Ocala Style December '18

Page 1




Heading North ‘Tis The Season To Travel

Thank You! It’s hard to believe another year is coming to a close. During this season, we’re all reminded of how much we have to be grateful for, and I appreciate the time to reflect on those blessings. As a “people person,” the greatest joy and satisfaction for me is helping someone find their perfect home, whether they’re first-time homebuyers, long-time owners upgrading to more suitable properties or those who may be downsizing to fit a changing season in life. And there’s no better place to do all of this than here in Ocala. Our town has enjoyed so much progress in recent years, but it still has the “hometown feel” that attracts many different people to our area. I really feel Marion County is growing in the right direction, and there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a horse person, a golfer, into fishing, boating or the many other outdoor opportunities available. We’re not “typical” Florida, and our area offers the very best of the Sunshine State. What really makes Ocala special, however, are the people who call it home. My life has been touched and enriched by many different people over the past year. For my husband, J.J., and my dedicated team of Bonnie and Francis, a heartfelt thank you for all your support. And to our clients—many of whom have become close friends—we so appreciate you allowing us to be part of your real estate endeavors. My sincere thanks to everyone I’ve worked with and come to know. From my home to yours, wishing you a peaceful, happy holiday season and a prosperous 2019!



For this and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices.

352.347.1777 | Cell: 352.266.9100 | 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.

Sold in 2018


in Pend

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The same doctors you know, the same care you love. Our entire network of care across the country is coming together under one unified name – AdventHealth. We’re here to care for your whole health. Visit AdventHealth.com to learn more.

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Fall in love with where you

Celebrate Falling in love where you live can happen in an instant– Seeing their first steps across your living room. Entertaining friends in the backyard. Lazy Sunday mornings in bed. If you’re not quite in love with your current home, let us guide you in the right direction.

At Showcase Properties of Central Florida, we’re dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. Whether you’re buying your first home or selling a well-loved farm, our team of local real estate experts are prepared to assist you with every step of your real estate journey. If you’re ready to fall in love with where you live, contact us today to see how our team can assist you in the sale or purchase of your home, farm, or land.

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Publisher’s Note A New Beginning t’s exciting to write my first letter as publisher of Ocala Style. I feel honored to produce a publication that reflects the community that has been my home for 12 years and that I love absolutely. I’ve pondered the question ‘What is Ocala’s style?’ quite a bit over the past few months and have come to the conclusion that Ocala’s style is one of generosity displayed primarily in the local people and organizations working hard every day to make life a little better for their neighbors. It’s our collective passion and pride in Ocala, our big-hearted charities, our thriving arts community and our engaged leaders who care that influence Ocala’s style. These people and these organizations create the reason I love living in this community, and I am eager to spotlight them in the pages of this magazine. As you flip through this issue, you’ll get a glimpse of just a few of my personal passions (and yours, as well, I hope): home, travel, old cars, trees, good food and wine, dogs, children and art (most especially art). Over the next few issues you’ll notice changes in the layout as we work toward a fresh, new look that not only inspires us but also pays homage to what we’ve come to love about Ocala Style over the past 19 years. Along with the new departments introduced in this issue, I’m especially excited for you to read three new columns we’ll feature every issue going forward. In The Kitchen With by Nick Steele chronicles food memories and culinary achievements of our neighbors. I expect we’ll share recipes and memories of our favorite food experiences and find a lot in common. I’m issuing a money back guarantee that everyone who reads the column Thoughts of a Millennial by writer Katie McPherson will chuckle and get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a 20-something navigating life’s choices. Finally, in Jesse’s Reviews, from our newest contributor, Jesse James, you’ll get ideas about what cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs you might like to take for a spin. On behalf of the entire staff of Ocala Style, thank you for the support of your readership in 2018. We wish you and your family health and happiness in 2019 and are truly excited about celebrating Ocala’s style with you in the coming months.

Jennifer Hunt-Murty Owner-Publisher









Ocala Style invited four key players in our community’s past and future to share some of the events and news that made this year prosperous.





People and events from around town.

Celebrating Ocala’s newest brides and grooms.











I married my Tinder match.

Happenings from City Hall.


School news from Marion County Public Schools.


Camp family legacy rests in good hands.





There’s always something happening in Horse Country.

Dogs and cats aren’t the only pets we shop for at Christmas.





A guide to our favorite December events.

Holiday picks from the publisher.



Local couple tallies enduring achievements in the sport of endurance riding.







I’m guessing whoever came up with the quote “necessity is the mother of invention” didn’t live in the city.

PUTTIN’ ON A SHOW This local mounted drill team has been entertaining and giving back for 18 years and counting.

The slower mornings over the holiday break are the perfect time to plan a special breakfast.

We spend some time with James McCune, Marion County’s Administrative Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit.

Aside from family visiting and scrambling to find the perfect gifts, what else goes hand in hand with the holidays? Parties, of course!



Your guide to some of our area’s best eateries.


79 83



One visit and you’ll understand why Southern Living magazine selected Highlands as a “Top 5 Small Town Getaway.”










A look at the 2018 Toyota Camry XSE.





For David D’Alessandris, different is the goal. As curator of the Appleton Museum of Art, one of the many questions I’m regularly asked is, “What exactly is a curator, anyway?”


Thousands of Marion County residents have been wowed by The Nutcracker performed by Marion Ballet Theatre at the Ocala Civic Theatre.

Thanks to modern shopping, we can enjoy fresh blooms year-round.

Dressing up for New Year’s Eve.






We here at Ocala Style want to give a nod to the clutch. And you were wondering what to do with that old French flour bag that you had stashed away.

From ride-on animals and games to scooters and dolls, this year’s Great Toy Giveaway, sponsored by King Law Firm, is filled with this season’s hottest toys.

ON THE COVER Photographer Ralph Demilio. Styling Maureen Fannon. Location Redfish Farm.




PUBLISHER Jennifer Murty



Mr. & Mrs. Stiles Owners


William Stiles Owner

Media, Co.

Thinking Of Selling? Call Now! Sell Now!


Vacant house? 2 Mortgage payments?

1007 E Fort King Street, Ocala, FL 34471 Home of Ocala Style & Healthy Living Magazines



(352) 414-4210 •





GRAPHIC DESIGNER Kristy Taylor kristy@ocalastyle.com

PHOTOGRAPHERS Ralph Demilio Esther Diehl John Jerniagan STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Carlos Ramos ILLUSTRATOR Jordan Shapot



Everything You Need

SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST Vianca Torres vianca@ocalastyle.com

SOCIAL MEDIA ASSISTANT Elizabeth Martinez elizabeth@magnoliamediaco.com


ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Evelyn Anderson evelyn@ocalastyle.com

Kyle Bernhard


Skip Linderman


PADDOCKMALL.COM 3100 SW College Rd, Ocala, FL

Peggy Sue Munday


Cecilia Sarco


ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Ellie Rabon ellie@ocalastyle.com

Karin Fabry-Cushenbery karin@ocalastyle.com

Melissa Peterson


FOOD CONTRIBUTORS Randal White Kimberly Robinson-Jones HOME CONTRIBUTOR Suzanne Rice CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kevin Christian Jim Gibson JoAnn Guidry Lisset Lanza Cynthia McFarland Katie McPherson Judge Steven Rogers Nick Steele


DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Sharon Morgan sharon@ocalastyle.com

Dave Adams Rick Shaw Rick Willett


November 15 - December 31


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Publisher’s Picks


Festive Libations

uring this season of decadent entertaining, lighten your workload by forgoing dessert and instead setting out a tray of after-dinner drinks for guests to choose from. This sweet ending can be made even more special with beautiful glassware like the Waterford Colored Shot Glasses pictured here. Stocking up on these delicious after-dinner sippers when the season starts means you have one less thing to consider when anticipating a visit with friends and family. Pictured here: Grand Marnier, a delicious blend of Cognac brandy, distilled essence of bitter orange, and sugar, $33.99. Drambuie is made from Scotch whiskey, honey, herbs and spices, $34.99. Bailey’s Irish Cream is an Irish whiskey and cream-based liqueur, $26.99. Waterford Colored Shot Glasses ($225 for the set) can be purchased at Agapanthus, located at 18 SW Broadway Street, Ocala.






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his past November, partygoers celebrated Puerto Rico and the arts with live music by Ritmo Latino and salsa dancing. The event was complemented by authentic Puerto Rican cuisine.



















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Tax and Business Consulting Services Accounting Auditing

Tax laws are changing this year. Call us to find out how these changes might affect you. “We value the relationships established with our clients and believe that our success results from their success. Our top priority is to provide each client with professional, confidential and timely service, aimed at providing unparalleled personal attention.”

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33 Lake Wood Circle Ocala, FL 34482





Gated neighborhood. Architecturally designed former Parade of Homes model features 4 bedrooms/3 full/2 half baths, plus large screenenclosed pool/spa area. ML#545001 $479,000

If you dream of waterfront views, look no further–located on Little Lake Kerr, Blue Breeze Farm offers 8.2 acres. The 3-bed, 3-bath custombuilt home features cathedral ceilings and a spacious kitchen. With a 4-stall barn and three 4-board fenced paddocks, plus an additional 50 x 60 steel building, there is plenty of space. ML#543684 $649,500

Updated 4 bed, 3.5 bath on corner lot features open floor plan, chef’s kitchen vaulted ceilings, wet bar, covered lanai & screened pool. ML#536249 $455,000

3976 SE 38th Loop

14480 NE 250th Avenue

2256 Mill Creek Circle

Joan Pletcher 352.347.1777 JoanPletcher.com

Valerie Dailey 352.816.1080 Clayton Wagner 352.438.7656 ShowcaseOcala.com

Trish Kilgore, Realtor 352-843-4147 RobertsFlorida.com




12720 S Highway 475

1715 NW 114th Loop

Evergreen Retreat’s 4-bed, 3-bath home is move-in ready! Newly painted and landscaped, this home offers a split-bedroom floor plan, tall ceilings and recessed accents throughout. Spend your weekends enjoying the private, fenced-in backyard from the new paver’s patio, or enjoying Downtown Ocala’s shopping and dining, just a short drive away! ML#545145 $289,900

Gated Equestrian Estate on 10+ acres in desirable SE Ocala, close to the Florida Greenways and Trail and Horse Park. Main residence, guest residence and garage parking for 7 vehicles. ML#546095 $995,000

The pinnacle of equestrian luxury, Bridle Oaks is a gated estate encompassing 15+ acres. With an expansive 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath home offering countless amenities, including an indoor pool and gourmet kitchen. With two barns totaling 8-stalls, wash rack and AC-ed tack room, this property includes a professionally-built riding arena and access to trails throughout the neighborhood. ML#522594 $1,375,000

Valerie Dailey 352.816.1080 ShowcaseOcala.com

Joan Pletcher 352.347.1777 JoanPletcher.com

Carmen Murvin | 352.427.8649 Valerie Dailey | 352.816.1080 ShowcaseOcala.com

595 NW 45th Lane




Grand Opening OCALA EYE AT HEATH BROOK PHOTOS BY RALPH DEMILIO cala Eye celebrated the grand opening of its new Heath Brook office on November 8. To mark the occasion, Ocala Eye offered a dazzling lineup of promotions and giveaways. Drinks and light appetizers were provided, and raffle benefited the Florida Center for the Blind.









Real People, Real Stories, Real Ocala















Ocala Arts Festival






his past October FAFO celebrated the 52nd Ocala Arts Festival in downtown Ocala. More than 150 artists competed for cash prizes worth $22,000. Live local entertainment performed on two stages and children’s activities were presented by the Appleton Museum of Art. More than 25,000 visitors attended the popular event this year.




Real People, Real Stories, Real Ocala










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Full Zip Line Tour - 9 zip lines, 2 rope bridges, 1 rappel, 2 1/2 to 3 hour guided tour. Canyons Express Tour - 5 zip lines, 1 rope bridge, 1 rappel, 1 1/2 hour guided tour. Kayak Tours - 1 1/2 hour guided paddle through our canyons. Horseback - 1 1/2 hour guided trail ride through our unique property.

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SARA & LUKE NELSON October 20, 2018 Photog raphy by: Brittany Bishop Photog raphy Venue: Hilton Ocala “One memory that will always stand out is the moment that the horse-drawn carriage pulled away and I was standing in front of all our guests. I knew everyone was looking at me, but my eyes were locked on my groom. Heart pounding, tears streaming, I walked toward my best friend. That is a memory I will always treasure.” DECEMBER ‘18


KRIS AND VINCE WEHRMANN October 20, 2018 Photog raphy by: Pink Rae Photog raphy Venue: Ele gant Oaks in Ocala “Our wedding was absolutely beautiful. From the venue and the decor to the cakes and the photos and all of our family and friends, it was perfect! We had a wonderful time and could not have asked for more. The outpouring of love we have received is such a blessing.”

MANDY AND JOHN LANDI October 6, 2018 Photog raphy by: Eighteenth Hour Photog raphy Venue: Your Wedding Bar n, Ocala “My favorite memory will always be watching my husband’s reaction as I walked down the aisle.”





OCALA FAMILY MEDICAL CENTER 2230 SW 19th Ave Rd Ocala, FL 34471


Carlos Rodriguez, MD Internal Medicine

Robert Panzer, DO Family Practice

Mimi Balch, MD Family Practice

Collette Mercier, MD Family Practice

Mark Monical, DO James London, MD, FACC Family Practice Cardiology

Allen Winston, DO Family Practice

Karen Larsen, APRN-C Brittani Lucin, APRN-C Family Practice Family Practice


Yasmin Amin, MD, FACC Cardiology

Tyler Lindsey, PA-C Family Practice

Robert Williams, MD Family Practice

Salesia Alvarado, MD Internal Medicine

Adam Alpers, DO Family Practice

Brian Pecoraro, DO Family Practice

Todd Panzer, APRN-C Linda Bellows, APRN-C Stacey Graham, APRN-C Laurel Bryant, APRN-C Family Practice Family Practice Family Practice Family Practice

Corey West, APRN-C Family Practice

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Family Practice Internal Medicine Cardiology Preventive Medicine Geriatrics Auto Accidents Full Service Lab Digital X-Ray Ultrasound 64 Slice CT 1.5 Open Bore MRI Stress Testing


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2135 SW 19th Ave Rd Suite 103 Ocala, FL 34471 ENDOCRINOLOGY


Carly Carrion Olmeda, MD Endocrinology

Kenneth Wallace, MD Amber Starling, APRN-C Deb Scott, LPN, LE Dermatology Aesthetics Dermatology

Ana Sanchez Ferreras, MD Internal Medicine

Evette Hearn, APRN Women’s Health


*Ocala Family Medical Center, Inc. complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.*


‘ Tis

e m Ti




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Overstocked shelves, Too many to view. Our end-of-year clearance Means great deals for you! The elves are on standby, The reindeer ready to go. Call us for service, Don’t worry ‘bout snow!

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first sight, but it felt like my heart rushed out to his car and was like, “What are you waiting for? Get in, stupid!” But Zack didn’t tell his family how we met until a few days before our wedding. When I asked him why he said, “don’t quote me in your story.” So, I’ll paraphrase. He was worried his friends and family wouldn’t take our relationship seriously because we met on Tinder. Which is valid, and something I worried over, too. Most people still prize meeting “the old-fashioned way,” which makes me feel like I should hock into a spittoon and tug on my accordion every time I say it. My message is this: Meeting on dating apps isn’t bad. It’s a distinctly millennial thing, sure, but my husband and I led such different lives we wouldn’t have met any other way. If he was gym, I was library, and if he was online business courses, I was three-hour, in-person literature lectures. We were looking for each other but were ships passing in the night. Rather than shame app users for not putting themselves out there in real life, consider they may be using technology to access new circles of people they wouldn’t meet organically. On our wedding day, we both tucked pins into our outfits. “It’s A Match!” they said, in the same font as the Tinder graphic that appears when you connect. We may not have met in real life, but this man and our marriage are as real as they come nonetheless. Photos by Ralph Demilio

he first thing my husband ever said to me was, “You bring Lord of the Rings, I’ll bring the fries?” It seems like a risky conversation starter—what if she’s not into Tolkien or is deathly allergic to potatoes? But my Tinder bio was pretty clear. It listed my favorite things as LOTR, french fries and Aerosmith. Not much has changed in that regard, but since that first exchange, we’ve adopted two dogs, purchased a home and gotten hitched. Tinder doesn’t exactly have a good reputation. It’s not even a FarmersOnly.com level of connection like “yeah, we both dig rural settings and don’t get to town much.” It’s a notorious hookup app. And as two busy people who hadn’t met the right partners yet, my husband-to-be and I both found ourselves signing up, just wondering who was out there. Then we matched. In lay terms that means we both liked each other’s profiles and could message. He dropped me that line, and we talked for a few days. He asked me on a date. I asked my co-workers to cyberstalk him to ensure he was a real person before agreeing. But the University of Florida cheerleader with the big arms and the blue eyes was indeed real, and when I opened my front door to greet him, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that my life would always be defined by before this moment and after it. I never believed in love at



SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow the City of Ocala on social media! FACEBOOK: City of Ocala Municipal Government TWITTER: @cityofocalafl INSTAGRAM: @cityofocala


OCALA FIRE RESCUE: THE GIFT OF SMOKE ALARMS This holiday season, Ocala Fire Rescue (OFR) invites you to put safety first and gift your loved ones’ peace of mind with a working smoke alarms. Despite their small size and modest design, working smoke alarms provide early warning signs of a fire, allowing potential victims valuable escape time. With statistics showing that home fire incidents tend to increase during winter months, there’s no better time than the present to give and install smoke alarms. Through OFR’s Smoke Alarms for Escape (SAFE) program, homeowners residing inside the city limits can request a complimentary smoke alarm to be installed free of charge.

GENERAL AVIATION TERMINAL GROUNDBREAKING A groundbreaking ceremony for the new General Aviation Terminal at the Ocala International Airport was held Monday, October 29 at the site of the current terminal located at 1770 SW 60th Avenue. The new, 17,500-square-foot General Aviation Terminal will include office space for Sheltair Aviation, the airport’s fixed-base operator, airport administration, a large restaurant with meeting rooms, three car rental service areas and additional office space for future tenants. The new terminal is expected to be completed by December 2019. Funding for construction of the new terminal was made possible through grants received from the Florida Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, airport funds and the City of Ocala’s partnership with Sheltair Aviation. The approximate cost for this project is $6.1 million. For more information, visit ocalaairport.com.

Although having working smoke alarms is key, their placement and maintenance will ensure your family is protected year-round. When it comes to smoke alarms, here are the most important things you should do: • Install smoke alarms at least 12 inches from the ceiling in every level of the house, outside of common areas and inside each bedroom. • Test smoke alarms monthly. • Replace batteries every six months, unless your alarms have a non-replaceable, 10-year battery. • Replace alarms every 10 years.

To submit a smoke alarm request or for more information about the SAFE program, visit ocalafire.org.

OCALA ELECTRIC UTILITY: WINTER MONEY SAVERS Happy Holidays from Ocala Electric Utility! OEU would like to share a few simple energy-saving tips to keep your home comfortable and electric costs down this winter season: Change your air-conditioning and heating system filters every 30 days, and vacuum the surrounding area. » Purchase LED holiday lights, and use a timer to turn your displays off and on. » Check and replace all damaged weather-stripping on doors and windows around your home. » Change the direction of your ceiling fan(s), and leave it on a low speed setting. » Install a programmable thermostat and never worry about forgetting to turn the heat down again! » For more conservation tips, contact Ocala Electric Utility at (352) 629-2489 or visit ocalaelectric.org. 32


By Karin Fabry-Cushenbery And Melissa Peterson

A guide to our favorite December happenings and can’t-miss events





4TH 20TH


The Let’s Skate Ocala synthetic ice rink located at Tuscawilla Park, 825 NE Watula Avenue, is open now through Sunday, December 30. Admission is $5 per person (ages 3 and up) for a 30-minute session. The rink will be open Thursdays from 5 -9pm, Fridays from 5-10pm, Saturdays from 2-10pm and Sundays from 4-8pm. For more information, contact the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department at (352) 368-5517.


The event features a visit with Santa, music, cookies and even hay rides. Don’t forget to bring your own camera to capture this special visit. Check it out the evening of Dec. 4, 6, 11, 13, 18 and 20 from 6-8pm. For more information call (352) 368-5517 or visit ocalafl.org/recpark.


The First Friday Art Walk returns to downtown Ocala Friday, December 7 from 6-9pm. For more information, contact the City of Ocala Cultural Arts Office at (352)629-8447 or visit ocalafl.org/artwalk.






Produced by the Friends of the Christmas Parade, the Ocala Christmas Parade is the largest nighttime parade in the state. The parade will work its way down the boulevard from 25th Avenue to 8th Street on December 8. Start time is 5:30pm, so plan your day accordingly! For details, visit ocalachristmasparade.org.




Happening on Saturday, December 8 at Boulware State Park in Gainesville, the race benefits the battle against dystonia and Parkinson’s disease. You can sign up to become a Big Hammock Race Series PassHolder and find more information about the Season of Hope Run at bighammockraceseries.com.






Enjoy an evening stroll around the lake at Tuscawilla Park on December 14 as the annual lighting of the Christmas tree takes place. The event runs from 6-9pm. Proceeds benefit the Let Them Play scholarship program from Ocala Recreation and Parks. Have questions? Call (352) 368-5506 for details.

EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (AND THEN SOME!) This hilarious comedy is sure to become a family favorite. Three actors take it upon themselves to perform every Christmas story ever told, from the classic to the contemporary. The show runs at the Hippodrome in Gainesville through December 23, and ticket prices vary. Visit thehipp.org for all the details.




Charles Jones’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with the Nebraska Theatre Caravan is making its way to The Sharon in The Villages. A cast of 23 performers and live musicians bring this classic tale to life— but not without infusing a bit of Jones’ personality into it. Theatergoers will enjoy beautiful new renditions of holiday classics like “Greensleeves,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Away in a Manger.” Show time is 7pm. Visit thesharon.com for details and ticket info.




This family favorite event is always a crowd pleaser, and the frigid 9-degree temperature adds to the wintery feeling. (Don’t worry, parkas are provided!) This year’s theme is A Christmas Story. Ticket prices, bundles and times vary. You can find out more by visiting tickets.gaylordpalms.com.



Holiday Gift Guide #1



#4 #2


#1 If your boss has been good: Antique Letter Opener, $12 Home Antique Emporium 17990 NW 77th Ave., Reddick #2 If your boss has been very good: Longchamp Umbrella, $195 Agapanthus 18 SW Broadway St., Ocala



#3 For your co-worker: Dog Memo Tabs, $5 Shannon Roth 22 S Magnolia Ave., Ocala #4 For your best friend: Kate Spade Antoine Phone Case, $85 Nordstrom nordstrom.com

#5 For the hostess Mango Wood Bowl, $60 Ivy on the Square Boutique 42 South Magnolia Ave., Ocala #6 For the tailgater Honda EU2200i Gas Generator, $1,099 Home Depot homedepot.com





the way it was

way it was A T R E K T H RO U G H M AR I O N CO U N T Y ’ S PAST



#12 #10 #8

#7 If he’s been really good 18 year Glenfiddich with Waterford rocks set, $99 and $125 Publix Liquors and Agapanthus 18 SW Broadway St., Ocala #8 If she’s been really good Emerald Ring, $2,400 Lady Jeweler 315 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala

#9 If you’ve both been really good His and hers William Henry knives, $975 and $1,675 Gause & Son Jewelers 14 SE Broadway St., Ocala #10 For the favorite cook Menus, Jacques Pepin, $20 Barnes & Noble barnesandnoble.com

#11 For the historian The Way It Was, David Cook, $TBA Pre-order from your local bookstore #12 For the world traveler Upcycled Globe by Pod Crafters, $150 Brick City for the Arts, 23 SW Broadway St., Ocala



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Holiday Gift Baskets

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IN THE TOP 1% NATIONWIDE MCPS has five National Merit semifinalists this year, meaning these students now compete with 16,000 others for $31 million in college scholarships. This year’s semifinalists include Forest High’s Jeremy Willhoner, Vanguard’s William Giliberti and Mansi Patel, and West Port’s Kranti Rumalla and Melissa Stroup. Melissa Stroup

CALLING ALL MALE ROLE MODELS Thousands of dads, grandfathers, uncles, big brothers and other positive male role models took part in the fourth annual “Dads Take Your Child To School Day.” Kids spent more time with dads on this day, giving moms and others a break from the normal school routine. Many schools offered doughnuts for dads as an added bonus for participating. PURPLE HEARTS ABOUND More than 40 Marion County schools now offer reserved Purple Heart parking spaces for local veterans. Schools dedicated these spots with patriotic celebrations, music, dance and lots of special care. Each spot is individually sponsored and serves as a visual reminder honoring those who sacrificed for our freedom.

TOOLS 4 TEACHING TOPS 1,000 The Teacher Resource Fair inside the Tools-4-Teaching store expanded to four days this year from just one day in previous years. During those four days, nearly 900 teachers shopped and snagged $87,390 in free school supplies. The Public Education Foundation of Marion County hosts the event each year and regularly offers teachers opportunities to shop for even more free school supplies every month. WALKING FOR SAFETY Nearly 100 parents and students got up extra early for this year’s “Walk Your Child To School” event at Greenway Elementary. The annual international event spotlights pedestrian safety around the globe.

VIANELLO WINS STATEWIDE Mark Vianello, the district’s executive director of Career and Technical Education, put MCPS in the state spotlight when he was named the Florida Workforce Partner of the Year. Vianello’s known in the community for championing workforce collaboration, particularly when it comes to students and local businesses. Vianello accepted the award in Orlando at the annual Workforce Professional Development Summit.


Jeremy Willhoner

School news from Marion County Public Schools.

Mansi Patel and William Giliberti

By Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC

Kranti Rumalla

Dr. Jay Panchal, MD Sherri Morrison, RN BSN





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The State Of…




ith 2018 coming to a close, we at Ocala Style have enjoyed reminiscing about some of the happenings that shaped our community. We’d like to salute all the community activists that stepped up to the plate and fought hard against the coastal connector project, a substantial threat that would have irreversibly harmed our economy and our way of life. Overcoming this threat, in our opinion, was just as important as all the significant growth you will read about in the following pages. In this story, Ocala Style invited four key players in our community’s past and future to share some of the events and news that made this year prosperous.

The Non-Profit Arts Community By Jaye Baillie, APR, executive director, Marion Cultural Alliance

Photo by Ralph Demilio


he state of the local arts economy is strong, vibrant and growing. We have a city that understands the important role the arts play not only in our quality of life but in attracting companies and a talented workforce that desires to live in a community that values arts and culture. The City’s Arts and Cultural Division, headed by Laura Walker, is a strong partner with Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) and arts organizations, all working together to grow our arts and cultural assets and programming.

And I’m happy to report the future of the arts in Ocala/Marion County is bright. We now have two studies that show just that.

The City of Ocala, along with its funding partners the Marion Theatre, Appleton Museum of Art, FAFO, Ocala Civic Theatre, Ocala Municipal Arts Commission and Marion Cultural Alliance, participated in the Americans for the Arts fifth study of Arts Prosperity (AEP5). This was the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted and included 341 cities, counties, states and individual arts districts. The Americans for the Arts Prosperity 5 (AEP5) study reveals that our nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are economic drivers, creating an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue and is a growing asset in our tourism portfolio. AEP5 indicated that our local arts industry has a $56 million annual impact on our local economy, employs 1,429 people and generates $6.1 million in local and state government revenue. The research revealed that for every dollar an arts organization spent, an additional $3 was spent by arts event attendees, not counting the cost of admission.



The second study—by New York based Martinez + Johnson Architecture with Webb Management Services, commissioned by the City of Ocala and partially funded by MCA and the National Endowment— provides strategies to grow opportunities, assets and access to the arts. The final report includes an assessment of our current cultural resources and an evaluation and recognition of progress made to date and provides recommendations in several arts and cultural areas, including the feasibility of a cultural arts district, a marketing plan and an economically viable funding policy.

Additionally, the district has identified three elementary and three middle school STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) schools. Here’s an interesting fact: Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be engaged in the arts than other scientists. Students who have arts-rich experiences in school do better across the board

The City and its partner arts organizations have breathed life into historic buildings, including Brick City Center of the Arts, the Reilly Arts Center, the Discovery Center and the Train Depot, creating vibrant spaces for arts, music and science. For the past two years, the City and MCA partnered to host the Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series, a 10-week free concert series located at historic Webb Field.

This cultural road map will lead us to our aspirational goal of being one of the best cities for the arts. I also see, as the third leg of this ‘cultural stool,’ the fiveyear strategic plan that Marion County’s Tourism Development Council is developing with their agency, Paradise. After gathering input from cultural groups during a two-day workshop held in late summer, it’s highly likely that marketing for arts and cultural events will be a part of the new, diversified strategy to attract tourists. Other communities have discovered the economic value of attracting the art tourist, as this type of tourist is known to spend more and stay longer in our hotels. Here’s another reason why I think the state of the arts is strong in our community. Voters were recently asked to renew the referendum that provided much needed funding for initiatives, including art and music instruction in our public schools. Seventy-three percent voted in favor of the 1 mil ad valorem tax projected to raise $17 million per year. A portion of the funding will provide 50 minutes of art and music once a week at the elementary level and a variety of visual art and music classes at middle schools.

Now more than 56 outdoor art objects can be enjoyed. There’s a giant tennis ball at the Fort King Tennis Center, the sculpture stroll in the Art Park and in Tuscawilla Park, the 3-D LED globe on the Discovery Center, murals, art panels at Legacy Park and plans for art installations along Osceola Trail. Seven Horse Fever statues are enjoyed by locals and visitors.

The Appleton Museum of Art and the Ocala Civic Theatre are longstanding cultural assets—both nationally recognized for excellence and quality and both treasures rarely found in a community our size.

academically and also become more active and engaged citizens, by voting, volunteering and generally participating at higher rates than their peers. Just look around and you can see why I’m excited about the expanding landscape of the arts. Public art is now ubiquitous. Ocala’s first public art project produced by MCA and local artists dotted our community with life-size horse statutes. The public responded enthusiastically to their first experience with public, accessible art, and through the sale of the painted horses, MCA established an endowment to ensure arts funding in perpetuity.

Since 2001, MCA has granted $310,000 in cultural grants to local arts organizations. Our latest initiative, the Four Friends Fund, will provide small grants to artists. We work with arts organizations providing strategies and opportunities to impact the arts and advocate to increase support for the arts. We are honored to be our community’s arts nonprofit catalyst and advocate for cultural impact.

For more information about MCA or to join us in our efforts to support the arts, contact (352)369-1500 or visit mcaocala.com.



The CEP By Kevin Sheilley, president & CEO, Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership


overing all the growth in the Ocala Metro is, well, impossible. There are so many incredible things happening in this community that even at the CEP we cannot keep up! The following is a description of some of the growth that is occurring in five key areas: logistics, manufacturing, tourism, retail and wages/population. These are not the only areas growing (RealTruck’s corporate expansion, homebuilding, the boom in health care, etc.), but these five areas are all key drivers in the local economy.

Photo by John Jernigan



LOGISTICS The Ocala area is developing a national reputation as a center for logistics. Early 2018 saw the massive new distribution centers for Chewy and AutoZone, both open in the Ocala/Marion County Commerce Park. These facilities already employ more than 300 and 700 people respectively and are continuing to grow into the new year. Also, early in the year, it was announced that McLane Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, was purchasing an existing 113,000-squarefoot facility in the Ocala International Commerce Park and would be expanding it to nearly 400,000 square feet. The construction is wrapping up as we end the year, and the company is beginning to hire the first of what will be 500 employees.

MANUFACTURING Manufacturing continues to be a significant part of the local economy. Throughout the year, the Ocala MSA was in the top three of Florida metros in manufacturing job growth nearly every month. Although a number of companies expanded throughout the year and added jobs, the new facility for Cardinal LG was the most significant. The national company has had an Ocala facility for 10 years and now employs nearly 600 people. They began construction this year on a second Ocala facility across the street from their current facility. This new 350,000-square-foot facility will be open in mid-2019. Additionally, Cardinal recently announced plans to locate an R&D facility in Ocala to support the laminated glass division.

TOURISM Although tourists visit our community for a variety of reasons (youth sports, ecotourism, the arts), the importance of being the Horse Capital of the World cannot be overstated. A report commissioned by the CEP a few years ago found that the equine industry contributed approximately $2.6 billion a year to the local economy. This amount is sure to only increase when the now-underconstruction World Equestrian Center

opens in late 2019. This incredible complex will include more than half a million square feet of air-conditioned arena space, a 3-acre Grand Outdoor Stadium, 17 outdoor arenas, 1,500 permanent climate-controlled stalls and a 400-room luxury hotel just to name a few of the highlights. It will truly be a world-class facility unlike any other.

RETAIL Retail growth remains strong throughout the community with the area’s two primary retail centers continuing to do well. Paddock

“The Ocala area is developing a national reputation as a center for logistics.” -Kevin Sheilley Mall continues to boast incredibly low vacancy rates and to welcome new retailers. The mall has begun making significant investments in facility and site upgrades, including the addition of a free-standing Texas Roadhouse, which will begin construction during the late first quarter of 2019. Though the Sears location will be closing, the activity in this market should drive redevelopment of that site relatively quickly. Market Street at Heath Brook continues its rebirth from bankruptcy to what should be 90+ percent occupancy by the end of the year. This lifestyle center has welcome

several new tenants, and a new 12-screen cinema is now under construction. Lastly, the continued growth and redevelopment of downtown continues to build steam. Several new restaurants have opened downtown, including Ivy on the Square, the Lodge and Sayulita as well as retailers Agapanthus and The Pink Hanger. Construction has begun on the new Hilton Garden Inn, and several additional restaurants, stores and townhomes should begin popping up in 2019.

WAGES/POPULATION The Ocala MSA continues to grow. The latest numbers show that last year our community added on net 120 people a week. This continued growth is fueling residential construction and prices. Additionally, not only did we add residents, but we grew the workforce. Private, nonfarm payrolls (one of our favorite stats at the CEP) grew by 3 percent this past year and showed signs of continuing to accelerate. Growing the population and workforce is good for all us. It played a part in the growth of two important income statistics. First, the Census Bureau reported that the median household income in Marion County ballooned an incredible 11.5 percent over the past year. This rate was nearly 10 times the national growth. Finally, the average weekly wage (another CEP favorite) has grown by 14.8 percent over the last five years. Again, this growth dwarfed the state and national rates over this period. The year 2018 will go down as a great year for growth all across this community. However, this is not the end. All of these sectors along with health care, homebuilding and others are primed for continued growth through the end of the decade. There may have never been a better time to call Ocala home!

Learn more at ocalacep.com



The County Mounir Bouyounes, county administrator, Marion County, Florida


ith 2018 drawing to a close, it’s a great time to reflect on this unforgettable year. I am immensely proud of the work our organization is doing to make Marion County the best place in Florida to live, work and play.

Part of what makes Marion County so great is the generosity of our county employees. We had a record year in both the annual Stuff the Bus campaign, with 18,000 items collected, and the Bring the Harvest Home holiday food drive, which netted more than 20,000 pounds of food and toiletries. Helping our community is an excellent example of the shared values all Marion County employees hold dear, but the help we offered our community over the past year is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to county accomplishments. The efforts we are undertaking today will define the character of our community for many years to come. Below are highlights of some of the great things we have accomplished in the past year. Photo courtesy of Marion County Public Relations

RECRUITMENT, RETENTION & REORGANIZATION Marion County’s economy is booming, which means that the local government must remain creative to attract and retain the best employees. This year, we made great strides by adjusting pay and reorganizing specific departments, including Fire Rescue, Information Technology and Building Safety. Fire Rescue has struggled over the past few years to remain competitive, with many recruits being trained, gaining experience and then leaving for higher wages. The County Commission held an extensive workshop with the Fire Chief in March, resulting in contract negotiations that led to pay raises, enabling us to retain our current



paramedics and attract new ones. As of October 1, all Marion County paramedics are paid a minimum starting wage of more than $50,000. Information technology is a fast-growing career field, meaning hiring is competitive. The county’s technology infrastructure is integral to our organization’s ability to provide excellent customer service. Over the last few years, numerous IT employees have been lured away with higher salaries. This year, our organization undertook an extensive salary study and has instituted pay adjustments aimed at retaining these key personnel. A third area we placed emphasis on this year is our Building Safety department. During the recession this department, which is wholly supported by the revenue

it generates, was forced to reduce staff. Fortunately, the local economy picked up steam and building commenced. However, the staffing levels remained low. In response, staffing levels were addressed and the department was restructured, resulting in inspections occurring within one business day of a request. There have been many comments from industry professionals that our department now processes permits faster than anyone else in Central Florida. The costs of the amended fire rescue contract, departmental pay adjustments and reorganization are being funded by the existing fire assessment, building department revenue and increased general fund revenue. This is a huge win for Marion County, and I’m really excited that we were able to make great strides in these areas.

PENNY SALES TAX The Penny Sales tax has yielded great results this year and has allowed the county to continue completing important infrastructure and capital projects. This supplemental income allows the county to tackle necessary projects for our community’s safety and comfort, without compromises. It’s only one penny out of (almost) every dollar spent in Marion County, but the funds collected through the first two years of the county’s penny sales tax resulted in many projects being completed and many others commencing. Roads are being paved all over the county, with nearly 15 miles completed and another 44 miles in progress. Fire Rescue has received new ambulances, fire trucks and essential safety equipment, among other items. The Sheriff’s Office has been able to purchase a new helicopter, safety vests and more than 100 patrol vehicles. Another major project that positively impacts all public safety personnel is the purchase and distribution of 2,000 new radios, ensuring the ability of first responders to communicate as they serve our community. With an estimated 30 percent of the tax paid by tourists and travelers, this funding is essential to our community growing in a smart way. If you would like more information on the penny sales tax, visit marionsalestax.org.

BUDGETING WISELY Marion County has long focused on living within our means while continuing to provide first-class services to the public. This year was no different, as we focused on maintaining the countywide millage rate while tackling key objectives. Our goal was accomplished, as the county’s general fund budget did not result in any property tax increases. The general fund millage rate remains at 3.33 mills for the new fiscal year. Maintaining the millage rate is a big accomplishment, especially when portions of the aforementioned salary adjustments are included as components of the general fund budget. Another major project was

also funded, as the second year of the Enterprise Resource Planning software implementation received $1.7 million. The ERP will revolutionize the way county departments do business, even creating a customer service portal for citizens to utilize.

EXPLORING OUR RECREATIONAL FUTURE Recreational opportunities are very important to visitors and residents alike, and Marion County is continually focused on improving future recreational opportunities. Our community has long had a need

Marion County’s economy is booming, which means the local government must remain creative to attract and retain the best employees.” -Mounir Bouyounes for a major facility to host conventions, graduations and indoor sports tournaments, so the county undertook an extensive study to explore our community’s needs and what kind of facility we are capable of supporting. A list of potential sites was generated, and the county is currently exploring the development of a facility adjacent to the World Equestrian Center development. Many folks have heard about the pool closing soon at the College of Central Florida, resulting in no venues to host swim competitions. Well, the county completed a study on the potential of establishing an aquatic facility, which would include both

competitive swimming pools and a water park. This should be a self-sustaining facility, and we anticipate having more information in the coming months. Marion County’s parks are some of the best in the state, offering natural greenspace, paved trails and sports parks. The Parks and Recreation department completed a comprehensive master plan, which highlights areas for expansion and improvement as we strive to meet the needs of residents and visitors. These future projects are exciting and something to keep an eye on as our community continues growing.

A NEW VISITORS’ CENTER PROVIDES PROMOTION & COMMUNITY SAFETY This year also marked a big move for the county’s Tourist Development team. The department’s visitors’ center was previously located a couple of blocks off of Silver Springs Boulevard in downtown Ocala. An opportunity presented itself to acquire the old Wells Fargo building, right in the thick of downtown’s main roadway, and the county completed a land swap to gain this ideal location. Visitors are now greeted by a larger, more inviting welcome center right on Silver Springs Boulevard, giving our tourist development team an ideal location to promote Marion County’s wide array of activities. The new facility is also home to the Guardian ad Litem program, which provides advocates for Florida’s most vulnerable children. In addition, the facility provides key public safety redundancy, as the ground level will serve as a backup center for the county’s emergency operations center and 911 call center. Part of this project will also be funded by the penny sales tax. We’re excited about all that the future holds for Marion County. For more information on these and other county topics, visit marioncountyfl.org.



The City John Zobler, city manager, City of Ocala, Florida


he secret to life is not getting what you want but wanting what you got.� The City of Ocala has got a lot. We devote much forward-looking energies to nourishing continued population growth, superior employment opportunities and improved quality of life. However, great care must be taken now to protect and restore the many valuable resources we already have. Through your support, the city can focus on its stewardship responsibilities to ensure that the resources needed today are available for our generations of tomorrow.

Photo by Ralph Demilio




Projects Funded By The Penny Sales Tax Since its approval by Marion County and City of Ocala voters in 2016, the revenue generated by the penny sales tax has allowed the City of Ocala to improve its public safety and transportation infrastructure. To date, city purchases funded by the penny sales tax include new vehicles and communication equipment for the Ocala Police Department, two new fire stations and one new Police District Substation, as well as miles of road resurfacing and thousands of feet of sidewalk improvements. More than $9.2 million in penny sales tax dollars have been invested back into your City’s infrastructure, as promised.

contaminants into the environment with heavy concentrations affecting many nearby areas. In 2006, after a years-long grassroots effort led by Mrs. Ruth Reed, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) found contaminants exceeding acceptable levels and shut down the operation. After minor demolition removed the smoke stacks and several buildings, the property was fenced off and abandoned. Ten years later, Royal Oak sold the property to an investor. Over the past decade, the City of Ocala made several unsuccessful offers to purchase the property for redevelopment to improve the northwest part of the city for its citizens. The investor was eventually

First Responder Campus: Fire Station No. 1/Ocala Police Department

“We devote much

In December 2018, Fire Station No.1 will relocate from its current site near Tuscawilla Park to the new First Responder Campus located at 340 NE Eighth Avenue. This campus will also include a new home for the District No.2 office for the Ocala Police Department.

to nourishing continued

Fire Station No. 7

improved quality of life.”

The City of Ocala celebrated the grand opening of Fire Station No. 7 in June 2018. The station, located at 885 SE 31st Street, is the city’s first new fire station expansion in nearly a decade. Station No. 7 is now home to Ocala Fire Rescue’s Special Operations unit and will also help improve response times in the southeast and south-central areas of the city limits. The estimated cost for the First Responder Campus and Fire Station No. 7 is approximately $5 million.


During the Ocala Vision 2035 process, completed in 2012, the Royal Oak site and surrounding area was identified by residents as suitable for medium intensity residential and commercial development. For decades prior, the Royal Oak charcoal manufacturing plant, located at 1921 NW 17th Place, spewed soot, ash and other

forward-looking energies population growth, superior employment opportunities and

-John Zobler willing to sell the property, and with the financial assistance from FDEP to perform the environmental assessments, the city purchased the site in April 2018. Some soil contamination was found and is in now in a remediation phase. Right now, the existing buildings, concrete and asphalt are being demolished to prepare the site for redevelopment. Because of its proximity to the Ocala/ Marion County Commerce Park where FedEx, AutoZone and Chewy now operate with roadway access, existing neighborhoods and public facilities, the Royal Oak site is ideal for construction of additional housing, retail and recreation facilities. Combined with the new Wetland Groundwater Recharge Park, set to open in late 2019, and redevelopment of the Pine

Oaks Golf Course, this area promises to be a vibrant center that will benefit the entire city.


Wetland Groundwater Recharge Park The Wetland Groundwater Recharge Park is an important part of the City of Ocala’s plan to conserve its natural resources. This new nature and conservation park is a city-owned, 60-acre parcel adjacent to the Pine Oaks Golf Course. The park will conserve existing oak trees, convert current ponds to deep marshes and fairways to wetlands. Additionally, development of this park will create wetland habitats, improve water quality and boost regional groundwater supplies. The park will be home to a vast number and variety of plants and wildlife. A very extensive walking trail system, pavilion seating and viewing areas and a conservation education center are key components that will be constructed to complete this important conservation project. The City, and many others, rely on the Upper Floridan Aquifer for water. Recharge is the water that drains through the soil to refill the groundwater and supplies the aquifer underneath. This aquifer also provides flow to the Silver Springs system. The city’s forward-thinking strategy is to address both issues by creating a system that improves water quality, purifies water that feeds into the Silver River and increase precious groundwater supplies. The City of Ocala consumes an average of 12 million gallons of water per day. The Wetland Park will be able to recharge up to 5 million gallons of storm water and treated waste water per day. Approximately half of the funding for this project was made possible by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management District. The approximate cost of this project is $8 million. This park, which broke ground in the summer of 2018, is expected to open to the public in late 2019. Learn more about city happenings at ocalafl.org. DECEMBER ‘18


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Florida Horse Park

11008 South Hwy 475, Ocala › (352) 307-6699 › flhorsepark.com December 1: Marion Saddle Club Hunter/Jumper Show December 1-2: Florida Quarter Horse Association Last Chance Show December 15-16: POP Cross Country Schooling & Schooling Show December 28-30: Pony Club Winter Camp December 28-30: Gallop On The Greenway (Endurance rides 25, 50, 75 and 100 miles)


Check out these upcoming equestrian events for the month of December.

Southeastern Livestock Pavillion

22232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala › (352) 671-8400 › marioncountyfl.org December 28-30: 7th Annual Stopaniano Memorial Barrel Race

The Grand Oaks Resort

3000 Marion County Road, Weirsdale › (352) 750-5500 › thegrandoaks.com December 1-2: Grand Oaks Combined Test & Derby

Cedar Lock Farm

14650 NW 464B, Morriston › (774) 328-1760 › runfortheribbons.org December 2: Run For The Ribbons Hunter/Jumper Show

Palm Equestrian Academy

Fox Grove Farm 9445 NW 60th Avenue, Ocala › (352) 629-3310 › lynnpalm.com December 1: Dressage Competition & Trail Challenge

Millwood Polo Club

2780 NW 165th Street, Citra › (352) 591-3162 › millwoodpoloclub.com Every Saturday: Social arena polo

Gypsy Gold Farm

America’s Gypsy Vanner Foundation Farm 12501 SW 8th Avenue, Ocala › (352) 307-3777 › gypsygold.com Two-hour farm tour Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays by appointment

Guided Trail Rides

cactusjackstrailrides.com › (352) 266-9326 ocalahappyacres.com › (352) 489-8550 ocalatrailrides.com › (352) 342-8891 zipthecanyons.com › (352) 351-9477 DECEMBER ‘18


THINKING OF SELLING? Treatment of Common Ailments such as Bunions, Hammertoes, Heel Pain, Fractures, Sprains, Athlete’s Foot, Neuromas, Tendonitis • Ankle Arthroscopy • Laser Foot Surgery Sports Related Injuries • Children’s Foot Care • Custom Orthotics PROUDLY WELCOMES ANDREW FRANKLIN Dr. Andrew Franklin is from Essex, UK. He earned a 1st class master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Exeter (UK) in 2002 and a PH.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Sheffield (UK) in 2007. From 2007-2010 he performed post-doctoral research in organometallic chemistry at Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. Dr. Franklin then attended Kent State University School of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland, OH, receiving a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree in 2014 and then completed a three-year foot and ankle podiatric medicine and surgery residency at Mercy Health Foot and Ankle Residency, Cleveland, OH. Dr. Franklin is ABFAS board forefoot and rearfoot qualified and enjoys practicing in all areas of podiatry, including diabetic preventive care, wound care and forefoot and rearfoot surgery. He is married with two young boys and looks forward to becoming more actively involved in our community. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, running, reading and cooking.

Mr. & Mrs. Stiles Owners


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heir love may be priceless, but when it comes to our four-legged family members, many American pet owners spend big bucks. According to the American Pet Products Association, spending on pets increases every year, hitting close to $63 billion in 2016 and predicted to be even higher this year. Although horses are viewed as pets by some, others think of them as work partners, hobbies or investments. Those who consider their horses part of the family definitely treat them as such, and that includes buying them gifts—especially at Christmas. Treats are best-sellers when it comes to horse gifts, notes Marti Haught, owner of the Tack Shack of Ocala. “I think the treats are more for the people because it makes them happy to see their horses happy. We even have treats in stockings and candy cane tubes,” says Marti. “We sell a lot of Santa, elf and reindeer hats for horses. People have fun with those and like to dress up their horses,” she says, adding that glitter you can use to paint horses’ hooves, coats, manes and tails is also popular. “When that glitter came out about 20 years ago, I thought it was crazy, but we’ve been selling it ever since. People use it for parades and rodeos and also kids just wanting to decorate their horses.” One clever company has created a pet subscription gift box for equestrians. SaddleBox (saddlebox.net) offers regular subscriptions and gift plans, so it’s a great way to spoil your own horse or surprise a horseloving friend. Subscribers receive a box every month containing an assortment of items that make it easy to spoil your horse. Each box includes horse treats and several other items, such as grooming tools and products, tack, gear and supplies. As the folks at SaddleBox declare: “You’ll find new ingredients for a happy horse in every box!” There’s always something for the human, as well, such as horse books, decor, accessories, etc. Of course, some horse-minded gifts can be practical. “We have people come in and buy someone a gift certificate for hay or pay on a friend or relative’s feed bill,” says Teri Freda, owner of United Hay in Ocala. That’s actually an excellent idea. Feed and hay are ongoing expenses for horse owners, and if you can catch a break there, you’ll have more money to spend on something fun—like another bottle of glitter and an extra package of horse treats. DECEMBER ‘18



Camp family legacy rests in good hands.


Historic photos courtesy of the Camp family


t’s become trendy to discover your family history. Websites such as ancestry.com and 23andMe.com and televisions shows like Who Do You Think You Are? testify to the fact that people want to know their genealogy. For one local family, such searching isn’t necessary. Their history has been recorded in written form for centuries. On a mild spring day, Gene Camp, 71, and his son, Kevin Camp, 45, sat down and shared tales from a family background rich in remarkable endeavors and fascinating facts. The Camps can trace their heritage all



Gene, along with Kevin and their the way back to 17th century Scotland American colonies in 1663, they settled partners Merritt Fore and Merritt Fore where the family’s name was originally in Gloucester County, Virginia, and III, own and operate a number of Campbell. What this family has began going by the name Camp instead Burger King franchises in Ocala, as well accomplished since coming to America of Campbell. as in Knoxville, Tennessee. could fill a book... Actually, it has. By the late 1800s, Camp The land where City Hall now sits The Timber Tycoons, written by Parke Manufacturing Company was a used to be owned by the Camp family, Rouse, Jr., tells the story of the Camp booming lumber and paper business as was much of downtown Ocala. At families of Virginia and Florida from with sawmills in four different Virginia one point, the family owned 65,000 1887 through 1987. towns, including Franklin. The Camps acres in the Dunnellon area, which was LOCAL LEGENDS in this town bought up large tracts of later developed into Citrus Springs. Fifth generation Ocalan Gene Camp land after the Civil War when acreage The Henry Camp Golf Tournament, graduated from Ocala High School was cheap. Among their purchases was held every spring at the Ocala (now Marion Technical Institute) in 40,000 acres of the Dismal Swamp, Municipal Golf Course, is the state’s 1965. He earned his engineering degree an aptly named densely wooded area from Auburn University in of Virginia that George 1970, and that same year Washington once owned with “I’ve always been proud to be married his high school fellow investors. (The Dismal sweetheart, Tricia Proctor. Swamp land was donated by a Camp. My dad won’t promote When the couple Union Camp Corporation to began their family, it was the Nature Conservancy in himself, but the fact is, he’s a the continuation of a 1972.) legacy created by Gene’s Born in 1847, William self-made man.” -Kevin Camp grandfather, who realized in Nelson Camp, Gene’s great the early 1900s that Marion County was oldest amateur golf tournament and grandfather, was widely regarded as was named after Gene’s uncle. an ideal place to raise kids. a bit of a maverick, which no doubt Gene’s uncle (his mother’s brother), Gene and Tricia raised their children, aided his cause as he became a brilliant Cecil Farris Bryant, was the 34th Kevin and Kristen, in Ocala but spent businessman and investor. Some of his governor of Florida and was in offi ce much time at their house on Lake Weir projects were so innovative for the times from 1961 to 1965. The Bryant House where they enjoyed boating and skiing that people referred to him as “that in Ocala, currently home to Historic together.As adults, Kevin and Kristen crazy man from Virginia.” Ocala Preservation Society (HOPS) have continued the lake tradition with He had a knack for purchasing land was formerly owned by his grandfather, their families. Kevin and his wife, and turning a profit, but unlike other Cecil Bryant. Kimber, have three daughters, Kayla, Camps, lumber wasn’t his thing. He EARLY DAYS Callen and Colbie. Kristen and her headed to Florida where he achieved After the first Camp family members husband, Todd Clifford, have a son, great success mining phosphate, left Scotland and arrived in the Camp, and a daughter, Ainsley. DECEMBER ‘18




town afforded more educational and entertainment opportunities for their teenaged children and was closer to the phosphate mines in Dunnellon. It wasn’t long before Fifth Street was known as “Camp Heights,” thanks to the various Camp family members who built homes there. (Although no Camps live in these houses today, the homes Photo by John Jernigan

building hydro-electric power plants and raising cattle. William Nelson Camp and his wife, Texana (“Texie”), settled in Albion, a little hamlet northwest of Gainesville, in 1891. They had nine children, two of whom died young. It was the phosphate boom that enticed Camp to leave Virginia for the wilds of Florida. In those days, phosphate, which was used for fertilizer, baking powder, sulphur matches, medicine, toothpaste, cattle and poultry feed, was dug from shallow, open mines by shovel-like skids pulled by mules. These early efforts were later replaced by steam-powered shovels. Camp had long been fascinated with harnessing water power, having traveled to Europe to study diking systems and then building a dam in Roanoke, Virginia. When he realized deeper phosphate mining was possible with the use of electricity, he built Florida’s first power plant, the Withlacoochee hydro-electric project near Yankeetown in 1909. (After Camp died in 1911, his children sold the company to the newly formed Florida Power Corporation for $1,500,000.) APPEAL OF OCALA By 1903, the Camp family had moved to Ocala and built a sprawling Victorian house on Fifth Street south of 11th Avenue and north of 9th Avenue. The

still stand.) William Nelson and Texie’s eldest son, Clarence, was an avid golfer who owned a nine-hole golf course on 11th Avenue. The clubhouse he built amid majestic oaks remains to this day. By 1907, William Nelson Camp

was Florida’s largest landowner, with some 150,000 acres to his name.Among his land purchases was an extensive section—some 17,600 acres—between Ocala and Gainesville known as Payne’s Prairie. The swampy land came cheap: between three to 10 cents per acre. He’d hoped to generate electric power there but realized it wouldn’t be cost effective. Instead, he turned it into a ranching enterprise, renting the prairie to cattlemen, such as the Lykes Brothers of Tampa, for fattening cattle for $5 per head before they were later shipped out of Gainesville by railroad. Many people don’t realize Florida was “open range” until the 1930s, meaning fences were prohibited, so cattle roamed and grazed freely. When the elder Camp died in 1911, ownership of Payne’s Prairie passed to his son, Jack, who stocked the land with his own cattle, raising 2,000 calves each year. He planted hybrid grasses and cut canals through the marshes to lower the water level and allow for year-round grazing. Upon Jack Camp’s death in 1938, his sons, Henry and Clarence “Mank” Camp II, took over. (“Mank” was short for “little mannequin,” a nickname because the boy weighed less than 5 pounds when born in 1909 and, remarkably, survived.) Henry and “Mank” purchased even more land,

expanding the ranch to 43,000 acres. (The town of Silver Springs Shores was later developed on part of this acreage.) In a humorous aside, “Mank” Camp pledged the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity when attending the University of Florida. As part of the traditional hazing, the fraternity brothers left him naked and blindfolded on Payne’s Prairie late one night. Of course, they had no way of knowing he’d grown up on this land and knew it like the back of his hand. “He got the blindfold off, walked to the caretaker’s house to get clothes and a ride and was back in Gainesville before the guys even returned to the frat house,” relates Gene with a chuckle. COUNTRY BEGINNINGS It was there on Payne’s Prairie that Gene grew up, working cattle, hunting and fishing. A “country boy” in every sense of the word, his was the last Camp generation to be raised on the prairie. In 1970, the Camp family sold Payne’s Prairie to the state, and the following year it became Florida’s first state preserve. It’s now recognized as a National Natural Landmark. Jack and “Mank” Camp earned most of their money not from cattle but from mining limestone, establishing Camp Concrete Rock Company near Brooksville in 1925. That limestone was used to build Florida’s early highways and even Daytona Speedway. After the United States entered WWII, it was Camp rock that helped build MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and other airbases. Camp Concrete Rock Company became the main source of income for

the Florida Camps, who also owned Florida Crushed Stone Company. Camp descendants sold the rock company in 1971 for $11.7 million. SHARP-SHOOTIN’ MAMA Gene’s mother, Louise (“Weezie”) Bryant Camp, was highly involved in the community. She launched Girl Scouts of Marion County in 1937 and was one of the founders of Pilot Club, a women’s group started in 1942 to support the war. She was also the first chairman of the board at Happy Hearts Preschool at First Presbyterian Church in Ocala. (This tradition has remained in the Camp family, as Gene’s wife, Tricia, and Kevin’s wife, Kimber, were both also chairman of the board.) “Mom did leather work and always decorated to the nines for Christmas, creating intricate gingerbread houses and handcrafting many of her own holiday decorations,” recalls Gene, thumbing through an old Girl Scout scrapbook of his mother’s. Weezie Camp was an avid horsewoman, and both she and “Mank” were world champion skeet shooters. Sadly, she died of a brain aneurysm at age 43 while attending a shooting tournament in Jacksonville in 1957. Gene, who was just 9 at the time, still has the guns she used in competition. RICH HISTORY Kevin Camp looks up from the piles of old photos strewn over the library table in his father’s office. “I’ve always been proud to be a Camp,” he smiles. “My dad won’t promote himself, but the fact is he’s really a self-made man. The Camp family

heirs had grown to such large numbers by the time Dad got out of college that he never fully benefited from the family money. When he graduated, he was supposed to take over running the Payne’s Prairie ranch and the rock company, but because of family disagreements, this never happened.” Instead, Gene obtained a loan from his dad to purchase his first business. In 1970, he bought a small, bankrupt auto parts store, opened Standard Auto Services and developed it into a lucrative business. His investments in real estate and the Burger King franchises came 18 years later. Gene and his sister, Texana Gay, are the only “older” Camps now living in Ocala. Their brother, Jack, raised his family in Jacksonville and resides there still. One Camp family business remains, Manko, a mining company in Holder, Florida, that harvests colloidal phosphate, which is sold as organic fertilizer. Kevin is the president of this company named after his grandfather, “Mank” Camp. Gene studies a photo in a scrapbook of his uncle, Henry, riding a cow pony on Payne’s Prairie. A smile passes across his face. “It’s neat that we have such a long, traceable family history,” says Kevin, clapping his father on the back. In a world where families are too often broken and scattered, it’s comforting to see one that has roots and to know those roots will continue to grow deeper. Right here in our hometown. DECEMBER ‘18




ust call Jeremy and Heather Reynolds the Tevis Cup Couple. The Dunnellon-based duo has captured the historic 100-mile endurance ride six times, three wins each, which probably makes for a good endurance riders’ marriage. “We are definitely a team. Our wins are a team effort,” says Heather, 41, who has been involved in endurance riding since she was 11. “We love competing in the Tevis Cup, and it’s my favorite endurance ride that we do.” “To compete in the Tevis Cup is definitely one of our goals every year,” says Jeremy, 39, who has been competing since he answered an ad while in college to condition endurance horses. “In this country, it’s the endurance ride everyone wants to 56


compete in.” The Tevis Cup, aka the Western States Trail Ride, is a 100-mile endurance ride through California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Established in 1955 and sanctioned by the American Endurance Ride Conference, the Tevis Cup is recognized as the founding ride of endurance riding. Competitors have to finish within the 24hour allotted time to earn a silver buckle. The ride begins at 5:15am and must be completed by 5:15am the following day, which means riding through the night. The Tevis Cup trophy is named after Lloyd Tevis by his grandson, Will Tevis, a prominent San Francisco businessman and early benefactor of the ride. Since 1959, the Tevis Cup has been

ride in Nevada in 2001. A year later, they were awarded to the rider who completes the event in married. In 2011, they moved to Dunnellon. The the shortest amount of time and whose horse is couple’s farm is within riding distance of the deemed in sound condition and fit to continue by Goethe National Forest, where they log 30 to 40 the veterinary committee. miles a day riding three to six horses, six to seven Heather claimed the Tevis Cup in 2003 on her days a week. horse, Master Motion, in 16 hours and 23 minutes, “We compete on the United States Equestrian in 2014 on French Open (Haden) in 14 hours and Federation in endurance rides abroad, and to do 17 minutes, and in 2018 on Cayucos in 14 hours that you have to qualify in Federation Equestre and 45 minutes. Jeremy collected the hardware in Internationale (FEI) events,” says Jeremy. 2004 on CV Eli in 15 hours and 59 minutes (tied “There are many more FEI events in Florida with Becky Spencer), in 2007 on CV Eli in 14 than in California, so it was a good move for us. hours and 28 minutes, and in 2011 on Riverwatch Representing our country, we have competed in in 10 hours and 31 minutes on a modified course Spain, Portugal, Malaysia, Colombia, England, due to weather conditions. Arabian horses France and the United Arab dominate endurance Emirates.” riding, and all of the “Horses are our lives, Beyond the Tevis Cup, Jeremy Reynolds’ victories and Heather have a long list of were with Arabians. and we consider other accomplishments. Jeremy “We have been earned a gold medal at the 2011 and very fortunate to have ourselves very 2013 North American Endurance ridden some excellent Championship and silver at the 2015 horses over the fortunate to do event. Heather captured gold and years,” says Heather. then silver at the 2001 and 2003 “The horse and the something we love for Pan American Games, respectively. connection you have They are also three-time winners with the horse is a living.” of the National Husband and everything.” Wife High Point Award, presented As proud as Jeremy -Heather Reynolds by the American Endurance and Heather are about Ride Conference. their Tevis Cup victories, they are even more proud The Reynolds duo will be competing in the Gallop when it comes to their Haggin Cup wins. That On The Greenway, December 28 through 30, at the trophy is awarded to the Tevis Cup rider whose Florida Horse Park. The event, featuring rides of 10, horse is deemed to be in the most superior physical 25, 50 and 100 miles, will include riders from both the condition of the first 10 horses to cross the finish United States and Canada. line by a veterinary committee. Jeremy has earned “Horses are our lives, and we consider ourselves three Haggin Cups (2004, 2011 and 2017) on three very fortunate to do something we love for a different horses, the only rider to accomplish that living,” says Heather. feat. Heather claimed the Haggin Cup in 1999 and Jeremy adds, “And that we get to do the sport of 2003. endurance riding together makes it all the more special.” “Winning the Haggin Cup is a validation of our training and conditioning program,” says Jeremy. “That’s a whole other special win in itself, and to Learn more › Reynoldsracing.us win both the same year is very difficult. Heather Gallop On The Greenway won the Tevis Cup and the Haggin Cup in 2003. I Dec. 28-30 at the Florida Horse Park won both in 2004 and 2011.” Both originally from California, Heather and Jeremy first met, not surprisingly, at an endurance



An Unwelcome

Sssurprise I’m guessing whoever came up with the quote “necessity is the mother of invention” didn’t live in the city. By CYNTHIA MCFARLAND


fter nearly four decades of living on farms of all sizes, I’ve had more than my share of adventures unique to country life. Some of those fall into the category: Things. You. Shouldn’t. Find. In. Your. House. Ever. At the time of this particular incident, I shared my heart and home with Dozer, a magnificent, bobcat-sized feline. I was working in my home office when I heard a sound from the living room, the sound a large cat makes when scrambling quickly on carpet. I kept writing. The sound kept repeating. Curious, I hit “save” on the story I was working on. As I walked into the living room, Dozer looked up proudly, one of his many cat toys between his front paws. This particular toy didn’t look familiar. I stepped closer. And froze. There is something so wrong about the sight of a live snake on Berber carpet that my brain at first refused to process it. Dozer was immensely pleased with himself at detaining the invader. He was far less pleased when I shut him in the bedroom so he couldn’t interfere with snake capture-and-release.



In the minute or less it took me to run outside, grab a bucket and race back inside, the snake had started to slither off in search of quieter accommodations. Apparently, he didn’t want to be a cat toy—or be caught. Fortunately, he coiled up in fear at my return, and I covered him with the bucket, placing a heavy pile of books on top for good measure. Hurray, snake corralled. Now what? I phoned my neighbor, Dennis, who has come to the rescue on numerous wildlife-inunusual-places episodes. When Dennis arrived, we decided the safest removal method was to slide a piece of stiff cardboard under the bucket and carry it—and the snake—outside. On the way, I plucked my snake book off a shelf and brought it along for identification purposes.

Just last week, I was on the phone doing an interview when I received a frantic text from my friend and neighbor: There’s a snake in my house! As I ran to the truck, I knew just what to grab: a bucket and thick cardboard. (I personally recommend a United States Postal Service large flat rate Priority box.)

Little did Iknow this “snake wrangling” experience would come in handy.

My property borders hundreds of acres of woods and fields, which is where we released the 2-foot-long ribbon snake (thank you, snake field guide). He made a speedy escape into the tall grass and vegetation. Turns out the satellite guy, who had been here earlier that week, never bothered to caulk the opening for the cable that came up through the floor. That narrow opening was all it took for Mr. Snake to think, ‘Ah, perhaps this will lead to a nice, cozy spot.’ I shudder to think where I would have discovered him had Dozer not been on guard duty. Little did I know this “snake wrangling” experience would come in handy.

I screeched into Tina’s driveway minutes later, and sure enough, there in the corner of her hallway was a corn snake. We figure he must have crawled under the storm door, which is lacking in the weather-stripping department.

Amazingly, it took only a little coaxing with the cardboard to get the snake to crawl into the bucket that I placed on its side. Voilà! Snake in a bucket! Holding the cardboard securely on top, we took a walk into the woods and set our captive free. For the record, I have no intention of becoming a professional snake removal expert, but I am toying with the idea of marketing an official snake removal kit. Order your own bucketcardboard combo, just $29.99. Shipping included.





Written by JOANN GUIDRY Illustration by JORDAN SHAPOT

ot a parade or an event that needs a little extra equine pizzazz? Who ya gonna call? Puttin’ On The Bitz. Since 2000, this mounted drill team has been delighting spectators while performing synchronized routines to music. From opening American flag presentations to parades and themed performances, Puttin’ On The Bitz is always a crowd pleaser. “We’re like little girls who like to play dress up,” says Kathy Huff, one of the group’s charter members. “And instead of dolls, we dress up our horses, too, and play with them.” For Fourth of July parades, both riders and horses wear red, white and blue costumes. There’s a Grease-themed routine that has everyone, and every beast, dressed up as the movie’s Pink Ladies and Thunderbirds. Beach Boys music has the group donning Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses and beach hats. Of course, considering the group’s name, there has to be a “Puttin’ On The Ritz” performance featuring top hats and tails, as well. “People really seem to enjoy our shows,” says Huff. “We make and buy our outfits; we choreograph all our routines. It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun, too.” In addition to Huff, current members include Linda Woulf (captain), Josie Sokevitz, Joannie Linsey, Mare Rafferty, Joanne Crews, Hollee Crews and Hayley Waddell. This group of dedicated horsewomen, whose ages range from 15-76, practice once a week at the Williston Horseman’s Association Arena. But practice time is increased to two to three times a week leading up to an event. Puttin’ On The Bitz typically performs at five events and in five parades a year. The group is a regular at Ocali Country Days, Kirby Farm and the Heart of Florida Youth Ranch. “We perform for exhibition, entertainment and for worthy causes,” says Huff. “We’ve ridden for breast cancer awareness at The Villages Polo Field and other fundraisers. We don’t charge nonprofits to perform. It’s our way of giving back.” Puttin’ On The Bitz is also a Christmas parade favorite, drawing oohs and aahs, especially from children. They’ve ridden in the Ocala, Williston, Dunnellon and High Springs parades. “We have two Christmas parade outfits. One is red and green themed, including lights on us and the horses,” says Huff. “But the favorite seems to be our silver outfits, including capes. We’re all lit up, and the horses have lights in their manes and tails. People call us their white angels.” Huff adds, “We’re always open to new members and new opportunities to play dress up.”




Breakfast For A Crowd

Introduction by Jennifer Hunt Murty Photography by John Jer nigan


y favorite meal is breakfast. Not necessarily the kind I eat on the run during the hectic work week, but instead the kind that allows me to linger at the table and reconnect with family or friends. When I’m able to enjoy this type of meal with girlfriends on weekends, we start breakfast with coffee, but when conversation keeps us at the table, we transition to drinking champagne. And voilà—the meal turns from breakfast into brunch. The slower mornings over the holiday break are the perfect time to plan a special breakfast. With a little help from my friends, I’ve compiled a group of recipes that the whole family will enjoy. I think we would all agree that waking someone up with the scent of cinnamon rolls is a wonderful way to let them know just how special they are!





1 package dry yeast 3/4 cup whole milk 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup war m water up to 115°F 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 egg 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 4 cups all-pur pose flour 1/4 cup melted butter to brush on top of cinnamon rolls

FILLING 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 3/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons cinnamon

GLAZE 1/4 cup cream cheese 1 tablespoon butter at room temperature 1/4 cup powdered sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 3-4 tablespoons war m milk




In a small bowl, combine warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and set aside for about 5 minutes until the yeast becomes foamy. In a separate bowl, add vanilla, egg, milk, salt, remaining sugar and melted butter. Whisk until fully incorporated. Fold in 2 cups of flour with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add yeast mixture to flour, and fold in with spoon. Add remaining flour, saving a little to knead dough.


Sprinkle remaining flour on a smooth surface, and knead dough until it becomes smooth and is no longer sticky to the touch. Grease a separate bowl, and add dough to the bowl. Put a little oil on the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place to proof for about an hour. Dough is ready when it has doubled in size. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon for filling, and set aside. Add raisins or pecans to the filling mixture, if desired.

03 04 04 05 05 06

When dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release the air. Roll dough onto a floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle shape. Spread the soft butter over the dough and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar mixture starting from the long side of the dough. Roll the dough tightly into a jelly roll.

Cut dough into 14-16 even slices about 2 inches thick. Place them cut-side down in a well-greased, 9x13-inch baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Once risen, brush rolls with melted butter and bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

While rolls are baking, make glaze. Mix all ingredients in a bowl except milk. Once cream cheese mixture is smooth, add milk until the glaze is a runny consistency but not watery. Pour over warm cinnamon rolls, and enjoy! DECEMBER ‘18



5-7 croissants, split in half lengthwise 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for baking dish 6-7 scallions, thinly sliced, reserve dark green ends for garnish 3/4 pound sage breakfast sausage 8 large eggs 3 cups milk 1 cup heavy cream 2 cups of grated Swiss cheese 1 1/4 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon black pepper



1. Heat oven to 500°F. Spread croissants on a large baking sheet and toast, cut side up, until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool, and then tear into large bite-size pieces. 2. Over medium-high heat, warm olive oil in a skillet. Add sliced scallions and sausage meat; cook, breaking up meat with a fork, until mixture is well browned, about 5 minutes. 3. In a large bowl, toss together croissants and sausage mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese, salt and pepper. 4. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Spread croissant mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Pour egg mixture into pan, pressing croissants down gently to help absorb the liquid. Cover pan with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. 5. To bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle extra grated cheese over the top of the casserole, if you’d like. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, around 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, and then add sliced scallion tops before serving.


2 Granny Smith apples, skin on 2 kiwis 2 cups seedless green grapes 1 medium-size ripe honeydew melon 1 cup fresh mint, minced 1/2 cup lime juice

1. Cut apples, kiwis and honeydew melon into bite-sized pieces, and put in bowl. 2. Combine minced mint, juices and sugar; toss gently with fruit to combine thoroughly. 3. Chill in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.

1/2 cup lemon juice 3 tablespoons sugar 1 pint blackber ries

4. When ready to serve, toss blackberries on top and garnish with fresh mint.

2 sprigs fresh mint






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udge McCune has a congenial nature that makes you feel instantly at ease. He is a serious, yet passionate man with a great big love of food, so much so that he repeats some version of “I really do love to eat!” five separate times during our visit—a visit that began with a fascinating culinary oration, in which he extolled the many virtues of food, some treasured memories and favorite dishes. And although he readily admits to not being much of a cook himself, his passion for food runs deep. “For me, food is about relationships and occasions,” he explains. “Food is also communal in that it often takes place with other people. That adds real value and significance to the food itself.” McCune is quick to point



French toast,” McCune recalls. “When we get together for our out the distinction between eating and actually dining. family reunion every year, we all have breakfast together. My “Eating is just throwing fuel in the car to get down the dad also made what he called Eggs McCune, which is basically road,” he asserts. “Dining is making a moment out of it and savoring it. Whether that be the preparation, the aromas or the a poached egg with a piece of Canadian bacon and this special cheese sauce on an English muffin. Now we make it together as fun that can be a part of the process. And food has an element a family. I’m the egg poacher!” of magic to it. Two people can take the same recipe and the Another family tradition for the McCunes were birthday dinners. same ingredients and have totally different outcomes.” “If it was your birthday, you got to choose what you were That same magic can be traced back to his parents’ desire having and where it was going to be, either at home or out at to give him and his siblings a childhood rooted in experiences a restaurant. Those dinners were really special for us kids but and traditions. also for my parents,” he says. “There’s this one funny memory “It was very important to my mother in particular, who had I have about a particular birthday dinner we had for my dad. grown up as an only child, that we hold our evening meal as My brother and I had taken it upon ourselves to make the cake. almost sacrosanct,” he recalls. “We were expected to be home When it was done, I’d say that thing was every night from 6 to 6:45 for dinner. probably more frosting than cake, as half There were no phone calls or TV “Eating is just of one of the layers was still stuck in the allowed. It was just us sitting around pan. As you can imagine, the top of the the table. My mom put so much cake was really sloped, and so I got an effort in—it was part of her love throwing fuel in the extra can of frosting and tried to make it language.” look even and smooth. We had no idea how When asked car to get down the old he was, so we had a mess of candles about some of the all over it. And then the moment came, memorable meals road. Dining is making and my brother turned off the dining they shared room lights. I walked through the swinging over that table a moment out of it.” door, between the kitchen and the dining he says, “My room, and somehow I stumbled. The cake mother’s -Judge James McCune fell and hit my Dad first on his chest and Spanish rice, then tumbled down into his lap,” he her stuffed recalls with a laugh. “I’ll never forget flank steak seeing that mess in his lap and one solitary candle still and her chili are some of my favorites. burning.” I’ve actually been judging the local chili His all-time favorite meal? cook-off that happens every fall, and “Thanksgiving dinner! It’s my favorite. people bring in all these different entries. And probably, if I thought about it, it’s not I like to see what they’ve come up with and because turkey is the tastiest stuff in the appreciate it, but in the back of my mind I think, world. It’s the association to all the ‘It’s just not my mom’s chili,’” he confesses. Over the course of our chat, he calls out two other favorites. memories of our family gathered around the table and the “My mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes. So good!” he says longingly. “And her Key lime pie! When I think of any one joy in the room. My parents would of those, it brings a smile to my face.” start with And although his mom was the principal cook during the the turkey week, his late father had his own impressive set of culinary skills. around 6 “He grilled all weekend. And every Sunday when we’d get [o’clock] up, Dad would make us eggs and bacon, pancakes, waffles or



in the morning, and as the day would go on, they would be cooking, and that smell—I’ll never forget it. I wish I could replicate it in a spray.” His good table manners he credits to his grandmother. “My nana made a point of wanting us to learn proper manners and etiquette at the table,” he reveals. “It was things like, when you’re a guest, you let the hostess go first and you take your cues from her. It’s not as though we lived like Downton Abbey or anything, but there’s something to be said for good table manners.” She was also a formidable cook in her own right. “We grew up in New Jersey, and my nana used to come from Indiana to visit about four times a year,” he recalls. “When she’d come, she’d make this one dish that her grandmother taught her to make. It was pan-fried steak with milk gravy and sliced potatoes. It was strictly meat and potatoes, ‘stick to your bones’ and just the best thing in the world on those dreary winter nights. The house would be filled with this wonderful aroma. She’s been gone a long time, and I haven’t had it in so many years, but I will remember that forever.” As for fresh culinary adventures, “After 20 years of marriage, my wife, Jessica, and I have been doing something new,” he reports. “We order meals from a company that sends you this box with all the pre-measured ingredients and these elaborate instructions,” he explains. “Some are simple, and some are more complex. We’re getting better, but it’s been a bit like the Keystone Cops at times. It’s been a fun adventure for us, but we’ve had some frustration as well. We’re definitely willing and able to survive a few more sessions of cooking like that together!” DECEMBER ‘18


All I Want For Christmas

Is A Good DD


side from family visiting, scrambling to find the perfect gifts and plenty of comfort food, what else goes hand in hand with the holidays? Parties, of course! And although it’s wonderful to spend time with friends and family at seasonal gatherings, a night of merry-making can quickly turn tragic if you or a loved one chooses to drink and drive. During 2017, 714 people were arrested or cited in Marion County for driving under the influence (DUI), according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher are considered alcohol-impaired by law, and there tend to be more of them around the holidays, according to local law enforcement. “Accidents do go up due to holiday parties, family traveling in and out of town, [and] family gatherings,” says Gary Miller, corporal with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. In Cpl. Miller’s 19 years of service, he has made more than 1,100 DUI arrests. Cpl. Miller says MCSO and the Ocala Police Department are aware that festivities during this season make drinking and driving more likely and actively combat those dangers by placing more officers on patrol who are specifically watching for signs of impaired driving.



Photo by Esther Diehl


“We look for different signs besides just weaving. If we see a driver following too closely, driving without headlights or speeding, we may think someone is impaired.” Of course, the only safe way to drink at a holiday party is to ensure whoever drives you home hasn’t been drinking at all. “Besides taxis, Lyft and Uber, I always tell people to have a designated driver. I’d like to emphasize that that is not the person who drinks the least—it’s someone who doesn’t drink at all. I’ve arrested many ‘DDs’,” Cpl. Miller says. “Having a plan before you go out is so important. Make a plan so you don’t have to drive home. You can use another service or have a DD.”

Did you catch your designated driver mid-champagne toast? Here’s who to call: Uber: Download this free app, set up a payment method before your night out, and you’ll always have access to a safe ride home. Lyft: All the perks of Uber, plus having both apps ensures a driver from one or the other will be available. Local taxi companies: Apps aren’t your thing? Google “Ocala FL taxi service,” and jot down a few phone numbers in advance.



MURANO ARMADA NISSAN of OCALA “The New Leader in Customer Service”


PATHFINDER “You cannot have a better buying experience!” —Ted Lindsay

Doing Business The Right Way, Every Day! Serving Our Community For Over 38 Years!

Sales Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm | Service Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am-6pm, Sat 8am-5pm

2060 SW College Rd Ocala, FL 34471 | 352-622-4111 or Toll Free 800-342-3008





axby’s has come a long way since childhood buddies Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley opened the first location in Statesboro, Georgia, in 1990. The restaurant’s overwhelming success eventually led to Zaxby’s franchises across the Southeast and beyond, with the brand currently in 17 states. Here in Florida, franchise owner Christi Adair now has five locations in Ocala, plus another in Wildwood and one in Tampa. “It’s amazing to be a Zaxby’s owner, because I love the brand so much,” says Christi, whose first store opened in Ocala in May 2002. Her latest opened in February 2018 on North Pine Avenue. If you’ve never eaten at a

Zaxby’s, you should know the menu boasts much more than their incredibly popular chicken fingers and wings. Take, for instance, their Zalads®, which customers rave about. “What many people don’t know is the salads are cut fresh, in store, from fresh produce every day,” notes Erik Danetz, Director of Operations, who has worked with Christi in Ocala for 13 years and oversees all seven of her Zaxby’s locations. Zaxby’s is great for family dining, especially if you take advantage of Kids’ Night every Tuesday. With the purchase of a single adult meal, you get up to two kid’s meals for just 99 cents each. Plus, children can get artistic on a Zaxby’s coloring page with a chance to win a free kid’s meal. “We’re also planning some fun new activities and offerings on Kids’ Night in the near future, so stay tuned,” adds Erik. He’s not the only person in management to have been with Christi’s stores for well over a decade. District Managers Marie Stein and Courtney Danetz and Owner’s Assistant Tylor Chaffin

Marie Stein, Erik Danetz, Courtney Danetz and Tylor Chaffin

have all been part of the team since the mid-2000s. Such longevity is rare in the restaurant industry, and that lengthy tenure speaks volumes about Christi as an owner and Zaxby’s as a brand. Christi believes that owning a local business opens the doors to serving area families and not just chicken fingers! “We love getting involved in our community whenever the opportunity arises,” notes Erik. “We’ve helped build Habitat for Humanity houses for two local families, worked with Habitat for its Strawberry Festival and donated food to the volunteers at many of Habitat’s house builds. This Christmas, we’re planning on donating to several children’s charity events on behalf of Zaxby’s.” Learn more

Zaxby’s Six locations in Ocala and Wildwood zaxbys.com

Try the absolutely craveable chicken, Zalads and Zappetizers, or enjoy any one of many Party Platterz catered for your next game, party or event. Always fresh and made to order, Zaxby’s offers family-friendly, fast service featuring daringly zesty chicken fingers, wings and more. Open seven days a week with six locations to serve you throughout Ocala and Wildwood, you can drive thru on the go or dine in with family and friends. Savor that Southern flavor and try the hand-breaded buttermilk chicken fillet sandwich with lettuce, pickles and Backyard Sauce; or the Southern TLC fried chicken fillet sandwich with mayo, lettuce and tomato. ZAXBY’s: Always so Zatisfying!



› zaxbys.com

Locations: 3351 W Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala; (352) 789-6001 › 3400 N Pine Ave., Ocala; (352) 877-7900 › 2900 SW 27th Ave., Ocala; (352) 861-9234 › 6033 SW Hwy 200, Ocala; (352) 351-1541 › 13451 SW 17th Ct., Ocala; (352) 347-5775 › 868 E SR 44, Wildwood; (352) 7480221


Book your party at Tony’s today. Gift cards available.

Tony’s Sushi & Steakhouse 3405 SW College Road, Ocala (352) 237-3151 › tonysushi.com Mon-Thu 11a-10p › Fri & Sat 11a-11p › Sun Noon-10p

With abundant menu choices and over 100 off-menu rolls, you certainly won’t run out of options at Tony’s Sushi. If you can’t decide, the waitstaff is excellent at suggesting items you’re sure to enjoy. Every roll and sushi dish is made to order from the freshest ingredients. In the steakhouse area, highly trained chefs prepare a memorable meal as they cook on the tableside grills, preparing chicken, steak or seafood just the way you like it. Entrées include soup or salad and rice. Tony’s Sushi has a family-friendly, casual atmosphere, along with a full bar, including imported Japanese sake and beer selections.

Ask about our PARTY BOX/$5 OFF Get ready to celebrate business, Christmas or just happiness with burgers in four styles, onion rings, fries and wings. In a mood to cheers? We have beer and wine now!

Make sure to try the deli next to the restaurant, where they have daily menus for $6.99 and desserts such as dulce de papaya with cheese. HAPPY HOUR EVERY DAY Medalla beer (6 cans) $10 Medalla beer (6 bottles) $12 Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año 2019!

BurgerIM 4414 SW College Road, Ocala (352) 236-5552 › burgerim.com Mon-Thur 11a-9p › Fri-Sat 11a-10p › Sun 12p-8p

Your new favorite burger joint recently celebrated its grand opening in the Market Street at Heath Brook. At BurgerIM, you build your burger just the way you want it, choosing between two buns and a lettuce wrap, six sauces, nine unconventional toppings and 11 patties. Once you select your burger, go crazy with the toppings, from a plain burger for the little ones to an extravagant explosion of flavors for yourself. The food is always freshly made and guaranteed to please even the hungriest of appetites. The stylish, modern décor of the restaurant is unlike any fast-food place you’ve seen.

Creole 21 16580 S Highway 475, Summerfield (352) 307-9300 Restaurant Mon-Sun 12p-9:30p Deli Mon-Sat 11a-2p

Creole 21 opened its doors to the public in early July—and diners can’t get enough of their authentic Latin fusion cuisine. Enjoy a mix of Latin food specialties, such as the popular mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish that uses friend plantains as its main ingredient. The restaurant was named after the Creole cuisine because of its unique mix of all the best flavors and tastes of Latin America. The menu offers a wide variety of seafood options, pasta dishes, appetizers, salads, soups, cheese flan and tres leches, and they work only with Certified Angus Beef Prime meat. Creole 21 also has a children’s menu for the little ones, offering chicken tenders, pizza and more. DECEMBER ‘18





f you’re in the market for smoked meat with that perfectly pink border and homemade sides prepared fresh daily, it sounds like you’re due for a trip to Artman Country Smokehouse. This home-cooking staple is family owned and operated, and they pay special attention to the cooking process of their delicious brisket, pork, chicken and more. “We prep and slow cook all night so that the meat is tender and smoked to perfection,” says Clark Artman, who with his wife, Gayla, owns the restaurant. Guests can start their meal with an Artman signature appetizer: Mama’s Smoked

Moinks. They’re meatballs crafted from a beef and sausage blend, stuffed with pepper jack cheese, wrapped in bacon and topped with barbecue sauce. Freshly smoked jalapeño poppers won’t disappoint either, filled with cream cheese, cheddar and sour cream and crowned with a slice of kielbasa. Oh, and don’t forget the fried green tomatoes! For the main event, Artman offers their meats with two sides as a plate or on a bun with one side as a sandwich. Choose from sliced angus brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken, golden fried cod or ribs. If you’re bringing the whole family, try Papa’s Special—a full spread of brisket, pulled pork, ribs, Moinks and three sides for just $21. To feed a larger family, try Papa’s Feast. Although the smoked meat is the star, don’t miss out on that homemade side dish selection. Barbecue tastes best with baked beans, melty mac ‘n’ cheese or corn casserole.

Artman Country Smokehouse is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11am to 7pm and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. They also offer carry out meals if you need delicious dinner to take home to the family, and smoked meat by the pound for gatherings. Catering orders are available for large parties but need advanced notice. No matter when you stop in, rest assured you won’t leave disappointed—or hungry.

› Artman County Smokehouse › 6900 SE 165th St., Summerfield › (352)307-6240 ›

Learn more


El Toreo 3790 E Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala (352) 694-1401 › 7 Days 11a-10p SR 200, Ocala › (352) 291-2121 › 7 Days 11a-11p

New lunch specials include Taco Salad on Mondays, $5.45; Speedy Gonzalez on Tuesdays, $5.45; Quesadillas on Wednesdays, $7.95; Chimichangas on Thursdays, $6.95; and Burrito Supreme on Fridays, $5.95. New dinner options include Fajita Mondays, $10.95; Chimichanga Tuesdays, $8.95; Alambre Wednesdays, $9.95; and Tacos de Bistec Thursdays, $9.95. Plus $1.95 margaritas on Mondays. On Sunday, kids 12 and under can enjoy $1.95 children’s meals (take-out not included). Wednesday is Special Margarita Day, 99¢ all day. Saturday is 2-for-1 margaritas all day. Happy Hour daily, 3-7pm. Everything is 2-4-1 (exceptions may apply). 74


Marie Stein, Erik Danetz, Courtney Wednesday: 99¢ House Danetz Margaritas All Day and Tylor Thursday: Trivia Night,7Chaffin 9pm (Blvd. location) Thursday: Mariachi band at the 200 location, 6-9pm Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo 2019!



Now through Dec 29, 2018, purchase $100 in any denomination of Mark’s Prime gift cards and receive a FREE $25 GIFT CARD* Gift cards are also available online through our website. *not valid day of purchase

Mark’s Prime Steakhouse & Seafood 30 S Magnolia Ave, Ocala (352) 402-0097 › ocala.marksprimesteakhouse.com Mon 5p-9p › Tue-Sat 5p-10p › Closed Sunday

Mark’s Prime Steakhouse has a goal to create a unique dining experience that will please the palate and soothe the soul. We serve the finest beef, the freshest seafood, premium wines and naturally fresh vegetables. We are pleased to have been serving the finest quality dining experience since November 2002, more than 10 years ago! We hope to see you very soon at one of our two great locations, Gainesville and Ocala!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Braised Onion 754 NE 25th Ave., Ocala (352) 620-9255 › braisedonion.com Tue-Thu 11:30a-9p › Fri-Sat 11:30a-10p › Sun 11:30a-8p

Come celebrate the season with Braised Onion. Having an office or family get-together? Braised Onion has a room for that. Our team of experts will be dishing out perfectly seasoned prime rib with creamy horseradish sauce on Friday and Saturday evenings. And don’t forget the dessert menu, which includes our prize-winning bread pudding and coconut cream pie. Yum! Open Monday Christmas Eve for lunch and dinner from 11:30am-6pm. Open Monday New Year’s Eve for lunch from 11:30am-4pm and dinner 4-10pm. Closed Tuesday Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar 10 S Magnolia Ave, Ocala (352) 512-9458 › Sun-Wed: 11am-10pm › Thurs: 11am11pm › Fri-Sat: 11am-12am

Located in downtown Ocala’s historic town square, Brick City Southern Kitchen’s aroma is recognized for several blocks around. Once inside, you are met with a wall of over 400 whiskeys from around the world and a collection of custom folk art from Nicklos Richards. To the rear of the restaurant is their scratch kitchen where all the sides, bbq sauces, dressings and seasonings are prepared. But the heart of this kitchen is the custom-built smoker, where the low, slow heat of burning hickory smokes beef brisket, ribs, pork shoulders, whole chickens and turkey breast. DECEMBER ‘18



Sky Fine Dining 3600 SW 38th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34474 (352) 291-0000 › ocalasky.com Mon- Thu 5-10p › Fri & Sat 5-11p › Open Sunday the 30th

Join Sky Fine Dining for New Year’s Eve dinner. Enjoy fine wine, champagne, specialty martinis and cocktails. In addition to all your favorite entrées, chef-selected specialty dishes will be available as well. Guests are sure to appreciate Sky’s fine dining atmosphere. Please call (352) 291-0000 to secure your reservation. Sky Fine Dining is located on the 6th floor of the Holiday Inn & Suites.

Whispering Oaks Winery 10934 N Country Road 475, Oxford (352) 748-0449 › winesofflorida.com Tue-Thu 11a-7p › Fri-Sat 11a-9p › Sun 11a-7p › Closed Monday

According to a University of Florida study, Florida-produced blueberry wine has more antioxidants than all white wines, 80 percent of red wines and equal to the remaining 20 percent of red wines reported in the study. If you’re looking for health benefits in a glass of wine, blueberry wine should be your go-to-choice—and Whispering Oaks has some of the best blueberry wine in the state. Every Friday and Saturday night, enjoy an award-winning steak or salmon dinner, served outdoors on the patio next to the open wood grill and koi pond. Tapas menu during the week. Reservations suggested.

Craft Cuisine 2237 SW 19th Avenue Rd., # 102, Ocala (352) 237-7300 › info@craftcuisineocala.com Lunch: Mon-Sat › 11a-4p Dinner: Mon-Thur 4-9p › Fri & Sat 4-10p

Craft Cuisine World Inspired Culinary Creations is now taking reservations for our Dec. 15th Brunch with Santa! Book your in-house gatherings, holiday parties, weddings or off-premise catering today! Mouthwatering Monday: Build your own four-course menu selections from $13.99-$19.99. Tipsy Tuesday: $3 margaritas & 2-4-1 martinis. Wine Down Wednesday: From 4-7p order a charcuterie board paired with a housewine for $10. Lobster Thursdays. Prime rib Fridays. Sangria Saturdays: $5 all-day brunch specials from 11a-3p endless mimosas $10, bloody marys $4. 76


8-time Golden Spoon award winner Celebrate New Year’s Eve Fri, Sat, Sun & Mon Special Menu Reservations Required

Live music Friday through Sunday. Planning a wedding? Contact us about hosting your big day at Whispering Oaks Winery.

Happy Hour Mon-Fri 4-7p $5 select tapas & drink specials Purchase a gift card and get more on a bonus card! Up to $99 get 10% more. $100 to $499 get 20% more or $500 & up get 25% more. Gift cards are redeemable at Craft Cuisine Ocala, Latinos Y Mas or Ipamena.


Ladies Night Thursdays Enjoy 1 house wine or 1 well drink on the house at our bar. $5 Tapas 5p-8p Purchase a gift card and get more on a bonus card! Up to $99, get 10% more. $100 to $499 get 20% more, or $500 & up get 25% more. Gift cards are redeemable at Craft Cuisine Ocala, Latinos Y Mas or Ipanema Brazilian Steakhouse.

Ipanema Brazilian Steakhouse 2023 S Pine Avenue, Ocala (352) 622-1741 › ipanemaocala.com Lunch Friday 11a-2:30p › Brunch Sunday 11a-3p › Dinner Tue-Thu 5p-9p › Fri-Sat 5p-10p › Sun 4p-9p

Join Ipanema to experience what all the Brunch Buzz is about for yourself! Sunday Brunch from 11a to 3p includes the 50item 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 5 different cuts of meat and our grilled pineapple. Ask us about hosting your holiday gathering with us. Our offsite catering is perfect for any occasion!

Stop by our new speakeasy bar and enjoy our speciality drinks! Catering holiday parties & special events. We make the holidays easy so you can enjoy what’s most important, your family and friends! Gift Certificates available! Many Christmas Blessings! Call for New Year’s Eve Reservations

Happy Hour Mon-Thur 3-7pm. Kids Eat Free Monday. Ask us about our off-site catering services. Purchase a gift card and get more on a bonus card! Up to $99 get 10% more. $100 to $499 get 20% more or $500 & up get 25% more. Gift cards are redeemable at Craft Cuisine Ocala, Latinos Y Mas, or Ipanema.

Ivy on the Square 53 S Magnolia Ave, Ocala › (352) 622-5550 Closed Mon › Tue 11a-2p › Wed 11a-9p › Thu 11a-10p › Fri & Sat 11a-11p › Sun 10:30a-2p 106 NW Main St, Williston › (352) 528-5410 Sun-Wed 11a-2p › Thu-Sat 11a-8p › ivyhousefl.com

“Come on home, it’s suppertime!” is our motto. We want you to feel you have come to our home to eat. The family-owned Ivy House Restaurant now has two locations, Williston and Ocala. The downtown Ocala location has added several specialty items, and the restaurant has been named by Florida Trend as one of the “Top 500 Best Places to Eat in the State” for several years. Specials include Southern Fried Lobster, delicious hand-cut steaks and our famous Baked Krispy Chicken. Trying our delicious homemade desserts like the Key Lime Pie or Chocolate Midnight Cake is a must when dining here.

Latinos Y Mas 2030 S Pine Avenue, Ocala (352) 622-4777 › latinosymas.com Mon-Thu 11a-9p › Fri-Sat 11a-10p › Closed Sun

Latinos Y Mas is the perfect gathering place for family and friends to enjoy the food they love the most. Come feel at home, and try the exquisite fusion of Latin food, such as one of their delicious new entrées, including Latinos Passion Chicken, Latinos Pargo Rojo, Roasted Beet Salad, Spinach Salad or Mexican Shrimp Ceviche. Enjoy there or order from the takeaway menu. Our friendly staff is more than happy to help plan an extraordinary dining experience. VIP Room & Patio available for private events. DECEMBER ‘18


Happy Holidays & Warm Wishes

3256 S Pine Avenue Ocala, Florida

Vishnu Reddy, M.D.


Samantha Johnson, ARNP

Tima Peterson, ARNP





t 4,118 feet, this quaint town is one of the highest in elevation east of the Mississippi River. Summer is “high season” here, but during the winter months, you can enjoy all the beauty of the area, including some uniquely cold weather opportunities. Anchor your trip by staying at the Old Edwards Inn and Spa, a luxury resort known for its outdoor heated mineral pools, where European-style elegance meets the mountain lifestyle. Choose from graciously appointed guest rooms, suites, cottages and private estates. Because Old Edwards features its own spa, there’s no better place to relax after your outings and adventures. Indulge spirit and body with a soothing river stone massage, a classic French facial, pedicure or other spa treatment. Then, curl up by the fire in a fluffy robe (some accommodations have their own fireplace), or dress for a memorable dinner at one of the inn’s farmto-table restaurants. Get acquainted with Highlands’ picture-perfect downtown by taking the Highlands Heritage Trail selfguided walking tour, which offers a three-block walk or a 20-block (3 1/2 miles) walk with a total of 51 historic locations. Pick up a map at the Highlands Chamber. After you’ve gotten a feel for the area, it’s time for some shopping. There are several blocks filled with boutiques featuring apparel, books, crafts and gifts,



jewelry, wine and gourmet items, as well as antiques shops and art galleries. Not to be missed is The Bascom, an art center with free admission that is open year-round, featuring changing exhibitions, instructional programs and events. The magic begins as you enter the six-acre campus through a picturesque covered bridge. Families and couples alike will enjoy taking a spin at the Highlands Ice Rink. Just $5 includes admission and skate rental. After you hit the ice (hopefully, not literally!), finish your outing with a cup of hot chocolate. The town offers many dining options to choose from with the majority open year-round. Enjoy lunch or dinner at Wild Thyme Gourmet, which features a tantalizing menu that includes a number of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, as well as an impressive wine list. For a regional taste, try the pan-seared mountain trout. Dine at Cyprus one evening for exciting international cuisine from award-winning chefs. While there, check out the intriguing array of cocktails, sake and draft beer. Enjoy of a pint at the Ugly Dog Public House, or sample different vintages in a tasting at the Highlands Wine Shoppe. A stop at Kilwin’s Chocolates & Ice Cream is a must. Fudge lovers will swoon over the numerous hand-crafted flavors, not to mention decadent caramel apples, pecan

pralines and ice cream, plus coffee and espresso drinks. Hiking and waterfalls are a major appeal of visiting the Highlands area. Many trails can be hiked yearround, although some may close during inclement weather for safety reasons. For a spectacular view, the Whiteside Mountain hike is a great choice. Want to watch the sun sink into the horizon over Highlands? Drive or hike to Sunset Rock, starting near the Highlands Nature Center on Horse Cove Road. One of the South’s most popular waterfalls, Bridal Veil Falls is less than three miles from town, located along U.S. 64 West. The 120-foot drop is stunning any time of year but especially during cold weather when the falls can transform into a giant ice column. Dry Falls is unique for two reasons: You can see it from the roadside observation deck, and if the weather’s good, you can actually walk behind it. Satisfy your spirit for adventure by ziplining through the forest canopy at Highlands Aerial Park. They also offer nature trails and a fire pit deck. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires are all mined in North Carolina. Kids love trying their hand at unearthing gemstones, so head over to the nearby town of Franklin to find several gemstone mining operations open year-round. Just about 12 miles from downtown Highlands, along scenic Highway 64, is the inviting little town of

Cashiers. You’ll want to venture here for more browsing and shopping in the variety of boutiques, antique shops and home furnishings studios. While you’re walking about town, don’t miss the Village Green, a 12-acre park with outdoor sculptures, tranquil gardens, walking paths and boardwalks over wetlands. Afterward, stop at Whiteside Brewing Co. for Bavarian-style beers, hearty burgers and paninis. A few miles south of Cashiers, you’ll find the smallest post office in the United States. It’s worth the drive to snap a photo at this tiny but historic site.

LEARN MORE Check out the following websites for all the details:

highlandschamber.org oldedwardsinn.com highlandsnc.org/recreation-ice-rink cyprushighlands.net thebascom.org wildthymegour met.com kilwins.com theuglydogpub.com highlandswineshoppe.com whitesidebrewing.com highlandscanopytour.com




“Is a little chest pain normal?”


Emergency symptoms are good at hiding. Not all signs of an emergency are obvious. Ongoing symptoms like indigestion, shortness of breath and chest pain could be an emergency in disguise. Thankfully, an Ocala Health ER is here to help. With dedicated emergency experts and faster wait times, you can trust us for even better care. We’re here 24/7 to help you through any emergency — even the tricky ones.

Text ER to 32222* for average wait times at an Ocala Health ER near you. *Message and data rates may apply. For more information, go to texterhelp.com.



“I’m more than just an auto guy. I’m a sucker for great style... anything creative.” myself more into the world of auto repair than ever before—like it or not. However, I discovered that my happiness was not in working in a hot, greasy shop; it was in my ability to be creative. After a few years of self-exploration and loafing—I mean working—an incredible opportunity to let my

Photo by Dave Miller, Instagram:@dmiller1023


cala, I’ve known you my entire life; however, I feel like we are about to get much more familiar with one another. I’m Jesse James, a lifelong resident of the area, raised in Belleview, though I’ve finally made the move to the big city of Ocala. From my first moments, I’ve been around the automotive world. My father was a technician at our local Toyota dealership in Ocala before opening Rising Sun Import Car Service when I was in kindergarten. To say that I’ve gotten acquainted with cars would be a slight understatement. Throughout my younger years, my interest in cars waned, replaced by a real passion for art, music and anything creative; although, automobiles were still a big part of daily life. As I grew into my teenage years fun was my only objective, and I continued to explore my creative side. Upon making it through high school (BHS, stand up!), I went to work with my father, immersing

creativity shine was placed in front of me. I started writing for a website called stupidDOPE.com, covering mainly music at first before diving into topics like style and fashion, food and drink, art, architecture, tech and more. Little did I know, all of that prior history of life around automobiles was about to pay off. I expanded into doing automotive reviews several years ago, driving some fun, incredible and, yes, not so incredible cars in the process. Using the knowledge that I’ve gained from being in the automotive industry has led me here—to you. I will be providing you with insight into some great new rides that are hitting the road, offering a look at all the hightech and unique aspects these modern vehicles offer us as everyday drivers. I’m more than just an auto guy. I’m a sucker for great style, I’m a massive sneakerhead, I love art and music, and I especially love folks who are passionate about anything creative. So, now that we’ve all gotten a little more familiar with one another, look for me around town. Come say hello! Let’s talk cars, style and pretty much anything else you have on your mind. Oh, and, please feel free to buy me a drink! DECEMBER ‘18


Photo by Dave Miller, Instagram:@dmiller1023



here’s a reason the Camry has become a popular choice for drivers: Toyota is known for dependable, reliable transportation. I have a soft spot for the Camry, thanks to the handful of them I’ve had throughout the years. I have also observed their reliability during my years in auto repair, with most of the Camrys I’ve owned going well beyond the 100,000mile mark. I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days with the 2018 Toyota Camry XSE, getting familiar with the updates and upgrades, and I must say, this isn’t your average Camry. The first notable difference in this Camry is the striking exterior. The Camry was redesigned for 2018, and it’s nothing short of beautiful. From the first impression, the car highlights a much more aggressive look than we’ve ever seen, flaunting clean lines from front to back. The prominent front grille has a sports car appeal, which extends through the rest of the body and around to the rear of the car. What really sets this particular model apart is the two-tone paint job and the black and alloy wheels, offering a sporty and sexy look. (Yes, the Camry is sexy.) Toyota has produced a much-needed upgrade that looks just as good in the bold blue color scheme I drove or the more laid back and conservative colors offered. Looking good is important, but most of our time is spent inside the car, not looking at the outside of it. Comfort, function and entertainment are crucial when



it comes to a daily driver, and the Camry has always been fair at both. Fair wasn’t good enough, so Toyota stepped up to the plate. The 2018 Camry XSE comes with a sleek, contoured interior that isn’t overwhelming, presenting easy controls over all of its functions and features. The XSE is the sportiest trim package Toyota offers for the Camry, and it comes with a bevy of unique highlights. The interior comes with inductive phone charging, a panoramic sunroof, a 10-inch color head-up display, dual-zone automatic climate control and leather seat covers. Always reliable, always trustworthy, the Camry continues that legacy with this model. The 2018 XSE is powered by a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that generates 301hp, much stronger from engine options in the past. The DOHC V-6 is paired with a silky smooth, eight-speed automatic with a manual shifting mode, providing a fun element to the driving experience. Toyota has also outfitted the Camry with a host of active-safety features, such as lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking. This particular model is rated for fuel mileage of 22mpg in the city and 32 highway, offering decent mileage, although not as good as the four-cylinder versions. This version of the Camry is a lot different than the Camrys you and I are used to. I was awestruck by the attention to detail inside and out, while the exterior redesign is impeccable. This car looks as good cruising the streets as it does picking up groceries—and yes, I did both.

Coming soon to


Celtic Angels CHRISTMAS













www.TheVillagesEntertainment.com |



TheVillagesEntertainment 1545 N Buena Vista Blvd, The Villages, FL | 352-753-3229

© 2018 Holding Company of The Villages, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


MOTOWN Gift Card

Gift Card

Available Now!

at any of The Villages Box Office locations.

A Dickens Christmas: The Urban Family Holiday Exhibition Now through December 30

Family Day

Saturday, December 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Museum, ARTSpace and Appleton Store Hours The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Tuesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday: noon–5 p.m. 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd. | AppletonMuseum.org | 352-291-4455




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A Matter Of Perspective For David D’Alessandris, different is the goal. Written by NICK STEELE Artwork by DAVID D’ALESSANDRIS: THE MUSES



Learn more › The opening reception is December 7 from 5-9pm at Brick City Center for the Arts. Visit david-d-art.com and mcaocala.com for more information on the exhibit.

Artifacts and Icons by David D’Alessandris


s an artist, I cannot stay with just one genre. I must explore new things and new attitudes,” reveals David D’Alessandris, whose newest show, Beat & Path, will run December 7-29 at Brick City Center for the Arts. “I never want to be bored or stale with what I am doing. I get an artistic ‘rush’ exploring something new.” D’Alessandris believes that art should not necessarily be confined to a canvas or exist merely under glass. His works are an exploration of materials, color, texture and subject matter, presented with a touch of humor. “Sometimes I will get a ‘high’ by using a newly found surface or a new type of application,” D’Alessandris explains. “I will not settle for that ‘just another painting’ mentality. Using other materials is also a great inspiration for me, be it painting on a mannequin form or a horse (as he did for Ocala’s public art project Horse Fever). I take the challenge and move straight ahead. If I do fall down, I get up and try again. I really think this is what makes me an artist.” D’Alessandris is a prize-winning artist who has become deeply immersed in the community. “The local art scene is ever changing, as is the actual



art scene,” D’Alessandris asserts. “I have seen Ocala grow by leaps and bounds in the arts—and not only the visual aspects but all of the arts. We have one of the best symphonies around and a great place in the Reilly to hear them. The performances at the Ocala Civic Theatre are top notch. The visual arts have grown tremendously because of the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) and the Brick City Center for the Arts. The special events MCA puts together are a team effort and attract many of Ocala’s art enthusiasts.” For the third time in three years, D’Alessandris will present a one-man show at The Brick. The title of his most recent exhibit seems to be a mash-up of two popular idioms, ‘off the beaten path’ and ‘march to the beat of a different drummer.’ “I am off the beaten path with my artistic journey,” D’Alessandris offers. “A lot of the pieces are ‘inner visions’ and a lot are from nature. The pieces that are ‘mixed-media’ are mainly water-based paint, with the addition of colored pencil, pen and ink or crayon. I may have some assemblages (3-D pieces), but I am mostly concentrating on pigment on various surfaces.”



Photo by Ralph Demilio



s curator of the Appleton Museum of Art, one of the many questions I’m regularly asked is, “What exactly is a curator, anyway?” It’s a good question, so don’t feel bad if you don’t know either. The word “curator” has been co-opted by popular culture to mean something quite different than the definition. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a curator is “a person in charge of a department of a museum or other place where objects of art, science or from the past are collected.” Actual curation requires advanced degrees, research and writing skills, often knowing multiple languages and a lot of hard work specializing in specific disciplines. On the job, museum curators wear many hats. For example, it’s not enough to know about art; you’ll also need to know about the historical significance of the art and how one artwork relates to another. You’ll need to have a good feel for three-dimensional space to know which artworks will fit where and what color on a gallery wall will show the artwork to its best advantage. Every decision I make in the Appleton galleries has to both make sense from a historical art perspective and also be pleasant to look at. Because of this, it’s very hard for me to describe a typical day, as one day is so different from the next. Some days I will be in jeans and a T-shirt installing artwork with my curatorial staff, while other days I will be at my desk researching permanent collection artworks and writing about them, or I might be teaching and giving lectures.

Most museums have both permanent collection objects—the things that are actually owned by the museum—and traveling exhibitions, which are shows that are rented for a specific period of time and then go on to the next venue. Traveling exhibitions can be loaned from other museums or from professional museum exhibition companies that are in the business of creating shows and traveling them. The majority of our permanent collection objects were gifted to the Appleton Museum by its founder, Arthur I. Appleton, an avid art collector who wanted to share his incredible collection with Ocala and beyond. Most museums worldwide do not have the funds to buy priceless works of art and rely on the generous gifts of collectors and donors to put together the incredible collections they create. In addition, museums rely on memberships in order to exist, and we are very thankful for the ongoing support of our members. Look for more information on the Appleton Museum’s exhibits and what I’ve been up to in next month’s Curator’s Corner column.






Thousands of Marion County residents have been wowed by The Nutcracker performed for the last 38 years by Marion Ballet Theatre at the Ocala Civic Theatre. But it’s what you don’t see, behind the curtain, in the wings, before the dancers even make it to rehearsals, that’s most impressive. By MELISSA PETERSON Photos courtesy of MARION BALLET THEATRE


t’s a Saturday afternoon in early August. While most families are just finishing their last family vacation and thinking about starting school, my family and I are thinking about toy soldiers and sugary Polichinelles. For us and the several other dozen mom-and-daughter duos at auditions for Marion Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker, we’re on a collision course with December. I’m not the typical “dance mom” like you see on the television show. (I’d say most MBT moms aren’t.) Sewing moms are a



hot commodity around the dance studio. Unfortunately, I don’t sew costumes (or even buttons, for that matter), so fitting in with the other moms proved difficult as a socially awkward introvert. We muddled our way through the first two years, and thankfully, I’ve met some other dance moms along the way who can sew costumes who have my back. (This one’s for Janet, who I’ll forever be indebted to for sewing zippers on all my daughter’s costumes.) My daughter, Delaney, joined MBT after I started taking her to see The

Nutcracker when she was about 2 years old. Even then she told me that she wanted to dance like the girls on stage, so joining MBT just felt inevitable. Little did I know when we first joined the amount of work and hours these girls, even the youngest ones, (and their parents) put into the show. In addition to spending every Saturday, August through December, rehearsing for the show, each dancer is required to maintain their regular ballet and dance class schedule 11 months out of the year. Many of the older dancers

spend 10 or more hours a week at the studio, not including Nutcracker rehearsals. My daughter is 9, and spends nine and a half hours a week in classes and then wakes up bright and shiny on Saturdays ready to learn the next round of Nutcracker choreography. And she does it all without complaining and without me forcing her to be there. She just loves to dance, and when I see her on stage, the many, many hours we spent sweating in the costume shed and hot gluing ribbon on headpieces (because when you don’t know how to sew, a hot glue gun is your BFF) just seems worth it. Fast-forward to the first week of December. Hell week. (Yes, that’s what we really call it, but it’s also known as theatre week, to those more PC.) It’s time to move all the props to the theatre and begin our week of dress rehearsals. I say “we” because even though the moms aren’t actually on stage, there’s plenty happening behind the scenes. We’re putting the final touches on costumes, learning our daughters’ stage entry and exit points in preparation for something us dance moms like to call quick changes (more on that later) and, most of all, trying to entertain a room full of hyped up girls who are overtired and just a bit moody from staying up too late the previous night for tech rehearsal so the behind-the-scenes dads could rehearse prop locations and cues. That brings me to dance dads—yes, they do exist. If you had told me three years ago that my husband (in all his ‘I don’t dance’ awkwardness) would get on stage and not only help change sets but don a tux and dance with a group of other parents in front of an actual audience (every show for two weeks, nonetheless), I’d have said I had died and gone to the Land of the Sweets. But it’s true. Dance dads are the heroes of the show. They build sets, drop curtains, dance on stage and even make it snow

right here in Ocala. Miracle workers, I say. Opening night. Everything that we’ve prepared for. Tensions are high. Nervousness manifests in fits of giggles. Don’t stumble. Be on time. Be quiet backstage. And if you’re a mom, bring plenty of bobby pins. Here’s where I’m going to let you in on a little secret. On stage, our girls are the picture of beauty and grace. Backstage, though, it’s chaos. The minute those girls step off stage, it’s a mad dash. (Here’s where the quick changes come in.) For some of the girls, they have a matter of seconds to change from a tyrannical rat to a beautiful snowflake—all while working with costumes complete with hook-and-eye closures. (Seriously, Janet, I’ve never appreciated a zipper so much in my life.) The costumes go flying. The bobby pins are coming out of the woodwork. Moms sporting headlamps are working in the dark in teams to strip one girl and dress another in a minute flat. It’s like the pitstops of NASCAR back there. You get your girl on stage and then race around the back to meet her on the other side, just in time to do it all over again. And then it’s over. You’ve survived opening night. Only nine more shows to go. It’s such a high to know that all you’ve worked months for has paid off. Seeing her face light up on stage, watching her smile and twirl as the snow falls at the end of the first act, there’s seriously not many more things as satisfying as that moment. So if you make it out to The Nutcracker this month with your young daughter and she says how much she wants to be just like Clara or the Sugar Plum Fairy, don’t hesitate—it’s worth it. It really is. And if you see me during the first two weeks of December and I seem a little off my game, just know I’ve spent too many nights in The Nuthouse—and we hope you’ll join us there.

Learn More › Marion Ballet Theatre presents The Nutcracker, December 7-16 at the Ocala Civic Theatre. › Marion Ballet Theatre is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization sponsored in part by the Marion Cultural Alliance. › Find out more by visiting bensonacademyofdance.com. Tickets available for purchase at ocalacivictheatre.com. DECEMBER ‘18


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hanks to moder n shipping, we can enjoy fresh blooms year-round. However, we can take a practical cue from times past by incor porating fruit and vegetables into arrangements to create drama and texture.



THE TOOLS & MATERIALS F loral foam Stones or sand Piece of foil-covered sheet insulation F loral water picks Fruit, such as apples, pears or mandarins Artichokes Water F lowers and greenery Scarf or runner for table

Scissors Pliers F loral cutters Tape Serrated knife



Cut the floral foam to fit the container. Tape or wire it together. You can also use Styrofoam cake for ms or blocks. Set to be about 1/2 inch below top of container.



Cut foiled insulation to fit inside rim or container. Put over foam with foil side up. The foil helps give strength to punctures for florals



Cover top with moss, which comes in sheets or bags. Mist with water to make more manipulative so you can tuck in on edges. Put some floral pins in to hold in place.



Set the fruit pieces in place. These can lay loose until you have your flowers where you want them.




STEP 5: THE FLOWERS & BERRIES Start with your tallest flowers first, and put stems in the floral picks with some water and push them into the insultation and into the foam below. These can be cut down later if they end up too tall for the scale of your project when you finish. If you have dried stems in your arrangement, these can be wired to wooden picks and pushed into place. Fill in the lower voids with your leaves, berries and flowers. The flowers can go into floral picks or be laid in, as many smaller flowers will just dry naturally and look great over time. Put skewers into fruit, and set them in place. If something is tipping, use a shorter skewer to help hold it up.


STEP 6: KEEP IT FRESH Keep water in the picks so your florals will last longer, and don’t worry about getting the moss wet, as it loves moisture. It won’t mold because any excess water will run off and get soaked up by the floral foam under neath.



If you want your arrangement on a runner, be creative. Use a pashmina or scarf from your closet or a flour, coffee or grain bag for a more rustic look.


STEP 8: THE CANDLESTICKS For the candlesticks, use two sizes of tumbled stone with felt on bottom, a couple of old balusters and a few berries for garland.

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The Festivities, The Fun, The Fashion


oliday festivities are most certainly filled with wonder and sudden surprises. But sometimes we need to be quick-change artists, going from career to charismatic in mere minutes. Keeping it simple is the key to success here. Having simple red or black dresses in your closet with just a bit of flash and flare is always smart. And gold, velvet and satin can carry you into the new year. Gentlemen can find fun with prints, sleeves of interest, classic sweaters, and bow ties and pocket squares. Remember though, the most attractive thing to wear is a happy holiday smile! JASMINE WEARS XSCAPE BLACK WITH SHEER LONG SLEEVE BEADED GOWN $238. AVAILABLE AT DILLARD’S MARKET PLACE AT HEATH BROOK CREDITS: PHOTOGRAPHER: RALPH DEMILIO FASHION EDITOR: MAUREEN FANNON; HAIR & MAKEUP HEATHER LEBOEUF SUMNER & ELIZABETH NEWSOM FROM BREEZE DAY SPA AT AGAPANTHUS. MODELS: JASMINE BEAMON, LEAH HODGES, CARLOS RAMOS, MICAH DUNSEATH, MORGAN ZACK.








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hile the mini handbag rages forth as the current trend in handbags, we here at Ocala Style want to give a nod to the clutch that begs to come out at this time of year. Guest style editor Dana Dee has compiled a group of classic, comely clutches for our personal viewing to remind us that a smooth transition into your holiday look can be as simple as carrying a clutch.



Photos by Ralph Demilio



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IMPRESSIONS By SUZANNE RICE nd you were wondering what to do with that old French flour bag that you had stashed away… Interior Designer Suzanne Rice shows us how to get creative with holiday door decorations. By unrolling and pressing the flour bag, it makes a lovely clean door panel. Adding a vintage feed bucket or an old cowhide bag as a receptacle for random fresh-cut garden greens is an enchanting alternative to the conventional wreath, as is a gold mesh wire angel on a red felt laser-cut curtain panel.





K I N G L AW F I R M ’ S



L to R: Norman “Chris” Polak, Greg King, Jarrod King

Dear neighbors, Merry Christmas from Greg, Jarrod and Chris of the King Law Firm. The majority of the year, we are helping people who have been seriously injured through no fault of their own. We take our responsibilities as advocates seriously, and it’s our privilege to serve our neighbors as we help them overcome tough hurdles. However, as the holiday season draws near, we look forward to loosening our ties ( just a little) to give away toys and reconnect with family and friends. We hope you’ll share in our holiday cheer by participating in the toy giveaway. We wish all of you a safe and happy new year. Greg, Jarrod and Chris

19 DAYS OF GIVEAWAYS! From ride-on animals and games to scooters and dolls, this year’s Great Toy Giveaway, sponsored by King Law Firm, is filled with this season’s hottest toys.

Written & Compiled by Karin FabryCushenbery and Melissa Peterson Beginning December 3 and lasting for 19 days, King Law Firm is giving away hundreds of toys!—and you could win! To enter to win, simply visit Ocala Style’s Facebook page at facebook. com/ocalastyle and click on the Events tab. Follow along on the King Law Firm’s Great Toy Giveaway event page for the giveaway prompts to get entered to win! We’ll do the rest. Here’s just a sampling of the more than 200 toys we will be giving away. To see the complete list, visit ocalastyle.com or facebook.com/ocalastyle and click on the story link. KIDI STAR KARAOKE MACHINE Use the Music Magic mode to turn down the main vocals of your favorite songs using your MP3 player or mobile device, or sing along with the eight songs that come with this karaoke machine, by VTech. Why we love it: The disco light creates a fun atmosphere. vtechkids.com

COZYPHONES Forget the uncomfortable earbuds and headphones, Cozyphones is a comfy headband with headphones built right in. Why we love it: The wide band provides a snug fit. Lots of styles, including unicorn, panda, Paw Patrol and JoJo. amazon.com

MARVEL SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE SUPER COLLIDER PLAYSET This movie-inspired playset includes multiple play areas that will ignite your little one’s imagination. They will be fighting bad guys and taking down criminals in no time. Why we love it: Includes a 6-inch Miles Morales figure, plus a King Pin cutout to launch projectiles at. hasbrotoyshop.com

TROLLS PARTY HAIR POPPY DOLL Pull the critter hiding in Poppy’s hair to reveal a rainbow surprise. Take Poppy rollerskating while she sings an original song from Trolls: The Beat Goes On! Why we love it: She has plenty of phrases and sounds and comes with a sparkly headband. hasbrotoyshop.com

MAGNA QUBIX From the makers of Magna-Tiles, these kits include a variety of magnetic 3-D shapes that make building tons of fun. Each set includes triangular prisms, cubes, square pyramids, rectangular prisms and hexagonal prisms. Why we love it: It’s a fun way to teach early geometry shapes, too! magnaqubix.com FINGERLINGS HUGS Last year’s hot toy from WowWee has a whole new spin on it. These oversized, fuzzy Fingerlings are all about giving TLC. From toots and burps to kisses and squeals, there’s never a dull moment. Why we love it: Their long arms are perfect for cuddling. wowwee.com

RAZOR POWER A2 SCOOTER Reaching speeds up to 10mph, this Razor scooter features a kick start and pushbutton throttle. One charge will get you 45 minutes of continuous use. Why we love it: It’s foldable for easy transportation. razorusa.com

SAY ANYTHING FAMILY EDITION A toned-down version of the popular party game, this one is perfect for families. Read the question, everyone writes their answer, you pick your favorite. Can others guess what you picked? If so, they earn a point. Why we love it: This game is great for a night of laughs. northstargames.com

POP-OH-VER Choose from either the Counter Top Set or the Stove Set (or put them together for extra fun), unfold it and pop it over any chair with a straight back. When playtime is over, simply fold them up for easy storage. Why we love them: The accessories, by Kangaroo Manufacturing, are adorable, with pretend food and kitchen supplies, sold separately. popohver.com

MAGIC TRACKS TURBO RC With Magic Tracks, by OnTel, you can customize your own RC speedway using track pieces that snap together, move easily and then roll up compactly when playtime is over. Why we love it: New models feature a six-function remote that lets you go, stop, turn on turbo move, reverse and more. magictracksrc.com

MY FIRST PIANO II 25-KEY TABLETOP This tabletop piano, by Schoenhut, is perfect for toddlers who are just being introduced to music. The width of the keys promotes proper finger placement, enabling an easy transition to a larger piano. Why we love it: The piano includes Schoenhut’s patented Tri-Play Learning System. schoenhut.com

OOLY ART PRODUCTS Ooly offers an array of art products, such as the Doodle Pad Duo set of two sketchbooks, Kaleidoscope Multi-Colored Pencils that let artists get a colorful surprise with every stroke, Pixie Paste BrushOn Glitter Glue available in a variety of colors, Double Dip Ice Cream Scented Markers that smell like your favorite frosty flavor, Sakok Lollypop Scented Pen that comes in eight fabulous scents and Stars of the Sea Crayons that celebrates the beauty of the star-filled ocean. Check out their complete line of products at ooly.com. Why we love it: Who doesn’t want to color with ice cream-scented markers? ooly.com

YELLIES These sweet spiders respond to clapping, yelling, singing and music. The louder you yell, the faster they go! Talk softly and they slow down. Why we love them: These Hasbro characters have fun names like Toofy Spooder. hasbrotoyshop.com

KID TRAX RIDEAMALS SCOUT PLAY & RIDE PONY This ride-on pony from Kid Trax comes to life with motorized ears, eyes, head and wheels. Scout features more than 100 sounds and movements and can even dance. Why we love it: Feed and care for Scout with the included accessories. He munches when he’s fed and wiggles his ears when groomed. walmart.com AMERICAN GIRL LUCIANA Luciana is the 2018 American Girl doll of the year. This aspiring astronaut features a holographic choker and a sentimental red charm necklace. Her flight suit is perfect for days when training is on the agenda. Why we love it: We love her cosmic printed dress and space boots! americangirl.com DISCOVERY TOYS These Discovery Toys wooden owls stack upright, upside down and even sideways. Numbered one through 12, they are great for number recognition and play, too. The Measure Up! Cups stack and nest easily, plus feature numbers, clock face positions and words for recognition. A bit older? Try Wiz Kids. Can you think of an animal that starts with “M”? This fast-paced game promotes listening and thinking skills. Why we love them: You can purchase through Erin Roney, a local mom who specializes in Discovery Toys. discoverytoys.com/pws/erinroney/ tabs/pw-home.aspx or email her at eroney@discoverytoys@yahoo.com to receive a catalog.

CRAYOLA DOUGH DINO ISLAND The prehistoric landscape includes waterfalls and even an erupting volcano. Shape and mold your dinosaurs for a day of adventure. Not into dinos? Check out the Deluxe Kit with plenty of fun tools and ideas! Why we love it: Comes with lots of Crayola accessories, including a play mat, coloring pages and more. playvisions.com

MAGNETIC COLORFUL TRAIN This squishy train from Rubbabu will keep your little one busy for hours. It’s fuzzy, it’s squishy, it’s soft and best yet? It’s magnetic! Why we love it: This train is handmade using non-toxic materials and is safe for kids with special needs. rubbabu.com

CUTIE STIX JEWELRY MAKER Choose your design (including emojis, animals and treats) and create your one-of-a-kind jewelry, nail art and figures. Why we love it: The kit by Maya Toys includes everything you need to get started! mayatoys.net

B. ROCKING UNICORN Her name is DillyDally, and she features wood accents and a clip-clop sound effect that doesn’t require batteries. Why we love it: Her friends, from Battat, include Kazoo the zebra, Loopsy the lamb and Banjo the baby rocking horse. target.com

BUILD & PLAY POLES AND CONNECTOR SET AND COVERS This kit takes fort building to new levels. Snap and click connectors ensure a strong structure for your little one to play in. Why we love it: The covers are endless, from lemonade and farmers markets to a café and a puppet theater. Need a relaxing hideout? Opt for the teepee or cottage covers. antsypants.com

SCULPTAPALOOZA This family game includes Educational Insights’ Play Foam sculpting medium and five crazy categories of play, including sculpting with your eyes closed, sculpting and acting with a prop and more. Why we love it: With 220 game cards, the fun will last and last. educationalinsights.com

BARBIE ICE CREAM CART Anytime is the perfect time for Barbie and her friends to serve up some sweet treats with this set by Just Play. Why we love it: This set comes with ice cream scoops, cones, spoons, play whipped cream, a working scooper, play chocolate syrup bottle, cash register and more. justplayproducts.com

TONKA POWER MOVERS CEMENT MIXER This rugged truck by Funrise features new Motion Drive Technology: Push the truck forward to make the engine rev and activate the lights; push the truck backward to hear backup sounds. Why we love it: When you spin the cement barrel, you’ll hear hydraulic sounds and see flashing lights. funrise.com

SPYX LITE HAND Become a junior James Bond with this toy by Mukikim that turns your own hands into a source of light. The light tubes glow to light your way with four bright LEDs. Why we love it: There are many other SpyX products to complete your collection. mukikim.com

LEGO FRIENDS THE BIG RACE DAY It’s a go-kart race between the friends of Heartlake City. The race building features a downstairs changing room with lockers and a restroom, while upstairs there’s a winner’s podium and VIP lounge. Why we love it: This set by Lego includes three mini-doll figures, each with her own go-kart and launcher plus three animal figures. lego.com

TRACK & RESCUE SAFARI ANIMALS PLAY SET Go wild for this 30-piece set by Melissa & Doug. Use the compass and red lens to follow paw tracks, and treat ailments and injuries with realistic accessories. Why we love it: The set comes with three topquality, cuddly safari animal friends. melissaanddoug.com

REAL WORKIN’ BUDDIES MR. BANKS ATM ARMORED TRUCK MACHINE Learn all about saving money with this personal ATM by Jakks Pacific. Mr. Banks counts, sorts and stacks your coins and uses his motorized mouth to eat your bills and keep them safe. Why we love it: The keypad and LCD screen help you keep track of how much money you’ve saved. jakks.com

HARRY POTTER WIZARD TRAINING WAND Train like a wizard with this wand from Jakks Pacific. With 11 different spells to learn, the wand recognizes movement to know when kids have cast their spells. Why we love it: The wand provides sound feedback when the spells have been cast correctly. jakks.com

SHADOWS IN THE FOREST This game by ThinkFun invites players to the forest in search of Shadowlings, mysterious creatures who avoid the light. The included LED lantern illuminates the forest and trees, casting real shadows on the game board. Why we love it: It’s meant to be played in the dark—how fun! thinkfun.com

CRAYOLA BUILDING BLOCKS ACTION BLOCKS These building blocks by Amloid are colorful and large, perfect for toddlers who are new to building. This set includes 115 pieces, and smaller sets are also available. Why we love it: Who doesn’t want a giant crayon tube! amloid.com

ANIMOODLES Mix and match these magnetic plush animals. Collection 1 features jungle animals, such as a lion and sloth, and Collection 2 features forest animals, such as an owl and fox. Why we love it: Who doesn’t want a cuddly friend with an orangutan head and a frog body? theanimoodles.com

MÜLTI PLAYMAT This durable, waterproof mat by Bblüv is made of super-comfy material that works for babies learning to roll over all the way up to playtime for toddlers. Why we love it: This mat easily rolls up for storage when playtime is over. bbluvgroup.com

LIL’ GLEEMERZ These cute and cuddly friends by Mattel feature four touch points that cause your Gleemer to react in fun and silly ways. With three play modes—Hangout Mode, Light Party Mode and Game Mode— you’ll never run out of fun. Why we love it: They have cute names, such as Rainbeam, Glowzer and Loomur. play.mattel.com

KLASK Klask is like air hockey but with magnets and a small round ball. Hit the ball into your opponent’s goal without attracting the white mini magnet or landing your piece in your own hole. Why we love it: This game by Buffalo Games is a popular pub game in Denmark, so you know adults will love it, too. buffalogames.com

KITTY BITTY Help the kitties jump, bat the yarn balls and race to the basket without getting caught by the mommy cat in this game by Blue Orange Games. Why we love it: This is actually a color recognition and memory game, as you have to correctly identify colors and remember which mommy cat’s eyes will catch the kittens. blueorangegames.com

KIIPIX KiiPix by Tomy is a portable instant picture printer that produces retro-styled photos from any smartphone. Perfect for any tween or teen, simply place the smartphone on the KiiPix and print photos from your camera roll or Instagram. Why we love it: Shopping for teens is hard. KiiPix makes it easy! tomy.com

DREAM PETS Dream Pets are back and bigger than ever. Made of a soft, huggable plush material and retro in style, these friends come in a variety of cute and cuddly characters. Why we love it: Their names and characters are just so cute: Leo Lion, Rusty Racket, McMonkey and Millie MooMoo. dreampets.com

COLOR CHEMISTRY LAB SET Calling all color-ologists, this chemistry set by Crayola is packed with experiences that explore color. The set contains enough Crayola materials and supplies to do 16 experiments right out of the box. Why we love it: All experiments have been created or approved by real Crayola scientists! shop.crayola.com

MASTERMIND Can you crack the code in 10 moves or less or create a code that can’t be cracked? The Codemaker sets a secret code, and then the Codebreakers tries to match the code using logic and deduction. Why we love it: Every game is guaranteed to be a brainteaser. pressmantoy.com

KWIRKY It’s a bluff and banter quiz game by Goliath Games where quick wit and cheeky confidence are just as important as actual knowledge. You decide the answers, but be careful. Someone might challenge your answer if you don’t show your confidence. Why we love it: Meant for ages 10 and up, it’s a game even your older kids will play. goliathgames.us

TRAILMASTER 2-SEAT WAGON The wagon of the future! The two wheel “zero turn” design makes it easy to handle for Mom and Dad. The deep foot well, drink holders and rotating lap bar make it comfy for the kids. Why we love it: It has seat belts for added safety, plus an umbrella holder for rain (or sun) protection! simplay3.com

3 DOODLER START ESSENTIALS 3D PRINTING PEN Bring any design to life with this starter 3-D pen by 3 Doodler. The activity guide features over 12 project ideas and a micro-USB charging cable is included. Why we love it: The pen and its creations are not hot to touch, so no burns! the3doodler.com

BLANKIE TAILS Who doesn’t love a comfy, cozy blanket? Now you can wear one! My Little Pony, mermaids, shark, rocket, they’re all super cuddly and super comfortable. Why we love it: Sizes available to fit babies through adults! blankietails.com

THE FIELD The Field features artificial grass (like a field), a picket fence, a moveable gate, tractor and farm animals. Let your imagination do the rest as you spend a day on the farm. Why we love it: Creative play builds character and emotional benefits! amazon.com

SPY CODE HACKATHON The operator is trapped in a room. It’s the experts’ job to help the operator hack their way into a hard drive and out of the room in time. Why we love it: Yulu made it difficult! The experts can’t see the hard drive, and the operator can’t see the manuals! yulutoys.com

SEE-ME SENSORY BALL The textured surface of this ball will keep babies guessing and enable an easy grip for toddlers. Why we love it: These Edushape balls support hand-eye coordination and socialization with others. edushape.com

PROFESSOR MAXWELL’S 4D KITCHEN Eighteen interactive recipes come to life with this augmented reality set. Why do apples brown? What’s the difference between good and bad fat? Find out here! Why we love it: The Professor will teach you to make your own pizza and more! spiceboxbooks.com

ROBOTICS SMART MACHINE This kit lets kids build eight motorized machines, controlled by programs and an ultrasound sensor. Kids code the programs using an easy app, connect to the robot and watch it go. Why we love it: Once kids learn the technology, they can build their own robots with the included pieces. thamesandkosmos.com

smART SKETCHER PROJECTOR Turn any picture into a sketch with this cool projector. The device is Bluetooth enabled, making transfer of images from any smartphone or tablet a cinch. The projector also comes pre-loaded with step-by-step drawings, learn to write letters and numbers and more. Why we love it: Additional pre-loaded SD cards are available. smartsketcher.com

JOHN DEERE TRACTOR ENGINE Pop the hood, perform routine maintenance and tinker with the engine in this mini-sized John Deere licensed tractor engine. Remove and replace spark plugs, wing nuts, the radiator grill, wheels and more. Why we love it: The tractor features battery-operated headlights, a horn and other electronic sounds. johndeerestore.com

MAD MATTR QUANTUM TOOLBOX Now you can improve your Relevant Play Mad Mattr building skills with this handy toolbox that includes 20 plastic tools and two packs of the squishy stuff. What will you build? Why we love it: It’s portable and easy to clean up. relevantplay.com

ELOISE GOES TO BED This soft, 14-inch Corolle baby doll is ready for bed. She has everything you need to get her ready: toothbrush, toothpaste, storybook and her blanket. Why we love it: This sweet doll smells like vanilla. corolle.com

STOMP ROCKET STUNT PLANES Just run, jump and stomp! These kid-powered Stomp Rocket planes can shoot up to 100 feet in the air. Set includes the looper, glider and Wildcat. Why we love it: Launch the Looper plane to watch it perform giant loops. stomprocket.com

WISE ALEC This family-friendly trivia game by Griddly Games includes questions in science, history and spelling taken directly from school curriculum. Be the first to get the most points in a set amount of time. Why we love it: It’s learning made fun and can be played in easy or hard mode. griddlygames.com

TECHNO GEARS DIZZY DROID With 80-plus construction pieces, a power motor and more, this Learning Journey kit includes everything needed for your little one to build their own droid. Why we love it: Teaches problem-solving skills, mechanics and engineering. learningjourney.com

THE FLOOR IS LAVA! This Endless Games favorite comes with 25 cushioned, durable “stones” to step on. Just don’t touch the floor! Includes 27 challenge cards, a spinner and more. Why we love it: It gets the kids up and moving. endlessgames.com

INVENTOR’S STUDIO This great kit includes 120-plus materials to create your own invention. Think it, explore it, sketch it, create it, try it, tweak it, sell it! Why we love it: Includes a 3D idea starter and tools to get you going! fabercastell.com

MLB-OPOLY JUNIOR Collect key positions and equipment as you make your way around the board. Make trades and hit a grand slam to group and earn money! Just don’t strike out. Why we love it: Choose your favorite team as your playing piece. masterpiecesinc.com

POWER ACTION PIKACHU Pikachu reacts to motion, lights up, has sound effects, speaks and has a light-up tail. Why we love it: The more you play with this Wicked Cool Toys’ Pikachu, the more varied and dynamic his responses come. So cuddle away! wickedcooltoys.com

CHRONO BOMB: NIGHT VISION Use the UV light goggles to illuminate your string maze. Can you make it through the “lasers” without touching a wire? Why we love it: This Play Monster favorite can be played with the lights off or on. playmonster.com

ELECTRIC FOOTBALL Can you guide your team to victory? You call the plays as you attempt to march your football action figures down the vibrating gridiron. Why we love it: Tudor Games packed all the thrill of football into a tabletop game that’s great for on-the-go fun. tudorgames.com

SEQUIN PETS: SPARKLES THE UNICORN Decorate this cuddly friend with the reusable felt stickers. He features a weighted body and reversible sequin design. Why we love it: Also comes in a narwhal, hippo, dinosaur, hedgehog and more. fabercastell.com

STORYTIME BUDDY It’s reading time, and Buddy is here to help with this cuddly literary helper from LeapFrog. Choose from five fun books and read along with Buddy, answer reading comprehension questions from Buddy and press Buddy’s light-up tag to hear him talk and sing. Why we love it: Press the nighttime button to hear a lullaby. leapfrog.com

CALICO CRITTERS GRAND DEPARTMENT STORE This all-in-one gift set comes with the Boutique Fashion Set, Cosmetic Beauty Set, Fashion Showcase Set, Chocolate Lounge and Town Girl Series’ Hopscotch Rabbit. Why we love it: You can create your own townscape by combining this product with other buildings in the Town series. calicocritters.com

STMT DIY SIGNATURE SPA Make it a spa day and create your own perfume bars and body lotion in lavender, rose and vanilla scents. Perfect for sleepovers and motherdaughter bonding time! Why we love it: Mix and match the powder colorants, by Horizon Group USA, to create tie-dye perfume bars. horizongroupusa.com

YOU*NIVERSE COSMETICS + COMPOUNDS CHEMISTRY LAB Be a chemist in training with this cosmetic set, by Horizon Group USA, containing DIY, must-have beauty essentials. Learn how to make shimmery lip balms and sweet-smelling perfumes. Why we love it: You can use home ingredients to conduct additional experiments so the learning never has to stop. horizongroupusa.com PLASMA GLOBE Turn off the lights, hold out your hand and get ready to be amazed. This incredible orb, by Discovery Kids, responds to touch, sound and music. Why we love it: It’s a science lesson literally at your fingertips, as the electricity inside responds to your touch. discoverykids.com

KIDI SECRETS SELFIE JOURNAL Your secrets are safe with this electronic journal, by VTech. Make a photo journal, write diary entries or record messages. Better yet, keep them safe with facial recognition software that only unlocks the journal when it recognizes you. Why we love it: Comes with a full suite of mini apps with games, photo and video filters, music and virtual pets. vtechkids.com CHASE ME CASEY Does your baby need a little encouraging to start moving? This adorable monkey, by VTech, skates, spins and wobbles across the floor, in hopes that your little one will dance and crawl after him. When Baby gets close, Casey gives a reward of fun sounds and silly phrases. Why we love it: This toy is educational, too, introducing letters, numbers and body parts. vtechkids.com

STROLL & DISCOVER ACTIVITY WALKER There’s so much to do with this walker, by VTech. Light-up piano keys introduce colors and numbers, gears and a removeable cell phone help develop fine motor skills and friendly animals introduce shapes. Why we love it: The activity panel is removeable, so this toy serves double-duty when playtime moves from on-the-go to floor time. vtechkids.com

SMASHERS SLUDGE BUS & SMASHERS They’re yucky, they’re gross, they’re Smashers, from Zuru. This bus stores over 50 smashers and unfolds into a sludgy bathroom where you can then plunge your Smashers into the toilet. Why we love it: This set includes two exclusive Smashers— one in a cool eyeball that you can rebuild and resmash anytime. smashersworld.zuru.com

MAX BUILD MORE 759 PIECES With this large building set by Zuru, kids can create until their imagination is content with bricks that are compatible with other building brick brands. Brick packs can be accessorized with other products, including figure packs; accessory packs with windows, doors, fences and wheels; and baseplate packs. Why we love it: The company emphasizes that they have created a quality product at a price that doesn’t break the bank. buildtothemax.zuru.com

RESCUE RUNTS These rescue pups, by KD Kids, need a furr-ever home. Adopt your stray pet, clean them up and love them furr-ever—complete with an official adoption certificate. Why we love it: Kids can actually brush their pup’s messy fur (full of removeable fleas) for the full effect. rescuerunts.com

CALICO CRITTERS DESIGNER STUDIO Stella, the Hopscotch Rabbit older sister, works as a dress designer in town. Invite your other Calico Critters friends to enjoy a tea party inside Stella’s Designer Studio, by Epoch. Why we love it: The Designer Studio can be combined with other buildings, such as the Grand Department Store, Delicious Restaurant and Creamy Gelato Shop, to create the perfect townscape. calicocritters.com

REINDEER IN HERE, A CHRISTMAS FRIEND Santa has sent one of his reindeer as the first gift of the holiday season. Meant to let Santa get to know your child, each night the reindeer sends notes to Santa telling him about the child and what their true Christmas wishes are. On Christmas Eve, the reindeer joins Santa for his trip back to the North Pole. Why we love it: Reindeer In Here emphasizes a positive Christmas tradition (no spying on the kids!), which means kids can carry their reindeer with them and there’s no stress for parents. reindeerinhere.com

ASTEROID ESCAPE Test your flying skills in this galactic sliding puzzle by Smart Games. Navigate your spaceship through the asteroid field in order to escape. Why we love it: With 60 missions, from beginner to expert, there’s a game for all levels. smartgames.eu

SNOT IT Now it’s OK to pick your boogers! Wear the snot glasses, spin the spinner, set the timer and pick up the number of boogers you spun with the hanging snot before time runs out. If you accidentally pick up a purple booger, everyone must yell “snot it!” Why we love it: It’s gross. It’s silly. This game by KD Games is fun for the whole family. kdplanet.com/us

NOT PARENT APPROVED This card game, inspired by Cards Against Humanity—but for kids, starts by reading a question card. Then, players choose the answer card they think best answers the question. The best (and likely silliest) answer wins that round. Why we love it: The game starts with a burp-off to determine which player should be the Burp Boss. I mean, what could be better? notparentapproved.com

SQUIRRELS GO NUTS! Go nuts with this puzzle meant to test your thinking skills. Help the squirrels get ready for winter by moving them around and hiding their acorns underground. Why we love it: You’ll never get bored with 60 nutty challenges. smartgames.eu

IQ STARS How brainy are you feeling today? Test your puzzle skills by placing the seven stellar puzzle pieces on the grid to win the challenge. Why we love it: The game gives you 120 challenges, from easy to expert. smartgames.eu

DOH VINCI ON THE GO ART STUDIO SET For the creative artist on the go, this Hasbro set includes five tubes of Doh Vinci compound, plus 10 tools to create works of art anywhere, anytime. Why we love it: It’s a workspace, storage and carrying case in one. hasbrotoyshop.com

MARVEL SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE SUPER COLLIDER PLAYSET This movie-inspired playset includes multiple play areas and features that will ignite your little one’s imagination. They will be fighting bad guys and taking down criminals in no time. Why we love it: Includes a 6-inch Miles Morales figure, plus a King Pin cutout to launch projectiles at. hasbrotoyshop.com

PLAY-DOH BUZZ ‘N CUT PLAYSET This Hasbro classic is sure to win over your little one. Squeeze out the “hair,” then style, cut and comb to your hearts content. Why we love it: The shaver makes realistic buzzing sounds! hasbrotoyshop.com

BEN 10 OMNI-LAUNCH BATTLE FIGURES Transform Ben’s omni-enhanced aliens in a whole new way. Use the launcher to load the disc and launch it—the figure transforms in mid-air, ready to battle. Why we love it: It’s fully adjustable to fit even the smallest of Ben 10’s fans wrists. playmatestoys.com

BLINDFOLDED TWISTER Hasbro has made Twister even more challenging! Think you could win while blindfolded? Feel along for the raised shapes with your hands and feet for an added level of mystery. Why we love it: Come on, this is just fun! hasbrotoyshop.com

CONNECT 4 SHOTS Players simultaneously bounce balls into the grid to see who can get four in a row first! Why we love it: The grid folds into a handy-dandy storage case. hasbrotoyshop.com

SESAME STREET LET’S DANCE ELMO Elmo encourages little ones to get up and get active while swinging his arms, tilting his head and shaking his hips, all while dancing to the Elmo’s World theme. Why we love it: The three musical modes include colors, animals and a fun music remix. hasbrotoyshop.com

PLAYMOBIL HIDDEN TEMPLE Join the Playmobil explorers on a Jurassic adventure. Rub the map to reveal the hidden treasure and then make your way there. Just watch out for the fierce T-Rex! Why we love it: Use the included flashlight to reveal glow-in-the-dark features. playmobil.us

SESAME STREET FEED ME COOKIE MONSTER Feed Cookie a treat and he will say thanks by singing a song and being silly. Squeeze his belly to hear his tummy rumble and hear him talk. Why we love it: Batteries are included! hasbrotoyshop.com

MAGNA-TILES FREESTYLE With these colorful magnet shapes by Magna-Tiles your little one’s creativity is limited only by their imagination. Why we love it: Check out the new “X” shapes that allow kids to build in any direction using nine moving magnets. magnatiles.com

MAGNA-TILES ICE These clear magnets are a new and exciting way to build with Magna-Tiles, giving the appearance of building with glass. Why we love it: They are compatible with all other Magna-Tile sets! magnatiles.com

UNTAMED JAILBREAK Like Fingerlings only ferocious! This Untamed set comes with Infrared, an exclusive T-rex. Watch out! He will escape if you pull the lever. Why we love it: Additional raptors and T-rex figures are available and sold separately. wowwee.com

WHAT’S THAT SMELL? Are you brave enough to take a whiff? Guess the scents (from nice to nasty) to win or suffer the smelly consequences. Why we love it: Download the companion app to catch all the hilarity on the ReekCam. wowwee.com LIL’ E RAZOR SCOOTER This first electric scooter by Razor is perfect for ages 3 and up. With the push of a button, get ready for an hour of continuous play reaching speeds of 2mph. Why we love it: The stability of three wheels makes it safe for the littles. razorusa.com

HAPPY SALMON Everyone simultaneously calls out the action shown on their top card, including “High 5,” “Pound It,” “Switcheroo” or “Happy Salmon.” When two players have a match, they perform that action together. Then both players discard that card and call out the next action. The first player to discard all their cards wins! Why we love it: This award-winning family game takes about 30 seconds to learn! northstargames.com

FUNKY CHICKEN Swing, spin, bump and dance (the “Funky Chicken,” of course!) your way to winning in this quickplay Happy Planet family game. Why we love it: The chicken pouch is the perfect carry-all case! northstargames.com

PLAYMOBIL BARN WITH SILO Feed the farm animals, work the silo and hang out in the loft. It’s just another day on the farm! Includes lots of accessories to play with! Have young children? Check out the Playmobil 1-2-3 set for the younger crowd. Our favorite is the pirate ship! Why we love it: Playmobil is all about imaginative play. playmobil.us

NERF MODULUS GHOST OPS EVADER BLASTER This stealthy, clear Nerf gun is perfect for remaining unseen while in combat. Illuminate the blaster to guide your way through lowlight situations. Why we love it: Unleash 12 darts in a row with rapid-fire motorized blasting. hasbrotoyshop.com

NERF RIVAL PHANTOM CORPS This one’s for the older kids. Load 60 high-impact rounds into the easy-load magazine, prime the weapon and pull the trigger. They’ll never know what hit them. Why we love it: Two flags are included for a great game of capture the flag. hasbrotoyshop.com

MAGIC SCHOOL BUS GROWING CRAZY CRYSTALS Explore sugar and salt crystals, grow rock candy, create crystal art and more with Ms. Frizzle and her students with this set from The Young Scientists Club. Why we love it: Track your crazy crystal growth with the included observation chart. theyoungscientistsclub.com

SELMA’S DOLLS These soft-bodied dolls are perfect for toddlers who are looking for a new friend. Each doll in the three-doll collection celebrates diversity: Annie, a Down syndrome friend; Lola, a Mexican-American friend; and Ameena, a Muslim friend. Why we love it: The doll and book set recently won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, recognizing it as one of the most innovative and engaging new products of the year. selmasdolls.com

AURA STEALTH DRONE Perform a cool 360-degree flip, or race your drone, by KD Interactive, through an obstacle course. Why we love it: Forget the joystick. This drone is controlled by the glove controllers and a simple wave of your hand. aura-drone.com AQUABEADS DELUXE STUDIO This set, by Epoch, lets designers create dozens of cute characters, ice cream and fruit, cuddly animals and even 3-D turtles with 1,300 jewels and solidcolored beads. Why we love it: Aquabeads stick with water—simply spray the beads and your beautiful creations come together. aquabeadsart.com

STORY BLOX Follow the adventures of Seymour and his robot, Robyn, as they make their way through the scenes of the novelette Earth One. The storybook includes QR codes that create an interactive learning environment using online resources. Why we love it: Story Blox models, by E-Blox, are built in several parts of the story and include over 100 parts. myeblox.com

MAGICPAD Draw a picture, press the button to make your art glow super bright and then just wipe it clean to do it all over again. The MagicPad comes with three dual-sided neon pens, 30 insert cards, a travel storage case and a fun guide loaded with ideas. Why we love it: The MagicPad has eight different light effects. buymagicpad.com

TUBE SUPERSTAR Be a YouTube star with this set by Zuru. Record and edit your own vlogs using 50-plus filters and animations and three video modes: Challenge, How-To and Performance. Why we love it: The microphone is compatible with both iPhone and Android smartphone devices and includes a stand and selfie stick. zuru.com

SUNNY BUNNIES BUNNY BLAST PLAYSET Launch Big Boo, Shiny, Iris, Turbo and Hopper out of the cannon with the push of a button. Which bunny do you think will fly the farthest? Why we love it? Buy two playsets, by Funrise, and have a bunny blastoff challenge. sunnybunnies.funrise.com

GIGANTIC RECYCLING TRUCK Reduce, reuse and recycle with this gigantic recycling truck, by American Plastic Toys. The truck features a swivel back bin for pickups, sorting side bins and a tilting dump bed for emptying. Why we love it: The big wheels are perfect for playing in the dirt outside. americanplastictoys.com

MARVEL SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE WEB SLINGER Now you can blast webs just like Miles Morales. This kit includes a glove, gauntlet, water canister and web fluid. Why we love it: You can buy web refills to keep the fun going. hasbrotoyshop.com

MARVEL SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE SHOCK STRIKE MILES MORALES SPIDER-MAN FIGURE Team up with Miles Morales to save the city and blast into action. Why we love it: Control this Hasbro figure’s movements or blast web missiles using the included wearable wrist gauntlet. hasbrotoyshop.com

OOLY ART PRODUCTS Unleash your inner artists with these products from Ooly: the Scratch and Scribble Scratch Art Kit includes four illustrated cards and a scratching tool, the Fab Fountain Pens take your signature up a notch with their fine points, the Glamtastic Glitter Notebooks are small sized and come in a variety of funky glitter colors, the Sketch and Color Colored Pencil Set are perfect partnered with any Ooly sketchbooks, the Creatibles DIY Window Cling Art Kit adds color to your windows and uses the light to brighten up your room and Chunkies Paint Sticks are clean and portable because they’re like painting with a crayon. Why we love it: Glitter is our favorite color. ooly.com

OOLY ART PRODUCTS Have you heard? Coloring is the new stress reliever. Get started with these products from Ooly: the Carry Along Sketchbook comes in a fox, cat or dog design and has a large handle that’s perfect for small hands, just add water to the Chroma Blends Watercolor Brush Markers for amazing watercolor art, Yummy Yummy Scented Glitter Gel Pens come in a variety of scents like watermelon and grape, The Pencil Works Graphite Pencils are the perfect pencils for drawing, the Modern Script Fountain Pens and Journal come in metallic gold, rose gold and silver and are perfect for the included 60-page gold and silver ombre-covered journal. The Ink Works Markers come in a set of five black ink markers, and each have a different type of tip, and The Paper Works Sketchbook includes white, black, graph and craft paper—all in one sketchbook. Why we love it: These products are perfect for practicing your hand lettering. ooly.com LOST KITTIES BLIND BOX MULTIPLACK Just dig through the shaping compound to reveal your feline friend. There are 20 different cute Hasbro Lost Kitties to collect. Why we love it: Each carton contains five kitties, including a special edition kitty! hasbrotoyshop.com

LOCK STARS MEGA PACK Use the key to open the figure and reveal the surprise. Trade with friends to collect all the characters. Includes four locks, eight keys, four clippable pals and eight charm accessories. Why we love it: There’s a special fuzzy lock included! hasbrotoyshop.com

DISNEY PRINCESS POP UP PALACE PLAYSET For the ultimate princess fan, this Hasbro palace includes princessinspired accessories and rooms. Replay your favorite movie moments again and again. Why we love it: Pull the top handle to expand the palace to 2 feet tall. hasbrotoyshop.com

STACKING OWLS These Discovery Toys wooden owls stack upright, upside down and even sideways. The handy balance bars are included for more advanced stacking. Numbered one through 12, they are great for number recognition and play, too. Why we love it: You can purchase through Erin Roney, a local mom who specializes in Discovery Toys. https://bit.ly/2P70kL5 or email her at eroneydiscoverytoys@yahoo.com

MEASURE UP! CUPS These Discovery Toys cups do it all. Stacking and nesting, number and size sequencing, color sorting, clock face positions, and number and word recognition. That’s money well spent! Why we love it: All in all, there are more than 12 fun learning concepts to master! Contact Erin Roney for purchasing information or to receive a catalog at eroneydiscoverytoys@yahoo.com

CRAYOLA DOUGH Mold and shape this superpliable Crayola dough! Your imagination is the limit. Why we love it: The containers look like Crayola crayons, and the dough comes in classic Crayola colors! playvisions.com

CRAYOLA SLYME 6-PACK Who doesn’t love slime? Stretch it, squish it and just have fun with it! Why we love it: This Crayola Slyme set comes with six different colors, so get creative. playvisions.com

WIZ KIDZ Can you think of an animal that starts with “A” that lives in the water? How about something made of wood that starts with the letter “M”? This game boosts sorting and listening skills. Why we love it: It’s fast paced and engaging. Contact Erin Roney for purchasing information or to receive a catalog at eroneydiscoverytoys@yahoo.com

FRYIN FLYIN DONUTS How fast can you hook your donuts? Be the first player or team to fry and fly all your donuts into the baker’s box. The first to do all three donuts wins! Why we love it: This game by Maya Games is guaranteed to provide lots of laughs. mayatoys.net

UNICORN HOPPER Have a seat and bounce away with this great Antsy Pants toy. It also comes in a dinosaur! Great exercise and way to get the jiggles out. Why we love it: It’s easy to inflate and deflate. antsypants.com

BUILD & PLAY POLES AND CONNECTOR SET This kit takes fort building to new levels. Snap and click connectors ensure a strong structure for your little one to play in. Why we love it: The covers are endless from lemonade and farmers markets to a café and a puppet theater. Need a relaxing hideout? Opt for the teepee or cottage covers. antsypants.com

OUR GENERATION DOLL DARCY LYNN This country gal includes a button-up shirt, bolo tie, jeans and cowboy boots. Looking for something for Darcy to do? Check out the Our Generation equestrian line, including horses, stable, outfits and foals. Why we love it: She’s compatible with American Girl clothes and accessories. target.com

BRAIN BOLT Memorize the light sequence and follow along as long as you can. This Educational Insights favorite features leveling up and timed play for an added challenge. Why we love it: It’s the perfect size to take on the go. educationalinsights.com


BATTAT FIRE TRUCK This Driven fire truck by Battat has multiple moving parts, including the cab and ladder. Oversized and super sturdy, your little one will play for hours, putting out imaginary fires. Why we love it: It shoots real water, has lights and makes noise. What’s not to love? target.com

BATTAT MICRO CRANE TRUCK The extendable crane swivels the support legs fold in and the doors and hood open. This Driven crane by Battat does it all. Collect the fire truck, tow truck, recycling truck and backhoe loader, too! Why we love it: Check out the lights and sounds! target.com

STABLE HORSE This sweet pony is compatible with the 18-inch Our Generation dolls. Now your cowgirl has a new best friend, complete with a bale of hay and pitchfork. Why we love it: Check out the horse’s matching blanket and bridle. Plus, no batteries required! target.com

MEGALOPOLIS COLLECTIBLES If it’s a collectible, you’ll find it at Megalopolis Toys. From figures and statues to sets and collections, they have it all in just about every character imaginable. You have to check it out for yourself! Why we love it: There’s a rewards program to earn free collectibles. megalopolis.toys

CHICKAPIG Can the chicken-pig hybrid reach its goal while avoiding hay bales and dodging opponents and pooping cows? This strategic game will have you and your youngster thinking in a whole new way. Why we love it: It’s a new version of farm-to-table fun! chickapig.com

MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE HOT DIGGITY DANCE & PLAY MICKEY Everyone loves the “Hot Dog Song” from the Disney Junior series. Now you can boogie down with the mouse himself right at home with this plush Mickey by Just Play. Why we love it: Mickey also plays fun games like freeze dance and the “What’s That Sound?” game. justplayproducts.com

DOC MCSTUFFINS PET RESCUE MOBILE CLINIC It’s Doc McStuffins to the pet rescue! This mobile clinic by Just Play is perfect for on-the-go care, equipped with lights, music, phrases and play medical tools and accessories. Why we love it: The clinic even comes with a pretend EKG reader, talking stethoscope and a light and sound control panel that locates pets in need. justplayproducts.com

CONSTRUCT A TRUCK This dump truck is two toys in one! Take the truck apart and build it again with the included tools by Mukikim. Once completed, the truck is friction powered, so no batteries are required. Why we love it: This toy also comes in a mixer, excavator and crane. mukikim.com

DIGGIN’ DINO BONES Preschoolers can go on an excavation with their parents right in their own homes—no fancy shovels required. Diggin’ Dino Bones is a puzzle game by Continuum Games that will have everyone digging for bones and assembling a skeleton. Why we love it: We’ve always wanted to be a paleontologist! continuumgames.com

PANDEMONIUM Race against your opponent to recreate the images in this unique game by Mukikim. This fast-paced game will keep every member on their toes. Why we love it: This game trains your mind to react quickly. mukikim.com

WORD Q Choose a puzzle from the Word Q book, set up the letter tiles shown in the puzzle, then rearrange the letters so they form words in every row and column. It’s a jumbled crossword brain teaser! Why we love it: This game by Continuum Games features 40 puzzles in different difficulty levels, from beginning to Word Q pro. continuumgames.com

BAND-IN-A-BOX This set by Schoenhut is a great introduction for little musicians. Featuring many different instruments and sounds, striking up their first band will be quite the show. Why we love it: We always wanted to play the triangle! schoenhut.com

BABY GRAND PIANO This elegant baby grand by Schoenhut produces unique chimelike tones created by small hammers striking metal rods. The width of the keys promotes proper finger placement for young pianists. Why we love it: This model is excellent for children who have already been introduced to pianos or for children who have just started their musical journey. schoenhut.com

LEGO CITY ARCTIC SUPPLY PLANE Get ready for an Arctic expedition with this Lego set featuring a plane with an opening back and ski landing gear; an ice cutter vehicle with rotating cab, saw arm and spinning blade; an ice scooter and a frozen saber-toothed tiger encased in an ice formation. Why we love it: This set includes four minifigures: the explorer, pilot, expedition leader and driver. lego.com

ADVENTURE FORCE TACTICAL STRIKE QUANTUM Let the battle begin! This highcapacity ball blaster is perfect in a team competition with fully automatic firepower and the included 75 tactical strike rounds. Why we love it: This blaster holds up to 100 rounds and is compatible with most Nerf Rival Blasters. walmart.com

FIRST PLAY ELEPHANT ROCKING STACKER Sort and stack six brightly colored wooden pieces with this set by Melissa & Doug. The smooth pieces are easy for babies and toddlers to grasp, and the bright colors and bold patterns spark wonder. Why we love it: This toy encourages fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. melissaanddoug.com

DC SUPER FRIENDS HERODRIVE BATMAN RACER Perfect for little hands, this motorized vehicle features lights, engine sounds and music that brings Batman’s world to life. Push the Batman logo on the hood to send the racer moving forward with its cape flying behind. Why we love it: Push the windshield and the wings pop out. funrise.com

FIRST PLAY CHOMP & CLACK ALLIGATOR PUSH TOY Make your toddler’s first steps extra fun with this sturdy wooden walker by Melissa & Doug. Three friendly alligators take turns chomping with each step. Why we love it: This classic walker encourages gross motor development, coordination and color recognition. melissaanddoug.com

TOTE & TOUR PET TRAVEL PLAY SET No one wants to leave their precious pooch at home when they travel. This set by Melissa & Doug has all the realistic pet travel essentials you need for a long adventure. Why we love it: This set comes with a plush cat and dog, pet carrier, leash, collar, harness, name tags, food and water dish, and ball. melissaanddoug.com

MORFBOARD It all starts with the deck. From there, add the skate and scoot combo to transform the deck into a skateboard and scooter; add the Balance Xtension to test your skills or the Bounce Xtension for super bounce power. Why we love it: Lock & Release Technology makes the MorfBoard by Jakks Pacific easy for kids to transform their ride in seconds. morfboard.com

JIGGLYDOOS JigglyDoos by Jakks Pacific are cute animals that live in a world where everything wiggles. JigglyDoos packs come in two-packs and multipacks. There are 32 fun characters to collect in Series 1, such as unicorns, bunnies, kittens, seals and more. Why we love them: The JigglyDoos Party House (sold separately) is the ultimate place for a dance party, so get your wiggle on and dive onto the dance floor to bounce the night away. jakks.com

TONKA MIGHTY BUILDERS TIRE TRACK CASE SET Perfect for little hands, this set by Amloid opens to reveal space to build a ramp for the three-piece, take-apart-and-build truck and construction worker figure. Why we love it: Any toy that comes with its own carrying case to store all the small pieces is a winner in our minds. amloid.com

LASER CHESS Laser Chess by ThinkFun combines the critical-thinking skills of chess with the fun of laser beams. Players take turns moving their mirrored pieces around the board and firing a real laser beam from their laser. The beam bounces from mirror to mirror, and if it strikes a non-mirrored surface, that piece is removed from play. Why we love it: If you illuminate your opponent’s king, you win! thinkfun.com

CAT CRIMES Everyone knows kitty cats can be naughty. In this game by ThinkFun, players will find out which of the six furry felines was responsible for each Cat Crime. Why we love it: You have to use problem-solving skills and kitty clues to solve the mystery. thinkfun.com

MEGA GEMSTONE MINE DIG KIT Start a rock collection and learn about precious gems and minerals with this set from National Geographic. Fifteen rocks and gems are hidden in a brick of sand. Use the digging tools to unearth gems like amethyst, tiger’s eye, rose quartz and more. Why we love it: Who doesn’t want to find buried treasure? shop.nationalgeographic.com

MEGA SLIME AND PUTTY LAB Explore the squishy, stretchy side of science with this set by National Geographic, containing eight varieties of slime and putty, including magnetic putty, fluffy slime, glow-in-the-dark putty, liquid slime, color-changing putty, snotty slime, bouncing putty and a DIY slime lab. Why we love it: Slime is so in right now! shop.nationalgeographic.com WILDLIFE WOW ANIMAL FIGURES These soft and squeezable animals from National Geographic can bend and move to mimic the actual movement of each unique animal. The figures come in a variety of animals from fierce dinos and farmyard friends to water animals such as the walrus, shark and dolphin. Why we love it: The free Wildlife Wow app allows you to explore the animals in virtual reality mode to see their bone structures. shop.nationalgeographic.com

HOT WHEELS CITY PLAYSET Set up your Hot Wheels city with these playsets that attach to your larger Hot Wheels sets. From the police station and fuel stop to the power plant and fire station, these sets by Mattel add even more fun to your Hot Wheels world. Why we love it: These small, compact sets offer plenty of action but don’t take up a ton of space. hotwheels.mattel.com

MEGA BREAKOUT BEASTS Dig out the pieces from the egg to build your beast. With these surprise eggs by Mega Construx, you won’t know which beast you’ll get until you break it open. Collect them all to mix and match the pieces to make your own monsters. Why we love it: These eggs come with a surprise inside kids are sure to love. (Psst, it’s slime!) megaconstrux.com POLLY POCKET WORLD Polly Pocket by Mattel is back and more fun than ever. Sets include the Pocket Size Picnic Compact, Teeny Boppin’ Concert Compact and Out Of Sight Campsite Compact. Each set includes a character and fun pocket-sized accessories. Why we love it: The Polly Pocket world has been revamped with fun games and videos on the website. play.pollypocket.com

32” PLAYDATE RAPUNZEL DOLL Who doesn’t want a giant Disney Princess doll for a friend? Fully articulated and sporting her signature purple dress, Rapunzel by Jakks Pacific has long, blonde hair that’s perfect for brushing and styling, and she comes with a removable dress, shoes and tiara. Why we love it: At 32 inches, she’s almost as tall as your toddler! jakks.com

NFL SHOWDOWN Choose your favorite NFL team and outsmart your opponent by calling the plays on both offense and defense. Choose the right play and get rewarded! Roll the dice to see if you’re team will go for extra yardage or if a key play will result in a turnover. Why we love it: All 32 teams are represented in this game by Buffalo Games, so this is the perfect gift for the football fan that has everything. buffalogames.com

FISH FEUD Catapult all the squishy fish through the center of the game board, but hurry! The first player to launch all fish to their opponent’s side wins. Why we love it: This game by Buffalo Games requires speed, accuracy and concentration—it’s the perfect way to take a break from screen time. buffalogames.com

MAKI STACK It’s time for a sushi showdown! Put on your mask and prepare to use your fingers as chopsticks. Balance and arrange the sushi exactly as shown on the card. Be careful—one wrong move and everything might tumble over. Why we love it: This set by Blue Orange Games comes with three different types of sushi: two Maki, two California rolls and two Tobiko rolls. blueorangegames.com

WHO DID IT It wasn’t my pup! Players race to get rid of their cards so they can avoid the blame of owning the animal that pooped. Find your card, be the first to throw it down and then blame someone else. Why we love it: This game by Blue Orange Games has just the right amount of potty humor, which means both adults and kids will love it. blueorangegames.com

SHAKY MANOR The creepy house on the corner contains hidden treasures. Will you take the chance on entering to strike it rich? Race your Meeple Player around the rooms by shaking and tilting the box to keep the treasures safe from the creatures that haunt the house in this game by Blue Orange Games. Why we love it: The creepy creatures consist of ghosts, eyes, spiders and snakes—how spooky! blueorangegames.com

HAPPY BUNNY Help the bunny pick the best carrots to bring home to his family in this game by Blue Orange Games. Test the carrots to find the most delicious ones. All the bitten carrots are for the bunny, while the others are for the farmer. At the end of the game, line up the bunny’s carrots and compare them with the farmer’s to see who has the tastiest bunch. Why we love it: This game helps kids practice their math skills in disguise. blueorangegames.com STINK BOMZ Have you ever met a fart? We think not! Meet the Stink Bomz by Tomy. Each Stink has its own silly smell and fun personality and makes three unique fart noises. Why we love it: The Stink Bomz have funny names that even adults will find humorous, such as Mr. Stinker, Ripper, Spicy and Groaner. tomy.com

THOMAS & FRIENDS BIG LOADER SODOR ISLAND DELIVERY SET Get ready for loads of fun helping Thomas and his friends transport cargo throughout Sodor with this set by Tomy. Start by loading Percy up with the cargo, Terence pushes the cargo to Thomas and Thomas delivers his cargo on time. Why we love it: This set features multiple loading areas and a motorized engine that transfers from Thomas to Percy to Terence—and then back again! tomy.com

PHIL THE FRIDGE Push Phil’s head down to set him spinning. Each time he stops, quickly fill him up with food. Be quick—before he starts spinning again. Why we love it: As you’re playing, Phil randomly pops open his door. Any of the food pieces that fall out must be collected by the player they belong to. tomy.com

JOHN DEERE BUILD-AJOHNNY TRACTOR This 16-piece set by Tomy includes a battery-powered drill to take apart and build Johnny Tractor all over again. It’s made of chunky parts, so it’s easy for little hands to assemble, and the set includes two drill bits for lots of buildable fun. Why we love it: Once the tractor is assembled, this free-rolling tractor is ready for free play. tomy.com

JOHN DEERE LEARN N POP JOHNNY Learn shapes, number and colors all while playing with everyone’s favorite tractor. Match all seven shapes and then give Johnny a push and…POP, the shapes come out for the baby to chase after and play with again. Why we love it: Johnny Tractor’s huge blue eyes make him fun and loveable for kids. tomy.com

CRAYON MELTER Create melted crayon crafts, decorative signage, pixel art and so much more with this safe and easy-to-use crayon-melting tool by Crayola. It’s low-heat tip makes it safe for kids ages 8 and up. Why we love it: Crayons dry in seconds on wood, canvas, cardboard and more. shop.crayola.com

SCRIBBLE SCRUBBIE SCRUB TUB PET PLAYSET Make colorful drawings and doodle designs on the four Scribble Scrubbie Pets using the six washable markers. Then, pop them into the scrub tub, rinse and personalize them all over again. Why we love it: Additional pet bundles can be purchased separately to collect all 12 characters. shop.crayola.com

LET’S GO FISHIN’ Reel in some fun with this game by Pressman. Use the mini fishing poles to catch the most fish, all while the board game spins and the fish open and close their mouths. Why we love it: It’s the original version of a well-known and wellloved fishing game that parents will remember playing when they were kids. pressmantoy.com

LUCKY DUCKS Switch on the pond, and the ducks start swimming. The bottom side of each duck has a colored shape. Take turns picking a duck and looking at the color and shape. If it matches, you get to keep it. Why we love it: This game by Pressman is all about developing memory skills for little ones ready to enjoy their first game. pressmantoy.com

HYDRO STRIKE Make a splash in this head-to-head pinball game by Pressman. Shoot your ball into your opponent’s goal. Score and they will get sprayed in the face with water. Why we love it: A sprayer is aimed at both players, so strike quick—or you’ll get the spray! pressmantoy.com

I-TOP It’s a new generation of tops! This high-tech top by Goliath Games keeps track of the number of spins while LEDs light up the display. Spin your way to the top score by competing in challenges. Why we love it: Unlock hidden features by spinning the top an exact number of spins to show special animations. goliathgames.us

ITTY BITTY BUGGY This kit by Microduino comes with a base Buggy plus four opportunities to build a sloth, a ladybug, a dodo bird and an alien. You can also modify one of the projects to create your own–it’s programmable in Scratch, Python or Arduino and is controllable over Bluetooth with the app. Why we love it: STEM toys can be educational and fun! microduinoinc.com TOCK THE LEARNING CLOCK This friendly robot encourages hands-on learning with analog clock hands, but functions as a real clock with a digital display. Musical mode rewards correct answers with a dance while question mode adds a little challenge to the game. Why we love it: The “OK to wake” light lets kids know when it’s OK to get out of bed! learningresources.com

BONES! STEM AT PLAY KIT Ten activities, including dissecting real owl pellets to look for animal bones, assembling real animal skeletons and conducting an experiment to turn bones into rubber are included in this kit. And that’s just the beginning! Why we love it: The 20-page lab guide is filled with interesting, colorful facts. amazon.com

THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR SPIN SEEK GAME This beloved character teaches kids the difference between upper and lowercase letters while exploring the ABCs in this University Games game. Why we love it: Early letter recognition leads to early reading! universitygames.com

KIDS ON STAGE This Briarpatch Kids game will have them jumping, twirling and guessing their team members’ card. Have fun acting out animals, objects and actions. Why we love it: No reading required, so it’s fun for all ages. target.com

UNICORN RAINBOW BEAUTY This colorful plush horse by Haba features chenille rainbow-colored hair and a pink tail, perfect for braiding. She stands 14 inches tall and is perfect for hugging, too! Why we love it: The detachable wings and horn go from unicorn to Pegasus to horse. habausa.com

TOOL BOX & HAMMER BENCH Haba has done it again! This wooden bench will keep your little one occupied for hours. A three-hole template is included to make screwing the screws into the board easy peasy. Why we love it: It’s a classic toy and encourages imaginative play. habausa.com

PENDULONIUM STEM CHALLENGE Force and momentum have never been so much fun! Launch balls with this adjustable pendulum from Learning Resources and see if you can catch them. Earn a challenge reward when you find a solution to the problem. Why we love it: It’s kid-powered. No need for batteries, rubber bands or springs. learningresources.com

CARRY & GO TRACK TABLE This two-sided, heavy-duty plastic play table by Simplay 3 features a figure-eight race track on one side and a train track on the other. Why we love it: The easy-carry side handle makes fun on the go a cinch. simplay3.com

TOILET PAPER BLASTER SKID SHOT Transform clean toilet paper into clean spitballs, then launch them up to 30 feet away. It’s biodegradable, so no cleanup is necessary when used outside! One roll equals more than 350 balls. Why we love it: It’s kind of gross, so the little ones will love it for sure! jakkspacific.com

GRUMBLIES Poke, prod or shake them too much and your Grumblie will go into meltdown mode. Each Grumblie features more than 40 sounds and reactions, and their bad attitudes are just too cute. Why we love it: Their names are Scorch, Tremor, Hydro and Bolt. grumbliesmeltdown.com

SMOOSHY MUSHY BENTOS The squishable toy craze is as hot as ever. Check out these Redwood Ventures Bento collections! Heather Heartsicle, Libby Labby and Freddie Fries are a must for your collection. Why we love it: Now they’re scented! smooshymushy.us

FLYING SUSHI KITCHEN Grab pieces of floating sushi mid-air in a mad dash to see who can complete their sushi order first. Don’t forget the wasabi and ginger! Why we love it: Redwood Ventures included a set of kid-friendly chopsticks! flyingsushikitchen.com

SMOOSHY MUSHY BABIES Simply pop the top to find out who the stork brought for you. A magic baby bottle with a disappearing reveal holds the Smooshy Babies. Why we love it: Redwood Ventures has made tons for you to collect! smooshymushy.us

CUT THE WIRE Cut the correct wire to defuse the device. Cut the wrong wire and, well, you’ll see! Earn secret clues along the way to help defuse the situation! Why we love it: This (fun) stress-filled game by Yulu will keep everyone on their toes. yulutoys.com

MAGIC SHAPES The unique magnetic strips along the edges of these shapes allow your youngster to build tall structures. These EduShape STEM shapes are no ordinary blocks! Why we love it: It’s almost like building in 3-D! edushape.com

CAKEPOP CUTIES JUMBO CAKE POP These jumbo pops feature two squishy foam cuties that aren’t available anywhere else. The pops also include a sticker sheet, a large themed accessory and two small accessories. Unboxing has never been sweeter! Why we love it: There are four styles to collect! basicfun.com

ARCADE CLASSICS These hand-held mini arcade-style games are a blast from the past, featuring ‘80s graphics and sounds. Choose from favorites like PacMan, Asteroids, Tetris, Centipede, Q’Bert and more. Why we love it: A whole new generation can fall in love with the classics! basicfun.com

BENDY AND THE INK MACHINE BUILDABLE SCENE SET Bring Bendy and his Ink Machine room to life with this 265-piece build set made popular by the hit video game. The set includes your favorite characters like Boris Corpse, Bendy and Ink Bendy. Why we love it: The set is compatible with other major building block sets. basicfun.com

MY FRIEND FANCY NANCY Nancy comes dressed in her signature outfit straight out of the popular Disney Junior television series. Her eyes twinkle, and she’s ready for your child’s next tea party. Why we love it: This 18-inch posable doll includes 12 points of articulation. jakks.com STICKY THE POO PLUNGER This toy is nothing if not unique! This plumber’s helper has a moldable middle and sticky surface that splats and sticks to any surface– even the wall. Grip the handle, throw and splat! Why we love it: The perfect accompaniment to Hog Wild’s Sticky Poo and Sticky Unicorn Poo! hogwildtoys.com

REAL COOKING MINI TART MAKER Kids can make their own mini tarts with this cute tart maker. Mix the dough, roll the dough and bake! Tart ingredients are included, just add your own fresh ingredients to make the recipe complete! Why we love it: This Real Cooking tart maker includes a handy recipe card. amazon.com

PULL-BACK MARBLE RACERS These Max Traxxx racers by Skull Duggery are anything but ordinary! Pull ‘em back and watch them go. The motion-activated LED marble light blinks and flickers, making playtime exciting. Why we love it: There are four colors to choose from. skullduggery.com

PEPPER MINT AND THE ENGINEERING TREEHOUSE ADVENTURE Follow along with Pepper Mint and her aunt as they devise inventions to accomplish different tasks. A pulley to lift objects, a zip line, a trap door and more! The kit includes materials to build Pepper’s aunt’s treehouse and do the projects for yourself ! Why we love it: The full-color storybook helps bring the STEM lessons to life! thamesandkosmos.com

MOJIMOTO These interactive cuties repeat what you say in their own funny voice! They also lip-sync to music and repeat short recordings. The eyes and mouth move when talking or singing, too! Why we love it: They’re inspired by the emoji characters we all know and love! mojimoto.com

DOCTOR’S KIT This nine-piece doctor kit by Green Toys includes all the classics, including a thermometer, syringe, reflex hammer, stethoscope and more! And who doesn’t love a Bandaid sticker? Why we love it: We love any toy that encourages creative play. greentoys.com

HAPPY PENGUIN This 10-inch plush Wild Republic penguin loves to sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” with your little ones. Sweet and cuddly, he features two modes: play and sing. Why we love it: He talks, sings and claps! amazon.com

MAGFORMERS MINI DINO SET Create your own mini triceratops, stegosaurus and more with this 40-piece set. Ten magnetic geometric shapes allow you to build six different dinosaurs. Why we love it: Using the Magformers wall-building technique, you can watch your creations roar to life! magformers.com

MY LARGE BABY DOLL HAPPY REINDEER Happy Reindeer is dressed in an adorable reindeer print dress. This 14-inch-tall soft doll is perfect for cuddling and is scented with vanilla, a Corolle signature. Why we love it: We love her removable gold shoes and fuzzy hat. corolle.com

ODDBODS FUNNY MAKERS This non-dialogue animated series has kids captivated! Now you can act out hilarious scenes from the show with this set that includes five stunts, sounds effects and lights. Why we love it: The Oddbods adventures always spiral out of control, making for tons of laughs. target.com

OVERSIGHT Shift the corridors (rows) to gain the advantage as you try to place four pieces in a row. Watch out for your opponent’s next move though, it just might sabotage you! Why we love it: A fast-paced thinking game that’s appropriate for kids. griddlygames.com

MAD MATTR METEOR MONSTERS This two-in-one blind pack features one cool monster and one vibrant color of Mad Mattr. To hatch the monster, fill the meteor with Relevant Play’s Mad Mattr, twist up your monster and load it into the shell. Why we love it: There are eight monsters to collect. relevantplay.com

JUST ADD SUN Use the sun’s energy for science fun with this Griddly Games kit! Make s’mores and nachos, make your own crayons and learn how solar energy works. Why we love it: You can build and test a thermometer and pop a balloon with the sun! griddlygames.com

JUST ADD SUGAR Use this STEAM kit from Griddly Games to make your own rock candy and sugar cubes! Why we love it: You can even clean yourself up after making your own handmade soaps. griddlygames.com DISCEEZ

CODE & LEARN LADY BUG Learning Journey’s Code & Learn Lady Bug introduces kids to basic programming and coding in a fun way! With two modes of play, kids input directional cues to make the bug land on the correct color. If you programmed right, the lady bug will let you know! Why we love it: The second mode allows you to “drive” the lady bug for freestyling fun. learningjourney.com

FIRST WORDS The Learning Journey’s awardwinning Match It! Games comes in a variety of designs, including Garden Patch, Crocodile Crunch, First Words and more. Why we love it: Teaches memory and early learning skills. learningjourney.com


This super flexible flying disc is accurate, safe and easy to catch! It’s made with a soft silicone construction with a collapsible structure. Why we love it: There are 24 different designs to choose from. Plus, no broken windows! disceez.com FLUFF

This evolution of a classic bluffing game by Bananagrams features palm-fitted roller cups for pokerstyle peeking and critter-adorned dice for wild-style play. Will you bid boldly? Can you out-bluff your opponents? Why we love it: A little bit of excitement goes a long way with this cunning game. bananagrams.com

SPIN GEARS Connect the base plates, add the gears and get to moving! Voilà A kid-powered machine. Why we love it: This Learning Journey kit comes with two gear sizes for stacking and sorting fun. learningjourney.com

LONG & TALL PUZZLES – ABC CATERPILLAR PUZZLE Whether 5 feet tall or 5 feet long, these puzzles will keep ‘em busy for hours. Choose from Learning Journey’s 123 Rocket Ship or the ABC Caterpillar puzzle. Why we love it: The pieces are durable and perfect for small hands. learningjourney.com MATCH IT! GAMES –

EMOJI WINDOW ART Plain windows are so boring! This art set includes sparkling window paint, a dimensional paint liner, dozens of emoji images, plastic painting sheets and dimensional add-ons to decorate your space. Why we love it: Not just for windows! Stick ‘em on your notebooks, mirrors and more. fabercastell.com

EVERYBODY KNOWS! Can you answer common questions faster than your friends? Do you know who painted the “Mona Lisa?” Where is the cerebrum? See how many you can get right in just 60 seconds! Why we love it: This Endless Games game is fast paced and you just may learn a thing or two. endlessgames.com

HIDE & SEEK ROCK PAINTING Everything you need to paint and decorate rocks for hiding! Includes 10 river rocks, water-resistant paint, brushes and dozens of waterproof transfer designs. Choose from an everyday or a Christmas collection. Why we love it: Teaches kindness and spreading joy. fabercastell.com

SMART BOT ROBOT With more than 20 functions and lights and sounds, this robot is a must for your young programmer! Features LED eyes, robotic dance moves, gesture control, facial expressions and more. Why we love it: Charges by USB, so no batteries are required. playvisions.com

FANZY Choose six dice with awesome NFL logos, roll at the same time and complete the challenge cards to win. Why we love it: Game includes 20 challenge cards for ongoing fun. Comes in MLB, too! masterpieces.com

WORKS OF AHHH These buildable wood paint kits provide an afternoon of fun. Available in lots of choices, including holidays, toy trains, solar system, wind chimes, monster trucks, jewelry box, fairy garden and more. Why we love it: A great rainy-day activity! masterpieces.com

SMASHY MASHY Tilt the capsule to watch the ooze disappear. Inside, you’ll find a mystery nacho-cheese scented, slow-rising squishy creature; a secret decoder; and a collector’s poster with a bonus word search (use the decoder!). Why we love it: Did we mention it’s nacho scented? redwoodventures.com

YETI, SET, GO The follow-up to Play Monster’s Yeti in My Spaghetti, see who can help the yeti kick the meatballs up the snowy mountain first. Can you get yours on the ledge first? Why we love it: Everyone plays at the same time. playmonster.com

DON’T ROCK THE BOAT In this Play Monster game, take turns setting up your pirate pieces on the wobbly ship. Be careful, though, don’t send your mateys overboard! Why we love it: The suspense of not knowing when the boat will tip will excite the little ones. playmonster.com

SUPER SPINNER SWING Easy to install and durable, this disc swing is designed to hold 200 pounds. The Super Duper Spinner holds multiple riders, including adults, and up to 650 pounds. Why we love it: Comes in green, blue, red, purple, pink and yellow! superspinner.com

OOGI FAMILY PACK With a suction cup head, hands and feet, and stretchy arms, Oogis connect to each other and any smooth surface. Comes in red and blue. Why we love it: Play in the car on the go by suctioning them to the window! playmonster.com

MYLAND FIRE TRUCK Place the firefighter on his seat to activate the siren. The sweet puppy also activates playful sound effects. Just match the colors! Why we love it: The ladder moves, too. playmonster.com

CABBAGE PATCH KIDS These vintage dolls are a blast from the past. The 35th anniversary doll comes complete with yarn hair, dainty clothes and that signature scent. Why we love it: Check out the new Cabbage Patch kids, too, with cool fashions and accessories! wickedcooltoys.com

HUG ‘N SING TEDDY RUXPIN With each hug Wicked Cool Toys’ Teddy Ruxpin sings a whimsical song. Keep pressing to hear the whole song. These adorable musical friends come in four collectable styles, including Adventure Teddy, Friendship Teddy, Lullaby Teddy or Teddy Ruxpin’s best friend, Grubby! Why we love it: soft and cuddly for bedtime. wickedcooltoys.com

MAD MATTR QUANTUM TOOLBOX Take your building and sculpting skills to a whole new level with this kit by Relevant Play. Why we love it: Includes 20 new tools and a portable toolbox. relevantplay.com

COZY PHONES These comfy headband-style headphones are perfect for little ears. No earbuds or bulky headphones in sight, plus it can double as a sleep mask or ear warmer! Why we love it: The volume is limited to 90 dB to protect little ears, and it comes in lots of styles. cozyphones.com



Merry Fun

he Ocala Christmas parade has been going strong since the mid 1930s and is Florida’s largest nighttime Christmas parade. The photos shown here, taken by Jim Jernigan on December 21, 1971 (and discovered in his archives by his son, photographer John Jernigan), depict the now retro style and fashion of the 1970s. The 1970s is also when the Reindeer Run, a 5K run/walk that takes place down Silver Springs Boulevard before the parade, first began. It continues to this day. This year’s Christmas parade will be December 8 at 5:30pm.



Frank DeLuca Owner/President

DeLuca Toyota





Let’s Make A Difference!


Bring your donations here by Dec. 5th WESH 2 Live Broadcast at DeLuca Toyota Wednesday December 5th • 6am - 1pm

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