story of the first gift of Christmas! Magic will be in the air as snow surrounds the life-size steam engine during the tour. Tickets range from $10 to $21 and more information can be found by searching Polar Express Mini Tour on Facebook. Holiday Maker’s Market December 20 On December’s gallery night, the Rising Tides Society will be sponsoring a Holiday Maker’s Market at 1 Palafox Place where proceeds will benefit The Secret Place, a charitable foundation that seeks to help the survivors of human trafficking by providing young women the chance to recover from trauma in a safe environment. The event will feature a silent auction as well as local makers who will be selling last minute Christmas gifts. This Maker’s Market gives you a chance to wrap up your Holiday shopping while benefitting a good cause. Little Spruce Market December 20 We start with an opening party on the eve of Little Spruce Market 'The Night Before LSM', which includes festive nibbles and crispy white or warm rouge wine. Saturday morning we welcome you with a warm cup of cocoa or creamy coffee, and delicious muffin. Then on 'til 4 pm! Meet Me Under the Mistletoe December 20 The Gatsby Girls are up to something new this Christmas! This year they are attempting to break the world record for the most people kissing underneath the mistletoe! This age-old romantic tradition is also being used as a platform to help fundraise for

the Capstone Adaptive Learning & Therapy Centers, Inc. Couples can register at the cost of $35 per couple. The ticket will also get you a t-shirt! So, come on out and kiss someone you love, like, or even tolerate for a good cause and break a world record! For more information and registration visit gatsbygirls.bpt.me. Santa Sendoff December 24 One of the most iconic moments to celebrate this holiday season is the Santa Send-Off. For the last two years, Pensacola has been home to Santa’s launching point. The place where the magic happens but before he treks out on his magic journey, Santa, who has been diligently checking his list and reading Christmas letters from children, will pick the best 6 letters that represent the spirit of Christmas. The children who wrote these letters will be recognized and whoever has the absolute best will win a “Santa Scholarship” of $500.00, on top of being given Santa’s very own sleigh bell! This festive ceremony will be from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm at 223 S. Palafox Place. “The Office” Christmas Pop-Up Bar December 26 - 29 Join Perfect Plain Brewing Co. for their “The Office” themed Christmas Pop-Up Bar. Everyone loves the dry humor and everyday shenanigans on the TV show, the “The Office,” but now you get to drink and enjoy it! Kicking off their Winter Pop-Up Bar Series, the event will feature a themed cocktail menu, a vomitus amount of Office-themed Holiday decor, a reunion show from Scrantonicity performing LIVE on 12/28, maybe a fun-run for the cure and probably some sort of Office Olympics, and definitely an uncomfortable amount of “that’s what she said” jokes brought to you by D.C. Reeves as Date Mike. Noon Year’s Eve and Beach Ball Drop December 31 Do you struggle to stay awake until midnight on New Year’s Eve? Want the kids the get a good night’s sleep? Or perhaps you’re an early bird rather than a night owl. Well struggle no more! Come celebrate New Year’s from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm at the Noon Year’s Eve and Beach Ball Drop presented by Crabs! Included in this event is live entertainment (to include crab races and games), mocktails, and games. Find more information by searching Noon Year’s Eve and Beach Ball Drop on Facebook.

CALENDAR Skópelos New Year’s Eve Bash December 31 Ring in 2020 in style in downtown Pensacola's largest private event space, the Skopelos Grand Ballroom! For the third straight year, Skopelos at New World's prime downtown spot will host an all night party with premium open bars, midnight champagne toasts, party favors, open seating, lounge areas, and a large open dance floor with live music from Nobius plus DJ spins from Matt Powell of Powell Entertainment. After the midnight champagne toasts, the chefs from Skopelos will fill you up with a midnight breakfast buffet. New Year Eve Fireworks December 31 – Santa Rosa Island Authority Keep your eyes focused on the Pensacola Beach skies this New Year’s Eve for a free firework. Displays will take place overlooking the Santa Rosa Sound from the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk.

Pensacola Symphony Orchestra: Celebrate the New Year December 31 – Saenger Theatre Are you someone who would appreciate the sounds of a beautiful symphonic concert over the boisterous party atmosphere of a New Year’s party? There are so many people who would agree with that and Pensacola Symphony Orchestra is there to help you ring in the New Year. PSO will be performing their New Year’s concert at 7 pm, which includes light and timeless classics. Tickets are $23 and can be purchased from pensacolasaenger.com Ice Flyers Schedule December 6: Huntsville @ Pensacola – 7:35 pm December 7: Huntsville @ Pensacola – 7:05 pm December 21: Huntsville @ Pensacola – 7:05 pm December 26: Macon @ Pensacola – 6:35 pm December 28: Birmingham @ Pensacola – 7:05 pm

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MILITARYMATTERS AN ARMED FORCES NEWS SECTION

WWII Medal of Honor Recipient Coming to Pensacola

T

he Law Firm of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz is proud to host World War II Medal of Honor Recipent Chief Warrant Officer-4 Hershel “Woody” Williams, USMC, from 2 to 3 pm on Dec. 20 at 5Eleven, 511 S Palafox St, Pensacola, FL 32501. The event is designed to assist Woody with raising money for Pensacola’s Gold Star Families Memorial Monument to be located at Veteran’s Memorial Park of Pensacola. Hershel “Woody” Williams was born on a dairy farm on Oct. 3, 1923, in Quiet Dell, West Virginia. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps

and served in Guam, Guadalcanal, and the Battle of Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division. During the Iwo Jima battle, Woody displayed “valiant devotion to duty” and service above self by destroying seven pill boxes as a flame thrower under enemy fire and clearing a lane for friendly forces the iconic day the U.S. flag was raised on Mount Suribachi. His actions, commitment to his fellow service members and heroism were recognized on Oct. 5, 1945, when he received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Truman at the White House.

In 2015, at 90 years of age, completing 30 years employment at the VA and 35 years serving as the Chaplain for the Medal of Honor Society, Woody reinvented himself again and started a foundation to erect Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments in all 50 states to honor and pay tribute to families who have lost a family member in service. Currently, there are 58 memorial monuments in 43 states with an additional 62 monuments in progress. The community of Pensacola is proud to welcome this hero!

The Home Depot Foundation Beautifies Volunteers of America of Florida’s Pensacola Veterans Housing & Living Center

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he Home Depot Foundation upgraded and beautified the Volunteers of America of Florida’s

Pensacola Veterans Village & Living Center. Volunteers of America of Florida’s Pensacola Veterans Vil-

lage provides transitional housing and supportive services to formerly homeless Veterans. The Living Center provides income eligible housing and behavioral healthcare services along with planned group activities for its residents. 60 members of Team Depot, The Home Depot’s associate-led volunteer force, came together on their day off to help veterans in the Pensacola community. The volunteers spent the day installing a nodig liner and shrubbery, assembling patio furniture and landscaping. This renovation impacted over 100 homeless veterans by improving outdoor spaces. “It’s amazing to work hand-inhand with other companies to help the veterans in the community,” Volunteers of America Florida Regional Director Shawn Noles said. This project in Pensacola is part of The Home Depot Foundation’s

ninth annual Celebration of Service season to improve the homes and lives of U.S. military veterans and aid communities affected by natural disasters. From Sept. 19 to Veterans Day, members of Team Depot pledged 100,000 hours of service and activated more than 600 volunteer projects across the country. “It’s always good to give back to the Pensacola community,” Davis Hwy. Home Depot Store Manager George Banta said. “I have family members who are veterans, so it’s great to give back to the veterans in the area.” Since 2011, The Home Depot Foundation has transformed more than 45,000 homes and facilities for veterans across the country. Giving back to veterans is personal to The Home Depot, as more than 35,000 of the company’s associates have served in the military. DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 31


MILITARYMATTERS PSC, UWF rank top 100 on ‘Best for Vets’ list

Training Squadron 86 Holds Aerial Change of Command at NAS Pensacola

he Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida were recognized as "Best for Vets" school by the Military Times. UWF came in at number 28 out of more than 100 fouryear schools, marking its highest ranking to date. PSC came in at number 100. “The culture at UWF supports veterans through thoughtfully created programs designed to ease their transition into civilian life,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “We will continue adding new resources and enhancing existing programs to support those who have served.” PSC’s Rob Gregg was named the President of the National Association of Veterans Upward Bound in March and he is also Pensacola State’s VUB director. VUB is a veteran centered program that offers a range of services to help prepare veterans for college and helps guide veterans through college. PSC has had the VUB program for 10 years. PSC now serves as the headquarters of VUB. “I represent 62 upward bounds throughout the nation. We are excited because Pensacola State is the head quarters. We have Veterans Upward Bounds as far Puerto Rico and up into Seattle, Washington,” Gregg said. Gregg said that a major focus of VUB has been to help veterans gain experience with today’s technology. “I’ve implemented a lot of prep work that gears students toward online learning. The average veteran in our program is about 35 to 40 years old, but we do have older vets up into their 60s who come in and need all kinds of prep work whether it’s how to operate a computer or introduction to social media,” said Gregg. At UWF, the Military & Veterans Resource Center serves to advocate for military, dependents and veteran students, working to ensure the needs of these individuals are met through coordinating with multiple university offices and services. In addition to providing assistance with VA education benefits, active duty tuition assistance, counseling, tutoring,

By Lt. Michelle Tucker Chief of Naval Air Training

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academic advising, disability accommodations and more, the center has served more than 20 veterans to date through the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program, offered in partnership with Veterans Florida. The series of workshops and classes provide mentorship and guidance to military veterans interested in starting their own business. Participants in the 12-week Veterans Entrepreneurship Program are taught by Robert Foster, a 40-year veteran entrepreneur who helmed the Venture Hive, a business accelerator that assists veterans in starting their own company, before he joined UWF’s MVRC team. The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program culminates with a Shark Tankstyle competition where veterans pitch their business plans to a panel of judges composed of area business leaders. “This ranking distinguishes UWF, yet again, as a home for military veterans,” said Lori Milkeris, Director and Veterans Counselor of the Military & Veterans Resource Center. “Numerous programs and resources streamline what can be an intimidating transition from the military sector to civilian life. The thousands of veterans who have benefited from UWF's offerings are our motivation to continue improving the center.” For 10 years, Military Times has conducted an extensive, editorially independent, objective study evaluating the many factors that help make colleges and universities a good fit for service members, military veterans and their families. The publication compiles its annual "Best for Vets" list based on evaluations of survey responses submitted by each institution. Institutions are evaluated in five categories: university culture; student support; academic policies; academic outcomes/ quality; and cost and financial aid. To view the full rankings, visit the Military Times website. For more information about the PSC VUB, visit https://www.pensacolastate. edu/current-students/student-services/ trio/veterans-upward-bound/ For more information about the UWF MVRC, visit uwf.edu/mvrc.

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he “Sabrehawks” of Training Squadron (VT) 86 held a changeof-command ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Nov. 14. Cmdr. Eric “Cheese” Reeves relieved Cmdr. Joshua “WITS” Fuller as commanding officer during an aerial ceremony that followed a ground-based segment. Fuller, a native of Orlando, assumed command of VT-86 in June 2018 after serving as executive officer since April 2017. During his tenure, Fuller oversaw a cadre of around 60 instructors dedicated to training Navy and Marine Corps, and international military naval flight officers (NFO). More than 224 NFOs received their Wings of Gold under his leadership, together accumulating more than 19,000 hours in T-45C Goshawk jet trainer aircraft. He also facilitated the integration of live, virtual, and constructive training capabilities with simulator assets while successfully advocating for the acquisition of the first T-45C simulator at the base. “This was by far the most rewarding tour of my career,” Fuller said. “As I make my final approach toward the end of my career I am honored to have helped shape the future of Naval Aviation and that’s something I will treasure. The Navy’s mission success depends on the exceptional men and women among its ranks and there are none greater than the Sabrehawks I served alongside here.” Commodore, Training Air Wing 6 Capt. Scott “Mongo” Janik presided over the ceremony, attended by staff, family members, and guests. “Having the right leadership here is critical,” Janik said. “Cmdr. Fuller brought a real sense of family to the squadron and a tremendous focus on training the next generation of warriors. He had the intangibles that make a difference between a good tour and a great tour. A consummate professional, I could always trust him to make the right decisions for the good of the mission. He will be missed at TW-6 and we wish him and his family the best.”

The ceremony began in VT-86’s hangar and transitioned to the flight line. Three T-45C Goshawks took to the air with Fuller, Reeves, and Janik in the backseats. During the flight, Reeves’ aircraft took lead of the formation, signifying the transfer of leadership. Fuller, a graduate of The First Academy and Samford University, earned his Wings of Gold in December 2001. He served with various fleet squadrons including the “Lancers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131, the “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron 122, and stood up the Growler wing of VAQ129. He reported to Carrier Air Wing 3 in 2010, where he deployed as the electronic warfare officer. After a tour at the Naval War College, Fuller reported to the Joint Staff where he oversaw war planning for the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S Northern Command areas of responsibility. Over the course of his career, Fuller has accumulated more than 2,100 flight hours and 360 arrested landings. Reeves is a native of Baldwinsville, New York. A Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate, he earned his commission through the Navy ROTC program. He earned his Wings of Gold in 2003 as a naval flight officer. He has accumulated more than 2,300 flight hours and 400 arrested landings in the S-3 Viking, EA-6B Prowler, and EA-18G Growler. Cmdr. George “COB” Zintak, a native of Chicago, will assume the role of executive officer. Zintak, a prior enlisted chief petty officer, earned his Wings of Gold in 2005 as a naval flight officer. He has accumulated more than 2,500 flight hours and 700 arrested landings in the F/A-18F Super Hornet. VT-86, located at NAS Pensacola, trains the world’s finest combat-quality naval flight officers, committed to global security and prosperity, and projecting naval air power worldwide. Graduates complete follow-on training with fleet replacement squadrons to prepare them for future fleet aircraft including the F/A-18 Hornet/Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler. DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 33


MILITARYMATTERS

Q & A with Caroline Johnson: JET GIRL

Caroline Johnson's book, Jet Girl, Available now

By Gina Castro

We had the honor of speaking with an F/A-18 Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) in the United States Navy on Veterans Day. Caroline Johnson made a stop at the Bodacious Bookstore and Cafe to promote her book Jet Girl. As one of the few women to fly an F/A-18 and one of the first women to neutralize ISIS, Johnson had to overcome many challenges on behalf of her gender, which she confronts in her novel co-authored by Hoff Williams. You can purchase a copy of Jet Girl on Amazon and in the Bodacious Bookstore. 34 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

You’ve had an adventurous life and career. What made you decide to sit down and write a book? We were just talking about this with my co-author Hoff at one of the launch parties. I was really fortunate to have other people believe in me more than I believe in myself, so my co-author Hoff actually said to me “You know, you have an amazing story. I didn’t even realize women flew fighter jets. You've got to share your story with the world.” I said, “Thanks so much, Hoff, but I don’t

think I’m that special.” So, it actually wasn’t my idea. But what really made me come around to the idea was understanding that there are young boys and girls out there that are not well educated, unless they come from a military family or know someone who served, about the military. So, they don’t really know that this path exists. So sharing this story and engaging and inspiring the next generation is what got me on board.


MILITARYMATTERS In the research I have done about your book, it seems that your book is focuses on the difficulty of being a woman in a male dominated field. What are you hoping discussing this issue will accomplish? What I really hope it does for the next generation is act as a road map for them to say “Hey, she encountered those challenges. I’m going to come up on my own challenges, and they are going to be unique to myself, but I can persevere and harness my grit and overcome those challenges.” Number two, I think for leaders, just educating them that sometimes behind the scenes, people do face bullying and challenges, and the more you can be aware of it and really advocate for those people, the stronger team you are going to have and the happier and more satisfied they are going to be and the more they feel a part of the team. How do you think we can get the military to where it is more equal across the board, and do you think that is even possible? Definitely. I think there is still a way to come. I think number one the military is working on getting more numbers of women and men and different races so that it is more representative of the nation. Will we ever get to 50 percent? I don’t think so. It’s just not a traditional role for women and not as many women are inherently attracted to it as a career path, as men are. So, number one, I think numbers. Number two, having these conversations and being more open minded because what's so cool about the next generation is that they are being raised with such open minded people, and they value that in choosing their career path. When the military is openly more supportive of different races, religions and genders, then people will be more willing to join the ranks. They will say “Hey, I can see myself being successful here. I see other people who look like me and sound like me being successful. I

I think for leaders, just educating them that sometimes behind the scenes, people do face bullying and challenges, and the more you can be aware of it and really advocate for those people, the stronger team you are going to have and the happier and more satisfied they are going to be and the more they feel a part of the team.“

want to do this too.” I think just being aware of the unconscious biases that we have and actively working to challenge them on a daily basis makes us much stronger. If we come around and start to support one another better, I think we’ll have better odds in not only recruiting but receiving people who are minorities within the military structure. You graduated with honors from the University of Oklahoma with a Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership and you’re continuing your service with the Navy as an advisor. What led you to pursue this path? I currently am in the Naval reserve. I just transitioned into a new unit. I love the Navy, so I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. To still be able to serve and stay connected even in a part-time capacity was a big desire of mine. I didn’t want to fully let the Navy go. I care about the organization. I care about its success, so I

still want to be a part of that. Getting the masters degree in leadership from the academy was always the dream. It was the most rewarding job in my entire career being able to work with the upcoming generation and exciting to see what they are up to and help mold them into good women and men who are fighting the fight. What’s the next step for you? Right now, I’m speaking professionally around the country and sharing not only my story, but this amazing story of people in the aircraft carrier and the team it takes to put weapons on target, on time and on range in the enemy territory. It takes a team and a family to be able to support these military members

and help them succeed. So, I'm speaking about that and about leadership. I plan to do that for a little longer and hopefully get involved in consulting executives and helping them build stronger teams by using some of the things that I’ve learned not only in my masters but through experience. The coolest part of speaking is you get to go in these companies and get a behind the scenes look at these forward-thinking leaders who are really trying to solve these problems in the private sector, which actually relate to many of the things we do in the military, and seeing those best practices and learning what makes people great at what they do. I want to collect these pieces to help a broader group of people. That’s the ultimate dream. DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 35


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PSC students’ artwork on display at National Naval Aviation Museum By Gina Castro Photos by Bara'ah Jaraiseh + Nick Bridges

3… 2… 1… Lift off!

You can now see Pensacola State College’s graphic design students exhibition “50th Anniversary of the First Step” at the National Naval Aviation Museum. The works of the nine Marjan Mazza Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Management, Graphic Design Management Concentration students will be displayed in the museum until January 2020. The exhibition is the final body of work for the graduating students and pays homage to the Apollo 11 mission, the crew and Neil Armstrong’s 1969 first step on the surface of the moon. “The exhibition exemplifies the creative interpretation of the moon landing through color, fabrication, typography, photography and graphic design,” PSC’s Graphic Design Exhibition Coordinator Mark Hopkins said. Each year, the museum gives out three awards to the graduating students: Most Creative, Director’s Choice and Best in Show. The director of the museum retired Navy Capt. Sterling Gilliam announced the recipients of the awards. Karli Kimmons received the Most Creative award; Devin Bonner received the Director’s Choice award; Lam Nguyen received the Best in Show award. The exhibition – themed differently each year – is an annual project. Graduating Pensacola State students have exhibited their artwork at the museum since 2014, explained Hopkins, a veteran who served 20 years in the U.S. Navy and the Naval Aviation Museum’s for-

mer art director. Hopkins said that this exhibition also benefits veterans. “It impacts the military because this is the students’ giving back to the people who served, and in some cases, their family members, or they themselves, have had some connection with the military,” Hopkins said. The students’ displays covered a wide range of approaches to the theme. One display was of Margaret Hamilton, the lead software engineer of the Apollo Project, standing next to a stack of the handwritten codes she wrote to get the Apollo to the moon. There were also displays about the food the astronauts eat while in space, the evolution of the space suit and the purposes of each part of the space suit, to name a few.

Student Kristian Breeze stands next to her artwork. DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 37


MILITARYMATTERS

Nguyen, the Best in Show recipient, did his display on the evolution of the space suit.

seum is the 12th most visited museum in the country, so I can’t give them anymore exposure other than this.”

“I actually got inspired to create the evolution of the space suit because of a cartoon show I watched as a child. It’s called Dexter’s Laboratory. It was really exciting to be able to approach this project from that mindset,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen also said how beneficial this exposure is for artists like him.

Once Nguyen graduates, he plans to start his career as a graphic designer at the Lamar Advertising Company. Hopkins expressed how important the opportunity to showcase these artists’ work in this museum is to their careers.

Director's Choice award winner Devon Bonner Most Creative award winner and Best of Show winner Lam Nguyen Karli Kimmons 38 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

“The motivation behind this exhibition was to get more exposure to our graduating seniors,” Hopkins said. “The first two shows we did were held downtown. So, the only time someone saw their work was the opening day. This mu-

“I’m so appreciative of getting the experience of working at a museum and of Mark, our professor, for giving us the opportunity and Dr. Macon the opportunity,” Nguyen said. “Being able to present my art at such a large scale is just awesome. It’s great exposure.” You can experience the exhibition for yourself daily from 9 am -5 pm at the museum located at 1750 Radford Blvd, Pensacola. To access the museum, the general public must enter at the NAS Pensacola Back Gate at 1878 S. Blue Angel Parkway. Admission is free. For more information, email namfoffice@navalaviationmuseum.org.


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Downtown Crowd, December 2019  

Downtown Crowd, December 2019