Ocala Magazine March, 2021 Issue

Page 1

Ocala’s City Magazine Since 1980 Serving the Horse Capital of the World® $5.95


Meet Honey Bee

OM’s horse is one of 16 sweet additions to the Horse Fever herd

Oh, Bee Hive!

Fighting for the honey bee’s survival to ensure our own

Horse Fever’s Legacy

How a feel-good public art project transformed Ocala

Considering Ocala?

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Income producing 39 +/- acres For Sale or For Rent. Private and secluded in NW Ocala, located just minutes to WEC or HITS, tree-lined driveway leads you to lush green pastures. Fenced paddocks, (2) 3/2 double-wide mobile homes, 10-stall barn, fenced paddocks. $2,200,000

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Majestic Oaks spacious 3 bedroom home with Florida room. Selling furnished or unfurnished. Orange, grapefruit, lime and pecan trees complete the picture. Spacious home with separate laundry room. Large garage with work area and sink. $229,500

Bass Country Retreat is a unique private residence overlooking private spring-fed lake on 123+ acres. 2-Story Cedar home with deck overlooks the lake. Beautiful Arizona stone fireplace in great room, family room with amazing views. Detached studio, double garage, patio, and 300’ ft dock. $ 1,885,000


Lots and Land

Turn-key NW Training Center – 147 +/- Acres. Training Facilities include: 4 barns - metal roofs - 54 Stalls Covered Euro exercise, tack room, feed, and office. Main residence is a 3/2 with a 2/1 guest home. 5/8 +/- irrigated track plus viewing quarters. New fencing. $2,350,000

Beautifully maintained 67 Acre NW Training Facility with ¾ +/- mile race track. Located at Eclipse Training Center. 5 Barn recently updated with 108 stalls, 2 barn apartments, Eurociszer, Walkers, round pens, maintenance building and 28 lush green paddocks. $2,700,000

Crosswind Farm Airport is registered as a private use airport in Marion County. 3900’ in length and 75’ wide airstrip. Two hangers on the property measuring 34 x 1500’ both are 5100 SF of space. Enjoy your private airstrip on 35 acres. $1,050,00

Prime 28+/- Acres in great NW location – Steps from WEC and Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club. This is your opportunity to build your dream home or farm. Property is perimeter fenced with existing well. No Deed Restrictions. $1,065, 750


Development Potential

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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

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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.


MARCH • 2021 p. 14 — Survival of the Sweetest

FEATURES 14 22 28 32 38

Honey Bee is OM’s New Horse Fever Horse … and Cause Horse Fever 20/20 Brings New Horses to the Herd Raising New Money for the Arts Vintage Style: Old stuff is Back In OM Pulse Asks What Ocalans Are Thinking


Publisher’s Letter From the Mayor

41 EAT 42 Oodles of Zoodles 49 PLAY 50 Socially Speaking 60 Anthology: Poetry in Motion 63 EQUINE 64 Everything Equine Takes a Ride with the Paso Fino

Photo by Ralph Demilio


Ocala’s City Magazine Since 1980 Serving the Horse Capital of the World® $5.95

Honey Bee by Christian Stanley Photography by Ralph Demilio


Meet Honey Bee

OM’s horse is one of 16 sweet additions to the Horse Fever herd

Oh, Bee Hive!

Fighting for the honey bee’s survival to ensure our own

Horse Fever’s Legacy

How a feel-good public art project transformed Ocala



69 ETC 70 Charity Spotlight: Lions Club has a Vision for Children to See 74 Five Questions About COVID-19 Vaccinations 78 State of the County 80 State of the City 82 Kiwanis Korner 84 Rotary Circle 88 Looking Back: A Visit to Ocala’s Oldest Public Cemetery

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Volume 40, Issue 9

MARCH 2021



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

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

EDITORIAL Brad Rogers | Editor brad@ocalamagazine.com

ART Jessi Miller | Creative Director jessi@ocalamagazine.com

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

Carlton Reese | Senior Writer carlton@ocalamagazine.com


Robin Fannon | Food/Lifestyle Editor

Leslie J. Wengler | Social Correspondant

Mayor Kent Guinn | Columnist

Ralph Demilio | Chief Photographer ralph@ocalamagazine.com


OPERATIONS Randy Woodruff, CPA | CFO randy@ocalamagazine.com

Linda Marks | Founder & Advisor

Doug Hummel | Director of I.T.

Ronald W. Wetherington | Social Editor

Sharon Raye | Copy Editor





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


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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. Horse Capital of the World® is a registered trademark of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association.



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from the publisher

Three Years and Counting I’VE MADE IT THREE YEARS AS PUBLISHER OF OCALA MAGAZINE, and what a ride it has been and will continue to be. For me, I like to keep my focus on the future, and that means moving forward with a team at OM that just keeps getting bigger and better. Now on board the OM train is Brad Rogers, “Mr. Ocala” as far as print media is concerned, and we know he will take us to new heights of important journalism to go along with our window to the community’s arts and leisure segments. On our beautiful cover this month, Honey Bee is among those joining the OM team and will soon stand guard in front of our office on Fort King Street. Christian Stanley’s depiction of honey bees is part of the Marion Cultural Alliance’s Horse Fever 20/20 exhibition and carries much symbolism here. Rogers himself was involved in the first Horse Fever project back in 2000 and he continues to be a champion of the MCA and its projects, which have made Ocala a significant player in the arts world. The economic impact of the arts in Ocala is roughly three times the national median for communities of our size and MCA has a lot to do with this. Not only that, the amount of public art per capita in Ocala, so Brad informs me, is exponentially higher than that of major cities such as Chicago. What I like most about Honey Bee is that it represents not only the thriving Ocala arts community, but is also a reminder to all of us that we must stay committed to protecting the actual honey bees. Our agriculture depends on these creatures and their depletion since the 1940s has been a wake-up call that we seem to be heeding. Our Charity of the Month segment looks at the Ocala Lions Club, which truly is a special organization that helps in so many ways, from feeding the hungry to offering sight to the visually impaired and even making happy Christmases for needy children. Many children of kindergarten age have visual impairments but don’t even realize it themselves — and that’s where the Lions’ KidSight program is so remarkable. How heartbreaking it must be for a child to grow up seeing everything in a blurred fashion and thinking that is normal. The main damage may be not in missing out on much of the world’s great beauty, but in missing out on maximum learning that can be had through perfect vision. I believe great potential resides in every child, and it hurts to think that any of it is untapped. Thanks to the Lions, more of this potential can be reached as a result of their program. I have two children of my own and every day brings learning experiences for them and me. I cringe at the thought of either of them languishing quietly with poor vision, but that’s exactly what many kids do. For this I have nothing but admiration and thanks for Lions and the part they are playing to make the world and this community a brighter place. ‘Til next month,




Christian Stanley, Honey Bee, and Philip Glassman

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Rugged Lark: A Horse to Remember BY MAYOR KENT GUINN


ugged Lark was a Quarter Horse of legendary stature in the horse industry and is part of the great equine history that Ocala enjoys. One of two bronze statues of the great horse stands at the American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, Texas; the other at Carol Harris’ Bo-Bett Farm in Reddick. The gorgeous statue is not just a fine piece of art, but is also a means of keeping alive the memory of Rugged Lark. Soon, the statue will be re-located for permanent public viewing thanks to the wishes of Harris, a local legend of the equine industry in her own right. I recently visited with Harris, who said it is important that Rugged Lark not be forgotten and one way to make sure he is remembered is through this statue. As such, we are searching for the right home to place this bronze horse. So who was Rugged Lark and why was he so important? For starters, he was a two-time AQHA World Show Superhorse and three-time AQHA World Champion and currently resides in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. In addition to his lengthy list of awards that includes the Silver Spur, Rugged Lark is one of only two stallions to sire other offspring to win superhorse titles. What is so special about Rugged Lark is that he represents why Ocala is known as the “Horse Capital of the World.” When the layperson thinks of horses, he thinks mainly of Thoroughbreds, but Ocala has earned that special moniker because of all the different breeds we have here: Arabians, Paso Finos, Quarters and others. Although Ocala has produced many great champions on the racing circuit, it has played a large role in other disciplines and Rugged Lark is testimony to that in a big way. Harris herself is a local treasure whose name belongs in the pantheon of Ocala horse industry giants such as Carl Rose and Bonnie Heath. Her spot in the AQHA Hall of Fame as a horsewoman is well earned. Now it is time to find a home for the beautiful bronze Rugged Lark statue. There will be much discussion on this topic and Laura Walker, the head of the city’s Cultural Arts and Sciences Division, is taking the lead on finding just the right spot. As for me, I suggest placing Rugged Lark between the two magnolia trees on Citizens Circle. I think for maximum traffic this spot would be optimal as opposed to placing the statue in front of the courthouse or Tuscawilla Park – but that’s just my two cents. Rugged Lark means so much to Carol Harris and it is her firm desire that this horse not be forgotten, nor shall it be with this statue to soon be on display. The horse meant so much to so many people besides Harris and helped to continue the great legacy that makes Ocala the “Horse Capital of the World.” I’m looking forward to the day we dedicate this statue and honor Rugged Lark and Carol Harris in a most-deserved manner.

Mayor Kent Guinn 12


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Honey bee populations are making a comeback amid serious challenges BY CARLTON REESE PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH DEMILIO




he perfect monarchy, so long a quest of humankind never coming to fruition, has existed since long before the first spear impaled a wooly mammoth. Where man has failed, the honey bee has forged countless empires with monuments to its efficiency constructed on every habitable continent of this planet. With selfless dedication to queen and colony – attributes more suited to the sixlegged creatures among us than the contumacious hominids – honey bees provide a template of consummate organization, cooperation and production. These colonies, so prevalent in Florida and especially Marion County, exist not just to satisfy a long-lived queen or to dominate a world that fears its sting but to provide perhaps the most significant link in the chain of human agriculture. Most everything humans consume derives directly or indirectly from the realm of the honey bee, which is why any news of a potential demise of these creatures sends waves of apoplexy throughout the public. The headlines create a picture of crisis with a desperate call to action in tow:

...it appears the bees have two strong allies in their fight: human beings and the bees themselves.

“Bee populations declining drastically!” – WION, August 2020 “Study: Global Bee Populations in Decline” – Public News Service, January 2021 “Nearly 40% decline in honey bee population last winter ‘unsustainable,’ experts say” – ABC News, July 2019 From a population of 6 million U.S. hives in 1947 down to just 2.4 million in 2008, the headlines and alarm bells rang rather loudly as to the impending doom if the trend were to continue. The biggest problems causing the decline seem to have been various types of mites and hive beetles while speculation that man-made pesticides have played a role certainly has traction. Despite the mites, beetles, pesticides and the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder that ravaged the bee world in the mid-

late 2000s, the numbers are now trending in the right direction as honey bees are making a comeback. The seemingly-imminent bee apocalypse feared by so many seems to be a more fortunate tale where all can more easily breathe a sigh of relief. After all, it appears the bees have two strong allies in their fight: human beings and the bees themselves.

One of those humans helping the bee populations locally is Calvin Benjamin, who at age 80 is called upon by the Marion County UF/IFAS Extension for bee rescues. He says the volume of bee rescue missions keeps going up and predicts he will conduct over 100 rescues this year in The Villages alone. “The native bee has adapted to stay healthy,” Benjamin says of the local honey



... the numbers are still far below where they stood in the mid-20th century. It would not take much to reverse this positive trend.



bees which aren’t technically native, but brought to America from Europe in the 1600s. “The commercial guys had a lot of problems with the mites, but the strong hives didn’t seem to have too much of a problem.” In Florida alone, the number of registered beekeepers has increased about 10-fold over the last decade and with that explosion has been the subsequent increase in the bee population itself. These numbers don’t even reflect the bees in the wild or those residing at un-registered locations. It is estimated that there are over 650,000 honey bee colonies in Florida, which ranks behind only North Dakota and South Dakota in honey production. A bee colony report by the United States Department of Agriculture noted an increase in the number of colonies by 14 percent nationwide from 2019 to 2020. All this is good news, but the numbers are still far below where they stood in the mid-20th century. It would not take much to reverse this positive trend. “Last year when we had a drought, everybody I knew lost half their bees,” said Dale Claytor who operates hives and conducts bee rescues in north Ocala. “I believe we are going in the right direction and slowly making progress, but it wouldn’t take much to have a setback if we got some new disease or something like that.” Because three out of four crops in Florida are estimated to be pollinated by honey bees, their well-being directly correlates to the physical and economic well-being of its citizens. Crops that remain heavily reliant on honey bee pollination include strawberries, blueberries, squash, watermelon and numerous other staples. Through his rescues, Benjamin has accumulated over 100 hives – he started with just one about six years ago – that produce around 10,000 pounds of honey. One of the keys is to send the hives to where the resources are, which means taking them to different counties at different times of the year depending on which crops are viable for bee populations. He refers to this process as “migrating locally” as opposed to what the large, commercial beekeepers practice in sending their bees all over the country. “We’re still trying to figure it out,” said Benjamin, who is sending hives to Steinhatchee in the Florida Big Bend region soon.



“The genetic corn that has natural insecticide in it, it doesn’t just kill bees, it kills all insects."

“There, we’ll get tupelo honey and this stuff is fantastic. It’s high-dollar honey, but it’s only about two months of the year then we’ll move the bees somewhere else where there is another crop.” One problem obtaining an accurate count of bees is the migratory nature of the business. Today, most of the money made by large commercial beekeepers is in shipping bees to large growers across the country. This means sending large quantities of bees to California for pollination of almond groves or to Michigan for pollination of cranberries. Upon return back to Florida, there is always a significant depletion in the number of bees, which have not died but merely swarmed in those areas.



“If they weren’t shipping bees all over the country like that and counting those bees as losses, I think we would have a better bee population,” Claytor said. “In the state of Florida, you’re required to register your bees whether you have one hive or a thousand, and I know a lot of beekeepers out there that don’t register their bees so those aren’t counted in the statistics.” Benjamin and Claytor are a microcosm of the upward tick in the bee industry. Both have seen firsthand the positive surge in bee populations not only in the expansion of their own hive collections but in their rescue missions as well. “I know right now bees are doing pretty well in Florida,” Benjamin says during a recent extraction of a large hive on Bird Island. “With the calls I get, I think the bee population is pretty strong.” Benjamin’s first initiation with bees

came as child with his grandfather back in Vermont. He moved to Florida in the 1980s and six years ago made beekeeping and rescuing a full-time endeavor. In growing his hive count from one to 100 he has also seen the volume of his bee rescue missions increase dramatically. It started out as just a hobby, but Benjamin is now the main go-to guy for the county when it comes to bee rescue. He has become an expert on the subject and his observations have helped shape an opinion on how these insects can best thrive. “I find the native bees (as opposed to commercially bred bees) to be a lot more docile, cleaner and in better shape. They’ve got it down where they know how to survive – the bees that you bring in and the queens you buy are not always that good.” Claytor certainly concurs with that sentiment, stating, “My observation is that those swarm queens are more vibrant than those domestic queens. The swarm queens outperform as far as laying (eggs) and producing bees than the domesticated ones.” He notes that the state requires beekeepers who catch queens that swarm are to kill them as opposed to setting up hives with them, but that is not always the best policy. The fear of Africanized bees, known commonly as “killer bees” for their aggressive nature, has encouraged this policy, but Claytor says this far north sightings are extremely rare if any at all. To be certain, when he captures a queen, he constantly observes the hive for any unusually aggressive behavior, but so far he has not come across any that would suggest Africanized bees in these parts. Claytor’s foray into beekeeping and rescue started as a simple desire to produce his own honey for green tea he drank. Maintaining a few hives whet his appetite for more knowledge on the subject and he has since been through the University of Florida’s master beekeeper program and started his own club, Backyard Beekeepers. On a recent rescue in Silver Springs Shores, Claytor came upon a monster hive as proof honey bees are thriving in the wild here. From an old shed he discovered a hive beneath the floor that measured 10 feet by 2 feet with approximately 300,000 bees – all at

the service of one hardworking queen. “It was the most perfect rectangle, about a foot deep and three inches thick – just a beautiful honeycomb. All the way back it had nothing but brood and eggs and bees. That was the most adventurous one I’ve had.” Local beekeepers such as Benjamin and Claytor serve as the human element to maintaining and expanding bee populations; the rest has been up to the bees themselves which have had to overcome numerous threats thrown at them from nature and man. Since their peak populations in the 1940s, bees have had to battle mainly the varroa mite, which burrows into bees and can cause major depletions, and hive beetles that prey easily on weaker hives. Thanks to their natural adaptive capabilities, bees have been able to stave off these predators along with the help of human maintenance. There have been fears recently of those Africanized bees and of large “murder hornets,” but neither has been relevant in Florida up to now. The issue of pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, presents a much more complex problem. Still a debate among experts as to the level of damage caused by these chemicals to pollinators, beekeepers on the whole are more than just wary of their close proximities to hives. “They will kill a hive,” Benjamin says of insecticides. “If it gets into the honey, the bees will feed that back to the young, the young die and the hive dies. “The genetic corn that has natural insecticide in it, it doesn’t just kill bees, it kills all insects. So that’s one of the worst things that’s happened. The corn is okay, but everything else suffers.” While neonicotinoids have been largely banned in Europe due mainly to the effect on honey bees, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled out banning the chemicals while instituting certain protections and management procedures. Claytor says he is confident that beekeepers can avoid harmful pesticides and that registering the bees is part of the protection. “In the state of Florida, one of the reasons you want to register your bees is because you go into the (Department of Transportation) database,” Claytor explained. “When the DOT goes out and sprays for mosquitoes and other pests, if you’re in that data-

Meet Our Honey Bee!

base they will not spray in your area. “The state, and the government as a whole, is very well aware of what is going on with bees and has been very supportive.” As for Colony Collapse Disorder, in which whole hives disappear seemingly overnight without a trace, no real answers have come forth. Theories range from the aforementioned mites, diseases and chemical toxins in the environment to unknown pests and poor genetic diversity. Benjamin and Claytor have their hypotheses as well: “Bad beekeeping,” claims Benjamin for CCD. “I don’t have any trouble with it. I deal with mostly native bees and they’ve learned to take care of themselves.” “From my own personal observations, it seems to do with resource availability,” says Claytor. “When we were losing bees last

The newest member of the Ocala Magazine team will soon be standing guard in front its office on Fort King Street: Honey Bee. Honey Bee represents OM’s commitment not just to Ocala’s growing artistic flare but also the charitable spirit of this town and the recognition of our environmental concerns. OM and its publisher Philip Glassman are proud that this is the only media organization to have purchased a horse for the Marion Cultural Alliance’s Horse Fever project. Most of all, though, Honey Bee is wonderful to look at! Artist Christian Stanley created Honey Bee for the third installment of the project and brought home a sweet masterpiece, one that stands as beautiful art but means so much more – it is a reminder of nature’s fragility and the chain of life in which every link is vital to the wellbeing of all others. With bee populations back on the rise, it’s important to keep this momentum going and we hope in some small way that Honey Bee can stand as a reminder and a monument to the vital work done by these six-legged miracle workers!

spring, we were constantly discussing it. When a whole hive just gets up and leaves, that’s not predators or anything like that coming in there and destroying them; these bees left for a reason. They’re probably looking for resources.” The bees need the resources and the resources need the bees, which have shown remarkable abilities to adapt to even the direst of circumstances thrown at them. But as the bees go, so do the fruits and vegetables in this most vital link in the chain of agricultural production and so far it seems the future looks good thanks to their remarkable resiliency. From the large commercial beekeepers to the bee hobbyist, attention has heightened in this industry which exists not merely as an economic engine but for human survival itself.




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Horse Fever How a feel-good public art project has transformed our city BY BRAD ROGERS PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH DEMILIO




o one is quite sure where the name Horse Fever came from. Whatever its origin, over the past 20 years, it has become a household name in Ocala – and it has changed not only the face of the community, but its socioeconomic dynamic as well.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the original Horse Fever, and to celebrate the Marion Cultural Alliance and the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association have teamed up to bring the community Horse Fever 20/20, both to further grow the herd of colorful and unique horses on display around the Ocala/Marion County and to raise $500,000 for artists, art organizations and their programs. To say Horse Fever has had an impact on Ocala/Marion County is an understatement. It has ignited a veritable explosion of public art. In helping expand the arts and create an arts friendly environment, artists now are actually migrating to Ocala to pursue their craft. It has brought Ocala’s world-famous equine community together with its non-equine community like never before. It has changed the way government looks at development. Horse Fever was born in 2001, led by Laurie Zink and Paula King. They saw a need to help area arts organizations and proposed Horse Fever, based on what other communities had done. The idea was embraced. Of course, during the rollout of Horse Fever 9/11 happened. It was just the first instance of seemingly bad timing by the Horse Fever franchise. “The first one we did, 9/11 had just hap-

Honey Bee

Over the yearas, MCA has raised $2.5 million for the community arts, through not just Horse Fever but also donations, souvenir sales and grants. pened,” Zink said. “The second one (in 2010) was during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. So, for the third one, it comes along during a worldwide pandemic.” No matter. Each time Horse Fever entered a new chapter, local businesses and governments embraced it. Each time it was a success. Yes, the number of horses has declined each time – 53 in 2001, 31 in 2010 and 16 this year – but, as Marion Cultural Alliance Executive Director Jaye Baillie pointed out, each has been a success that boosted the arts throughout the community. “It really is something that has generated a lot of civic pride,” she said. “This was the catalyst for other public art, to where today everywhere you look there is a new piece of art … And our own organization sprung from this project.” Indeed, MCA grew out of the first Horse Fever, serving ever since as an um-

brella for dozens of local arts organizations and providing cultural arts grants – with the money Horse Fever has generated – to those organizations and individual artists. Over the yearas, MCA has raised $2.5 million for the community arts, through not just Horse Fever but also donations, souvenir sales and grants. Maggie Weakley, an Ocala artist with a horse, Kind Hearted, in this year’s Horse Fever, said those who conceived Horse Fever deserve credit for changing Ocala’s look and its mindset regarding art, especially public art. “No one was doing public art 20 years ago,” Weakley said. “(Horse Fever founders) Laurie Zink and Paula King, and the enthusiasm they showed for this, really changed the community. “And it has definitely affected the community. People are in love with these horses. I think it brought an awareness to people



that this was an experience. And because the people supported it, we did more. It became a synergy of excitement. It’s something that makes people feel good. “Now, there’s so much activity in the arts on a continuous basis. Twenty years ago, that was not the case.” Fellow 20/20 Horse Fever artist Gene Hotaling echoes Weakley’s remarks. “I would say Horse Fever, specifically the first one, put us on the map nationally,” said the retired art teacher who has participated in each Horse Fever. “I’ve heard from people all over the country. Our little town of Ocala ended up on the stage with much bigger cities. That reputation as an arts town has led to a real boon to the community.” Hotaling said that more and more artists are making Ocala their home because of its affinity for the arts. The numbers also back up his claim that the arts have become a boon for Ocala. In 2015, the Americans for the Arts included Ocala in an assessment of the economic impact of the arts on communities across the country. Its findings were surprising and welcome What the AFA’s Arts and Prosperity Study found was that the arts are more than a pretty face for Ocala. Indeed, the study showed that the nonprofit arts and culture sector here generates an estimated $56 million annually. That got the attention of local politicians and business leaders. The city embarked on a 10-year arts master plan – it was just recently completed – and the city started treating public art differently than it had in the past. Ocala Growth Management Director Tye Chighizola said the popularity and success of public art in Ocala, specifically Horse Fever, has changed the way the city views art when making growth and development decisions and attracting new residents and businesses. “I think it has had a huge impact,” Chighizola said. “It’s not just about jobs. What ‘other things’ the community offers matter, and art is a big part of it. And I think Horse Fever was a huge step for us. It awoke people. Because it was fun, people could adopt it.” Now, the veteran city planner said, art is part of the development decision-making process and “we use it as a tool” to create a look, a feel for the city. The head of the city’s Cultural Arts and



Science Division, Laura Walker, who just finished the city’s 10-year arts master plan, said the city is learning public art begets public art. And the more public art people see, the more they want it. It is now a matter of policy for the public art “to be built into the infrastructure” when building and development decisions are made. “It’s sort of created a domino effect,” she said, “where businesses next to public art want to improve their buildings. I like to describe public art as ‘curb appeal.’ I think the community is embracing the arts.” In researching various municipal public art policies for the arts master plan, Walker

Now, the veteran city planner said, art is part of the development decision-making process and “we use it as a tool” to create a look, a feel for the city. Tyrus Clutter

Mark Hershberger

said Ocala focused in on Chicago because its policy was so similar to the one proposed for Ocala. What they found behind all the governmental words was that Ocala, with 60,000 people, has more public art per capita than Chicago with its 2.6 million people. Now the operative words are per capita, but nonetheless what Walker found was that, again, per capita, Ocala has 89 times more public art than Chicago. In the end, however, art is in the eye of

the beholder, and for most Ocalans, it is the beauty they get to behold every day that is most important. “These kinds of art projects are very good for the community because the soul of our community shines through and is seen by others,” Zink said. “When they see all the horses, all the murals, the Art Park, the sculptures in Tuscawilla, Horse Fever has been the catalyst for all the public art in this community.” And it is not just art aficionados who

Laurie Zink and Jaye Bailie Mayor Kent Guinn

Brad Rogers, Christian Stanley, Jessi Miller, Laurie Zink and Philip Glassman

Esta Mann

appreciate public art, she added. “People who might not normally walk into a museum or gallery, their appreciation of art is expanded through public art and their appreciation for art grows.” Today, Ocala has murals on buildings throughout downtown. Sculptures adorn the gentle slopes of Tuscawilla Park. The Art Exchange has transformed an old train station into a haven for artists. New horses are about to join an already big herd of Horse Fever horses. Murals depicting black history are planned at Webb Field. And more is coming.

King, who along with Zink conceived the idea of Horse Fever, said Horse Fever can continue as long as artists are inspired to use the horses as a canvas. “I think the horse is merely a canvas,” King said. “So, there’s no reason there can’t be more horses as long as there is something to say.” King said Horse Fever was a needed back in 2001 because while Ocala had a rather impressive arts legacy with the Appleton Museum of Art and the Ocala Civic Theatre, most art groups “operated in silos” with no coordination or communication. So, King ad Zink set out to raise money for the arts and, ultimately, the MCA. Goal achieved. Now King believes the

future of Horse Fever, as well as the direction of public art, rests in the hands of a new generation of artists, and Horse Fever and all that has followed it has provided the mantle for that to happen. Zink agrees. “The excitement to see artists old and young unite is heartwarming,” she said. “That’s what keeps art growing and changing. It’s exciting. It lifts my heart.” King said the legacy of Horse Fever has yet to fully written, but she believes the success it has brought the community has engendered a pride and confidence that will carry on. “Ocala is pretty proud of itself,” she said. Ocala now believes it can do big things.”





Honey Bee

Artist: Christian Stanley

Lives in Orlando; artist and graphic designer. Inspiration: “I wanted to call attention to the pollinator for Ocala’s agriculture economy. I chose honey bees because of their importance to the agricultural community and the agricultural process.”

Ocala: heART of Florida Artist: Tyrus Clutter

Lives in Summerfield; part-time artist and art instructor at the College of Central Florida. Inspiration: “I just wanted to celebrate the arts in Ocala. We really do have some wonderful offerings here. There’s stuff going on all the time, and more is coming.”

HomeArtist: Sweet Home Carlynne Hershberger

Lives in Ocala; full-time artist and aunt of Horse Fever artist Christopher Hershberger and wife of Horse Fever artist Mark Hershberger. Inspiration: “I’ve always been a nature lover and everything I paint is nature related.”

Hope Artist: Paul Ware

Lives in Ocala; full-time artist. Inspiration: “We’ve had some family and friends who have battled cancer. So, I wanted to honor those who have cancer.”

Kind Hearted Artist: Maggie Weakley

Lives in Ocala; full-time artist and works with Fine Arts of Ocala. Inspiration: “It was because of all the fighting and nastiness we see in the world. I felt like we needed a positive message. The children were incorporated because they are our future, and if we’re mean and nasty, they’ll grow up to be mean and nasty. … We all just need to be kind to each other.”

Clockwork Fury Artist: Mark Hershberger Lives in Ocala; full-time artist.

Inspiration: Clockwork Fury has been on display at Journeyman Stud since the 2010 10th Anniversary Horse Fever. The idea came to the artist after he read a “steampunk” novel, then had a dream about Clockwork Fury. In addition to an array of mechanized features, the refurbished Clockwork Fury, the artist said, also has numerous “go-go gadgets” and 100 gems and stones. Clockwork Fury will be auctioned off March 13 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales’ prestigious 2-year-old In Training Sale, the only horse in the 20th anniversary collection to be auctioned off.



Legacy Artist: Derek Grimsley | Orlando; full-time artist Inspiration: “I was approached by the Marion Cultural Alliance. They said they had one horse left and they wanted to commemorate one horse to Chief Graham. I said I’d be honored. I didn’t have a concept until I talked with Amy, his widow. She told me what he liked to do, and I tried to include those things on the horse.”

Secret Places Artist: Margaret Watts

Lives in Ocala; full-time artist. | Inspiration: “I just love Florida. I love nature. I wanted to celebrate that in this horse.”

Lurking at the Surface Artist: Christopher Hershberger

Grew up in Ocala but now lives in Orlando; full-time artist. Inspiration: “I went back and looked at all the horses that have been part of Horse Fever from the start. I realized nobody had ever done an alligator in 20 years.”

Sunny Daze Artist: Ronda Richley

Lives in Orlando; full-time artist.

Inspiration: “Sunny Daze is really cool. The idea is Sunny Daze has sunflowers, and the history of the sunflower is that it brings good luck and cheer to the world. After what we’ve been through over the past year, I thought we could all use some good luck and cheer. He’s just so beautiful. I’m very, very happy and honored to be part of Horse Fever.”

Horse Cents Artist: Gene Hotaling | Lives in Ocala; retired art teacher, now full-time artist and the only Horse Fever artist to have two horses in this year’s herd. | Inspiration for Horse Cents: “I thought it was clever, Horse Cents, a play on words.” Turns out, Horse Cents will be located at Center State Bank on Silver Springs Boulevard.

Celestial Magic

Artist: Michelle Farrar | Lives in Beverly Hills in Citrus County; full-time artist. | Inspiration: “This is very special to me. Magic was a black and white paint, my first horse. He gave me confidence and taught me about a partnership in trust that you can only experience knowing a horse.”

Firecracker Artist: Gary Borse | Lives in Ocala; full-time artist. Inspiration for Firecracker (horse designed to celebrate Ocala/ Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership’s 2020 National Chamber of the Year award): “I just wanted to create something that was really happy. … I wanted to create something that was on fire. It should make you feel good.”


Artist: Bonnie Eads | Lives in Ocala; full-time artist. Inspiration: “I wanted to show the animals and all the different environments we have here in Florida, all the way from beaches to the pine highlands.”

Winners Circle of Life Artist: Esta Mann | Lives in Romeo; full-time artist and former design director of women’s accessories for Ralph Lauren. | Inspiration: “The concept is a life of a thor-

oughbred horse.” She included a trio of garlands representing the Triple Crown races — roses for the Kentucky Derby, blackeyed Susans for the Preakness and carnations for the Belmont Stakes. There are ribbons representing a horse’s competitive career and clover across its rump, representing retirement in clover-covered pastures.


Artist: Gene Hotaling | Lives in Ocala; retired art teacher, now full-time artist and the only Horse Fever artist to have two horses in this year’s herd. | Inspiration: Slugger is destined to be located at the Rotary Sportsplex. “When I looked at a baseball player batting, I realized his leg looked a lot like the back leg of a horse. So, I incorporated it into the design.” OCALAMAGAZINE.COM | MAR 2021 |



The Giving Collection and Clockwork Fury: Raising Money for the Arts


hen we here in Ocala think of Horse Fever, we think about beautiful works of art that celebrate the Horse Capital of the World. We think of how proud we are of these beautiful four-legged fiberglass canvases, whose beauty and uniqueness have captured the attention of people across the country. But Horse Fever was created in 2001 as a way to generate money to fund local artists and arts organizations and events. It was a fund raiser. And it worked. It worked again in 2005 for Horse Fever in Motion and five years later for the Horse Fever 10th Anniversary. So far, MCA has doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to local individuals and groups from Horse Fever’s success. It is now 2021 and the Marion Cultural Alliance, in partnership with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, is sponsoring Horse Fever 20/20, marking the 20th anniversary of Horse Fever. Once again, the aim is two-fold: Add new horses to the Horse Fever “herd” and enhance Ocala’s ever-growing collection of public art, and also raise new dollars to help artists and arts organizations. “We do this for two reasons,” said Jaye Baillie, executive director of the MCA. “It’s the 20th anniversary and an arts fund raiser. The second thing is it just brings so much joy and happiness to people.” Horse Fever 20/20 features two special fund-raising events. The first is the auctioning of one of the horses, the funky and mechanical Clockwork Fury, on March 16 at the Ocala Breeders Sales. The second fund-raising event, known as the Giving Collection and in honor of original Horse Fever champion and longtime FTBOA executive Director Dick Hancock, who recent-




ly died, is a raffle for three other horses – Sunny Daze by Ronda Richley, Home Sweet Home by Carlynne Hershberger and Critters by Bonnie Eads – scheduled for June. Since artist Mark Hershberger created Clockwork Fury for the 2010 Horse Fever, the horse has been on display as the “signature greeter and ambassador” at Journeyman Stud, welcoming visitors from around the globe. Owners Crystal and Brent Fernung decided to donate Clockwork Fury to Horse Fever 20/20 to help raise new funds for the community. Hershberger was commissioned to refurbish the horse he created and, in the process, “upgrade to 2020 technology” so it can be auctioned off – the only horse in this year’s herd that will be auctioned. The proceeds from the March 16 auction

of Clockwork Fury will be split between MCA and the Florida Thoroughbred Charities. MCA will use 100 percent of its share to fund arts organizations and arts programs, which it has been doing since it was created in the wake of the original Horse Fever. Baillie said the impact of Horse Fever and what it has spawned has been profound on Ocala’s arts community. “It’s engaged the arts community,” she said. “It’s provided support to our arts community. It’s been a revenue source for us, and one of our goals is to give away more money through our cultural arts grants.” So far, Baillie said, MCA has awarded almost $400,000 in cultural arts grants. The Florida Thoroughbred Charities intend to use its share of the Clockwork Fury proceeds to boost its Second Chances Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Farm at Lowell Correctional Institution for women. The Second Chances program provides a place for old thoroughbreds to retire, with the inmates from Lowell tending to them as part of the program. “There is no other program like it in North America,” Fernung said. “The Second Chances Farm heals not only the horses that retire there, but more importantly, the women who care for them, offering a second chance at life for both. With a recidivism rate of around 3 percent, Second Chances is a proven success.” The auction of Clockwork Fury will be the last horse of the first day of Ocala Breeders’ Sales’ Select 2-year-old-In-Training Sale on March 16. There are 300 raffle tickets for each of the Giving Collection horses selling for $100 apiece. Tickets can be obtained by contacting the MCA at 352/369-1500.

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ne of the most popular home trends that rose out of the pandemic has been a collective appreciation for all things vintage and nostalgic. We seem to be longing for home décor and furnishings that have history and tell a story. Wheth-



er refurbishing our own family’s treasures or scouring local vintage shops, people are turning away from big box, mass-produced merchandise to items that surround us with connection, emotion and meaning. Ocala and the small towns that dot our outskirts are a treasure trove

of vintage boutiques, thrift stores and antique shops. While Micanopy and Mount Dora have long been the superstars of this genre in central Florida, Ocala is quickly becoming a contender. Here we explore just a small group of the many local vintage merchants.


The Mustard Seed Collection “Your Unique Vintage Destination” Mandy Bucci hails from the great state of Texas and had a 20-year corporate career until she claims there was divine intervention. Stressed out and feeling the need to spend more time with her kids and be a better wife, Mandy took a leap of faith. She jumped off the corporate treadmill and opened her own business. The Mustard Seed vintage store has developed into a must-visit mainstay in the downtown shopping experience. The shop is a unique collection of jewelry, candles, fine antiques, apparel and upscale painted furniture. They take commissioned orders for custom painted furniture and have one of the largest collections of milk paint, in a wide variety of colors. Her Instagram feed @themustardseedcollection is a never-ending source of inspiration

Tumbleweed “Buying and Selling Great Stuff” PJ and Marlin Jamrock are longtime Ocala residents and owners of their vintage shop located at 122 South Magnolia Ave. They are raising their three children, Jackson, 14; Gavin, 13; and little Addie (Miss Tumbleweed) who is 5 years old, all the while operating a thriving local business. PJ explains how they started their shop: “I was caring for my elderly grandmother who was an avid collector and I needed a place to put all this stuff! Combined with the recession which made thrift and secondhand shopping not only popular, but necessary.” A very entrepreneurial idea indeed! In addition to the shop on South Magnolia, they also operate several warehouses by appointment. You can find them on Instagram @tumbleweed_of_ocala White Elephant “It’s the Thrill of the Hunt” Jennifer Townsend is a native Ocalan and a legend in the downtown community. It’s likely that just about every home in Ocala has at least one item from Jenn’s constantly revolving inventory. In addition to the main store at 120 South Magnolia, she also has the bright turquoise blue warehouse building located a block south at 221 South Magnolia. In fact, this building was her great Uncle’s Gulf filling station back in the 40s and 50s. I asked her what she looks for when buying merchandise for her store, and the answer is a reoccurring one throughout this article: “I use my instincts, buy what I like, what is unusual, and that I have never seen before.” She mostly buys from private individuals, but also never passes up a flea market and “side of the road” treasures. Jennifer lives with her two dogs Bamboo and Peco, and is awaiting her second grandchild.




Two Sisters Vintage “Junktique to Antique” Mary Moody and Toni Yoder like to say that they are sisters, just not each other's! This unique 5,000-square-foot warehouse of treasures that used to be a Libby’s fruit processing plant, blossomed out of the 2008 crash. The flooring business they had worked together in for many years, and still operate in their building, was sputtering. While Toni does the pickin' (she never met a yard sale she didn’t like), Mary does displays and staging. Their motto is “Reimagine, Restyle, Repurpose” and is evident in their shop and they specialize in bringing old furniture pieces back to a new life. They have become well known in the industry for their famous open air “Magnolia Junkin Market” where they host 50 vendors, twice a year. Their next event is April 9-10 so mark your calendars. Check out the details @twosistersvintagethrift



Crystal Flynn Anthony, Florida Originally from Virginia and raised near Colonial Williamsburg, Crystal and her husband of 27 years, Jason, inherited 13 acres of farmland in Anthony, just on the outskirts of Ocala. Together with the help of Crystal’s mom, Kate, they have set out to create their dream home. Along the way they have accumulated a menagerie of three dogs, four cats, five

mini goats, two mini donkeys, seven chickens and have rescued a horse and a pony. Through the influences of her upbringing, Flynn developed a love for collecting vintage items, in particular her collection of classic cookbooks featuring the iconic Clementine Paddleford’s cookbook. China, antique linens and ironstone are just a few of her other favorite collectables to search for. Flynn believes in taking things slowly when it comes to the development of their home. She explains: “It’s a fluid project and I believe in letting a house speak to you. I like to imagine the story and history behind each piece.” Flynn is a regular “picker” at the vintage shops in Ocala and has developed a friendship with many of the owners. In fact, one of her favorite projects has been her kitchen island, a White Elephant find, that she painstakingly refurbished. In addition to the local stores in this article, Crystal also sources from stores in Micanopy, Mount Dora and EBay. You can follow her beautifully curated Instagram feed @sage_house_farm

Jamie Swanson Ocala, Florida Jamie moved to Ocala in 1994 from Valrico, just outside Tampa. She and her husband, Richard (she started dating him when she was 16!), now have a son, Gibson, and a lovely home just outside the historic district. They painstakingly transformed their backyard into a beautiful, tropical, lush oasis. Long before its current popularity, much to her mother’s chagrin, Jamie was always into secondhand, vintage buying. “I used to beg my mom to take me to vintage stores and she would wait in the

car.” Jamie is known for her colorful, eclectic style and believes that one’s home should tell their story. While her career as a home healthcare worker and her family come first, she has developed her collecting into a profitable side hustle. Just check out her Instagram page @8one8vintage and see how fast her finds are snapped up in flash! When asked what she looks for when foraging, Jamie follows her instinct: “I look for what catches my eye and what I love personally. Vintage items tend to be well made and have character. I like to imagine the history and who loved it before it ended up with me.” To find her treasures, she scouts estate sales, Etsy, eBay and is a big believer in supporting small business and shopping locally.

Also Mentionable Wilding’s Antiques 1812 NE Jacksonville Road Ocala, Florida 34470 (352) 816-9844 The Finicky Flamingo 640 NE 27th Ave Ocala, Florida 34475 (352) 867-0537 Interfaith Thrift Store 718 N Pine Ave Ocala, Florida 34475 (352) 351-3541



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



OF OM READER RESPONDENTS ARE PLANNING A CONCERT BEING THE FIRST LARGE EVENT TO ATTEND ONCE COVID RESTRICTIONS ARE LIFTED. 32% are looking forward to a play or show while 26% have their eyes on the next big festival.


38% 38


Winter is a close second at 29%.


Ocala's litter issues ARE TYPICAL OF ANY CITY, ACCORDING TO HALF OF OM READER RESPONDENTS. 24% see litter as a minor annoyance in Ocala while 19 percent think it is a major problem.


Photo by Ralph Demilio

Farmhouse and Modern are favorites of 11%.

According to 37% of OM reader respondents,

downtown IS THE FAVORITE SHOPPING DESTINATION IN OCALA. 21% prefer Heathbrook while 16% prefer the Paddock Mall.




Blood Orange Vinaigrette Photo and Recipe by Robin Fannon — Recipe on www.ocalamagazine.com

Oodles of Zoodles p42 | Dining Out p44




Zoodle Caprese INGREDIENTS

» 1 (10 ounce) basket cherry tomatoes, halved » 5 medium zucchini, run through a spiralizer » salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste » 1 (8 ounce) container mini mozzarella balls, halved » ¼ cup fresh basil, cut into thin strips » 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze


• Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cherry tomatoes and quickly stir until tomatoes just begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add zucchini noodles, salt, and pepper. Keep cooking, stirring frequently, until zoodles are tender yet firm to the bite, 2 to 3 minutes. • • Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella and basil. Toss to coat. Divide zoodles between 4 bowls and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.




o you crave pasta, but are cutting back or eliminating carbs? These plant based recipes could potentially save your diet goals. Years ago I invested in a "spiralizer" which has proven to be quite handy indeed. Having purchased my fair share of kitchen gadgets over the years, many of which have ended up in a storage bin, this little gem has proven to be very useful. The key to vegetable "noodles" is not to overcook them. I've heard many times from folks that their result was a watery pile of mush, not even close to resembling a noodle. So here is the secret: When blanching, sauteing or roasting these delicate babies, it is crucial not to overcook. That means don't walk away! If cooked al dente, you will end up with the perfect consistency, a delectable alternative to starchy carbs that will make your palate (and your waistline) sing. There is also the fact that butter, Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs can make shoe leather taste delicious!

Butternut Squash Noodles with Brown Butter, Parmesan and Fresh Sage INGREDIENTS

» 8 cups loosely packed spiralized butternut squash use the large 1/4 inch spaced blade » 4 tablespoons butter » 20 sage leaves fresh » 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg fresh is best » 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Spiral Salad


• Saute the butternut squash noodles over medium heat in a large frying pan, turning frequently with tongs until it is cooked evenly (4 or so minutes). When cooked al dente, set aside with pasta. • Heat butter in the pan, then add the sage leaves and nutmeg, stirring frequently. Cook until the sage leaves turn a dark green (3 or so minutes) and butter turns slightly golden. • Add the butternut squash and parmesan cheese to the pan and toss to coat. • Top with the sage leaves and serve

Instagram @RSVP_ROBIN




dining out

Ivy On The Square Whether gathering with friends or family for lunch or a night out, you’ll enjoy fresh salads, mouthwatering comfort food, late-night tapas and drinks. Specials include our Pecan Salmon, Southern Fried Lobster and famous baked Krispy Chicken. After dining enjoy a stroll in our boutique where we offer a variety of gifts, jewelry, home decor and clothing. Looking to host a special event or dinner? Call and talk to one of our staff members on the options we have available. We invite you to join us for Easter, our hours are 11-2. 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



Stop by our new speakeasy bar and enjoy our specialty drinks! Gift certificates available. We are now taking reservations for Easter.

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)

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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.

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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!


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.

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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 | MAR 2021 |



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

We are open on Easter Begin making your reservations now. 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

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

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

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) 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



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



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9200 NW 39th Ave Ste 190 Gainesville, FL 32606

(352) 244-8442

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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


“Where is my mind” by Aaron Thomas Acrylic on canvas | 20” x 20” | facebook.com/aaronthomas.art.7

Socially Speaking p50 | Anthology—Poetry in Motion p60




socially speaking



ecently, the annual meeting of the Historic Ocala Preservation Society (HOPS) was held and attended by dozens of members and friends of HOPS. The meeting was hosted at the historic Marion Theatre in downtown Ocala. The in-coming executive committee of the HOPS board was announced consisting of President Brian Stoothoff, Vice President Rhoda Walkup, Secretary Rick Perry and Treasurer Dennis Phillips. Pamela Stafford serves as the past President. Stoothoff thanked the supporters of HOPS and recognized the 2020 board members for their dedication and assistance. HOPS was established in 1980 as a not-for-profit organization. In 1980, there was a proposed plan to widen Southeast Wenona Avenue which would have resulted in the destruction of dozens of historic homes. To address this issue, two citizens, Shirley Lovell and June Jaycox, contacted residents of the area and ultimately formed a citizen’s action committee. This committee eventually convinced city

leaders to abandon the plan to destroy dozens of historic homes and this committee become the Historic Ocala Preservation Society. HOPS members initiated the creation of the Ocala Historic District and, with cooperation from the city of Ocala, the 55 square block area was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Many of the city’s historic residences from the late 1800s and early 1900s remain protected thanks to the vision and determination of this volunteer organization. Now, there are four historic districts in Ocala. In addition to the Ocala Historic District, Tuscawilla Historic District was formed in 1992, Downtown Historic District in 1999 and West Ocala in 2002. Citizens who take the time to explore our city’s historic districts marvel at the magnificence. HOPS President Stoothoff believes that the historic districts promote a sense of community among its residents and offer visitors a glimpse into the past and simpler pleasures of life. Stoothoff observes, “Nothing compares to the relaxed feelings experienced while sitting on a front porch rocking chair listening to the birds chirping or riding a bicycle down a street under a canopy of tree branches dripping Spanish moss all the while admiring the beautiful architecture that surrounds us.” Stoothoff adds that the best part is knowing your neighbors by name and taking the time to wave and say hello. With the generosity of donors and members, in recent years HOPS has been able to financially support dozens of local endeavors such as the Fort King Heritage Site, signage recognizing the American National Thrift Association Hospital founded in 1925 and the David Cook Memorial Scholarship Fund. Many residents are enjoying the current 59 properties that contain HOPS signage in our historic districts that display history such as the architectural style of the building, year

Julie McCammon and Rhoda Walkup

Stephanie Howard and Sean Galloway

Rhoda Walkup, Julie McCommon, Suzanne Green and Carly Lucas

Lois and Gordon Schwenk

Trish Kilgore and Sarah Kirk

Penny Miller, RJ Jenkins, Caryl Lucas and Holly Yocum

The HOPS Board of Directors

John and Karl Hagood and Linder Anker Pam Calero and Brian Stoothoff

constructed and information on the first owners. This past year certainly presented challenges for all of us due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though organized group walking tours of the neighborhoods were not possible for most of 2020, the signs have allowed people to enjoy the beauty of our districts at their leisure. Additional signs will appear soon and HOPS looks forward to resuming group tours later this year once it is safe to do so. Speaking of tours, please mark your calendars now for the weekend of April 24-

25, 2021. HOPS will be hosting an outdoor event that will allow for social distancing. Several private home gardens will be open for viewing during this spring garden tour from 10 am until 4 pm each day. Tickets will be available for purchase in the near future. Proceeds from the event will be used to fund local education and preservation projects. For Spring Garden Tour tickets, membership information, donations or questions please contact HOPS by Email at www.historicocala.org or phone 352-351-1861.




socially speaking



hen the news of Covid-19 spread and we all went into locked down, it all looked a little differently for everyone. For local artist David D’Alessandris he spent his time committing to his passion; art. An award-winning artist, David is known for his use of sustainable and recyclable products in making his work. This time he went for “ One Liner’s “ Which turned out to be nothing short of beautiful works of something similar works of a tropical paradise. These one-liners were created with Sharpies, and he created several during the months of March-May. David accredits his influence on his travel and also has a B.A in Fine Arts in Painting and Design & graphics from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania As well as a Masters of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. We were all able to celebrate his success on February 6th at NOMA Gallery, with a lovely reception that included two bands and several decadent appetizers and libations. To find out about more of David's work, please visit Nomaocala.com

Leslie Wengler, Randi Dugas, Lisa Midgett and Mardi Carter

Kaycee and James Hartley Chris Hershberger

David Midgett and Matthew Wardell

Scott and Danuta Jacob




Mark and Mary Emery

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socially speaking

Horse Fever 2021 Family Day at Transformco STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY LESLIE J. WENGLER


think we can all agree on many things, and among them is that life is simply unpredictable. We didn’t think the first Horse Fever would happen after the horrific tragedy of 9/11. That the second one would happen during one of the greatest economic recessions in our country’s history was no small miracle, let alone the third during a worldwide pandemic. What we do know is that the champions behind this project have gumption, even during the toughest of times. We have the women of MCA and the late E.L. Foster to thank for that. What started as a dream in conversations at round tables has circulated as generations of traditions of artists and families gathering to celebrate “herds.” We all have a fever for something and Ocala’s is for horses. If you take a closer look, you will find the intricacy of the beautiful artwork Ocala has to offer within its city limits even in such families as the Hershbergers. February 13 was Family Day for the 15 new horses added to the special herd of Horse Fever and even though it rained, it shined, especially for artist Derek Grimsley, who had the task of honoring the late police chief Greg Graham. He did it with such precision, yet with grace and compassion. One could tell Grimsley’s heart was completely devoted to the memory of this man and his family and it was a beautiful thing to see. So many wonderfully talented artists contributed to this year’s herd, such as Maggie Weakley’s “Kind Hearted” which was in memory of Diane Palmer’s husband, Whit, who founded Camp Boggy Creek. Another highlight was Tyrus Clutter’s “Heart of Florida,” which featured the Appleton Museum, Silver Springs, the Reilly Arts Center and the Marion Theatre in such detail that it was breathtaking. It was a pleasure to see all the families enjoying themselves despite the weather and I hope you get a chance to seek out these horses because every one of them is truly wonderful and has something of Ocala in it you would enjoy. Horse Fever is truly for everyone and I hope you seek out these horses.



Ashley Justiniano

Artist Derek Grimsley with Legacy

Ava Densmore and Macie Collins, Livestock volunteers

Payton and Baily Reese with Legacy

Jud and Tracy King

David Salay and Artist Paul Ware

Karla Grimsley, Shane Greenway and Laurie Zink


Artists Chris and Mark Hershberger

Erin Davis




socially speaking

A Happy 50th Celebration at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH DEMILIO


few dozen friends and family members joined Ocala Magazine Publisher Philip Glassman for a birthday celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Glassman turned 50. The party was held at the Golden Ocala Country Club and was attended by, among others, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn. Gifts, of course, were appropriate for the occasion, with plenty of black. Dinner and a birthday cake were served.

Cristina Campos, Eric Shaw, Randy Woodruff, Dino Savorelli and Philip Glassman

Philip Glassman and Sharon Raye

Glenn and Theresa Lane

Jessi Miller, Evelyn Nussel and Laurie Zink Adam Hamersky and Philip Glassman

Melissa Savorelli, Madison and Brax Glassman

Philip Glassman and Randy Woodruff

Philip, Brax and Madison Glassman

Dana Demilio and Heather Gillespie

Angelina Miller-Bearden and Jaston Alba Madison, Philip and Brax Glassman

Madison Glassman and Sharon Raye

Laurie Zink and Jessi Miller

Ronald Wetherington, Evelyn Nussel, Aggie Albright, Penny Miller and Carlton Reese

Carlton Reese, Jessi Miller, Randy Woodruff, Penny Miller, Brad Rogers and Philip Glassman Brad Rogers, Philip Glassman and Mayor Kent Guinn




socially speaking

Grandview Invitational at Florida Horse Park PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH DEMILIO


n early February, the annual Grandview Invitational took place at Florida Horse Park with as many as 168 draft horses with 21 world class hitch wagons being maneuvered by some of the best drivers in the country. Categories ranged from single-horse Ladies Cart, the threehorse hitched Unicorn class, Four-Horse Hitch, Six- and Eight-Horse Hitch and junior classes.



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anthology — poetry in motion




Express yourself ... it’s a bonding link Express yourself ... it’s time to think Little words you so seldom speak Will give you all the answers that you need When you were young, you didn’t care Everything you did was a double dare Time has passed You’re coming into your own Express yourself ... you’ll never be alone I know it’s hard to let the words flow Occasionally, you may even have to shout As long as you can let your feelings out



You’ll make the light turn green for “GO” Express yourself ... if you want a friend That’s a right relationship that will never seem to end Don’t judge that book by its cover Words of wisdom can be read in any book Turn to a page and take a look If you’re looking for a lover, I think you’ll discover If you express yourself ... you’ll end up with your lover!



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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! We also offer many chocolate fruits, other chocolate products, and ice creams at our shop!





Celebrating The Equestrian Lifestyle

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Gracious Living in the Horse Capital of the World® Photograph by Ralph Demilio

Everything Equine p64




everything equine

The Horses with the Fine Step BY LOUISA BARTON,


he Paso Fino’s arrival in North America began more than 500 years ago with the Spanish conquistadors, who brought Andalusians and Spanish Barbs from North Africa, and smooth-gaited Spanish Jennets to the New World. Bred for their stamina, smooth gait and beauty, “Los Caballos



Photos courtesy of 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

de Paso Fino,”,meaning the horses with the fine step, became more well-known after World War II. American servicemen got to know more about the breed while stationed in Puerto Rico then serious importing to America started in the mid- 1940s. The Paso Fino is born with a gait unique to the breed. This is executed with style and pride and it is rhythmic, smooth and balanced, resulting in the smoothest ride in the world. However, there are some misconceptions about the Paso Fino breed, because they appear to be hot and to be very high energy and they do move quite differently to a traditional horse with which most are familiar. On my first visit to the United Paso

Fino Farm recently, I was enamored with the lovely horses there. I was so impressed to see a woman in her eighties riding a Paso Fino stallion and another equestrian who rides several times a week, who has had an MS diagnosis for many years. I also met Jay, whose family owns the lovely mare I rode. Jay is a delightful 10-year-old girl whose passion for her horse and riding was quite evident at our first meeting. Jay is a kind-hearted girl who really enjoyed helping me ride her horse, Dóna Blanca, for the first time. She was so helpful and told me she had been riding since she was 3 years old. After just a few minutes in the round pen with Rafael the trainer, they invited me to ride on the sound board. I was so excited and after that, I rode around an open field beside the barn. Within minutes, I was hooked. The smooth control comfort, combined with controlled impulsion and no bouncing, was the experience of a lifetime. When I dismounted, Alei Ortiz, who owns United Paso Fino Farm with her husband Edgar, asked me if I would like to ride

in the New Year Paso Festival the following weekend. I was game to give it my best shot. At my only practice in the Southeastern Livestock ring with the trainer Rafael, I was surrounded by some of the friendliest equestrians I have ever met. We were under a tornado watch at the time and it was pouring down on the roof with windy squalls going through. This amazing mare carried on doing her job and all the time, so patient with me. After my ride, I was approached by the most generous fellow competitors offering to loan me the necessary attire and Alei bought me a proper Paso Fino black hat. On the day of my Paso Fino Show debut, I rode the ring in my class with some excellent experienced horse and rider combinations and heard encouraging voices from all sides of the ring. I saw smiles and I smiled back. It was the most exciting trip to the show horse ring I had ever had! After each time I rode Dóna Blanca, I dismounted and went to her head to rub her on the face and neck and thank her for looking after me. Each time she lowered her head to my hands and I believe she would have got into my lap if she could! The Paso Fino breed is so impressive to me. They are smooth, comfortable, graceful, beautiful and kind-hearted horses who wish to please and I am so amazed by the fact that they are born with the natural desire to gait the way they do. I really love this breed and the people who proudly ride the Paso Fino horses and I can’t wait for my next chance to do the same!



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Ocala International Airport Photograph by Ralph Demilio

Charity: Lion’s Club p70 | Health Journal p74 | State of the City p78 State of the County p80 | Kiwanis Korner p82 | Rotary Circle p84 | OM Marketplace p86 | Looking Back p88





The Eyes of a Child


Ocala Lions Club helps deliver sight to the visually impaired


o bring the gift of clear vision to someone who has languished in a blurred existence is to create a whole new world for that person and a myriad of new opportunities and possibilities. Consider the child who has only known a hazy silhouette of images his entire life then one day walks into a classroom where



the numbers and letters on the wall leap at him and grab his attention as never before. This child now embarks on a new adventure of learning that was not known to exist. The Ocala Lions Club is part of the mission to bring clear vision to children not just locally but globally and thereby unleashing enormous potential from those who were

Despite the COVID pandemic shutting down most operations of this nature, Silent Santa went ahead under the direction of Ron Matthews and was able to serve 678 children.

previously hamstrung by poor sight. “Children are born and they don’t know if they have an eye problem or not,” said Ocala Lions Club president Jim Evans. “They see what they see and that’s all they’ve ever seen and that’s normal to them.” A recent study even determined that 174,000 children age 3-5 had some form of visual impairment. To combat this, the Lions have made it one of their main missions to bring clear vision to children, especially those who come from families who cannot afford proper eye care. The program is called Lions KidSight USA and provides free eye screening for children age 6 months to 6 years and through 12th grade where possible, and in Marion County has made a difference for hundreds of vision-impaired kids. In the 2019-2020 school year, the Lions performed over 2,000 screenings in Marion County schools, identifying 200 that had eye problems and needed testing at an eye doctor to correct the problems. This early detection has not only revealed vision problems, but has also led to the discovery of eye cancer. The Lions’ mission, though, does not stop at identifying individuals with impairments. “Many families have financial needs and they can’t afford whatever the eye doctor tells them needs to be done,” Evans said. “Through our donations, we are able to help them with

that. If a person finds out they need eye surgery, we will pay up to $3,000 for their surgery.” Evans notes that the Lions Club is able to help indigent eye patients with corrective glasses and other costs that come after surgery. The screening provided by the Lions includes a trained Lion using a high-tech camera which detects abnormalities. Because the screenings are performed up close, the program has been put on hold since the COVID pandemic entered the fray in March of 2020. According to Evans, the Lions and the schools are ready to get the program going again. “We’re just chomping at the bit,” Evans said. “We’ve already had a few schools call us and ask us ‘when do we plan to start again?’ and they’re just waiting for that opportunity. This is free and it’s so important to test these kids.” In addition to KidSight, a national program administered locally by the Ocala Lions, the club has also helped vision-impaired children elsewhere. In January, the Lions were able to send 15,000 pairs of eyeglasses to needy people in remote regions of Peru. It was all possible based on a generous donation in January from Lisa Carnes of Aloha Eyewear, who also donated 6,000 pairs of eyeglasses in January of 2019. “We have some folks in the Ocala area that go down to South America and places like that to work with people,” Evans said. “Some of the people in the mountains there

they never get to see an eye doctor, so they never get those problems identified.” Lions Bill and Linda Thomas went to Micanopy to pick up the glasses while Max Bruss will inspect those glasses before accompanying a team of eye doctors and specialists in Peru this spring. Once there, they will perform cataract surgeries, address eye health needs, screen vision and give glasses to those in need. The vision mission may be the most high profile of the Lions Club ventures, but the club gets involved in many other areas as well. In addition to the Lions’ presence at the schools with KidSight there is also the Kids Backpack program which helps provide food to needy children. Before COVID, food would be distributed via Interfaith to children on Fridays at various schools, enough food to satisfy that child and other siblings. Counselors at schools identify those that need help the most to make sure food gets into the right hands. Last year, the program identified 15-20 needy children at 20 different schools. “It’s such a help to those families,” Evans said. “Times are tough and jobs have been lost and they’re not making enough money to supply those needs for their families.” Another special program for kids spearheaded by the Lions Club is the Silent Santa initiative in which the organization brings Christmas to around 1,200 children in Marion County most years. Despite the COVID pandemic shutting down most operations of this nature, Silent Santa went ahead under the direction of Ron Matthews and was able to serve 678 children. “That’s clothes and toys for the kids,” Evans said. “We are looking forward to getting those numbers back up where they used to be.” Helping the vision needs of children, coordinating food handouts to the hungry and providing a happy Christmas for many kids is just the beginning for the Lions Club, which works in cooperation with many other charitable groups such as Interfaith, Boys and Girls Club of Marion County, Arnette House and many others. “We take gifts wherever they need to go from whichever organization we can help.” FOR MORE INFORMATION on the Lions, please visit lionsclub.org or floridakidsight.com.



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Your COVID-19 Vaccination Questions, Answered BRANDPOINT


ith COVID-19 vaccination underway in the United States, many Americans are preparing to get the vaccine to protect themselves and help slow the spread of COVID-19. If you’re able to get the vaccine, you probably have a lot of questions. Knowing what to expect and how to properly prepare for your appointment can help put your mind at ease.

Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccines approved in the U.S. do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 and therefore you cannot contract COVID-19 from them. The CDC states these vaccines have been carefully evaluated in clinical trials and are deemed safe and effective by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) with a full advisory committee meeting review for all vaccines.



COVID-19 vaccines are now available in the U.S., and according to the Centers for



Getting a vaccine not only protects you, but also the people around you, especially those

who are unable to get vaccinated. The CDC offers guidance summarized below to help you prepare for your vaccination, whether it’s your first or second dose: 1) If you’re approved to get a vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider ahead of time. You may be going to a vaccination clinic where your healthcare provider is not directly administering the injection, so if you have questions, speak with them before your appointment. 2) Do not schedule any other vaccina-

Get good rest the days prior to the appointment, especially the night before.

“Aches and fever are common side effects of coronavirus vaccination.”

tions within two weeks before your COVID-19 vaccination. If you feel ill before your appointment, call the vaccination clinic and ask if you should still come in or reschedule. 3) Get good rest the days prior to the appointment, especially the night before. Eat a light meal or snack before your appointment and stay hydrated. Rest and good nutrition help prepare your immune system for the vaccination. 4) Ask about side effects. While some people have no symptoms, others may experience headache, muscle/ joint pain, chills, fever and fatigue that generally subside after 48 hours.

Plan for several low-key days following your vaccination. 5) Plan ahead for post-vaccination care by having the essentials on hand in your medicine cabinet. According to the CDC, over-the-counter medications (like Advil) can reduce pain, fever or discomfort associated with post-COVID-19 vaccine, including mild aches or arm soreness. According to Dr. Jeffrey Fudin, B.S., Pharm.D., FCCP, FASHP, FFSMB, “Aches and fever are common side effects of coronavirus vaccination, and can easily be treated with a pain reliever like Advil.”

6) If your vaccine requires two doses, consult with your vaccination clinic or pharmacy to schedule your second dose. While millions in the U.S. have received the COVID-19 vaccine, availability is currently limited and you may not be able to get it right away. Continue to take smart safety measures such as washing your hands frequently with soap and water, wearing a mask when out in public, avoiding large crowds, and appropriate social distancing. When it is time to get your COVID-19 vaccination, these preparatory steps will help you feel empowered as you take an important step to end the pandemic. For more information about how to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine visit www.cdc.gov, and visit www.Advil.com for more information on Advil.



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any people don’t have access to or cannot afford solar energy. The Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) and 16 Florida cities have partnered together to provide solar power for customers in the most cost-effective way. Resident Cynthia Little is ready to help the Ocala community invest in clean, green energy generation. Like many people, she is not only budget-conscious but also environmentally-conscious. As the proud owner of a Tesla electric car, for her the decision to ‘go solar’ was the next logical step. “Solar is the future,” said Little. “I am excited that my community-owned energy provider is acting and making sound investments that will benefit Ocala for years to come.” As is the case for many Florida homeowners, Little simply could not justify the cost to install solar panels on her roof not knowing how much longer she would be in her residence. While looking at renewable energy options, she learned of the Community Solar Program provided by Oca-



la Electric Utility. This program provides both homeowners and renters equal access to solar energy without the hassle or cost of installing a rooftop system. Instead, the electricity comes from the Harmony Solar Energy Center located in Central Florida. The Florida Municipal Solar Project is a partnership between the FMPA and 16 Florida public power utilities. The Harmony Solar Energy Center is one of two projects that came online in June 2020 and is part of one of the largest municipal-backed solar projects in the nation. A total of 600,000 solar panels are installed at two new solar farms, covering about 1,000 acres. Each solar farm can generate 74.5 megawatts, for a combined addition of 149 megawatts of emissions-free energy to surrounding areas. The agency is building five solar farms comprised of 1.5 million solar panels that will generate 375 megawatts of energy by the end of 2023. That is enough energy to power 75,000 typical Florida homes. The cost of energy from the Florida Municipal Solar Project is approximately one-third

the cost of energy from a private rooftop solar system. “People need affordable, reliable power, and they want it to be clean. However, they don’t want to pay a lot for solar energy,” said Jacob Williams, General Manager and CEO of the Florida Municipal Power Agency. “This is the most economical way for us to meet our customers’ expectations to be greener.” “Many of our customers can’t afford solar on their own, due to the equipment and upkeep,” said Eric Weaver, Director of Ocala Electric Utility. “This project enables us to offer customers who want solar energy a cost-effective way to get that renewable energy.” Going solar is a big decision, and it is important to be informed of your solar options. Ocala Electric Utility is your hometown public power provider, and we are here to assist you with all your solar needs. To receive locally generated Florida solar energy, visit OEUSolar.ocalafl.org or call 352-629-2489.

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ess than two years ago, Waco was struggling to survive. The terrier mix and five other dogs were locked in a filthy, wet shed together, starving and neglected. Now, Waco has a loving forever home. His transformation, and that of more than 90 dogs like him was made possible thanks to the Florida Inmates and Dog Obedience (F.I.D.O.) project in Marion County. The brainchild of program specialist Wendy Hillyard, F.I.D.O. has been a part of Marion County Animal Services since 2015 and places neglected and unwanted dogs with talented inmate trainers and, eventually, loving families. The program pairs inmates at Marion Correctional Institution with dogs rescued by Marion County Animal Services. The dogs live at the prison and are trained by inmates during an eight-week program with the goal of each dog passing the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test, the gold standard for dog behavior. Hillyard takes great care in assembling each F.I.D.O. class, making sure they’re all compatible. “There’s not really much of a science to it,” said Hillyard. “I’m always trying to put together a group with a range of colors and sizes that will all get along and won’t put anyone at risk. I also try to choose animals with experiences these men might be able to relate to, where they can all benefit and heal.” Waco and the five other dogs in his F.I.D.O. class were all rescued from the same cruelty case and brought into the program together, dubbed the “Fixer Puppers” by Hillyard. (Names for the other dogs in the class? Chip, Jo, Magnolia, Demo and Granite – all after the popular HGTV show.) Inmates apply to be part of the program and work their way up from helpers and handlers to full-blown trainers. The men keep a detailed journal of the dogs’ training



progress and setbacks, daily schedule and notes on their behavior, weight, personality and other fun details. The program culminates in a graduation ceremony, where the inmate trainers, new owners and F.I.D.O. students all gather. “I remember it was the first day I had taken off work in this job,” said Bland. “I told my boss, ‘Yeah, I have to go to my dog’s graduation…’ But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” The inmates share their life experiences, demonstrate the skills they’ve taught the dogs, and pass the reins and their journals on

to the dogs’ new families. “It’s a very emotional experience,” said Hillyard. “The men often tear up, giving advice to the new owners and talking about what the dogs have meant to them.” Bland says the experience of taking all the effort, dedication and love the inmates poured into Waco and continuing it was deeply humbling. “I just want to make sure we could provide the best and most loving home we could, and I know we’ve done that. And Waco gives it back to us tenfold.” Aside from initial sheltering costs, F.I.D.O. operates solely on donations. If you would like to help, contact Marion County Animal Services at 671-8700 or visit MarionCountyFL.org/FIDO. Alex AuBuchon is the Public Information Officer for the Marion County Board of Commissioners.

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Camp Kiwanis of Ocala— For The Kids


amp Kiwanis has been the Ocala Kiwanis Club’s signature project since 1948. The camp is located on 10 beautiful acres in the Ocala National Forest and is owned by the club. It has accommodations for 104 campers and appropriate staff members each season. The Marion County School system holds a summer camp with 4-6 one-week sessions each year. The Camp Kiwanis infirmary has now been renamed in honor of George and Aggie Albright. The club was recently presented a check for $10,000 by Aggie for Camp Kiwanis, in correlation with the former Lake Weir Kiwanis Club and the Silver Springs Shores Kiwanis Club.

Aggie and George Albright

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. FOR MORE INFORMATION

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





Duck Tales The annual Marion Rotary Derby was held Feb. 13 at Infinite Ale Works in downtown Ocala. Despite the pandemic, excitement and fun was had by all attending. The pool was procured with many ducks that were ‘adopted’ for the event. This was the second derby held by all Rotary Clubs in Marion County in which proceeds were raised to help children in need and at-risk. Rotary brings together people from all walks of life who want to use their expertise for good while using their sense of responsibility to give back to their communities. Rotary connects for the good of others and forms lifelong friendships in the process. Rotary Clubs are international service organizations whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and to help build goodwill and peace throughout the world with over 34,000 clubs and 1.2 million members. A special shout-out and thank you to those giving service above self to be the difference for our less fortunate children of Marion County. They are Angie Lewis, past president and current Rotary assistant district governor; Lauren D’lorio, president of the Brick City Rotary Club; Tim Dean, assistant district governor and president (he is wearing the duck costume!); and Karen Hatch, past president and assistant district governor.

For more information visit MarionDuckDerby.org 84


Angie Lewis

Lauren D’lorio

Tim Dean

Karen Hatch

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s Ocala’s oldest public cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery located on NW 8th Street, is the solemn place one would expect while also holding a fair amount of history. In 1850, Gadsen T. Thigpin was the first person to be buried at Evergreen and as the years followed many prominent figures and those who were part of some historic times would be interred there. Early descriptions of the cemetery paint a picture of shade trees and the fragrance of oleander and jasmine, but at the turn of the 20th century those descriptions became less flattering. At that time cows, goats and hogs ran freely through the grounds, knocking down markers and fences. Today, there have been yeoman efforts at maintaining the site, but care for headstones generally falls upon family members, most who are no longer around. While Thigpin was not an Ocalan and whose main significance to the area is that he was simply the first person buried at Evergreen, the site is full important figures and each with a story to tell. The most prominent person buried at Evergreen is most certainly Robert Bullock who was a brigadier general in the Confed-



erate army after starting out as captain of the 7th Florida Regiment of the Civil War. He saw action in the Battle of Chickamauga, the Atlanta Campaign and the Franklin-Nashville Campaign. After the war, Bullock began a law practice in Marion County and would serve in the U.S. congress from 1889-1893. At Evergreen, one will notice many of the former 7th Florida Regiment soldiers buried near their general, graves adorned with USA and CSA flags. A stroll through Evergreen takes one to the final resting place of several city namesakes including John Dunn, who the city of Dunnellon is named after. Dunn was an early investor in phosphate when it was discovered there in 1889 and the town would be incorporated in 1891, just two years before his death.

Benjamin Waldo also rests in Evergreen. He was a doctor originally from South Carolina before relocating to Marion County in 1847 and settling in at Pine Hill Plantation. Waldo’s friend and business partner David Yulee, who was chief stockbroker of the Florida railroad, named the completed line’s station near Gainesville after Waldo. One of the largest family sites at Evergreen is the Harris plot. Ebenezer Harris, who owned the Ocala House Hotel where the new Hilton Garden Inn sits, holds the prominent position in this space and is surrounded by family members. He is responsible for founding the town of Citra. Nearly 500 souls are buried at Evergreen, among them Ocala’s first mayor, numerous soldiers from the Civil War, World War I and World War II as well as some of Ocala’s early African-American residents, some of whom were slaves. Old cemeteries can often be forgotten and Evergreen has managed to keep its quiet setting despite the growth around it. Some parts disheveled and unkempt and other parts pristine and dignified, Evergreen is nonetheless a rich piece of history as a final resting place for some significant figures.

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