Ocala Magazine January 2021 Digital Issue

Page 1


Ocala’s City Magazine Since 1980 Serving the Horse Capital of the World



JAN 2021

A New Year– A New, Beautiful You! Nirvana Medical Spa brings health, beauty and confidence to 2021

2020 Person of the Year:

Lisa Midgett Scot Brantley A Life Given to Football

Development Potential

Developer’s Dream - Hwy 27 - Prime Location in NW Ocala! Located in a highly desirable area just a short drive to WEC. 320 Acres +/- Zoned A-1 - Land use MR - $31,410,950

Location! Location! Location! Prime location on Hwy 27 - 75 +/- acres close to the World Equestrian Center. and HITS Center aisle barn, fenced paddocks, zoning - A-1 and MR $6,815,425

Stunning 197 +/- Acres presents a variety of options. Rezoned to Low Residential. 7,400 SF two-story workshop/maintenance building plus a 5 BR/4BA home. $4,900,000

445 +/- Acres in NW Ocala - Close to I-75 - WEC and HITS - Frontage on Hwy 326, NW 49th Ave, NW 60th Ave and NW 83rd Lane. $10,034,325


Equestrian Farms and Training Centers

Turn-key Training Center - 147 +/- Acres - Two residences - 4 Barns with a total of 54 stalls , covered free walker, 5/8 +/- mile irrigated track plus viewing quarters. $2,350,000

Stunning 197 +/- Acres presents a variety of options. Rezoned to Low Residential. 7,400 SF two-story workshop/maintenance building plus a 5 BR/4BA home. $4,900,000

69 +/- Acres – Located minutes to WEC! 4 BR/2.5 bath main residence, 2 guest homes, 2- Show quality stables with offices, storage barn for hay and feed. Lush green paddocks. $3,900,000

Located close to WEC & HITS. Show stable with 8-large stalls, office, feed & tack rooms. 4-stall barn, 5-board fencing with well planned paddocks. Mature landscaping $1,149,000


Lots and Land

22 +/- Acres - NW 60th Ave - Close to WEC - $770,000

40.42 +/- Acres - NW Hwy 225 - Close to WEC - $1,151,970

9.77 +/- Acres - SW 110th ST - Additional Acreage Available 69.72 +/- Acres - Lake Bessiola - $750,000






3 acre to 30 acre parcels

DESIRABLE BUILDING SITES— have your own bridle trails on 1,000 acres plus direct access to Florida Horse Park, Greenways & Trails for riding, hiking, biking. PHASE I offers lots ranging from 10 – 22 acres. PHASE II 155 acres is available for purchase as a farm or for development. PHASE III offers lots ranging from 3 to 60 acres.





10+ Acre lots, Waterfront lots available Gated entrance

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Your Private Paradise is Awaiting! 10 Acre gated estate with 5 BR 5.5 BA home overlooking a private stocked pond surrounded by Granddaddy Oaks. $664,000

Westbury Estate. Incredible home, magnificent kitchen is the hub of the home it opens to expansive living and dining areas with beautiful views. 4 BR, 4.5 BA, office, 4-car garage plus many extras. $799,500

Welcome to a higher level of realty. Joan Pletcher’s record speaks for itself. With sales totaling over $44,118,498.00 and $19,515,800 in pending properties in 2020, it’s easy to see that Joan is a knowledgeable Real Estate expert. Joan puts her the cares and concerns of her clients first. 22 Acre Estate - 5 BR, 5.5 BA home with extensive woodwork, fine adornments, Travertine & wood flooring. Chef ’s kitchen, music room, office/library plus screen enclosed pool. $2,599,000

Contact Joan today if you are interested in buying or selling.

g buying or n ri e d si n o c e ’r u If yo call today! selling, give us a R E A LTO R ® For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos, and more choices. 352.347.1777 | Cell: 352.266.9100 | Cell: 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates, and land available that are not advertised.


JANUARY • 2021 p. 56 — Sergeant Reckless at the World Equestrian Center

FEATURES 18 30 42

2020 Person of the Year: Lisa Midgett Scot Brantley: A Life Given to Football OM Pulse


Publisher’s Letter From the Mayor

45 46 50

EAT Soup's On! Dining Out

55 PLAY 56 Socially Speaking 60 Anthology: Poetry in Motion 63 EQUINE 64 Everything Equine

Photo by Ralph Demilio

ON THE COVER: Nilam Patel on location at Nirvana Medical Spa Photography Ralph Demilio Hair and Makeup Josh Yailaian The Balayage Boy Wonder


Ocala’s City Magazine Since 1980 Serving the Horse Capital of the World



JAN 2021

A New Year– A New, Beautiful You! Nirvana Medical Spa brings health, beauty and confidence to 2021

2020 Person of the Year:

Lisa Midgett Scot Brantley A Life Given to Football



71 ETC 72 Charity Spotlight: Marion Cultural Alliance's Horse Fever 76 Health Journal 78 State of the City 80 State of the County 82 Kiwanis Korner 84 Rotary Circle 88 Looking Back


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Volume 40, Issue 7




CELEBRATING OUR 40TH YEAR! Philip Glassman, CCIM | Publisher philip@ocalamagazine.com

Penny Miller | VP/Corporate Development/Principal penny@ocalamagazine.com




Carlton Reese | Editor in Chief carlton@ocalamagazine.com

Jessi Miller | Creative Director jessi@ocalamagazine.com

Alex AuBuchon/Marion County | Writer Ashley Dobbs/City of Ocala | Writer

Robin Fannon | Food/Lifestyle Editor Leslie J. Wengler | Social Correspondant OPERATIONS Randy Woodruff, CPA | CFO randy@ocalamagazine.com Doug Hummel | Director of I.T.

Louisa Barton | Writer


Mayor Kent Guinn | Columnist

Ralph Demilio | Chief Photographer ralph@ocalamagazine.com

L.A. Sokolowski | Writer

ADVISORY Linda Marks | Founder & Advisor



www.ocalamagazine.com OFFICIAL MEDIA PARTNER HOPS — Historic Ocala Preservation Society MEDIA PARTNER & PRESENTING SPONSOR of the Tailgating Competition at Live Oak International OFFICIAL MEDIA SPONSOR FOR 2020 International Women's Day EXCLUSIVE MEDIA SPONSOR FOR George Albright Annual Golf Tournament OFFICIAL MEDIA SPONSOR FOR FINE ARTS FOR OCALA


TEDxOcala · HITS · Equiventure


OFFICE 743 E. Fort King St., Ocala, FL 34471 MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 4649, Ocala, FL 34478 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR by mail or email: editor@ocalamagazine.com SUBSCRIPTION One year - $49, Two years - $95, Single Issue - $5.95. COPYRIGHT ALL contents copyrighted © 2021 by Ocala Magazine Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or advertising content in any manner without written permission is strictly prohibited.




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from the publisher

Hello, 2021 AS WE ENTER 2021 I HOPE EVERYONE SHARES MY ENTHUSIASM and optimism over what the new year will bring. To say that 2020 was a struggle for everyone is an understatement and does not bear worth repeating. It’s time to look forward to a fresh start and high expectations. For starters, with a vaccine currently being distributed throughout the country I think we can all sense the start of a return to normalcy. For us in Ocala, what could be more normal than the fusion of art and the horse industry? The unveiling of the artwork for this year’s Horse Fever auction is something that excites everyone and contributes to the cultural quality of life. For this, we have the Marion Cultural Alliance, the artists involved and all those who buy these extraordinary pieces to thank. Inside this issue you can read about Horse Fever, the creation of MCA and what this project has meant to Ocala and its growth as an art community. Laurie Zink has been a blessing for this project at its inception and she is to be commended for all her work over the past 20 years. Hopefully, her involvement in Horse Fever will continue for another 20 years as the stable of artwork continues to grow and proceeds continue to help a wide variety of local charities. Also in this issue is a story about Scot Brantley, who truly is a local sports icon unparalleled. Brantley’s career from his days in youth football, through the NFL and radio broadcasting is one of great courage and also sobering reality as he now deals with mild dementia in his later years. Beyond just Scot, the Brantley family in general is the first family of Ocala sports. The Scot Brantley legend is well-documented here, but we must also note his brother John III, who was a part of the Forest High state championships, was quarterback at the University of Florida and who guided Trinity Catholic High School to a pair of state titles. John’s guidance in leading young men has been invaluable and cannot be understated. Finally, I’m looking forward to the World Equestrian Center, which may be the most significant thing to happen in this community since Carl Rose ignited the equine history here in the 1940s. The World Equestrian Center is nothing short of amazing and serves to put Ocala on the map, not just in the state of Florida or even the United States, but on an international level. One look at the facility and what comes to mind is “First Class” as no expense has been spared to make WEC one of a kind. There is so much to be proud of in this community and it is only getting better by the day. So let’s not look behind us at a gray 2020, but look forward to a 2021 that can be the best of years for each and every one of us. ‘Til next month,




Above: Horse Fever horses ready for paint. Left: Carlynn and Mark Hershberger, Horse Fever artists

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from the

WEC and Ocala’s Changing Perceptions BY MAYOR KENT GUINN


erceptions of Ocala and Marion County have been changing the past 15-20 years and with the opening of the World Equestrian Center I do believe it’s time to put any of those old stereotypes on the shelf for good. We are thankful for the Roberts family and that they call Ocala home and we are also thankful for the vision they have for our community. Golden Ocala and now the WEC are both second to none and changing Ocala for good. The WEC project puts an exclamation mark on Ocala’s boast as “Horse Capital of the World.” When Gainesville community leaders came to Ocala several years ago to discuss the potential for a new airport, the meeting took place at Golden Ocala and they were just blown away with the facility. Nothing close to it exists in Gainesville and they had no idea such a venue could exist in Ocala. I’m told one member of the Gainesville contingent was in such disbelief and stated, “I thought you were just a bunch of people with a dog and pickup truck.” Perceptions are changing. About 20-30 years ago, the selling point for Ocala was cheap land and cheap labor, but that is not us anymore. From the Appleton Museum to Golden Ocala, to the new downtown hotel and now to the WEC, every time anyone embarks on a new project the bar is raised even higher. A lot of people don’t understand Ocala and Marion County until they get here. All these add to the culture and quality of life in Ocala while at the same time providing an economic impact felt by everyone in some form. The equine industry has about a $2.6 billion impact on the community and that number is sure to grow immensely higher with WEC. But it is about more than just an economic impact. We should all be proud we have something like this in our community. This is the best equestrian facility in the world and is something Ocala can hang its hat on and be proud – I know I am. What is also amazing is that all this is taking place during an international pandemic where investing in projects such as this may be something many would balk. So what is on the horizon? For 2021 and years after one can be certain that the WEC will have an exponential effect on growth in this area. Hotels and restaurants are sure to pop up around WEC and a convention center is certainly being talked about as well. With the pandemic and people fleeing in droves places like California, New York and New Jersey, much residential business should be coming our way. Who wouldn’t want to relocate to an area with such great weather and a burgeoning cultural scene? As the mayor of a city that has something like this, it makes me proud as it should every citizen. In 2021, as the city of Ocala grows, so do the positive perceptions of this great area and its wonderful citizens.

Mayor Kent Guinn



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Giving back over 3 million gallons of water to the aquifer per day The Ocala Wetland Recharge Park incorporates treated wastewater and stormwater from the Old City Yard, a drainage retention area (DRA), that is located near the park and has historically flooded during heavy rain events. The park captures this water, therefore reducing regional flooding. Stormwater can contain many contaminants like nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers, pet and yard waste, oil, grease, heavy metals, vehicle coolants, bacteria and litter. These stormwater contaminants are the leading cause of water pollution. By sending this water to the Ocala Wetland sen Recharge Park, the total nitrogen can be reduced to nearly undetectable levels, and the total phosphorus will be greatly reduced. This freshly cleaned water will improve water quality and boost regional groundwater supplies.

Follow us on Facebook & Instagram @ocalawetlandrechargepark This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement C9.994515617 to the city of Ocala through an agreement/ contract with the Nonpoint Source Management Program of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the t Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommended the use of commercial productions mentioned in this document.

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OM 2020

PERSON of the year

Lisa Midgett Artistic Determination Her drive to create NOMA and foster Ocala’s burgeoning art scene make Lisa Midgett OM’s 2020 Person of the Year BY CARLTON REESE PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH DEMILIO


he unprecedented challenges brought forth in 2020 revealed the character of a community that refused to surrender to fear and lockdowns, grasping with white knuckles at any semblance of normal life that could be offered to a weary populace. In the middle of it all was Lisa Midgett: businesswoman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, art aficionado and one who genuinely loves Ocala and its toddling art community. As schools, restaurants, small businesses and even art galleries ceased operations over pandemic fears and CDC edicts, the livelihood of most citizens lay naked on the sacrificial COVID altar. The effect on local artists was especially troubling to Midgett, who refused





“I need to bring a good product to the community and they’re demanding it.”

to simply wait until the pandemic was in the rearview mirror before plowing ahead with plans on a project on north Magnolia Avenue, the NOMA Gallery. What started as a “pop up” temporary gallery to provide momentary relief for artists has now become permanent thanks to Midgett’s vision. “Because of that experience,” Midgett said of ArtCastle, the pop-up gallery that took place in her renovation project of the old Coca-Cola bottling plant building, “those six weeks together with those particular individuals I decided to keep it and make it a permanent gallery.”



Forging ahead with renovations and planning for a temporary art gallery made for a busy summer in what would otherwise have been a viral-impacted slumber. Art shows and festivals were being cancelled and even Fine Arts For Ocala was left without a home. Thanks to Midgett and the group of artists who helped guide her, NOMA not only provided a temporary space for FAFO, but also helped resuscitate an art scene seemingly on life support due to the pandemic. With ArtCastle coming to fruition under Midgett’s determination and guidance from local artists such as Mel Fiorentino and Diane

Cahal, the project’s legacy is a loud reminder that the arts are alive and well in Ocala. “I created this space for these people that are so dear to me,” Midgett said. “(The artists) did make money, but more importantly they got their sense of community back. Seeing the love that was built, the relationships that were built between us and that continued relationship has been incredibly satisfying.” Renovating an iconic building and turning it into a space of which the community can be proud was a major accomplishment for Midgett, but also one she is quick to point out many others had a hand in.

“I think it’s important to know that I didn’t do it alone,” Midgett said. “I couldn’t have done it without Mel and Diane or Isaiah (Pepper, gallery manager). Without the community support, it would have failed.” The hard work that went into the building’s renovations led to the success of ArtCastle which gave birth to NOMA as a permanent art gallery. But Lisa Midgett is not done there. At the direction of her husband David, the building will be home to more than just the visual arts as NOMA Records takes flight under him and the guiding hands of renowned music industry producer Bert Smith and his wife Xochi. An independent record label, NOMA Records exists as a conduit for local musicians and songwriters to take their games to the next level. “We are a ‘soup to nuts’ record label,” Midgett said. “We can provide everything the artist needs. We’re able to work with artists at different levels, from an artist who is brand new and has no followers or Instagram account but has a voice, to artists who have 10,000 followers, a YouTube channel and who can write but don’t have a producer the quality of Bert Smith.” With David and the Smiths, NOMA Records provides local musicians an opportunity to branch out beyond the local bars and social media. This branching out into a different artistic medium is tapping into a local market that has been somewhat ignored. “I think that we have as a community focused a lot on the visual arts in the past several years with public art and all the galleries that have opened,” Midgett said. “I feel like we’ve done great with the visual arts, but we needed NOMA Records. We have some amazing, talented artists, but to get to that next level it takes a Bert and a Xochi and a David to help them get there.” In 2021, NOMA Gallery moves from not-for-profit to for-profit and will help fulfill a creative vision of Midgett’s. Not burdened by the constraints and wishes of donors, Midgett can unleash the creative potential of artists without apology and this could make for an interesting new year. Midgett has already assembled a calendar of exhibits that is peppered with local stars such as Fiorentino and David D’Allessandris as well as international artists who have sud-

“I feel like we’ve done great with the visual arts, but we needed NOMA Records.” denly taken notice of Ocala’s art milieu. “I didn’t want to open as a non-profit because I am a fundraiser for a nonprofit and I did not want NOMA Gallery to be perceived as competing for funds,” said Midgett, chair-elect of the Marion Cultural Alliance. “I wanted full control of what I’m able to do in this gallery without worrying about offending a donor or getting permission. “I need to bring a good product to the community and they’re demanding it.” Having survived a year of pandemic fears and business closures, Midgett has driven a project to its successful culmination

and stands proud of what she has accomplished for local artists as well as the community as a whole. Her formula is simple: rely on people who are smarter than you. “I try to surround myself with people who are smarter than me. I think by surrounding myself with people and artisans I trust, who are consummate professionals, has helped me elevate my game. I always try to have people in my life I can learn from and think that helps me be a better me and a better person.” Such a philosophy has worked well for Midgett and is a big reason she is the 2020 OM Person of the Year.



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NIRVANA: Health, Beauty and Confidence



Photography by Ralph Demilio


November bride anticipates the biggest day of her life while battling a massive breakout on her face. At the top of her checklist is “how will I cover up all of these pimples? My tears of joy will wash away my makeup.” The bride put her trust in Nirvana Medical Spa’s Nilam Patel on the most important day of her life. Patel chose a treatment that improved the health of her skin from the inside to create radiance on the outside resulting in picture-perfect photos that will be admired forever. “That’s the thing about my business, many times people don’t know what they need,” says Patel. “I can tell within the first 30 seconds I look at them what treatment will benefit them the most. “I always under promise and over deliver.” Walking into Nirvana, located at 3020 SW 27th Ave. in Ocala, one is immediately immersed in the soothing ambience while taken in by the professional medical demeanor of the staff and high-tech accoutrements. It becomes apparent this is more than just a spa for momentary pampering, it is a wellness center aimed at achieving long-term goals. At the heart of Nirvana’s first-rate care is the individual service provided by an expert staff of experienced and licensed personnel. Patel is herself a clinical esthetician and hyperpigmentation specialist who is a graduate of the Electrology and Beauty Institute of Orlando. She is licensed in microneedling, electrolosis, laser skin treat treatment, laser hair removal, permanent makeup and tattoo removal. Allison Brewer-Reed is an injector on the Nirvana team. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Florida and later continued her education to earn a doctorate in nursing practice. Brewer-Reed has extensive training in facial fillers and botox and is also credentialed for tattoo removal, RF lasers and microneedling. Michelle Runck, Nirvana’s practice manager, has been in the medical administration field for 13 years. She is the lead phlebotomist, PRP specialist and body contouring consultant who is credentialed to perform Nirvana’s non-surgical face lift procedure, muscle sculpting and fat-reduction devices. Carmen Gonzalez is one of Nirvana’s licensed estheticians with expertise in full body waxing, microneedling and an array of facials. Caterina Ciccione, APRN, joined the

selfconfidence can make all the difference in the world OCALAMAGAZINE.COM | JAN 2021 |



Michelle Runck, Nilam Patel, Carmen Gonzalez and Allison Brewer-Reed

Nirvana team in June 2020 with a passion for botox. Ciccione has been trained by a lead clinician in botox and improving those pesky lines of the forehead. Our latest team member is Kaylee Merians, who specializes in botox fillers and various laser treatments. Merians has discovered a passion for aesthetics alongside her career in cardiology. Saving the best for last is Nirvana’s medical director, Jigar Patel, M.D. and FACC. Dr. Patel is an interventional cardiologist currently practicing with the Cardiovascular Institute of Central Florida and specializing in catheter-based cardiac and vascular procedures. He is board certified by the ABIM in internal medicine, cardiovascular medicine and interventional cardiology. The treatments at Nirvana run the gambit in terms of application, technology and of course, price. A myriad of topical solutions combined with the latest in laser technology, injectables, microneedling and other techniques have put Nirvana at the forefront of anti-aging methodology. At the heart of it all is a personal connection with clients. Clients range from those hoping to remove signs of aging such as lines and wrinkles, those



seeking muscle definition in difficult places, to those in need of tattoo removal. No matter the goal and no matter the procedure, Patel emphasizes that achieving the goal is a two-way street of procedure and client commitment. Along the way, Nirvana is there to help. “We have to make sure they’re eating well and maintaining (body mass index, or BMI) levels, so we have follow-ups after treatment,” Patel said. “With facial revision, we make sure to educate the clients about sunscreen.” What Nirvana does is bring results to clients with no or minimal invasiveness, a very important factor according to Patel, who understands that the process of anti-aging and fat reduction is an ongoing one and not simply a one-time fix. “What we do here is non-surgical treatment; we are not cutting you open and we are not putting you to sleep,” says Patel, who is also quick to point out that invasive treatments such as plastic surgery are often necessary and something to which she does refer clients. “Everything has a complication when it’s invasive and you are avoiding that here.” One of the techniques used at Nirvana is Secret RF, which is a radio frequency nee-

dling device that rebuilds and revitalizes skin. This device is used in combatting fine lines, wrinkles, scars and stretch marks. “When we do the Secret RF you look fresh, tighter and firm – it’s still you, but a younger version.” In Secret RF, the radio frequency energy prompts the skin to produce collagen and elastin which are vital to healthy skin and are less produced naturally as a person advances in age. The Secret RF is one of just many cutting-edge machines used at Nirvana. Others, such as the truSculpt Flex and the truSculpt ID process aid in body sculpting and weight loss. Not a substitute for working out in the gym, these devices are key to reducing body fat in particular areas and supplementing workouts. According to Nirvana body contour specialist Runck, “our body contouring devices, particularly the truSculpt ID, uses monopolar heat to permanently melt fat which is eliminated through voiding and bowel movements.” Treatment at Nirvana does not give an immediate result as anything that is “instant” is merely a Band-Aid on a long-term goal. Results are generally seen over a 12-week period. Along with treatment, clients are

the iD can eliminate up to 27 percent of body fat in whatever area is treated Hydra Facial MD

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strongly encouraged to commit to a strict meal plan, substantial water consumption and an active lifestyle. Body contouring is a journey taken together by the client and the staff at Nirvana. For those curious about treatment areas, Nirvana can transform bra fat, back fat, flanks, abdomen, inner thighs and buttocks. Constructed by engineers, devices are structured for both female and male clients. “Nirvana excels with many male clients in their mid-40s who are in reasonable shape, but due to hormones and a drop in testosterone acquire a ‘pooch,’” Runck says. “The Flex device will come in and just really define those muscles.” Often, Flex and iD are combined for clients to simultaneously reduce fat and

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sculpt muscles. Runck says the iD can eliminate up to 27 percent of body fat in whatever area is treated. As with skin treatments, though, everything is paired with the client’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Runck recalls a recent client who underwent Nirvana’s treatment

and garnered the motivation to reach her goals through some small sacrifices. “She wasn’t committed to any kind of health regiment,” Runck said of the client. “She drank eight sodas a day and had no awareness of what she put in her body. We talked about her commitment and she did the fat reduction device, did one treatment on her abdomen, cut out the sodas, changed her diet and after her first treatment she lost 4.6 inches from her abdomen and went down a pant size. “She said her confidence skyrocketed and it increased her intimacy with her husband.” Success stories abound at Nirvana and they all seem to reflect the same thing: greater confidence and positive self-image. “At Nirvana, the client is not just a number or an appointment time,” says Patel. “We understand through our consultation where you come from and what you are doing. We build relationships with you and it continues with every client of ours. “My goal in opening Nirvana was to get one-on-one with people to help them with their confidence. For me, it’s about the experience of making someone feel happy and confident when they come here.” FOR MORE INFORMATION: Nirvana Med Spa 3020 SW 27th Ave., Ocala, FL 34471 (352) 671-1591 www.nirvanamedicalspa.com






1:12 PM

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A glimpse into the career of Ocala’s greatest sports icon BY CARLTON REESE PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH DEMILIO



No receiver was open,

so Eric Hipple rolled out to his left then offered a pump-fake to freeze the defense. As he turned up field and gravitated toward the sideline, Scot Brantley took aim at Hipple as though he were a wounded wildebeest on the African plains. Fixated on his target, Brantley’s menacing charge culminated in a collision that separated Hipple from his helmet and his senses. A dazed Hipple writhed on the Tampa Stadium turf as trainers rushed to assess the carnage. The only thing missing was Nero in the emperor’s box flashing a thumbs-down signal giving Brantley permission to finish off his vanquished foe. The date was November 24, 1985 and one that still lives vividly in the memories of Hipple, Brantley, all fans in attendance and anyone who has ever conducted an internet search of mammoth football hits. Scot Brantley made hundreds of tackles during his eight-year career as a linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but “that’s the only one they remember,” according to Brantley, who is quietly living out his days with wife Mary in the peaceful solitude of rural Ocala. Now reflecting on a life dedicated to the game of football and punishing not only opponents but himself, Brantley says he has no regrets about the path he chose or the way he played. “When they gave me that helmet, that’s a weapon,” Brantley said. “I’m gonna knock people out with this helmet and that was my motive the whole time I played.” Hits like the one on the Detroit Lions quarterback helped Brantley earn a reputation as one of the most ferocious defenders in the National Football League, but also likely contributed to the brain damage he suffers from today. Diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s

Scot Brantley with the Bucs

disease in 2012, Brantley deals with mild dementia and memory loss and is most certainly among those former players dealing with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). “I wouldn’t change anything, really; it’s been a great life,” Brantley says while sitting at home among a room full of memorabilia that chronicles his playing days from the Marion County Independent Football League, Forest High School, the University of Florida and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brantley played football at full speed and never let up. “Everybody that plays in the NFL doesn’t love the game the way Scot did,” said former Buccaneers teammate and friend Mark Cotney. “He was a hitter, no doubt. He didn’t protect his body; everyone admired

Scot because of the way he played the game.” From the time he strapped on the pads for the MCIFL Cougars to the day he hung up his cleats for good in Tampa then settled into life as a radio celebrity for over 20 years, Brantley lived for the game of football. The wounds along the way have mounted, but the journey has been one of championships and defeats, glory and humility, joy and pain. With him every step of the way have been long-time friends, a loving family and a Christian faith that has never wavered.

Days of Youth and Prep Glory On a typical Friday, a group of chums gathers



for lunch at Shucker’s Oyster Bar. With talk of politics, fishing and football, a genuine camaraderie exists with Brantley himself in the middle. Former teammates and coaches from the Forest Wildcats state championship dynasty reminisce the glory days and recall stories some had long ago forgotten. Sometimes the football stories seem like tall fish tales where the legends grow with each passing year. Among the legends, none is greater than Scot Brantley. The stories range from Brantley damaging opposing players’ helmets to him having been in on every tackle in a game against Leesburg High. Whether hyperbole or not, the stories convey a true theme: Brantley was an absolute beast on the football field and struck fear into all opponents. The seeds of the 1974 and 1975 Forest state championship teams were sewn several years earlier when the Brantley family moved to Ocala from South Carolina. Before the Brantleys’ arrival, junior league football did not exist in Ocala. “The school board had eliminated competitive athletics from the middle schools, so we had no feeder program (for the high school teams),” said Brent Hall, head coach of Forest’s two championship teams. “John Brantley, Jr. was one of the fathers who was instrumental and got that going.” The MCIFL (later changed to the Marion County Youth Football League) began in 1970 and right away prep coaches took notice of the two Brantley boys, Scot and older brother John III. “Eddie Romeo, my backfield coach, one Monday in the Fall of ’70 said, ‘There’s a couple kids coming up in this midget league who are going to be good players – one is a quarterback ( John III) and the other is a defensive player (Scot),’” Hall said. “They built the core of the first state championship in 1974.” Future Forest teammate Todd Scudder remembers youth games where coaches like Hall would be on hand to scout Brantley,



Scot Brantley with Forest High School

“When you have an athlete like that, the skills are natural. If you’re a decent coach you don’t screw it up."

who was just in middle school at the time: “One afternoon (Hall) took Scot up and I swear I think he ran some plays with the varsity. It was crazy.” A plaque on his wall still boasts of his MCIFL seasons in 1970 with the Cougars and 1971 with the Chargers. In 1972, Brantley was ready to join his older brother on the Forest Wildcats and Marion County sports legends would be born. “When Scot came out of the eighth grade, we couldn’t put him in pads, but I put him through some drills,” Hall said. “After practice, I said ‘I’ve got some players coming up that are going to make us really good coaches.” Along with Brantley was a strong contingent of players that included linebacker Russell Kirk, who with Brantley Hall claims “was the best tandem of linebackers in the state.” With brother John at quarterback, a stable of running backs that included New

York transfer Charlie Davis, Bert Yancey and Kim Poehlman, the Wildcats boasted a solid offense to complement what was likely the most physical defense in the state by the time 1974 rolled around. Brantley was the anchor and certainly the standout. His aggressive nature and hard-hitting tactics seemed to come naturally to him, not taught to him by coaches who felt comfortable enough in his instincts and abilities to leave him out of the majority of scrimmages. “It’s like Scot already knew it,” Scudder said of Brantley’s football instincts. “We were taught it, but he knew it. If Scot didn’t make the solo tackle, he was in the vicinity. He could read plays and he was fast. Literally every game that I remember, he had more tackles than anybody else.” Hall knew he had something special in Brantley and his main concern was getting out of the way.

Scot Brantley present day



Despite the Gators’ slide, Brantley shined by leading the team in tackles and earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

“His intensity and focus was just incredible,” Hall said. “When the ball was snapped, the next thing you heard were the pads popping and that was him laying the wood on somebody. “When you have an athlete like that, the skills are natural. If you’re a decent coach you don’t screw it up. If I had any success at coaching, it was not messing people up.” Early in the 1974 season, Forest avenged a controversial loss to Gainesville Buchholz the year before by routing the Bobcats at Booster Stadium. Taking down a state powerhouse like Buchholz signaled what was to come: an undefeated season and a 46-6 thumping of Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna in the Class 3A state championship game. It was Ocala’s first football state championship. Dunnellon High School would bring a couple more state titles to Marion Country in the late 1970s then Trinity Catholic would win two more in the new millennium, but it was the Forest juggernaut of the mid-1970s that laid the groundwork, and Brantley was the bulwark. “I was just one of the pieces of the puzzle,” Brantley states in his humble, country demeanor. “The greatest combination was when I met coach Hall. He changed everything for Forest football.” When 1975 rolled around, the Forest football machine was no longer a secret and Brantley was on everyone’s radar, not just in Florida but the entire country. Alabama’s



Bear Bryant and Ohio State’s Woody Hayes were among legendary college coaches courting the services of Brantley, who would earn Parade Magazine’s National Defensive Player of the Year honor. Along with the individual accolades came a second state championship for the Wildcats. There was a lone 7-0 loss on a frigid evening in Leesburg where the Brantley legend grew. Some have stated Brantley was in on every tackle that game while some newspaper accounts put the number at 31, still a staggering number by any measure. “It was just incredible,” Hall said of Brantley’s performance at Leesburg. “There were very few nights he did not make at least 10 (tackles).” According to Hall, what made Brantley so special was his ability to read a play and react to it, traits that would serve him well in college and the NFL. This meant an aversion to blitzing which sometimes put him at odds with plays called by defensive coordinator Theron Mitchell. “Scot would come off the field and Theron would say, ‘Scot, I called a blitz,’” Hall said. Brantley’s response: “I didn’t want to.” “He was not a choreographed player. Guys like (Dick) Butkus and all the great linebackers are not schemed in what they do. You’re better off if your players are free to react. If you’ve got them thinking too much, thinking breaks down the time and you may be a step behind.” Hall knows more than a thing or two about defenders, having also coached future NFL Hall

of Famer Jack Youngblood at Monticello Jefferson County High School. Even so, Hall maintains Brantley to be the most physical football player he ever coached. Brantley’s effect on the Forest football team went beyond his physical domination of the opposition. Other players on the team wanted to emulate his passion and intensity and generally earned an earful from Brantley when they fell short. “He made us around him better ball players,” Scudder said. “If you missed a tackle, you would hear about it right there in the huddle. He would call you out: ‘If he gets around you again I’m gonna whip your butt right here on the football field.’”

From Gator great to the sideline Scot Brantley had the choice to attend any university he desired or even enter professional baseball (an all-star centerfielder, he was drafted by the New York Mets). The nation’s top recruit enjoyed offers from every major football program and he decided to play right up the road at the University of Florida. He had watched great linebackers such as Ralph Ortega, Glenn Cameron and Sammy Green and he hoped to be a part of that tradition. “I wanted to stay loyal to my state,” Brantley said of his decision to attend UF. “I won two state championships here – I might as well stay 30 miles away for my next adventure. I signed with Florida and I’m glad I did; I wouldn’t change it for anything.” Before his college career began, Brantley played in the Florida High School All-Star Game where he met his future roommate Yancey Sutton, a highly-touted linebacker from Tallahassee Leon. Sutton, who is deaf, relied on Brantley as his ears during team meetings and remembers his first impression of Scot much like everyone else. “He hit hard,” Sutton says without missing a beat. “He made everybody better every game. He made everybody work harder.” The Gators were coming off a 1974 Sugar Bowl season and a 1975 season in which they came up just three points shy

of a Southeastern Conference championship. The trajectory under head coach Doug Dickey was strong and Florida’s first SEC title appeared within reach. His freshman season of 1976, Brantley found himself as a backup when the season started, but that didn’t last long. In the season opener against North Carolina, Brantley was called upon and never looked back. “The guy that (started) really screwed up,” Brantley recalled. “Right before halftime, coach (Doug) Knotts said, ‘Scot, get your helmet; you’re going in there.’ I hadn’t paid much attention all week and he starts giving me these signs and I’m supposed to be giving the signals and I thought, ‘man, I didn’t pay enough attention this week.’ But it all worked out and I started the next game.” After losing the opener and with Brantley firmly ensconced as the starting middle linebacker, the Gators would go on to win the next six games and while sporting a 2713 halftime lead against Georgia they were just 30 minutes from clinching that coveted first SEC title. Georgia rallied for a 41-27 win and Florida would not ever get as close to a championship during Brantley’s career. “It didn’t happen the way I thought it would happen. I thought we would continue to get better.” Despite the Gators’ slide, Brantley shined by leading the team in tackles and earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors. High hopes again abounded for UF at the start of 1977 and after cracking the top 10 of the national rankings there would be losses at Louisiana State and Auburn, sending SEC championship hopes reeling once again. For his part, Brantley was one of four Gators selected to the All-SEC team. His junior year of 1978, Brantley anticipated big things for the Gators especially since brother John took over as starting quarterback and Sutton, who had battled injuries the first two seasons, would be ready to go. There was also a new quarterback coach named Steve Spurrier placed on the staff to help revive an offense that had sputtered the past two seasons. The 1978 Gators finished just 4-7 with heartbreaking losses to Georgia Tech, Georgia and Miami. Among the losses was a close game at Alabama, which would go on to win the national championship. In that Alabama game, the Brantley-Sut-

His head came down full force on the knee of a Tech lineman and he lost consciousness.

ton duo proved effective at countering the Tide’s vaunted wishbone attack. “I was the outside linebacker and the quarterback is running at me and I’m backpedaling,” Sutton recalls. “Then here comes Scot, ‘boom!’ to make the play. The next time, the quarterback wouldn’t be looking at me, he’d be looking at Scot then I’d go at him.” Such was the partnership with Brantley and Sutton on and off the field. Before the 1979 season, Brantley was listed on everyone’s All-America list. Through just three years he had already made 451 tackles, just six shy of Sammy Green’s school record and one he would surpass after the first game. Like the previous three seasons, Brantley had high hopes for 1979. “It’s my senior year – you’re darn right it’s going to be a great year!” Brantley said. “I was excited about it. I had flown up to Chicago and played on the All-American team and was selected to the preseason All-Amer-

ica team. I was happy as a lark.” Then everything turned upside down in the second game against Georgia Tech. Brantley today struggles to recall exactly what happened, but several years ago he described the play as him going in to make a tackle and tripping on a seam in Florida Field’s artificial turf. His head came down full force on the knee of a Tech lineman and he lost consciousness. A CAT scan revealed a brain bruise the size of a quarter, and the UF medical and coaching staffs determined his playing career was over. The fear was that the next hit could be Brantley’s last. “I was convinced that if it was just a bruise then I’ll be able to come back and play the next week.” Though Brantley maintained his desire to rejoin his teammates, his college career was over and likely any dreams of playing



While playing linebacker for the Bucs, Brantley relied on the same formula that had served him well at Forest High and the University of Florida: instincts and intensity.

brilliant individual career for Brantley. He would return home to Ocala for much of the season and was hellbent on getting second opinions from doctors regarding his playing prospects.

professionally. By that time, Brantley had increased his career tackles total to 467 and was the school’s all-time leader. David Little, in his fourth full season in 1980 would pass Brantley by just eight tackles and the two still remain 1 and 2 on the Gators’ list of all-time leading tacklers. At that time, tackling records were not on Brantley’s mind. Instead, he was interested in returning to the sport he loved more than anything in the world. “He would come to practice and say, ‘give me that helmet!’” Sutton remembers. “He wanted to play; he was mad.” For the team, it was part of a major crumbling of what many thought could be a good team under first-year coach Charley Pell, who had taken over the program following Dickey’s firing the year before. Not only was Scot out for the year, brother John was also injured and out for the season. In that Georgia Tech game, Sutton was hurt and would miss most of the season before returning for the next to last game against Florida State. A new system under a new coach and a rash of injuries led to an 0-10-1 season, the worst in UF history. It would be an ignominious end to a



A second opinion and a dream fulfilled Seeking advice from other doctors, Brantley was given the greenlight by several experts to pursue his dream of playing professional football. “From the time I was told I wasn’t going to play my senior year up to the (NFL) draft, I worked my ass off,” Brantley said. “I did all the combines, did all the testing, did everything imaginable to help my draft status.” Had he not been hurt and been able to play through his senior year at Florida, Brantley was easily first-round material. Unfortunately, his brain injury made him a bit of a risk in the minds of general managers and he would have to wait longer than expected to hear his name called on draft day. A lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, Brantley was excited to hear there was strong interest from GM Gil Brandt. “That was when Bob Breunig was at the end of his career and I was going to step in there and get it done for the Cowboys.” Two rounds came and went and Brantley’s name had not been called. The Cowboys’ first pick would not come until the third round and it looked like Brantley would still be available, but two picks ahead of them were

the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coming off an appearance in the NFC Championship game. The Bucs selected Brantley while the Cowboys were forced into another option, Bill Roe who lasted just two seasons with the team. “I was disappointed I went in the third round, but I should have been happy,” Brantley said. “But I thought ‘oh this just means I’m in Florida and everybody knows I had an injury. I wanted to be a normal rookie in friggin’ Seattle or some place where people didn’t know (about the injury). “I live in Ocala and now I’ve got to drive two hours to go to the team I’m going to play for in my NFL career. I didn’t think it’d be much fun, but looking back now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” At training camp with the Bucs, no one talked about Brantley’s injury, but it was still in the back of many peoples’ minds, including teammates. “He was a big hit when he showed up with the Bucs,” Cotney remembers. “Everybody admired Scot because of what he’d been through. After that advice (to not play) he was taking a big chance on playing in the NFL. He loved the sport enough to ignore those warnings and play. “That was in my mind and not something we ever talked about, but everyone knew what he had gone through.” Doctors’ warnings did little to change the way Brantley played, even at the NFL level where the players would be bigger, stronger and faster. One of Brantley’s first indoctrinations into the pro game came in a preseason contest against the Houston Oilers and Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell. Brantley recalls early in the game Campbell receiving a handoff from quarterback Ken Stabler. He shot the gap and hit him square for a 3-yard loss. “He said, ‘good hit’ then went back to his

Scot Brantley (right) with Ocala Quarterback Club's Mike McGinnis (left) and Brantley award winner Jyron Gilmore

Ray Perkins. “Bennett was a piece of cake compared to Ray Perkins. That’s when I knew it was time to get out of the game with Ray Perkins coming in.” Brantley played preseason stints with the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins and eventually had to call it quits due to “turf toe,” an injury common to athletes who play on hard surfaces such as traditional artificial turf. “After all those hits, it’s ironic that’s what took him out,” says wife Mary. While playing linebacker for the Bucs, Brantley relied on the same formula that had served him well at Forest High and the University of Florida: instincts and intensity. “The way the rules are now and the way Scot played, he’d probably get kicked out of every game – he played with that kind of intensity,” Cotney said. “He hit as hard as he could. I’m not saying he ducked his head and tried to hurt people because that’s not Scot at all; he’s gonna run into you full blast. “Some people slow down a little bit and make sure they make the tackle. Not Scot – he’s gonna run through you every time.”

From the gridiron to the airwaves Upon retiring from the NFL, Brantley put his country boy style and glib nature to use in

Photo by Chad Ritch/GatorBait

huddle and I went back to mine,” Brantley said. “I was fine. Hell, I just tackled Earl Campbell; if I can survive that hit then I’m good to go!” It would be the beginning of an eightyear NFL career that some doctors said was not possible and at best risky. In 1982, Tampa Bay’s last playoff season during his tenure, Brantley earned his way as a regular starter. In all, he started 71 games in his career with 114 games played overall. Just like at UF, a promising team on the rise suffered disappointment as the Bucs, one win from a Super Bowl in 1979, finished just 5-10-1 with numerous injuries in 1980. The Bucs would make the playoffs in 1981 and 1982, but after that the best year would produce just a 6-10 record. Under coach John McKay, the Bucs employed offensive tactics similar to the ones McKay ran as coach at the University of Southern California: running plays, sweeps left and sweeps right. There was also the college tradition of two-a-day practices in pads which took its toll during the season as most other teams took a lighter approach to weekday preparation. “Literally, the other teams could see that our legs were dead,” Cotney said. “We were sore; we weren’t rested up for the games. I had players tell me that, ‘man, you guys are dragging around.’” Despite the lack of victories, Brantley still has fond memories of his NFL days. One of his favorite stories is of the time he intercepted the San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Montana in an early September game in Tampa. “It was 125 degrees on the field and everybody’s about to die,” Brantley recalls. “Dwight Clark runs a dig route, Joe throws it and I cut right in front. I catch it at about the 10-yard line, start to run and have nothing but clean air for 80 yards – a touchdown. I was running and running, then all of a sudden get hit from behind (by Clark). I was laying on the field and I said, ‘Dwight, thank God you showed up.’ “Then (Bucs quarterback Steve) DeBerg comes into the game and throws an interception and I’m right back on the field after all that.” In 1985 McKay relinquished his head coach position to Leeman Bennett, who lasted just two 2-win seasons before being replaced by former New York Giants coach

radio with the fledgling all-sports talk format that was sweeping the country. He co-hosted a show with Steve Duernig on Sportsradio 910 WFNS and later with Ronnie Lane on WQYK then Nanci Donnellan (“The Fabulous Sports Babe”) on WHBO. His most recent radio gigs were locally at WMOP. It was as a Tampa radio personality that Brantley achieved perhaps his greatest celebrity. “It kept me attached to what I loved,” Brantley said about his radio gigs which also led to him being one of Tampa Bay’s leading product pitch men for two decades starting in the 1990s. “That led me to doing Gator games and that was kind of the goal.” Brantley served as radio color analyst for University of Florida football radio broadcasts alongside Mick Hubert for seven seasons through 2004 and held the same role at the time alongside Gene Deckerhoff for Tampa Bay Bucs radio broadcasts. “I loved it,” Brantley says. “Travelling with the team was fun. I knew that every Friday I’d get off the radio, go home and get ready for the Gator game, come home back to Tampa and get on an airplane or go to the stadium. I was doing all this and so was Gene for the Seminoles (Florida State radio). It was a lot, but I thought, ‘Hell, Gene’s a lot older than I am – if he can do it so can I.’” The irony is that throughout his college and professional careers Brantley never won any championships, but as a radio announcer he earned three rings. As a Buccaneers radio ana-



lyst he earned a Super Bowl ring for the team’s title in 2003 then received two national championship rings with the Gators radio team for their titles in the 2006 and 2008 seasons.

Injuries, lawsuits and settling down

Scot Brantley with wife Mary and their dogs



Today, life is about dealing with a cruel, degenerative condition. There are friends to meet at Shuckers, fish to be pulled out of his man-made pond at home and quality times spent with his wife Mary, who as a nurse is fully aware the demands that lay ahead in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. The blissful moments of retirement serve as long intermissions between spells of anxiety and hypomnesia. She notes that Scot’s digression is not measured in days at this point, but in months and years. “For about the last four or five years it’s been getting progressively worse for him,” Mary said. “He won’t drive a car – this is a no-fear human that I married and these things are foreign to him. “When he’s in his own element he’s good; if you get him outside his element it’s a whole new set of anxieties that happen and he just has trouble dealing.” Because of his popularity, Brantley is often invited to be a guest at games and other functions but enjoying these moments is becoming more and more difficult. Sometimes the anxiety is too much to bear and he’d rather just stay home away from the hoopla. “His frontal dementia issues have created an apathy,” Mary explains. “When we first met, he was still super energized about going to games, especially after he stopped radio and seeing things from a tailgating perspective – he’d never done that because he was always a player or on radio, always working. He enjoyed that until things began to get a little worse and now that apathy makes it hard for him to be emotionally engaged in that stuff.” The issues facing Scot Brantley today come from a life in which it was his job to collide with other human beings at full speed. “It was a combination of a lot of hits; they all piled up,” Brantley says. “I feel every one of them now, it seems like.” Not alone, many former NFL players

are suffering in a similar way to Brantley and only recently has the league recognized any liability for its former players’ head injuries and subsequent maladies. Although $1 billion was set aside to compensate players suffering from brain-related debilitation, many claims have been denied or underpaid. Count Brantley among them according to Mary, who says Scot has received some minimal payments but that they are prorated only back to his official league diagnosis in 2017. She says Brantley’s issues go back well before then. Since 2007, Brantley has had a stroke as well as multiple seizures related to frontal trauma. Despite diagnoses from neurologists along the way, the only ones that count in terms of his claim are the ones from NFL doctors only recently. Youngblood, who befriended Brantley over the years as former Gator and NFL alums, likely will see no compensation from the NFL and believes Brantley is being unfairly denied his rightful claim. “It’s a shame that we give our lives to our teams for however many years we were blessed to be on the field,” Youngblood said. “The owners and the dadgum players union left us out in the cold. We literally gave our lives to those organizations.” There is no deep bitterness or resentment and certainly no regrets on the part of

Brantley, who immerses himself daily in his bible that is peppered with highlighted verses and notes in the margins. The only thing stronger than his dedication to football is his commitment to his faith. “Scot has always had a spiritual side that I remember,” said Scudder. “On the field and off the field it was like two different people. There’s this side to him that is so gentle and caring, from the smallest bean on the earth to whatever.” Scudder recalls during Brantley’s days with the Bucs he would visit him in Tampa to go on hunting trips. He says Brantley would always have to make a couple stops along the way at various people’s homes. “I’m talking about people who looked like they had nothing. He’d knock on the door and an old lady would come to the door and he’d give her a hug and give her a jersey or something, just say ‘hi, just wanting to check on you.’ “There’s so much more to Scot than playing ball; behind-the-scenes stuff is just awesome.”

That spiritual side along with his fierce competitive nature helped inspire an award in Brantley’s honor. Beginning in 2019, the Ocala Quarterback Club has honored a central Florida high school football player with the Scot Brantley Award which goes to someone exemplifying “on-field excellence, academics, leadership, athleticism, commitment, recommitment, faith, goal orientation, character and conscience.” The award which honors an area athlete is also as much a tribute to its well-deserved namesake. Brantley gave his life to the game of football, both literally and figuratively. And now he enters the final chapter with glorious memories slowly fading away but surrounded by those who love him dearly and a community that will never forget his greatness nor let his legacy fade.



Affordable Luxury Living... You Deserve It! Retirement Living At Its Best • Chef-prepared dining twice daily • Housekeeping and linen service • Full-service beauty salon and barber shop • Monthly rental, including utilities • Outings and daily engaging activities • Membership to AJ's Fitness Center is included!

Call today for a complimentary lunch or dinner tour!

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Each month, Ocala Magazine will showcase the tastes, opinions and desires of its readers through its online survey. For January, we discovered these little nuggets:


42.9% will not even watch the game while 3.6% plan on watching at a house party.

42.9% PREFER THEIR STEAK COOKED MEDIUM-RARE 21.4% prefer medium-well and 17.9% rare

62.1% ALWAYS WEAR A MASK IN PUBLIC 34.5% wear a mask only when required and 6.8% never wear a mask








REGULAR VISIT FACEBOOK ON SOCIAL MEDIA 41.4% regular visit Instagram and 37.9% YouTube. Pinterest and Twitter are each visited regularly by 24.1% of readers polled



34.5% favor lockdowns only in certain instances and 21.4% favor mandatory lockdown altogether



25% prefer thrillers while 14.3% prefer romance, 10.7% prefer drama Horror and action are preferred by 7.1% each


CONSIDER THEMSELVES TO BE DOG PERSONS OVER CAT PERSONS 25% consider themselves equal lovers and cats and dogs while 10.7% are cat persons.


RELOCATED TO OCALA AS ADULTS 17.2% relocated to Ocala at retirement or advanced age; 10.3% relocated here as a child and 6.9% are multi-generational Ocalans.




Black-eyed Peas and Collard Greens. Said to bring good luck and financial fortune if they’re the first thing you eat on New Year’s Day.

Soup’s On! p46 | Dining Out p50







henever I tell someone I’m going to make a pot of soup, the typical response is “Oh I love soup!” In fact, if there is someone on the planet that doesn’t like soup, we have not met. There is no better time of the year to enjoy a steamy bowl of soup than January. Yes, even in Florida!

Apart from being easy to prepare and delicious to eat, soup has so many wonderful health benefits. Since it’s mostly liquid, it is hydrating (be mindful of the salt content), fills you up and helps keep you satisfied. It can ward off a cold or flu and is power packed with beneficial nutrients. Load up on soup with lots of veggies, beans or lentils and you’ll easily reach your daily

nutritional and fiber quota. You can also thicken soups with a simple peeled white potato instead of using cream or flour. Most soups also freeze well so it’s easy to keep some on hand. So pull out that stock pot (or crock pot) and start chopping. Your family and friends will soon be exclaiming MMMM... MMMM...GOOD!

Roasted Red Pepper Soup INGREDIENTS » » » » » » » » » » » » »

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1 small fennel bulb, coarsely chopped 3 medium carrots, chopped 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 3 jarred roasted red bell peppers ¼ cup drained and rinsed white beans 2 tablespoons tomato paste 4 cups vegetable broth ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


• Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and pinches of salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. • Add the garlic, fennel, carrots, and thyme leaves. Stir and cook until the carrots begin to soften, about 10 minutes. • Add the balsamic vinegar, red peppers, beans, tomato paste, broth, and ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer until the carrots are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. • Add the simmered soup to a high-speed blender with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and puree until smooth. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste.

Roasted Carrot & Ginger Soup INGREDIENTS » » » » » » » » » » »

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks 1 medium, or 1/2 large onion, cut half 1 garlic clove, unpeeled 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt White pepper 6 cups vegetable stock, recipe link 1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley 4 teaspoons sour cream


• Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C. • Add the carrots, onion and garlic to a sheet tray and spread out evenly. • Drizzle with olive oil and an even sprinkling of salt and white pepper, mix until coated. • Roast in the oven for 35 minutes until tender.. • In a large saucepan add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. • Add the carrots, onions, garlic squeezed out of it's peel, ginger and bay leaf. • Simmer for 15 minutes. • Using an immersion blender, or add to a blender in batches, blend soup until it is smooth and reaches the desired consistency, if it is too thick, add more stock.



Classic French Onion Soup INGREDIENTS

» 4 pounds yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced (approximately 5–6 large onions) » 3 tablespoons butter » 4 cloves garlic, minced » 3 tablespoons flour » 1/2 cup dry white wine » 6 cups of beef stock (or veggie stock) » 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce » 1 bay leaf » 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoondried thyme) » fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste » baguette » grated or sliced cheese (such as Gruyere, Asiago, Swiss, Gouda or Mozzarella)


Ravioli En Brodo


» 2 quarts homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock » Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper » 1 pound fresh or frozen Ravioli or Tortellini filled with cheese


• In a small stockpot, bring stock to a boil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in tortellini. Cook pasta according to package instructions (it should float to the top when finished). Remove from heat, and serve hot.



• Caramelize the onions. In a large heavybottomed stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until well for about 30 minutes until caramelized (but not burnt), initially stirring every 3-5 minutes, then about once a minute near the end of caramelization to prevent burning*. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for an additional 1 minute. Stir in the wine to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. • Simmer the soup. Add the stock, Worcestershire, bay leaf, and thyme and stir to combine. Continue to cook until the soup reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme. Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper as needed. • Toast the bread. Preheat oven to 400°F. While the soup is simmering, slice the baguette into 1-inch thick pieces and arrange them in single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the bread is toasted and golden around the edges. Remove and set aside. • Broil the topping. Switch the oven to the broiler. Once the soup is ready to serve, place your oven-safe bowls on a thick baking sheet. Ladle the soup into each bowl, then top with a baguette slice and your desired amount of cheese (I used about 1/4 cup shredded cheese for each). Place on an oven rack about 6 inches from the heat and broil for 2-4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Greek Avgolemono Soup

INGREDIENTS » » » » » » » » » »

2 quarts chicken stock or broth (homemade or store-bought) 1 cup cooked chicken (optional, shredded) 1 medium onion (finely diced) ½ cup long grain white rice 1 bay leaf 12 lemon zest strips (about 2 lemons, zested) 2 large eggs 2 large egg yolks ¼ cup lemon juice from zested lemons sprigs of dill for garnish


Roasted Cauliflower Soup

• To a large pot, add 1 tablespoon olive, onion and lemon strips. • Allow to sweat over low-medium heat while covered. Make sure that no color develops. • Add chicken stock or broth to the pot long with the rice, bay leaf and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to and simmer until rice is tender and stock is aromatic, about 20 minutes. • With slotted spoon, remove and discard bay leaf and lemon zest strips. • Increase heat to high and return stock to boil, then reduce heat to low. • Place stick blender into the pot and blend for a few seconds. If you do not have a stick blender, place about 2 cups of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. • In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, yolks, and lemon juice lightly until combined. • Taste and season with extra salt, pepper and lemon juice if necessary. • While whisking constantly, slowly ladle about 2 cups of hot stock or broth into egg mixture; whisk until combined. • Add chicken. (optional) • Pour egg-stock mixture back into pot; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until soup is slightly thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. • After this, do not simmer or bring to a boil as this will cause the soup to get gummy. • Serve immediately with sprigs of dill, extra lemon zest and black pepper.

INGREDIENTS » » » » » » »

2 heads cauliflower, broken into florets olive oil cooking spray ¼ cup olive oil 1 large onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, chopped 6 cups water salt and ground black pepper to taste


• Place the cauliflower florets into a large bowl of lightly salted water; allow to stand for 20 minutes. Drain well, and arrange on a sheet of heavy aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Spray the olive oil cooking spray evenly on the cauliflower. • Preheat the oven's broiler and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source. • Broil the cauliflower until browned, 20 to 30 minutes. • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large soup pot, and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes; stir in the garlic and roasted cauliflower. Pour in the water, season with salt and black pepper, and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Blend the soup in the pot with an immersion hand blender until creamy and smooth.

Instagram @RSVP_ROBIN




dining out

Milano Pizzeria and Ristorante NOW OPEN! Milano Ristorante Italiano — a pizzaria bringing authentic cuisine to the Ocala area. Enjoy made-from-scratch Italian cuisine every day, including freshly baked bread. • Wednesdays— Buy One, Take One Home - select pasta dishes with purchase of an entree. Valid with entrees of $16.99 or more. • Tuesday— $5 Calamari App • Thursdays— Buy One, Get One Half Off any Takeout Pizza • Sundays— 2 for 1 chicken parmesan every Sunday all day (with purchase of 2 beverages)

Now Delivering!


For curbside service including wine, beer and full menu, call 352-304-8549 We’ll bring it out to you! Get $25 back for every $100 in gift cards purchased.

Open Daily 11am-9pm 5400 SW College Road, Unit 106 | Ocala, FL 34474 | (352) 304-8549 www.milanotogo.com

Legacy Restaurant At The Nancy Lopez Country Club Join us at The Villages‘ Best Country Club for lunch and dinner. Serving steaks and seafood with various wine selections. Monday - Prime Rib Night Tuesday - Three Course Dinner starting at 14.99 Tuesday - Lobster Night Friday - $1 oysters all day (raw, broiled, rockafeller(+.25) Saturday - Legacy BOGO 1/2 off anything on the menu (with purchase of two beverages. Must show coupon.) Sunday Evening - Special Filet Oscar $19.99 Weekends - Weekend Brunch! 11am-3pm Live outdoor entertainment! See website for schedule! 17135 Buena Vista Blvd | The Villages, FL 32162 | (352) 753-1475 SuleimanLegacyInc@gmail.com | Follow us on Facebook www.legacyrestaurant.com Open Fri-Sat 11 am-8:30pm | Sun-Thurs 11 am-8:00pm




For curbside service including wine, beer and full menu, call 352-753-1475

We’ll bring it out to you! Get $25 back for every $100 in gift cards purchased.

dining out


Tony’s Sushi Sushi Me! At Tony’s Sushi you can select your favorite sushi to include made-to-order specialty rolls by creating your own! Enjoy being entertained at the grill, watching your food being prepared while having some fun. For a more intimate setting, Tony’s offers private tables – perfect for special moments. Tony’s full bar includes sakes, imported draft beer, and more. Like Tony’s on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TonySushiOcala

Ask about our daily, not on the menu items! We offer gift cards, catering and entertaining.

Mon–Thur 11am–10pm, Fri & Sat 11am–11pm, Sun 12pm–10pm 3405 SW College Rd. #103 Ocala, FL 34474 | (352) 237-3151 www.tonyssushi.com

Ivy On The Square Be Wined, Dined & Dazzled this Valentine’s Day. Inspired Cocktails paired with the culinary artistry you’d expect. All delivered with attentive care and southern charm, surrounded by a romantic ambiance to create one special night out. Here’s to an evening that will make an impression. Make Your Reservations Today!

Stop by our new speakeasy bar and enjoy our specialty drinks! Gift certificates available. Make your Valentine’s Day reservations now!

53 S. Magnolia Ave., Ocala | 352-622-5550 Closed Mon, Tues 11am-2pm, Wed 11am-9pm, Thurs 11am-9pm 106 NW Main St., Williston | 352-528-5410 Sun-Wed 11am-2pm, Thurs-Sat 11am-8pm | ivyhousefl.com

Havana Country Club We offer an extensive variety of cuisines—these include superior hand-cut steaks, freshly caught seafood, and authentic Italian fare. A Suleiman Family Restaurant. Tuesday - Italian Night Wendesday - $1 oysters all day (raw, broiled, Rockefeller (+.25) Thursday - Prime rib night Saturday - New Orleans Night! Featuring Louisiana Style Seafood Boil Sunday - Southern Fried Chicken Outdoor entertainment Tues, Weds, Thurs, Sat, Sun 5-8


For curbside service including wine, beer and full menu, call 352-430-3200

We’ll bring it out to you! Get $25 back for every $100 in gift cards purchased.

2484 Odell Circle | The Villages, FL 32162 | (352) 430-3200 Suleimanrestaurants@gmail.com | Follow us on Facebook www.havanacc.com Open Every Day 11am–8:30pm OCALAMAGAZINE.COM | JAN 2021 |



dining out

Sky Fine Dining Sky Fine Dining is located on the 6th floor of the Holiday Inn Suites. The eclectic gourmet cuisine and steak house concept is inspired from current trends and classic dishes like fresh cut steaks, live Maine lobster, rack of lamb and fresh seafood such as sea bass, salmon and shrimp. Golden Spoon Award Winner 9 consecutive years–2010 to 2018. Sky is the place to be for a unique fine dining experience.

Golden Spoon Award Winner 9 consecutive years! 2010 to 2018

Special menu Wednesday through Saturday.


Mon-Thurs 5pm-10pm, Fri & Sat 5p-11p 3600 SW 38th Ave., Ocala, FL 34474 | (352)291-0000 www.skyfinedining.com

Fine Dining

West 82° Bar and Grill Come and enjoy the best Sunday plated brunch in town at the Plantation on Crystal River! All brunches include a choice of freshly baked danish, cinnamon roll, bagel or biscuit with cinnamon honey butter and shrimp Cocktail Platter. Shrimp cocktail platter includes cocktail shrimp, cocktail sauce, lemon, smoked fish dip, chicken pate, scallop cheese spread, strawberry cream cheese spread and gourmet crackers)

9301 West Fort Island Trail Crystal River, FL 34429 (352) 795-4211 plantationoncrystalriver.com

Choose from entrees like Eggs Benedict, Seafood Crepes, Prime Benedict, Seafood Platter and more! Finish your meal with a Chef’s choice dessert. Brunch Price is $26.00 PP, Sundays 11:30 am to 2:00 pm

Call for reservations, hours and weekly specials. 9301 West Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429 | (352) 795-4211 www.plantationoncrystalriver.com

Cafe Crisp Faith. Fitness. Food. Conveniently located in the Frank DeLuca YMCA, Cafe Crisp makes clean eating easy with fresh, healthy meals—to enjoy at the cafe or to take home—and they offer weekly meal prep packages that make it easy to stay on track with meals and snacks. Cafe Crisp also caters events large or small! Stop in for a smoothie before your workout and come back for delicious sandwiches, soups, and salad bar.

Mon-Fri 7am–6pm 3200 SE 17th St (in the YMCA), Ocala, FL 34471 | 352-694-3100 www.facebook.com/cafecrispocala



Ask about our weekly meal prep specials!

dining out


Ipanema Brazilian Steakhouse Experience an authentic taste of Brazil featuring roaming gauchos slice and serve fire-roasted meats from skewers in continual fashion. Ipanema Brazilian Steakhouse boasts 12 of the finest cuts of meat complemented by an opulent salad-vegetable bar, decadent desserts, wines, beer and cocktails. Book your private party and catering today! Our Sunday Brunch from 11a to 3p includes the salad bar plus crepe, waffle and omelet station. For $32.95 you’ll receive all of the above plus a free mimosa or bloody Mary and five different cuts of meat and our grilled pineapple.

Our keto, paleo, gluten friendly buffet menu will allow you to stick to your dietary needs. Our NEW 3’s Catering Company brought to you buy our family of restaurants Ipanema, Latinos Y Mas and Craft Cuisine. 3sCateringCompany.com

Purchase a gift card and get MORE on a bonus card! Up to $99 get 10% back , $100 to $499 get 20% back, $500 & up get 25% back. 2023 S Pine Avenue, Ocala | (352) 622-1741 | ipanemaocala.com Closed for lunch › Brunch Sunday 11am-2:30pm › Dinner 4-7:30pm Dinner Tue-Thu 5pm-8:30pm › Fri-Sat 5pm-9pm

Craft Cuisine We will see you soon!

Craft Cuisine World-Inspired Culinary Creations We are closed. We hope to see you soon and miss you, our wonderful patrons.

Follow us on social media for updates.

Golden Spoon Award Winner!

2237 SW 19th Avenue Rd., # 102, Ocala | (352) 237-7300 craftcuisineocala.com Mon-Thur 4-9pm | Fri-Sat 4-10pm

Latinos Y Mas Our restaurant is the perfect atmosphere for business lunches, family lunches or romantic dinners. Since 1991, Latinos y Mas restaurant has been serving our valued customers in Ocala and surroundings. Try the exquisite fusion of Latin food, including Pargo Rojo, Paella, Ceviches, homemade Tres Leches and our amazing passion fruit Mojitos. Enjoy in house or order from the takeaway menu. Our keto, paleo, gluten friendly menu options will allow you to stick to your dietary needs. Happy Hour Mon-Thur 3-7pm. Curbside pick up and family meals available to go.

• Open Now To The Public and To Go Orders • New Favorite Bowls • Family Meals To Go and Pick Up • Online Gift Cards Our NEW 3’s Catering Company brought to you buy our family of restaurants Ipanema, Latinos Y Mas and Craft Cuisine. 3sCateringCompany.com

Purchase a gift card and get MORE on a bonus card! Up to $99 get 10% back, $100 to $499 get 20% back, $500 & up get 25% back. Party with a Latin Flair! We can cater your party or special event at your place or in one of our private rooms. Call us for orders or reservations now!

2030 South Pine Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471 | (352) 622-4777 www.latinosymas.com Mon-Thurs 11am - 8:30pm | Fri-Sat 11am-9pm | Sun closed OCALAMAGAZINE.COM | JAN 2021 |


HOPS Set amid the ambience of the city’s oldest historic district and through the generosity of the homeowners, H.O.P.S. is pleased to showcase some of Ocala’s distinctive architecture, history, and culture. Since 1992, these home tours have provided a rare opportunity for guests to go inside some of our community’s most beautiful private residences.

2020 Historic Ocala Preservation Society Board Members

Sponsorship opportunities available, please contact 352-351-1861

Pamela Stafford — President Brian Stoothoff — Vice President Richard Perry — Secretary Dennis Phillips — Treasurer Linda Anker Giorgio Berry Bryan Caracciolo Robin Fannon Sean Gallaway Leon Geller Stephanie Howard R.J. Jenkins Lela Kerley Trish Kilgore Sarah Kirk Caryl Lucas Penny Miller Suzanne Thomas Rhoda Walkup Diana Williams Link Wilson Holly Yocum

712 S.E. Fort King St. Ocala, FL 34471 | (352) 351-1861 | www.HistoricOcala.org Follow us on Facebook


“Flow” by David Killner Metal, acrylic paint and resin | IG and FB @kellectablesllc or David Kellner

Socially Speaking p56 | Anthology—Poetry in Motion p60




socially speaking


The highly-anticipated World Equestrian Center held a VIP opening Dec. 9 that included local dignitaries and special local equestrian guests. Each of the restaurants, along with an adorable ice cream and eatery shoppe, were open with samples for all guests to enjoy. There was also a special ceremony honoring the war horse "Sergeant Reckless," a Marine corp war horse that served in the Korean War. It was truly a special event and we are looking forward to the many events that will take place here at this beautiful center that helps to cement Ocala as the "Horse Capital of the World."

John and Debbie Griesmeyer, Terri and Bob Sutherin, Gail and John Fenstemacher

Dean Blinkhorn and Trevor Byrne

Philip Glassman and Mayor Kent Guinn Sergeant Reckless Chester Weber with his children

Pamela Calero Wardell and Sarah J. Belyeu

Susan Gilliand, Suzy Jones and Senator Dennis Jones



Joe Donnelly, Justin Garner and Charles Legoss

Michelle and Charlie Stone



Small Business Accounting QuickBook Services Part-Time CFO Service Audits – Reviews – Compilations Cash Flow Management Bank Financing Business Valuation Strategic Business Planning Succession Planning New Business Formation Non-Profit Organizations Internal Controls Certified Fraud Examiner Homeowner & Condo Associations

INDIVIDUAL SERVICES Personal Financial Planning Estate Planning Elder Care

TAX SERVICES Tax Preparation Tax Planning Tax Problems

HOMEOWNER & CONDO ASSOCIATIONS Services Audits/Reviews/Compilations


We are devoted to providing each of our clients, whether an individual or a business, with the highest quality of services and attention they deserve.

5471 Spring Hill Dr • Spring Hill, FL 34606 | 801 S Broad St • Brooksville, FL 34601 | Ocala Office Now Open


CALL TODAY (352) 596-2883



socially speaking

Kimberly’s Center

Art & Soul PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH DEMILIO Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection hosted its annual Art & Soul fundraising event at the World Equestrian Center. This is the charity’s largest

fundraiser of the year and brings in donations and sponsorships to sustain the center’s programs. The evening featured equestrian entertain-

KC Board Members: Back row - Ryan Robbins, Ken Ausley and David Dinkins Front Row - Ben Adams, Melissa Bianculli, Angie Clifton, Dawn Westgate and Todd Duffy

Cheryl Martin, Nadja Griffis and Lisa Rice

Ben Marciano, Danielle Marciano, Tom Ingram and Jennifer Hoffman Yancey

ment and an auction of children’s healing artwork. These rare and small treasures will make their way into some very lucky locations in Marion County, including homes and businesses.

Dana Demilio and Niki Tripodi

Ashley Seek and Jamie Scofield



Bre Stehr and Angie Lewis


socially speaking

Kiwanis International Club of Ocala 63rd Annual

Pancake Breakfast

Kiwanis Club of Ocala held its 63rd annual pancake breakfast Dec. 12 and its first-ever drive-by pick-up event due to COVID-19 precautions. Club and board member Tammy Hoff of Ocala Electric Utilities produced and directed this year's successful event with many volunteers to make it one of the club’s highlights of the year. Over 800 tickets were sold to the event with all proceeds helping the community’s children and Camp Kiwanis for Kids.




anthology — poetry in motion


When the year comes to an end

My chance to change

I’ll do what I always do, act like a child and pretend to get a glimpse of what could have been

And come out strong

How it would have tasted to win All the scenes that I lost I paid the piper and bore the cost Looking out from my ship of fate Within my mind there is no hate I’m better off than most of the lot The grass is greener, I guess not Father time is ticking on The new year is approaching at the crack of dawn Yes, my friend, it won’t be long



Now the year that’s going to be I’ll try to live in harmony Living each day, hour by hour Staying away from lust and desire I hope you are saying that you’ll do the same Because you’ll get rid of all your inner shame I’ll strengthen my thinking in what I believe With one wish for the world to be peaceful and free HAPPY NEW YEAR!!


Ocala’s Chocolate & Confections • 104 E. Fort King St., Ocala, Florida 34471 • (352) 789-6882


OCALA’S Cigars, #1 Premium STOP FOR ALL Pipe Tobacco & THINGS Accessories CHOCOLATE! Ready to make the switch?

You can have your delight for a one stop shop for your gourmet, exotic, and everyday chocolate needs. If we don’t have your desires on the shelf, simply make an order in advance and we can customize it specifically for you. We are a neighborhood store in a neighborly community, see you at Ocala’s Chocolate & Confections!

Try Us!



We also offer many chocolate fruits, other chocolate products, and ice creams at our shop! Blvd We have the largest selection of E-Juices in Ocala! 3415 E Silver Springs

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018

At The Southeastern Livestock Pavilion 2232 NE Jacksonville Rd Ocala, Fl 34479

www.classichitsocala.com www.geminisalondayspa.com www.facebook.com/classichitsocala 352 • 622 • 6425

Gemini_0816.indd 1

351-CUSA georgeOcala: rossidis, md, facs The Villages: 259-BACK

6/27/17 7:04 PM

Board Certified

Happy Hour starts at 5 pm open Bar

General and Bariatric Surgeon

End Headaches NOW!

4600 SW 46th Court, Ste 220 Ocala, FL 34474

(352) 291-0239

 (352) 291-0254 1220 E. Silver Springs Blvd. • 352-512-0346 www.facebook.com/ocalasweetleaf Mon-Sat 9am-10pm, Sun 11am-7pm

Special Guest Performance by: This productKeri is NOT a safe Sheffield Ms.alternative Rodeo Americato cigarettes. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Must show valid ID.

Boot Scootin’ music Line Dancing Silent Auction


Tickets just $50 buckeroos call (352) 291-5143 to buy or visit hospiceofmarion.com

BBQ & Fixins by 4Rivers BBQ

Minimally Invasive Surgeons of Ocala (MISO) www.MISOcala.org

FREE HEALTH WORKSHOP 7668 SW 60th Avenue, Suite 500 A REVOLUTIONARY SOLUTION TO REFLUX DISEASE Headaches Ocala, FL 34476 (on Airport Road) September 26th @ 6:30 PM at Mimi’s Cafe

It’s time to win the battle against reflux. WWW.THEOCALACHIROPRACTOR.COM Reflux (also called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD) is caused by a weak muscle in your esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)that allows acid and bile to flow back from the stomach into the esophagus, causing damage to the lining of the esophagus, throat and lungs. 1 in 5 patients in the United States suffer from GERD and 20 million Americans are taking acid blocking medications. Around 40% of the patients on medications continue to have symptoms and 15% of those patients will develop Barrett’s esophagus, a premalignant condition that can lead to esophageal cancer. The annual costs associated with GERD are 6 billion dollars per year. Symptoms associated with GERD include heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, dental erosions, asthma, chest pain, shortness of breath. Patient’s with reflux disease often suffer poor quality of | JAN 2021 | sleep, reduced work productivityOCALAMAGAZINE.COM dietary, compromises to avoid symptoms and lifelong dependence on medications. Although lifestyle modifications and acid blocking medications are able to control the symptoms at times,




Celebrating The Equestrian Lifestyle

We are America’s Favorite Equestrian Lifestyle Magazine, Published Since 2008.




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Volume 20 Issue 5 Complim entary

FALL Fashion


L CHALL Highlight ENGE






Elite Equestrian magazine is proud to be a strategic media partner with Ocala Magazine and sponsor of its equestrian feature.


iding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. I t is a grand passion. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

ELITE EQUESTRIAN Magazine RANKED 7TH WORLD WIDE Equine Magazines to watch in 2020 -according to Feedspot Blog

www.EliteEquestrianMagazine.com To request on-line subscriptions and for media kit inquiries, email info@eliteequestrian.us


Gracious Living in the Horse Capital of the World Photo from Live Oak International by Ralph Demilio Everything Equine p64




everything equine

The Old Fashioned Way The best way to see Ocala is by horse and carriage BY LOUISA BARTON, Equine Initiative Director at the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, Farm Realtor and Host of the Horse Talk Show on the Sky 97.3




recent internet review of a tour with Kimie Carp at Horse Country Carriage Co. sums up perfectly all anyone needs to know about the tour. The reviewers, “Sue and Bob,” wrote: “If you haven’t done this, then you need to put it on your bucket list. We even got to meet some of the many girlfriends of Tiny Prince and when you meet him you will see why he is so popular. He is so handsome and sweet, what a wonderful time we had and I’ve got great pictures too. Thanks Kimie, you are the best.” This is so appropriate, since this is just the way Kimie makes everyone feel. Horse Country Carriage Co. & Tours is located right in the heart of Ocala’s finest farms and estates. Driving through the gates to Kimberden Farm, you will feel you have stepped into a private resort surrounded by majestic palm trees and those mighty live oaks, draped with Spanish Moss

and best of all, lots of beautiful horses. Once you meet Kimie, your carriage tour guide, you will certainly be swept away with her passion for the horses, her amazing wit, and her love of Ocala. Her tours are filled with amazing facts, a bit of nostalgia and perhaps even a little juicy gossip! Kimberden Farm, a premiere hunter and jumper training facility, is home to the University of Florida Hunt Seat Equestrian Team. This gorgeous property is a true oasis for horsemen and horse lovers alike and is even home to a horse who starred in the movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides.” Kimie Carp and her Tiny, not so tiny Prince Charming are also available In Downtown Ocala for tours from Thanksgiving weekend thru New Year’s Eve annually. There is no better way to see the lights of the town than by horse drawn carriage, of-

fering 15 minutes around the Square area or 30 minutes through the Historic District to see the homes lit for Christmas. During the holidays, this dynamic duo is available most nights with its private carriage. The trolley wagon is available on Friday and Saturday evenings as well as Christmas Eve. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget that will leave you looking for any excuse to come back again. Truly an experience for all ages and the best way to learn all the stories and the history that makes Ocala/Marion County worthy of its trademarked title, ‘The Horse Capital of the World.’ To find out more about Kimie and Tiny, or to schedule a wonderful and entertaining tour, check them out at HorseCountryCarriageCompanyandTours.com or call Kimie at 352727-0900. She will happily help you in your quest to knock this one off your bucket list.





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Charity: MCA’s Horse Fever p72 | Health Journal p76 | State of the City p78 State of the County p80 | Kiwanis Korner p82 | Rotary Circle p84 | Looking Back p88





Horse Fever Charity meets art meets community



n the first day of the March Ocala Breeders’ Sales, the final horse to be auctioned is one that will never win a race nor sire any champions. In 2020, the average 2-year-old Thoroughbred sold at North American auctions went for around $90,000, so it’s difficult to determine what Clockwork Fury, a 10-year-old on the block at OBS, will fetch. Clockwork Fury has stood at Brent and Crystal Fernung’s Journeyman Stud for a decade and in March will find a new home. As part of the 2020 Horse Fever project, Clockwork Fury is among the art pieces that is used to help raise money for the Marion Cultural Alliance and various charities including Second Chances, a program of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation which teaches life skills to female prison inmates who in turn care for a herd of retired off-track Thoroughbreds. Artist Mark Hershberger created Clockwork Fury from the blank horse statuary canvas for the 2011 Horse Fever project as a high-



tech interpretation in which the horse’s eyes turned red and smoke blew out his nose. With the Fernungs having donated Clockwork Fury back to Horse Fever, Hershberger will update him so he fits 2021 technological standards. What those standards are is currently a closely guarded secret to be revealed Jan. 12. In December, 15 artists received their blank statue canvases to create pieces for the 20th anniversary of Horse Fever, which has so far produced 83 decorative horse statues and raised funds for MCA and a number of charities of the buyers’ choice. According to Laurie Zink, who was part of the team that created the project in 2001, Horse Fever encompasses not just raising funds for MCA and other charities, but also in contributing to Ocala’s blossoming art vibe. When Horse Fever started in 2001, the art community in Ocala could at best be described as fledgling. Today, with an abundance of galleries, public displays and influx of artists, Ocala can genuinely be described as a significant player in community art.

“Those of us who have been doing this since day one are very proud to feel and know without a shadow of a doubt that Horse Fever was an absolute catalyst for everything that is happening in the arts in our community downtown,” said Zink, who is Horse Fever 20/20 Chair. “People come into our town and our community’s culture is represented by the art you have and when people see the horses and see the spirit around them, I think that says an enormous amount about our community.” Along with Zink, Paula King, Stew Robinson, Ellen Gilchrist, Jessica McCune and Rus Adams worked to bring a vision to reality. That vision was one of a vibrant art community and a cultural revitalization for Ocala. Inspired by Chicago’s “Cows On Parade” public art display of painted and decorated cows, the group discovered a great means of funding a soon-to-be arts council. “We were talking about the fact that our community did not have an arts commitment of any kind,” Zink said. “We said we should

“Without a shadow of a doubt, Horse Fever was an absolute catalyst for everything that is happening in the arts in our community downtown.” —LAURIE ZINK

start an arts council that could be supportive of the arts throughout the community.” Zink and her team saw the success of the Chicago project and were also aware of Kentucky’s “Horse Mania” and figured a similar public arts project was the perfect kickstart for their vision. With Horse Fever on the drawing board, the next step would be attaching it to a non-profit vehicle; hence, the formulation of the Marion Cultural Alliance. In its first year of 2001, Horse Fever generated almost $900,000 in gross sales, providing the necessary seed money for MCA and substantial charitable donations elsewhere. At the second Horse Fever auction 10 years later, almost $300,000 in gross sales were generated. Zink hopes that in 2021, the half-million mark can be reached. She attributes the success of Horse Fever to two things, the first being that the project is a juried art show with serious artists who create pieces that are much more than just silly curiosities dotting the landscape. These are true works of art with deep cultural significance. “These horses have been sort of a spirit in the community,” Zink said. “People look for them and learn from them and find them. Every one of them has a special meaning and is in a special place for a reason. There is a story behind every one.” The second reason for Horse Fever’s success, according to Zink, is in the manner of charitable distribution. Net proceeds from the sale of the horses have always been split equally between MCA and the various charities selected by buyers. “Marion Cultural Alliance has been

able to give back to the community in so many ways,” Zink said. “I believe because of that choice to assist and help in our community, that is why our horses have sold for a much higher average than many other public arts projects – there’s such a giving spirit to the whole project.” Artists will return their horses to MCA on Feb. 1 with them being revealed to the public Feb. 11 and Feb. 13. For 2021, there will be another project within Horse Fever known as “The Giving Collection.” Zink is keeping details of “The Giving Collection” under wraps, but does note that it involves several “special” horses being made available in a different way. The challenges of Horse Fever over the

years have generally been a matter of timing, with the first coming just days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the second taking place during what Zink calls “the worst recession in U.S. history” and now the latest version coming during an international pandemic. “We’re in this pandemic and have Horse Fever coming up,” Zink said. “We figured, what the heck, we’ve done it before in horrible times.” The big reveals of the 2021 herd will take place at the TransformCo warehouse located at 655 SW 52nd Avenue. “The most important thing is the financials and people receiving help and money and MCA being able to assist arts groups,” Zink said. “But what’s also important is the excitement. I think art and projects like this that wrap around large parts of your community; it does lift some spirits at a time when everybody needs it.”



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How pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing is revolutionizing mental health treatment BRANDPOINT


f you or a family member have sought care from a mental health professional, or are considering seeking help for depression, anxiety, ADHD or other conditions, you want the best treatment available. Multiple treatment options now exist for many of these conditions, ranging from medications and psychotherapy to alternative treatments. It can be confusing to sort through your choices and determine what approach will give you or your loved one the ideal outcome. In recent years, the understanding of



the role genetics plays in mental health has grown exponentially. With that understanding has come the ability for genetic testing to provide answers to questions patients and their healthcare providers have about personalized treatment options. An individual’s mental health and wellness is a function of genetics, lifestyle, environment, and experiences - this is called the Mental Health 360TM. Until now, we’ve been missing an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to mental health

drug response: genetics. With this information, healthcare providers can obtain a more complete picture of their patient to identify a personalized treatment plan. A VITAL TOOL TO HELP PATIENTS Just as genetic testing has opened a window on greater understanding of our ancestry, physical health and predispositions to certain illnesses, today’s sophisticated genetics can help healthcare providers make more personalized medication choices.

Our DNA is 99.9% the same from one person to another - and it’s that 0.1% difference or variation that makes us unique individuals. This breakthrough science, optimized for mental health by Genomind¬Æ over the last decade, is called pharmacogenetics. Pharma (medications) + genetics. This type of testing provides mental health practitioners with a clearer picture of an individual’s response to medications such as understanding potential likelihood of efficacy or side effects and understanding how the body metabolizes medication to guide dosing decisions. Award-winning psychiatrist and author Dr. Bruce Kehr has been using genetic testing to evaluate patients in his practice at Potomac Psychiatry. “Using critical information from a patient’s genetic makeup, in combination with their current health condition and their health and family history, we have a much more complete picture, allowing us to personalize treatment options for each individual,” said Kehr, “And this can improve the odds of the best possible health outcome for each person.” HOW DOES PHARMACOGENETIC TESTING WORK? Your genetic makeup, also known as your genotype, is your inherited DNA code, which serves as the building blocks of you. We get two copies of most genes - one copy is inherited from each parent. Our DNA is 99.9% the same from one person to another - and it’s that 0.1% difference or variation that makes us unique individuals. It’s this tiny but important piece of your unique genetic makeup where pharmacogenetic testing works to decode understanding of an individual’s response to medication. The Genomind¬Æ Professional PGx Express‚Ñ¢ test collects a DNA sample from a painless cheek swab. Then certified lab technicians and state-of-the-art technology work together to test specific genes with these types of variations. It’s this information, coupled with a complete patient

history, that healthcare providers use to personalize treatment. Jennifer C, mother of a Genomind patient shared, “I watched my daughter struggle for years and we had many moments of despair as she spiraled into the depths of anxiety and depression. We wondered if we’d ever find treatments for her that would work. Using Genomind’s test has been a lifesaving part of my daughter’s treatment.” WHO IS PHARMACOGENETIC TESTING BEST SUITED FOR? Particularly for patients with depression or mood disorders that are resistant to pharmaceutical treatments, pharmacogenetics can help healthcare providers understand their response to different drugs. If a patient doesn’t respond as desired to a medication, or patients experience an adverse reaction, understanding their genetic make-up could guide smarter prescribing decisions. To help clinicians consider medication treatment, Genomind’s pharmacogenetic testing analyzes multiple well-characterized genes. Genomind Professional PGx Express is a comprehensive mental health PGx test assessing 24 genes, 130+ medications and 10+ conditions. This test focuses on two primary types of gene-drug interactions: * Pharmacokinetic effects: Certain genetic enzymes control how quickly your body breaks down medications. If your body metabolizes a drug quickly, you might not receive the benefits, or you may need a higher dose. If your body metabolizes a drug slowly, you might experience side effects or possible toxicity. If you are a slow metabolizer, you may need a lower dose, or in some cases, may need to consider avoiding that drug altogether. Genomind’s PGx test analyzes 9 of these genes. * Pharmacodynamic effects: Certain

genetic mutations can be used to help predict the effect a particular drug will have on your body. Genomind’s PGx test analyzes 15 pharmacodynamic genes that can be used to influence drug choice after reviewing your symptoms, past treatment responses, your family history of treatment response and your individual treatment goals. Sarah B, a previous Genomind patient stated, “I have suffered from severe anxiety/ depression for my entire life. It was annoying and difficult going through so many medications just to find one that “might” work for me. My psychiatrist suggested getting this report to see what medicines would work well with my specific genes. I am 22 years old and the information I was given will be relevant to me for the rest of my life.” DESIGNED TO REDUCE THE PAIN OF TREATMENT BY TRIAL AND ERROR Psychiatric medication is often prescribed on a trial-and-error basis, with practitioners monitoring each patient’s response before adjusting medications or doses. This process often led to patient frustration, along with added healthcare costs and potentially making their condition worse before finding the optimal treatment. In fact, 50% of depression patients do not respond to the first medication.[1] Using Genomind pharmacogenetics, healthcare providers can use the patient’s genetic information to narrow down which types of medications may be more effective, more tolerable and what starting doses may be best. Board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Scott Wiener uses Genomind testing to help make decisions about patient care. “Not everyone reacts to the same medication the same way. It’s important to know what the likely outcome may be for each patient before prescribing medications,” said Wiener. “Pharmacogenetics is a valuable tool to help make better informed decisions for patients.” Talk to your healthcare provider about using Genomind’s leading pharmacogenetic test to help personalize your treatment plan, available at Genomind.com. [1] Trivedi MH, Rush AJ, Wisniewski SR, et al. Evaluation of outcomes with citalopram for depression using measurement-based care in STAR*D: implications for clinical practice. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163(1):28-40.




state of the city

Rising to the Challenge BY: ASHLEY DOBBS,




hancements to outdoor spaces. If this year taught us anything, it’s that being outdoors (safely distanced) was the stress reliever we were all looking for. The Ocala Wetland Recharge Park (OWRP) opened in September. Although the normal fanfare of a new park opening wasn’t possible due to the pandemic, residents have been celebrating this nature conservation area since the moment the gates opened. With plenty of walking trails, water overlooks, wildlife, and educational markers along the way, the park has provided a natural escape for visitors ready to enjoy the great outdoors. Although the OWRP offers all these attributes above the surface, what’s happening below is even more important. The park recharges the Florida Aquifer, helping to replenish nearby Silver Springs. From safely saving millions of gallons of water to saving lives, the City of Ocala opened the MLK First Responders campus

in October 2020. This safety campus located in Census Tract 18 provides safety and community resources to residents. The campus is home to Fire Station One, Fire Administration, the Ocala Fire Museum, a police district office, and a community center. In the center of it all is a community basketball court with a painted mural depicting the unity of first responders and our community. New years are made for new starts, and as a city we hope our residents rest assured that we are always committed to making Ocala one of the best communities in which to live, work and play.

Photo courtesy of the City of Ocala


or most of the year, we’ve heard the phrase “It’s been a year like no other,” and we couldn’t agree more. The year 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging years in modern history. Although our nation faced many struggles throughout the year and Ocala shared in those, the city also rose to face those challenges with many positive moments resulting. At the start of the year, we opened the new Ocala International Airport general aviation terminal. At 17,500 square feet, the terminal includes office space for Sheltair Aviation, the airport’s fixed-base operator, airport administration, a large conference area, an executive conference room and rental car companies. A project many years in the making, our city council members helped bring this project to the finish line, strengthening our city’s aviation resources as our community expands. From flying high to skating by, the Ocala Skate Park has been a popular spot since opening its doors in 2019. In 2020, the addition of overhead lighting provided park goers with the opportunity to spend their evenings in the skate bowl. At 10,000 square feet, the street course provides recreational space for skateboarding, in-line skating and freestyle bicycling. The new lighting fixtures provide added security and longer skate times for residents and visitors. A skatethemed mural was also added in 2020, enhancing the visual look and feel of the park. Although the year 2020 may have felt drab and colorless, you would never have known based on the number of new murals that entered the landscape of our town. The Ocala Recreation & Parks Cultural Arts Division helped paint the town beautiful by adding five new murals throughout the downtown area. Art provided a much-needed escape this year by delivering visual en-



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state of the county

Make 2021 a Cleaner, Greener Year As we head into the new year, we encourage residents in unincorporated Marion County to take full advantage of our many recycling centers. BY ALEX AUBUCHON


ecycling whenever possible presents a wide variety of benefits for Marion County: It reduces the amount of waste we send to the Heart of Florida Landfill, preserving capacity for future use. • It saves energy and reduces pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials • It conserves our natural resources, such as timber, water and minerals. • It creates jobs, supports manufacturing and increases our economic security.

Here are a few things to consider that will make 2021 a cleaner, greener year:

AFTER-CHRISTMAS CLEANUP Was this the last showing for your Christmas lights? Did you come across a few strands that didn’t pass inspection? You might be surprised to learn those light strands are recyclable! Just bring them to any one of our 18 full-service recycling centers and place them in the scrap metal collection area. Real Christmas trees can be placed along with yard waste and brush for recycling (assuming they’re free of decorations and flocking). Unfortunately, artificial trees cannot be recycled and must be disposed along with household garbage.



Were you lucky enough to get some big-ticket Christmas gifts this year? Those old electronics can be recycled in the green “electronics recycling” boxes at the Baseline, Dunnellon, Forest Corners, Fort McCoy, Martel, Newton and Weirsdale recycling centers. Packaging materials like cardboard and plastics can be placed in the single-stream recycling collection at our centers. Polystyrene (Styrofoam) and plastic film/bags are not accepted in our single-stream collection.

SECURE YOUR LOAD When you head to the transfer station or recycling center, you might be littering and not even know it! If your load isn’t properly secured with a tarp or tie-down, your trash or recycling materials may wind up on the roadside. This poses hazards to other motorists, mars the beauty and appeal of Marion County and costs us all tax dollars when workers pick up the refuse.

YOUR OLD, OLD GLORY United States Flags should never be thrown in the trash. If you have a flag that is too old, worn

For an interactive map of all 18 of our recycling centers, or for more information about recycling and waste disposal in Marion County, please visit our website at MarionCountyFL. org/SolidWaste or damaged to be displayed, you can bring it to any Marion County Solid Waste location or to Marion County Veterans Services where the flag will be respectfully retired in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code.

ABOUT GLASS In 2018, Marion County made the difficult decision to stop accepting glass as a recyclable material. Sorting glass by color is a costly and labor-intensive process and transporting it to be processed is difficult since glass is especially heavy and there aren’t many glass processing facilities currently operating. This meant it no longer made economic or environmental sense to continue recycling glass. We encourage residents to consider reusing glass bottles and jars or to find alternatives to those products if they are interested in reducing their waste production. Alex AuBuchon is the Public Information Officer for the Marion County Board of Commissioners.

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Korner John Spencer

Recognizing three Kiwanis members making a difference every day in our Community. Cindy Brown, Nick Navetta, & Louise Werner

Aggie Albright

Being The Difference


iwanis of Ocala members were busy during the last quarter of 2020. Aggie Albright, a longtime Kiwanian and one of the first female members of Kiwanis International, donated $10,000 that will benefit Camp Kiwanis for Kids.

Preston Pooser

Two of our most recent and honored guest speakers from the city of Ocala were Preston Pooser, Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Ocala, and John Spencer, also with Ocala Parks and Recreation.

Wes Wheeler

Jeff Rutenberg, past president (2019-2020) was recently promoted to Division 6 Lt. Governor for 2020-2021.

Roseann Fricks, past president of Ocala Kiwanis and former Lt. Governor, was recently appointed as the new Florida District Chair of Young Children Priority One for 2020-2021. She is also the CEO of Marion County Early Learning Coalition.

From camping at Camp Kiwanis (since 1948), to projects to improve academics, citizenship, and child safety, the Kiwanis Club of Ocala serves and cares for the children of Ocala and surrounding areas.

Joe Voge, President


Kiwanis International is a global community of clubs, members, and partners, dedicated to improving the lives of children one community at a time. Today, with more than 550,000 members in 80 Countries, Kiwanis empowers members to pursue creative ways to serve the needs of our children, such as fighting hunger, improving literacy and being a mentor. Kiwanis Clubs host over 150,000 service projects per year. www.facebook.com/KiwanisClubOfOcala



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Save the date for the Marion Rotary Duck Derby on Saturday, February 13th 2021 @Discovery Center at Tuscawilla Park Saturday, Febr uar y 13th 2021

Discove Center Tuscawi Par k

The Derby will benefit Rotary nonprofits and the Discovery Center. Sponsorship opportunities include:


You will be recognized as an Elite Duck Sponsor at the event with your logo prominently displayed on all marketing materials, T-shirts, event banners as well as MarionDuckDerby.com which will include a link to your company’s website. Your company name and logo will also be displayed on all “You Got Ducked” yard signs. You will be recognized as an Elite Duck Sponsor at the event with your logo promine DUCKLING—$1,500 displayed on all marketing materials, T-shirts, event banners as well as MarionDuckDerby.c You will be recognized as a Duckling Sponsor at the event and which will include listed on all marketing materials, T-shirts, event banners as well as a link to your company’s website. Your company name and logo will also displayed on all “You Got Ducked” yard signs. MarionDuckDerby.com which will include a link to your company’s



website. You will also have the ability to put marketing literature at the sponsor table the day of the event. You will be recognized as a Duckling Sponsor at the event and listed on all marketing mater QUACKER—$1,000 T-shirts, event banners as well as MarionDuckDerby.com which will include a link to y You will be recognized as a Quacker Duck Sponsor at the event company’s website. You will also have the ability to put marketing literature at the spon and listed on T-shirts, the sponsor board, adoption papers, and table the day of the event. social media.



Logo displayed on social media and adoption papers. Name You will be recognized as a Quacker Duck Sponsor at the event and listed on T-shirts, recognized on sponsor board. sponsor board, adoption papers, and social media.

PADDLER—$500 For more information visit MarionDuckDerby.org

Logo displayed on social media and adoption papers. Name recognized on sponsor board.

For more infor mation visit MarionDuckDerby.org

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looking back

When Ocala was Title Town The Forest High football program was a juggernaut in the mid-1970s BY CARLTON REESE WITH THE HISTORIC OCALA PRESERVATION SOCIETY


he bar for local high school football was set pretty high back in the mid1970s when the Forest Wildcats terrorized opponents in winning back-to-back state championships under the direction of head coach Brent Hall. Winning its first championship in an undefeated 1974 season, the Wildcats followed that up with another in 1975 during a season in which just one game went to the loss column. Beyond the titles, the Wildcats football team helped, if even in a small measure, to heal some of the wounds that remained from the passionate days of school desegregation just several years before. With the closing of Howard High School and integrating its black student body into the previously all-white Ocala High School and the newly formed Vanguard High School, resentments and hard feelings often manifested themselves in fights and even riots at the new schools. Hall remembers his first day on campus in 1969 there was a student riot, but four years later he could sense a community coming together. “By 1974, this was the fourth year at Forest,” Hall remembered. “All the old Howard kids were gone and all the old Ocala High kids were gone. Howard had a great tradition when those kids got moved.” With all on the same team, the win-



ning ways of the Wildcats “totally changed the atmosphere of Ocala because everybody kind of rallied around the Forest program.” Todd Scudder, who played defensive end on the Forest team that won the title in 1974 remembers an almost celebrity status that year. “When we got in the state championship that first year, we would leave Forest High School on a bus and the people were lined up on Silver Springs Boulevard like it was a Christmas parade – it was crazy,” Scudder said. Players and coaches from those days remember the turning point as a game early in the year against perennial state powerhouse Gainesville Buchholz. “They were supposed to just tear us to smithereens and it was a big score for us,” Scudder said. “Because we had seen Buchholz play other teams and just tear them up, we all got on the bandwagon.” With stars Scot Brantley and Russell Kirk, which Hall said was the “best tandem of linebackers in the country” the Wildcats’ hard-hitting defense struck fear into opponents while an offense loaded with quarterbacks John Brantley and Tyrone Young, and backs Charlie Davis, Bert Yancey and Kim Poehlman rolled up big numbers. The main ingredient was a brand of physical football and well-disciplined athletes.

“Brent Hall made us believe in ourselves,” Scudder said. “The program that he had, right down to our pregame stuff, he wanted it to look like we were soldiers. If you’re doing calisthenics or whatever, you better look like a marching band. “We had good coaches and they trained us hard so we’d be in shape.” In 1974, an undefeated season meant every playoff game and even the state championship would be played at Ocala’s Booster Stadium. The finale was a 46-6 thumping of Hollywood Chaminade. In 1975, a 7-0 loss to Leesburg during the year put Forest on the road for each stop along the way to a championship. That meant victories at Tarpon Springs, Milton and Delray Beach Atlantic. Scudder remembers one of Hall’s pregame rituals that took place in a school portable. “We would have a prayer in the portable and you could hear a pin drop. After prayer time, coach Hall would have his back to you – what’d the dude do? He would turn around and his last words out of the portable were, ‘You better get blood in your eyes,’ and it looked like this dude had been holding his breath for 10 minutes because his eyes would be blood red. “Coach Hall was tougher than nails, but you knew where you stood with him and he gave you skills for life, not just football.”

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