Ocala Style July '21

Page 1

JULY ‘21

Hello Summer!



Jacks Or Better Farm

4.52 +/- Acres – Close to WEC

Located in NW Ocala on Hwy 225A sits this 89 +/- acre farm with 6 barns, 59 stalls, 25 paddocks, maintenance building, main residence plus guest/managers homes. $3,950,000

Location! Location! Location! 3 Bedroom/2 Bath with wrap-around decking offers stone grill and conversation areas. 2-Stall barn plus 2 large paddocks. $349,000

29.88 +/- Acres – Close to WEC

10 Acre Equestrian Estate

Prime area NW Ocala, just a short drive to WEC. Property is ready to build your dream home or farm. Tree-lined drive with existing well, paddocks and fences. $1,494,000

Center State home features 3 bedrooms/2 baths, open kitchen-family room with fireplace. Screen enclosed pool. 6-stall barn, lush green paddocks plus arena. $599,000

Let Joan Pletcher, Realtor list and/or sell your property Sold in 2020 - $36,612,498 Sold in 2021 - $47,187,700 Pending Sales - $54,225,425

For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | 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.

Turning Hawk Ranch

Classic Southern Elegance

Tranquility, serenity and extraordinary detail and craftsmanship on 5 +/- acres in gated community where horses are permitted. Access to the Florida Greenways and Trails. 4 Bedroom/4.5 bathrooms with large family room which is open to the kitchen. Pool. $1,398,750

Equestrian estate on 38 +/- acres close to the Florida Horse Park and Greenways and Trails. This 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home was built in 2019. 12-stall horse barn with tack room, feed room and 1/2 bath. $1,847,350 150’ x 250’ riding arena and 5 large paddocks.

Cedar Creek

10+ Gentleman’s Farm - Minutes to WEC

Spacious and pristine 10+ acre estate. 5 Bedroom/4 bath home with office and bonus room. Formal living and dining, chef ’s kitchen, great room, split bedroom home. Second floor features a private guest bed room, and den/sitting room. Generator. 4-car garage. $1,297,500

2-Story home with wraparound porch. 5 Bedroom/3 bathroom, great room with wood-burning fireplace. Spacious owner’s suite with woodburning fireplace and custom bath. Lit arena, 4-stall barn, 4 paddocks and 3-car carport. $899,000

If you’re considering buying or selling, give us a call today! List your property with Joan Pletcher... Our results speak for themselves.

For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | 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.

Plan for peace of mind Hunt Murty Publisher | Jennifer jennifer@magnoliamediaco.com

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Publisher’s Note s we were closing this issue to send it to the printer, I was preparing to hit the road with my BFF and her 120-pound Italian mastiff, Nika, for the longest road trip all three of us have ever taken— Ocala to Colorado. Why would we drive so far instead of flying when time off is so precious? The initial answer is all about bringing the dog. Over the last year, Nika has gotten used to her mom working from home or being able to go to the office with her mom and a few weeks of separation just wouldn’t do for Nika or the BFF. It’s been a life changing year for both of us, with me starting a newspaper and my friend enduring the heartbreak of burying her 38-year-old husband. The thought of having lots of time for quality talk about the future, and fun stops along the way in Nashville and Kansas City, seemed like a good way to ease into what summer is supposed to be—adventure, time with loved ones…and yes, quality dog time! I was also on board with Susan Smiley-Height for the clear kayak trip on the Silver River that she writes about in this issue and have already gone back to do it again—both times asking myself, Why don’t I do this more often? I hope you enjoy some of the fun summer topics and activities we’ve chosen to highlight in this issue—and get a chance to partake in some adventures of your own. But summer pleasures don’t all have to be such far-flung outings or active pursuits. They can be as simple as slowing down enough to appreciate the beautiful landscaping and garden planters downtown or at one of our great local parks, enjoying a horse-drawn carriage tour of one of our famous farms, indulging in a delicious cocktail at a great lounge like the Tipsy Skipper or simply spending time socializing with friends and family (after not being able to for so long). These simple pleasures are enough to make you feel like you are on vacation right here at home, even on a regular old weeknight! Whether your summer is about a fun getaway, thrill-seeking outdoor adventures or lazy days spent enjoying the creature comforts that can be found in your own backyard, I hope it’s a time for making some great new memories!

Jennifer Hunt Murty Publisher


contents 56


f e a tu r e s









insid e r







Hairy Laptops and Stripper’s Boas— these are some of the signs Dave’s working from home. The early glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs were crude inventions that spawned a popular tourist activity.


Members of the Silver Springs Professional Dive Team keep the glass bottoms of Silver Springs State Park’s boats sparkling clean and tend to the intriguing underwater attractions. The beautiful horticultural streetscapes around downtown Ocala are created by a talented team of city employees.


European influences and fresh produce come together in sweet and savory crepes.

Velvet Saulsberry, equine programs director at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Second Chances Juvenile Program, uses her lifelong experiences to benefit at-risk youth.


vow s


Get a glimpse into the most special days of our local brides and grooms.

Touring Silver Springs in a clear kayak offers spectacular views of life below the surface and up close and personal encounters with the area’s flora and fauna.

ta b l e




Make the most of the season with our handy highlights guide.


Let us guide you to a tropical oasis right here in Ocala.


By preserving foods, you can enjoy fresh fish, homemade sauces, readyto-eat fruits and vegetables any time of the year.

d a y i n th e li f e



Award-winning photographer Bruce Ackerman captures the youthful exuberance of summer fun.

o n th e c o ve r FAFO Symphony Under the Stars. Photo by Dave Miller. Clockwise from top: Photo by Maven Photo + Film; Photo by Dave Miller; Photo by Meagan Gumpert

Ocala Gazette Celebrates Milestone Be a part of keeping local news alive.


e know our readers enjoy the heartwarming and inspiring stories from our community that we share with you every month in Ocala Style. Are you also following the fast-breaking, all-local news stories in our sister publication, the locally owned Ocala Gazette? One year ago, on July 6th, 2020, Ocala’s weekly newspaper was launched to be all local, all the time, featuring a blend of in-depth reporting and community news covering people, events and issues around the Ocala metro area.

Why local news?

No one knows our community like those of us who live and work here. For at least a decade, substantive journalism in Ocala was on the decline as corporate news outlets devoted fewer resources to local reporting. Our community needs and deserves the kind of journalism that comprehensively records our history by probing the stories that define Ocala and by delivering

Bruce Ackerman

July 6, 2020 inaugural issue of the Ocala Gazette

information that allows our citizens oversight of our elected officials. As the Ocala Gazette celebrates its first year of publication, we invite you to help support local journalism through our Community News Fund. Launched in April with support from the Florida News Foundation, the Community News Fund was set up to sustain substantive journalism for years to come.

What we can do together

To be the comprehensive

source for our community’s news, we need more reporters and resources to absorb the cost of more investigative stories that provide in-depth coverage of government agencies and officials, important health care topics, business practices and social issues. By subscribing and donating to the Ocala Gazette, you help our journalists keep you informed, hold officials accountable and cover the most important topics that affect the community we all love. All donations made

to the Community News Fund are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. The Florida Community News Fund is a program administered by the Florida Press Foundation, tax ID #59-2449377, a 501(c)(3) organization. Those wishing to contribute can make donations online at ocalagazette.com/donate or send a check, payable to the Florida Press Foundation, to the Press Foundation at 336 East College Avenue, Suite 304, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Please note the donation is for the benefit of the Ocala Gazette. Donations will be processed through the Florida Community News Fund.


Social The Ladies High Tea raised thousands of dollars for the Interfaith Emergency Services homeless shelter for women, children and families. Photo by Bruce Ackerman


Ashley Webber, Dawn Lovell, Sandra VonLiew-Jackson, Yanique Duff-Ballard, Jessica Rodriguez, Angela Kinney, Michelle Collier, Maritza Ortiz

Ladies High Tea HILTON OCALA Photography by Bruce Ackerman

I Terri Thomas, Tyler Puckett, Pam Knight, Tammy Hoff, Tonya DeRose, Shannon Swearingen

t was all about artfully decorated tables, fine china, fashionable dresses and festive hats at the April 17th event that raised $16,000 for the Interfaith Emergency Services homeless shelter for women, children and families.

Paulette Milhorn, Michelle Stone

Emily Cummins, Becky Strausser

Cora Newnam, Carmen Dunn-Quitoriano, Lilia Cruz



Sheila Jernigan, Jennifer Hunt Murty, Karla Grimsley, Devon Chestnut, Lauren DeIorio


Bourbon & Blooms HISTORIC DISTRICT Photography by Bruce Ackerman


he gardens of seven of Ocala’s most elegant homes were revealed in all their splendor and guests were treated to libations from Fish Hawk Spirits and James Two Brothers Distillers during the April 24th and 25th event to benefit the Historic Ocala Preservation Society.

The Taylor House

Giorgio Berry, Brian Stoothoff

Krista Tindall, Daria Self

Linda Anker

Sheri Crenshaw, Tina Villella

Alan Bellamy, Melissa Bellamy

Michael Bagdanovich

July ‘21



John Cooper, Beth McCall, Carol Jordan, Mike Jordan

Mike Balken, Ire Bethea

Evening of Excellence Gala COUNTRY CLUB OF OCALA Photography by Cynthia Wilson-Graham


he April 29th Marion County Children’s Alliance gala saw Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection receive the inaugural Dr. Mike Jordan Award of Excellence and the Shores Assembly of God accept the Dr. Mike Jordan Vision Award. Jordan, who retired in 2018, was executive director of the alliance for 18 years.

Angie Umpleby, April Savarese, Cyndie McQuaig

Dawn Westgate

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Go Ahead, Abandon me! Qualified homeowners may be eligible to connect to city sewer for free.


hrough a grant, the City of Ocala is currently offering some home and property owners a chance to save thousands of dollars in expenses by

abandoning their septic tanks before they fail. To be eligible for the program, you must already have availability to connect to the city sewer. According

to Rachel Slocumb, Conservation Coordinator for the City of Ocala Water Resources Department, there are about 500 Ocala households that qualify.

Sponsored “Some residents may notice on their utility statement that they are paying a sewer availability fee,” she explains. “This fee does not mean that you are connected to city sewer, it just means you could be. If you do abandon your septic tank and connect to city sewer, then that fee you have been paying becomes your sewer base rate.” The city has grant funding available in a Septic Tank Abandonment Program through which qualifying homeowners could make the switch, potentially incurring only minimal expenses, such as those involving laying sod or planting grass seed. However, should a qualifying consumer’s septic tank fail when grant funds are not available, the homeowner will be required, by city ordinance, to connect to the city sewer system if it is available to them, which might

cost as much as $10,000. The Septic Tank Abandoment Program in Ocala is partially made possible by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the City of Ocala through an agreement with the Nonpoint Source Management Program of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Amendments in 1987 to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act established the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program to help state and local efforts. Grant funding can support activities such as financial assistance and education, which are the two primary objectives for the city program. The current grant program, the third of which the city has administered to help reduce nutrient pollution, also has a goal of educating Ocala/Marion County residents

about the importance of septic tank maintenance and how proper care can help the environment and the health of Silver Springs, Rainbow Springs and their respective springsheds. Someone’s actions within the springsheds, even if they live miles from them, can affect the quality of water flowing from the springs. FDEP estimates that up to 38 percent of the annual nitrogen input into either of the Basin Management Areas comes from septic tanks. Nitrogen fertilizes algae and, as it grows, the algae covers aquatic plants and the water surface and blocks out sunlight, which can kill plants and clog up fish gills. One advantage of taking part in the city’s grant program is that any of those 500 households that do connect to sewer will contribute to the new Ocala Wetland Recharge Park, which helps reduce nutrient

Sponsored pollutants and other contaminants while also recharging the Upper Floridan Aquifer by more than 3 million gallons a day. Reducing nutrients and other contaminants helps improve the city’s impact on Silver Springs. Slocumb explains the difference between point and nonpoint sources as: “Point source would be a stereotypical factory, or even our own Wastewater Treatment Plants. You could easily determine the exact type of pollution, and its source. Nonpoint source pollution is coming from a variety of locations, such as when brakes wear out on a vehicle and each braking motion sloughs heavy metals onto roadways, which then are washed into the aquifer via stormwater runoff. One of the best ways to educate yourself about nonpoint source pollution is to view the educational exhibits at the wetland park, which were funded through a separate FDEP 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution Grant. Each of the four exhibits covers nonpoint source pollution and the impact it can have on an environment. The largest take-away message is the maze featuring eight individual stations with each one explaining a different kind of nonpoint source pollution and how it negatively impacts the environment and what you can do to reduce the amount of pollution.” Slocumb says septic tanks are a huge component of nonpoint source pollution and since most residents of Marion County do not have access to connect to sewer, knowing how to properly maintain a septic tank is one of the most important components in helping reduce pollution. “As a septic tank owner, it’s important to realize that just because you’re not having a problem, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Most people categorize that as, ‘Oh, my septic tank is backed

but if the tank fails you might be looking at paying a whole lot more. “Calling an emergency plumber because of a sewer backup is both costly and not a simple fix. Because we live in Florida, and typically don’t have basements, sewer pipes are under the slab of our house, which now raises the difficulty and cost between $3,000 and $10,000 to repair,” she surmises. “We’re hoping to help homeowners who have availability get signed up for the program because a monthly sewer base rate of $25.96, plus maybe a consumption fee of another $25.96 each month, is still more affordable than having to replace your septic tank or drain field.” It is also especially important to note that, “currently, if your septic tank fails and you have the availability to connect to city sewer, you cannot repair that tank, you are required to hook up to city sewer,” she explains. “Right now, we have a grant that will alleviate the financial burden on the homeowner and allow a contracted plumber to take care of everything. But if you wait, - Rachel Slocumb we may not have a grant.” “We are all contributing to the negative impact on the “Having a septic tank is not environment,” she adds. “What can necessarily a burden, but it is we do to reduce our impact? One something you have to be very way is by being proactive and signing conscious of in terms of what are up for a program like this and remove you putting down your drain, like a large source of pollution in our bacon grease or cake frosting or springsheds.” dairy products,” Slocumb outlines. For those who qualify, and opt to “If you can flush it down your toilet, preemptively abandon their septic technically it’s flushable, but many of tank, the city will come and destroy these things just sit in the septic tank, your old septic tank and backfill it which is decreasing the effectiveness with soil, at no cost to you. of any nutrient reduction. And even The program is slated to be the most effective septic tank will finished in June 2022, so Slocumb not denitrify (a microbially facilitated urges you get your application in as process to reduce the total nitrogen soon as possible. nitrates or nitrites) to the level in which a wastewater plant would.” To find out if you qualify for the grant Slocumb says having a septic tank program, contact the City of Ocala pumped and inspected might run in Water Resources at (352) 351-6772. the neighborhood of $250 to $300, up,’ but if it’s backed up it means there has been a problem and now you’re seeing it being expressed in your home,” she explains. Proper maintenance includes having the septic tank pumped and inspected every three to five years. “It is basically a cement box in your yard and if you put stuff in that box that won’t break down, it eventually clogs up,” she states. Among the many items that will not decompose inside a septic tank are fats, oils, grease, feminine hygiene products, contraceptives, large clumps of hair, facial tissue, paper towels and many products marketed as “flushable.”

We are all contributing to the negative impact on the environment. What can we do to reduce our impact? One way is by being proactive and signing up for a program like this and remove a large source of pollution in our springsheds.

On the Scene A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events



The Boozy Cauldron

Marion Theatre July 2-3 | 7 & 9pm This pop-up cocktail experience features beverage arts professor Dolohov Draven leading guests on a magical journey through the tavern’s famous buttered beer and other signature cocktails, along with stories of the ghosts that haunt the establishment. Visit mariontheatre.org for tickets.

Reading with Rangers and Friends

City of Ocala Parks July 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 | 11am Each Friday, park rangers, police and fire rescue representatives will host a free children’s storytime in a different Ocala park. For more information, visit ocalafl.org/recpark


Summer Sunset Polo


Ocala NSBA Summer Horse Show Series


Cooks and Books

Florida Horse Park July 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31 | 6pm Spectators are invited to tailgate and bring chairs and a picnic for a family experience watching equine athletes playing the sport of kings. Visit teamresolutepolo.com for details.

World Equestrian Center July 9 - August 15 | 8am Wednesday-Sunday WEC hosts 10 weeks of hunter/jumper competitions with a weekly $50,000 Grand Prix on Saturdays. Spectators are welcome. For more information, visit wec.net

Belleview Public Library 3pm Author Amy Paige Condon will share A Nervous Man Shouldn’t Be Here in the First Place, her biography of journalist William Calhoun “Bill” Baggs, who reported on historical events from the Cuban Revolution to the Kennedy assassination for the Miami Herald. The paired cooking demonstration from the Fiery Chef will be healthier Arroz Con Pollo. Call (352) 4382500 to register.

10 Sunshine State Open Pleasure Show

Florida Horse Park 9am Youth and adult riders will show off their equestrian skills in this competition featuring both Western and English styles. Spectators are welcome. For more information, visit sunshinestatepleasureshowseries.com

10 War Horse Warrior Fest

War Horse Harley-Davidson 12pm This fundraiser for the 50 Legs Foundation, which provides prosthetics for amputees, will include music by The Chad Montana Band, food trucks, a 50/50 raffle, face painting, three-legged races and other family-friendly activities. Visit warhorseharley.com for more information. July ‘21




Summer Classic


Music in the Air

Florida Horse Park 8am The Florida Quarter Horse Association will host its summer show, featuring youth and adult competitors in pleasure, riding, horsemanship and driving classes. Visit fqha.net for more information.

Marion Technical Institute Auditorium July 17, 2pm | July 18, 3pm The Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band will perform a free, family-friendly concert of musical selections ranging from movie and musical tunes to military band favorites. Visit kingdomofthesunband.org for more information.

Settlement and Life in East Marion 18 Early County Ageless Adventures

Master the Possibilities July 12-16 | Times vary This generation-blending series of workshops, on a wide variety of art, science, history, wellness and entertainment topics, is open to youth participants and a parent or grandparent. Visit masterthepossibilities.org to register.

Marion County Museum of History and Archaeology 2pm Sixth-generation Marion County resident, genealogist and historian Celeste Godwin Viale will present the program, followed by a reception with refreshments. For more information, call the museum at (352) 236-5245.

24 Partners of the Park Schooling Show

31 Back to School Fest



Art in the Attic

Brick City Center for the Arts July 17, 11am-4pm | July 20-24, 10am-5pm For this annual art resale fundraiser, the Marion Cultural Alliance invites the community to donate unwanted art and purchase “previously loved” treasures. A VIP Sip & Shop reception and artist market on Friday, July 16 at 5pm will offer ticket holders early shopping, bubbly and live music. Visit fb.com/mcaocala for details.


Paddock Mall 9am-12pm Students and parents are invited to enjoy live entertainment, crafts and activities. AdventHealth will offer giveaways and health information. Paddock Mall will give away school supplies and backpacks to more than 6,000 Marion County students who must be registered in advance. Visit paddockmall.com for details.

31 Darryl Worley

Orange Blossom Opry 7pm Worley is known for such No. 1 country hits as I Miss My Friend, Awful, Beautiful Life and Have You Forgotten. Visit obopry.com for tickets.

Top: Photo courtesy of Master the Possibilities; Bottom: Photo by Bruce Ackerman

Florida Horse Park July 24-25 | 8am Equestrians will compete in dressage, stadium jumping and cross-country events to raise funds for the Florida Horse Park. Visit fb.com/ partnersoftheparkpop for more information.



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A Breeze Through Fertile Gardens: Paintings and Drawings by Andrew M. Grant

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Hairy Laptops and Stripper’s Boas By Dave Schlenker | Illustration by David Vallejo


ike many of you, I am closing in on 15 months of working from home. One day, I will return to the office with fewer social graces, crumbs in my beard and cat hair on my clothes. Lots and lots of cat hair. In fact, I write these words on a hairy laptop. One hair source is a white and orange and fire-alarm loud feline named Catniss Poundcake. Her sole purpose in life is to be in my lap. Thus, she has become a fixture on Zoom calls. Often, only the tip of her fluffy tail is visible during important meetings, swishing in my face like a showgirl’s boa. The second source of Hairy Laptop Syndrome is Cargo the cat, who also goes by “No,” “Get Down,” “Get down NOW,” “OMG! Get down” and “Stop Eating My Sandwich.” In addition to stealing food, Cargo also enjoys writing emails on my laptop. If I am fool enough to get up while working at the laptop, she materializes and plops down on the keys, adding critical information to work correspondence. One recent email read: “I will contact the customer and see if Kjhg ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ VVVVVVVVV VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV” Meanwhile, Abbey Tubesox the corgi—a sweet old dog with bad legs—wants to go outside. Then back inside. Then out again. Then back in. And because of those bad legs, she needs to be carried to the yard. Sometimes, she has to go potty;

most times she has to sniff all vegetation. Either way, she relies on the Dad Transit Authority. But this column is not just about pets and the pandemic. It also is about snacks and the pandemic. Many of us gained a few pounds during quarantine. The scientific term is Home Munchie Schlubotitis and, until we can return to the office, the CDC recommends solitary confinement in a steel cell far, far away from Publix. So, yes, I am not doing well with this work-at-home thing, and my meandering mind is not helping. Here is a partial transcript from my daily routine: I will be productive today. Fire up the laptop and … wow, that is a lot of hair. Do we have muffins? Hang on, Abbey, I’m coming. OMG, Cargo. Get down! Email. Email. Did I clean the litterbox? Ooh, chips. Wait. Litterbox? Dang it! Zoom meeting in five. Hang on, Abbey. Get down! How many wigs does Moira Rose own? Zoom meeting. Yes. Hi all. HI ALL! What the … Mute? Oh, sorry. I wonder if they can hear me eating chips. Turn on my camera? Oh, sure. Dammit. So much for the chips. Good morning. Can you see me now? No, ma’am, that’s a cat tail, not a stripper’s boa. We have been fortunate through the pandemic. No Schlenkers came down with COVID-19. We are vaccinated. I get at least 3,000 steps each day at Publix. And the office now seems like a sanctuary—a sanctuary that, sadly, requires pants, but hopefully the vending machine will be full. July ‘21



Through the Looking Glass By Scott Mitchell



Museum of History in Tallahassee. Some widely reported accounts describe the two as working together. Whatever the details are, it is safe to describe Morrell and Jones as pioneers in the tourism industry. By the 1890s, glass-bottom rowboats were common at Silver Springs. The tourist season peaked during the winter and one can imagine how amazing it must have been for a visitor to peer into the crystal-clear waters for the first time. By 1909 C. “Ed” Carmichael had purchased the land around the springs and added cushions and canopies to the boats. In 1924, Walter Carl Ray Sr. and W.M. “Shorty” Davidson assumed ownership. The following year they introduced gasoline engines to the boats. By 1932, the iconic wooden glassbottom boats had electric engines, signaling that the age of modern tourism had arrived at Silver Springs. Scott Mitchell is the director of the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center. He has worked as a field archaeologist, scientific illustrator and museum professional for the last 25 years. The Silver River Museum is located at 1445 Northeast 58th Avenue and is open Saturday-Sunday 10am-4pm. Visit silverrivermuseum.com or call (352) 236-5401 for more information.

Vintage postcard courtesy of the Matheson History Museum


eople have always been fascinated by the underwater world and that mysterious realm remained inaccessible for years. Scuba was not invented until 1942 and, prior to that, divers risked disaster with hookah-like air hoses attached to large metal helmets. More careful explorers, or perhaps those who could not swim, chose to remain above the water and peer below with viewing devices. As early as 1845 the “underwater telescope” was patented by the inventor Sarah Mather (US Patent 3,995A). The device was essentially a glass-bottomed bucket or box that allowed one to remain above the surface and look through down the glass to see underwater. As more and more tourists began visiting Silver Springs during the late 1800s, that fascination with what lay beneath presented an opportunity to local entrepreneurs. Indeed, the underwater telescope allowed a single person to view below the surface. However, if you were to take a rowboat full of tourists out to view the springs, each person would need their own viewing device. This worked, but it was a little clumsy and you would end up with a gaggle of folks all peering over the side into glass-bottom boxes. Several inventive locals designed a better way. If you moved the glass viewing surface to the bottom of the boat, then your passengers could simply lean forward to see the underwater sights together. Wealthy tourists would gladly pay for such an adventure and, with this being Florida, well, you can probably guess the rest of the story. Phillip Morrell and Hullam Jones are credited with building the first glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs in the 1870s. Historical accounts vary. Some credit Morrell with the first design (a modified rowboat) during the late 1870s but don’t give a specific date. Jones built his prototype in 1878, essentially a canoe with a glass viewing panel in the bottom. Incredibly, Jones’ boat has survived and is on display in the Florida

Horses & Hope Horses have been a constant in Velvet Saulsberry’s life. Today, as the equine programs director at the Ocala-based Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Second Chances Juvenile Program, she is using her lifelong equine experiences to benefit at-risk youths. By JoAnn Guidry | Photography by Bruce Ackerman


elvet Saulsberry’s first babysitter was a horse. “When I was about 2, my mother started bringing me to my grandfather’s farm while she went to work,” recalls Saulsberry, 46, an animated woman with a penchant for spinning a story. “Well, while my grandfather went about his farm chores, he would put me up on his big ol’ plow horse. They tell me that I would hang on to the horse’s mane while it walked around following my grandfather.” But even good plans can go awry. “One day my mother got off work earlier than usual,” says Velvet with a chuckle. “Well, she found me hanging off the side of the horse’s neck, all tangled up in its long,

thick mane. The story is that she snatched me out of the mane, gave my grandfather a few choice words and that was the end of that.” However, it was not the end of Saulsberry’s connection to horses. Born and raised in Pensacola, she notes, “We lived in the rural section of town, where the paved roads ended and the dirt roads began.” The roads were great for riding horses and Saulsberry’s uncle, who had Tennessee walking horses, would often come to visit on horseback. “I rode my uncle’s horses from the time I was a teenager until I left for college,” says Saulsberry. “When I got to the University of Florida, I became the July ‘21


The idea for an equine program at CSI was thanks first Black member of the UF equestrian team.” largely to a matter of location. CSI’s neighbor is the While majoring in advertising, with an outside Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) Second concentration in equine sciences at UF, Saulsberry Chances Farm. For the past 20 years, TRF has operated worked at the farm of a professor who bred various an equine educational program for female inmates at warmblood horse breeds. She also began volunteering the Lowell Correctional Institution (LCI). at a horse rescue sanctuary. “I had come to believe that while the world is a beautiful place, it is not always fair,” shares Saulsberry. A Second Chance “Working at the horse rescue farm gave me a sense I At the time Saulsberry was hired, it was a case of could help these horses and put back some fairness in putting the idea of an actual equine program “cart” their lives.” before the horse. By the time she graduated from UF in 1998, “The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Saulsberry had her first horse. Dondi, a Morgan/ the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice had been in American saddlebred cross gelding, had been given to discussions for a while,” points out Saulsberry. “I went her on a care-lease agreement by that aforementioned through three weeks of training with CSI and then began college professor. Saulsberry then left Florida to work developing an equine program. We had 10 acres, but we in various equine positions for the next few years, had no barn and no horses. I had to get creative.” including at a dressage barn in Virginia. In 2004, Saulsberry reached out to the Ocala/Marion she returned to Gainesville, County equine community and where she had extended family, explained her plight. and her career path veered in a “The response from those in different direction. the equine community willing “My family in Gainesville were to help was wonderful,” says all in law enforcement, not a field Saulsberry. “I was able to put that I had ever thought of for me,” the kids on a bus and take field says Saulsberry with a shrug. trips to places like Stirrups “But it was pointed out to me that ‘N Strides, Horse Protection maybe I should make my habit Association of Florida, - Velvet Saulsberry of wanting to help official and go Gypsy Gold and the Equine into law enforcement.” Performance Innovative Center. Saulsberry applied to the Gainesville Police This was a great way to introduce the kids to horses in Department, which paid her tuition to the Police so many different settings.” Academy at Santa Fe College. Soon after graduation, But as the saying goes, there’s no place like home. Saulsberry was hired by the Marion County Sheriff ’s By the end of 2019, the paddocks and the barn, built Office (MCSO) in 2006. by the TRF Second Chances Farm female inmates, were completed on the CSI property. The TRF Second Chances Juvenile Program began quietly due to the Making Ocala Home pandemic. An official grand opening was held virtually “Dondi and I moved to Ocala and I was so happy to be on February 23rd. right in the middle of horse country. I was a patrol and Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Acting detention deputy with MCSO. I also became part of Secretary Josie Tamayo says, “We are excited to partner the MCSO volunteer mounted unit,” says Saulsberry, with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation to offer smiling. “And, on my days off, I would do volunteer this unique vocational training to our youth. The equine mounted patrol in the Cross Florida Greenway.” program provides an opportunity to gain hands-on Salusberry leases Sunny Oaks, a 10-acre farm near training while receiving the benefits of animal assisted the Greenway. When Dondi was retired from riding, therapy. This will allow our youth to further grow and he was returned to his original owner. Sunny Oaks is build upon their skills to ensure a successful transition currently home to equines Ariella Wolfsbane, an 11-yearback into their home communities.” old Morgan mare who had her first foal in June, and Rocbreaker, a 15-year-old standardbred gelding. After nearly 13 years with MCSO, Saulsberry left in Moving Forward January 2019. By May, her career path shifted again, Now that there was an actual physical base for the albeit still involving horses. She was hired by Youth TRF Second Chances Juvenile Program, it was time Opportunity Investments LLC as the equine programs for the horses. director at its Center for Success and Independence “I visited often with the TRF Second Chances Farm (CSI). The latter is a residential program for female inmates, talking to them about the horses adjudicated at-risk male youths, ages 12 to 18. they worked with,” reveals Saulsberry. “They knew

I had come to believe that while the world is a beautiful place, it is not always fair.



the horses better than anyone and I knew what I was looking for in horses for our program. I ended up selecting Fifth Angel, Hurricane Sergio, Hemingway’s Key and Cut of Music to come over to our farm.” As for the youths who participate in the equine program, they have to have been at CSI for 30-45 days with no issues and pass a risk-assessment evaluation. “I only take five kids at a time, generally 15 to 18 years old. They get to the barn at 9am, four days a week,” explains Saulsberry. “First, they learn simple basics, like if you open a paddock gate make sure you close that paddock gate. They check the water tanks, scrub them clean and then make sure there’s always fresh water for the horses. These things teach them responsibilities, which most of them have never had.” And because these youths have likely never been around a horse, Saulsberry introduces them slowly, one horse at a time. “Fifth Angel is my introductory horse. She is the smallest and very friendly, so the kids don’t feel intimidated from the get-go. By the end of the program, they are working with all the horses,” says Saulsberry. “I explain to them that horses are prey animals and can see us as predators depending on how we act. I teach them about how horses read our body language. This ends up teaching them about our body language around each other as well.” The kids learn to clean stalls, groom the horses, use

side reins and lunge lines. Because of liability issues, the kids are not taught to ride. They learn basic veterinary care from Dr. Alberto Rullan, farrier work from Waldo Raymond Wheeler and have gotten saddle/ground work education from Grand Prix dressage instructor Bernardo Vergara. All three men volunteer their time and Saulsberry notes, “I am so grateful for all of them. I really couldn’t do this without them.” Pat Stickney, TRF executive director, is also quick to give credit where credit is due, saying, “Velvet has been instrumental to our success getting this program off the ground. Her dedication to helping these young people build better futures is tireless and our horses are fortunate to have her in their lives.” Saulsberry generally has a youth in the equine program from three to six months. They leave with a certificate in introductory equine science and community service. For Saulsberry, the reward is in seeing the transformation of the kids from the beginning to the end of the program. “The kids come in with a lot of behavioral issues. They feel invisible and hopeless about their futures,” Saulsberry offers. “But by working with these horses, they learn about responsibility, teamwork, compassion, competency and achievement. I think this gives them a chance to see there are other paths in life beside the one that got them to where they are. My hope is that they leave with hope.” July ‘21


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You are cordially invited To celebrate Ocala’s newest brides and grooms, get a glimpse into their most special of days and hear firsthand about the memories that will always hold a place in their hearts. Pictured: Courtney & Michael Bridges Photographed by Maudie Lucas


COURTNEY & MICHAEL BRIDGES January 30th, 2021 Photography by Maudie Lucas Venue: Pine Haven Ranch Florist: Brick City Flowers Her favorite memory: Being surrounded by so many people who love and support us—people who want to see our success, our family grow. And seeing the look on my husband’s face as I walked down the aisle. It truly was the most magical day.


LAUREN DEBICK & ANDREW HINKLE March 6th, 2021 Photography by Winship Photography Venue: Harmony Gardens His favorite memory: Everyone says that your wedding day will rush by like a blur. Thinking back, the day and ceremony moved much quicker than I expected with so many smiles, laughs and a few tears. The one moment I return to most often happened seconds after we were pronounced husband and wife and I kissed that beautiful bride. Lauren and I were walking back down the aisle hand in hand with our friends and family celebrating. As we neared the end of the procession a butterfly landed on my pant leg, causing us to both stop to guide it off my knee and into the wonderful garden venue. In that moment I felt at peace and full of confidence about the journey ahead; knowing this was the universe telling me, this is where you belong.


RACHEL & PHIL PIUBENI March 20th, 2021 Photography by Isabelle Victoria Photography Venue: Bride’s family home in Ocala His favorite memory: My favorite moment was the first dance with my beautiful wife under the chuppah to Millionaire by Chris Stapleton with our families gathered around us. Her favorite memory: There were many unforgettable moments during our intimate ceremony under the oaks, but my favorite were the toasts throughout the evening. My father, whose tough exterior was quickly outshined by his soft heart as he wished us well meant the world and then amidst the clinking of the glasses my two youngest stepchildren (Violet,10 and Evan,7) surprised us with the sweetest toast. Our hearts were full.


KERI & CAIN SMITH November 17th, 2020 Photography by Madi Wagner Venue: Licciardello Farms Wedding Planner: Making it Matthews Florist: Mary Weaver with Floral Architecture Her favorite memory: One of the best memories of our wedding day was being able to have both of our grandmothers, who are 88 and 90 years old, there to celebrate with us. 2020 was such a crazy rollercoaster of a year, and since I had been working as a COVID ICU nurse in Fort Worth, Texas, I had been unable to see my family (especially my Mimi) all year. Our No. 1 priority was to have our two grandmothers in the front pew to witness our union, so we ultimately decided to celebrate with only immediate family so they could attend safely. The blessing of their presence at our wedding is something both Cain and I will cherish forever.

Our area has some of the best springs, lakes, rivers and opportunities to enjoy nature, and now that we can officially gather again, we’ve compiled a list of some great happenings and activities we’re ready to get back to that will help ensure your summer is packed with some serious social satisfaction. Photography by Dave Miller, Bruce Ackerman and Isabelle Ramirez

Independent Living


ondering what’s happening in terms of Independence Day celebrations? Here’s a snapshot of where to get your festivities on and your fireworks fix.

Saturday, July 3 WUFT Presents Fanfares & Fireworks 6-10pm | UF Bandshell at Flavet Field 605 Woodlawn Drive, Gainesville Musical groups include Bears and Lions, Jason & Sarah Hedges and Friends, Savants of Soul, Gainesville Community Band and the Gainesville POPS under the direction of Gary Langford. Fireworks by Skylighters of Florida will begin at approximately 9:40pm. LifeSouth Community Blood Centers will conduct a blood drive. Food trucks will be on site. No dogs, sparklers, drones or alcohol are allowed. Coolers are allowed but may be subject to search by the University of Florida Police Department. wuft.org/fireworks Saturday, July 3 Celebration Craft Show & BBQ Festival 9am-4pm | Harbison Farm Cattle & Produce 4696 Northeast County Road 329, Anthony Vendors, music and food. Find the farm on Facebook or call or text (352) 239-3552 Sunday, July 4 Iggy’s Four on the Fourth Freedom Run 7:30am | Ocala-Marion County Veterans Memorial Park 2601 East Fort King Avenue, Ocala The park has benches throughout, flags flying representing the branches of the military and monuments remembering heroes. The 4-mile run in honor of Greg Iggy Miller starts and ends at the park on a course that winds through residential neighborhoods. Proceeds will benefit the park and the “We Can Weekend” cancer support program. runsignup.com/Race/ FL/Ocala/FreedomRunFourMilerforIggy

Sunday, July 4 Independence Day Celebration Eaton’s Beach Florisiana Cuisine 15790 Southeast 134th Avenue, Weirsdale Venue opens at 11am. Drink specials, live entertainment and fireworks in the evening. www.eatonsbeach.com or (352) 259-2444 Sunday, July 4 All-American Brews & Cruise 4-9pm | Brownwood Paddock Square 2705 Brownwood Boulevard, The Villages Food and market vendors, free entertainment, projection light show and car show by The Villages Classic Automobile Club and The Villages Vintage Car Club. www.thevillagesentertainment.com

Sunday, July 4 The City of Leesburg 4th of July Celebration 5:30-10:30pm | Ski Beach at Venetian Gardens on Lake Harris 109 East Dixie Avenue, Leesburg Festive foods, vendors, inflatables, face painting, stilt walker and live music. The Leesburg Lightning will play baseball against the River Rats at Pat Thomas Stadium at 5:30pm. The city pool will have a free swim from 1-8pm. Free ice cream at 7pm, while it lasts. Water ski show at 7:30pm. Fireworks display over the lake starts at 9:45pm with viewing from Venetian Cove or your own boat at the Boat Tailgate Party. leesburgpartnership.com/leesburg-4th-of-julycelebration or (352) 365-0053

Good Fun For A Good Cause

Cote Deonath

July offers a couple of fun options to help our four-legged friends and possibly take home a buddy for life. On July 10th, join the fun at the All American Cornhole Tournament from 11am-4pm at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion. Registration begins at 11am and bags will start to fly at noon. Entry is $40 per team (bring your own partner), there will be a $5 jersey judging fee, vendors, a raffle and 50/50, and trophies awarded. All proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Marion County. To register call (352) 361-8125 or email aburnett@humanesocietyofmarioncounty.com If you prefer a more leisurely outing, visit The Black Sheep on Broadway for food, drinks and entertainment at Pints for Paws on Saturday, July 31st from 11am to 10pm. Adoptable dogs will be available for meet and greets from 2-6pm. Proceeds from this event will also benefit the Humane Society of Marion County.

Ride On Time If you haven’t biked the Cross Florida Greenway, Dano and Jessica Kinnee of Greenway Bicycles invite you to join them for a free, invigorating social and physical outing every Thursday at 6pm. This is a “no-drop” group ride, which means no one is left behind and the pace is adjusted to accommodate all riders. While the course is generally 12 miles, it can be adjusted depending on the capabilities of the participants. This is a mountain bike only ride on the dirt trail. If you don’t have a mountain bike of your own, you can rent one at the shop. There is also a complimentary Happy Hour ride on the first Friday of the month on the paved trail and all types of bikes are welcome. Another fun event series is their Beer and Wine School, where local purveyors offer tastings and light fare at the shop. The next will be held on July 9th and will highlight Whispering Oaks Winery with an admission price of $10. Learn more by visiting Greenway Bike’s Facebook page, emailing greenwaybicycles@gmail. com or calling (352) 351-3475.

Get In Gear Does a classic chassis get your pulse racing? If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, here’s a cheat sheet for motorsports enthusiasts to all the pit stops you’ll want to include this summer. Second Friday of every month 5-8pm | Big Lots 8602 Southwest State Road 200, Ocala Music, prizes. Sponsored by Scoops Ice Cream and hosted by Al Brooks. First Saturday of every month 5:30-8:30pm | Kent Furniture Plaza 10651 Southeast U.S. Highway 441, Belleview Music, drawings, 50/50 and more. Second Saturday of every month 6-9pm | Hooters 2711 Southwest 27th Avenue, Ocala Third Saturday of every month 5-8pm | O’Calahans Pub & Eatery 3155 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala Live band. Trophies awarded. Fourth Saturday of every month 9am-1pm | The Market of Marion 12888 Southeast U.S. Highway 441, Belleview Music, trophies, food and valve cover racing. Hosted by The Villages Region

Antique Automobile Club of America. Last Saturday of every month 5-8pm | Six Gun Plaza 4901 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala Trophies, music and giveaways. Hosted by Classic Cruisers of Ocala. First Sunday of every month Ocala Cars & Coffee 8-11am | War Horse Harley Davidson 5331 North U.S. Highway 441, Ocala Live music, vendors. Presented by Modern Muscle Cars, iCandy Designz and War Horse Harley-Davidson Saturday, July 17 Feel the Wheels Discovery Center of Ocala 701 Northeast Sanchez Avenue, Ocala This free-to-attend event, with chances to get up close with all sorts of vehicles, including race cars from Burnyzz American Classic Horse Power, is part of the grand opening celebration for the new Ready Set Go transportation themed exhibit, which will explore the many different ways people and goods travel across the world and beyond. Feel the Wheels vehicle event will be 10am-2pm. Exhibit hours are 10am4pm. Center admission is $8 per person; free ages 2 and under. www. mydiscoverycenter.org

Nash Cobbs with Tiger

Horsin Around There are so many great opportunities to get up close and personal with our equine counterparts here in the Horse Capital of the World. And with tours and riding excursions getting back on track, it’s all about picking your speed and manner of engagement. Topping the list of things to do in Ocala, as ranked by TripAdvisor reviewers, the Gypsy Gold Horse Farm Tour is an engaging and informative two-hour tour of the farm that highlights the history of the fascinating Gypsy Vanner horses, a breed initially developed by British Gypsies to haul their caravan carts and wagons. The original breeds that went into creating the Vanner are the Shire, Clydesdale, Dales pony and, through genetic association, the Friesian. Gypsy Gold Horse Farm was the first place in the United States to import and breed Gypsy Vanner horses in the 1990s. On your visit, discover an interesting piece of Florida’s varied equestrian heritage as you tour the stables, meet and take photos with the beautiful, long-maned horses and watch the stallions, mares and foals grazing in their pastures. Visit gypsygold.com or call (352) 307-3777 for more information.

Another farm tour of note is the lovely Grandview Clydesdale Farm, where the Cobbs family offers an up close and personal experience with their world-famous Clydesdales and a view into the day-to-day operations of this awardwinning farm. The Clydesdales Under the Lights evening tour is a favorite with visitors and allows an enchanting visit while the farm is illuminated by beautiful lights, including opulent chandeliers adorning the stables. Visit grandviewclydesdales. tours for schedule and details. Farm Tours of Ocala conducts their popular Horse Capital of the World Insider’s Tour that will take you behind the gates of some of Ocala horse country’s most magnificent farms. Participants visit three working farms with stops to meet horses up close and personal. The tour guide notes points of interest and a variety of facts, including how the Scotch Tape brand influenced the development of Florida’s horse industry. For more information, visit farmtoursofocala.com, email farmtoursofocala@ gmail.com or call (352) 895-9302. If a scenic horse-drawn carriage ride is more your pace, Horse Country Carriage Company & Tours offers an hour-long, fully narrated tour past several large farms where famous horses have been trained or bred and which includes the history of the farms and the area. The carriage stops along the way so you will have a chance to interact with the horses that greet you along the fence lines, so remember to pack carrots. The guide will offer information on the various breeds and is happy to answer your questions. Visit horsecountrycarriagecompanyandtours.com or call (352) 727-0900 to learn more. Prefer a horseback experience? There are some great options offered by Cactus Jacks, which offers guided trail rides on the Cross Florida Greenway trail system. (cactusjackstrailrides.com / (352) 266-9326); Makin’ Tracks in Fort McCoy also has guided trail rides through the Greenway trails and offers horseback adventures including Swimming with Horses (ocalatrailrides.com / (352) 342-8891); Mustang Moon Equine Solutions is known for their popular monthly Moonlight Trail Ride (fb. com/mustangmoonequinesolutions / (352) 6205311); The Canyons Zip Line & Adventure Park conducts scenic horseback rides through The Canyons Park with amazing views of both the Big Cliff Canyon and the Sky High Canyon. Guides take you down into the canyon, alongside the lakes, scenic vistas and beside the enormous cliff walls. (zipthecanyons.com / (352) 351-9477)

Clearly Amazing

Touring Silver Springs in a clear kayak offers spectacular views of life below the surface and up close and personal encounters with the area’s flora and fauna. By Susan Smiley-Height | Photography by Dave Miller


he lilt of bird songs blends with the rustle of a slight wind stirring the treetops near the kayak “put-in” ramp at Silver Springs State Park. As the sun begins to burn off the morning mist, people stop at the check-in hut to pay their $2 park entry fee and negotiate a kayak rental or meet up with the vendor through which they have already made arrangements. One of the busiest vendors is Get Up And Go Kayaking, which offers clear kayak tours at several locations around the state, including Silver Springs, Rainbow Springs, Crystal River and Weeki Wachee. Our guide Bryce Neal leads a group of eight eager adventurers, including me and our publisher Jennifer Hunt Murty, on this ride on the wild side. One participant, Nicole Foley of Chicago, here with her boyfriend Martin Alejandro, wears a tiara in celebration of her birthday. As soon as our see-through kayaks are in the water, there are audible murmurs of “Ooh, look at that,” chorusing from the adventurers. Because the waters of

the Silver River and headspring are so crystal clear, it’s easy to take in the splendor of such aquatic plants as eel grass, coontail, Southern naiad, sagittaria and hydrilla through the bottom of the kayak as you glide along. Once our group navigates a narrow canal into the massive headspring, the view below changes to brilliant blue hues that darken with the depths of the main spring, which is classified as first magnitude because it discharges more than 64 million gallons of water per day. Those waters form the Silver River, which flows 4.5 miles east until it merges into the Ocklawaha River. In the main spring, from which the world-famous glass-bottom boats launch and return on multiple trips each day, Neal points out three Greek statues underwater that remain from the filming of the I Spy television show. As the gentle current pushes the kayaks eastward, he points out several smaller springs, some of which were used in filming such motion pictures as Moonraker, Rebel Without a Cause, Distant Drums, Creature from the Black Lagoon and six Tarzan films, as

Kody and Ken Harley



well as the Sea Hunt TV series. “This is definitely one of the easiest places to paddle in Florida,” Neal offers. “There is a no wake zone the whole way through and it’s not that bad of a current. I’ve had a lot of new kayakers come through here and they love it; it’s an easy paddle for them.” Neal points out a wide variety of birds such as the anhinga poised on tree limbs with their wings spread wide to dry, tall and elegant herons and egrets, feisty hawks, mild-mannered limpkins and darting kingfishers. Over the course of the tour, which runs somewhere between an hour and a half to two hours, the members of our group call out to each other to point out sights like the years-old iconic twisted “photo op” palm tree on the bank, a massive cypress tree with a ring of polished “knees” and feather-soft leaves grazing the surface of the water, a beautiful white lily blossom deep in the dark green foliage and a fat bellied alligator lazing in the sun on the river bank. Beneath our kayaks we can see numerous turtles and such fish as longnosed gar, mudfish and bass. And then there are the monkeys! As the tour makes a right turn from the river channel into a side canal, a rhesus macaque monkey sitting on a fence post goes about its business with no apparent interest in the human shouting, “There, over there! I see one!” In the heyday of the Silver Springs attraction, before it became a state park, Colonel Tooey ran the jungle boat cruise. He brought six monkeys to the park and let them loose on an island, thinking they couldn’t swim away. But they did. And they multiplied. Now, wild monkey sightings are highly sought after by those navigating the waters of the park. While the monkeys are intelligent and highly adaptable, they are completely feral and the Centers for Disease Control warn that they carry disease, so visitors should not try to feed or coax them into closer contact. In fact, care is taken on all excursions to not disturb the wildlife or the natural surroundings. We glide through the narrow, treeshaded canal that gives an even closer glimpse into the flora and fauna on the July ‘21


I always feel rejuvenated after kayaking out here. It puts me into a super relaxed, almost meditative mode instantly. - Justin Buzzi

Bryce Neal, in front, Martin Alejandro and Nicole Foley

Martin Alejandro and Nicole Foley

Susan Smiley-Height and Jennifer Hunt Murty

banks, including seeing a gator come up out of the water with a fat fish clenched in its jaws, before the tour ends up back at the launch area. Get Up And Go Kayaking tours at Silver Springs are by reservation only. They are open to all ages and there are rules regarding weight limits and what you can bring along. “Our natural springs in Florida are incredibly special to us and we love that we have the chance to introduce others to the natural beauty of the Sunshine State every day,” says Justin Buzzi, owner of Get Up And Go Kayaking. “I always feel rejuvenated after kayaking out here. It puts me into a super relaxed, almost meditative mode instantly. There are studies showing that people who spent two hours a week in natural settings were much more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who did not spend any time outdoors.” Our birthday girl, who has participated in other Get Up And Go tours, was particularly satisfied with this one. “It was amazing because of the wildlife and Bryce was a great tour guide in telling all of the history,” Foley offers. “This was nice because of the openness and you could go at a slow pace and enjoy it. It was a great, great tour!” To learn more, visit getupandgokayaking.com July ‘21


beneath the blue

Members of the Silver Springs Professional Dive Team take pride in keeping the glass bottoms of Silver Springs State Park’s famous boats sparkling clean, as well as tending to the intriguing underwater attractions. By Susan Smiley-Height | Photography by Alan Youngblood


nce a month, in the early hours of a Sunday morning, when the warm sun’s rays illuminate the ethereal mist rising over the Silver River, a special squad of scuba divers slips into the headwaters at Silver Springs State Park, intent on a mission. This dedicated team of volunteers, formed in 2014, has the unique task of cleaning the undersides of the world-famous glass-bottom boats and removing algae from the three Greek statues left behind from the filming of the I Spy television series in the 1960s. They are allowed into the waters of Silver Springs in cooperation with Cape Leisure Corporation, which has the concession to provide park services such as the glass-bottom boat tours. The divers also pick up items, such as sunglasses, that inadvertently fall into the crystalclear water, and pull weeds and algae from around some of the agesold movie “wrecks” to make them more visible for glass-bottom boat tour guests. “One wreck was used in the Jerry Lewis movie Don’t Give Up the Ship and the western Sam Whiskey, starring Burt Reynolds,” says Joe Wallace, the team’s founder and a certified rescue diver. “The statues and the wrecks are favorite features the boat captains point out to visitors as they navigate up and down the river every day.” The team members do their work before the park opens to guests. Safety is of paramount importance and while divers are in the spring they work in pairs or groups and in concert with the boat captains. The volunteer team members come from a variety of backgrounds and share a love of scuba diving and a passion for helping preserve the magical experiences of Silver Springs. Capt. Oscar Collins understands that passion. He has been a glassbottom boat captain for 52 years. “I will keep doing it as long as July ‘21


I can,” he says with a broad smile as he steps off the boat the team has just cleaned in the cool waters below. “I still like to do it. I enjoy dealing with different people and you just never know what you’ll see out there. That’ll keep you going.” As a matter of fact, the team members discovered a glass-bottom rowboat that they believe dates back to the 1800s during one of their excursions.

Delicate Maneuver

On a recent Sunday, Capt. Mike Rizzuto steered the Chief Emathla glass-bottom boat from the nearby dry dock into the headspring, where he was guided into position by hand signals from a dive team leader.

“These boats weigh 65,000 pounds without being fully loaded; they don’t stop on a dime,” Rizzuto explains. “While the divers are under the water, I have to take into effect the wind and the current.” Sometimes, that means repositioning the vessel more than once to ensure the safety of the divers below.

quickly with brushes to scrub off algae from the glass panes because the boat will be moving with the streaming current of water spewing from the first magnitude spring. Once they swim from beneath the boat and reach the surface, the leader gives the “all clear” and the captain restarts the engine and glides away.

Divers Down

Still Standing

Once the glass-bottom boat is in a good position, the captain cuts off the electric motor to stop the motion of the propeller and calls out to the team leader that they can begin. The leader yells “divers down” as the group descends. The divers have to work very

Tasha Briggs, a scuba diver for more than 20 years, worked as a computer programmer for 21 years, until she “got burned out” and wanted to find a job she liked. She now owns Dive Patches International, which supplies embroidered patches to

vendors around the world. It was her friendship with Wallace that brought her to the dive team. One of her main jobs is helping clean the three underwater statues that were left from the I Spy episode The Seventh Captain, which was televised November 13th, 1967. Two other statues from the set are on display in the park’s ballroom. “There are a lot of divers on this team who are even more experienced than I am,” Briggs offers, adding, “We have a lot of fun doing this.” Wallace often helps rid the statues of what he calls “bright green troll hair,” along with diver Jennifer Nader. “We try to be gentle to remove the algae as the statues are actually kind of fragile,” Nader offers. “It’s really strange because they move. We clean around the head, then the shoulders and down

the back and go across the fronts and if there is loose algae, we whisk it away very gently.”

Kudos to the “Creature”

The team members are all certified at advanced level or higher and some are master divers or instructors. The group of 35 members includes two dive shop owners, two Silver Springs boat captains, three college professors, a park ranger and Emmy Awardwinning National Geographic filmmaker Mark Emery. Team photographer Alan Youngblood, a founding member of the group, has documented every dive at Silver Springs since the inception of the group seven years ago. On a typical Sunday, about eight to 12 divers will be on hand to help. Some of them remain on the dock to assist those who are going into the water.

There are two honorary dive team members, Leon Cheatom and Ricou Browning. Cheatom began a career at the springs at the age of 14, which spanned 55 years and included piloting the glass-bottom boats, cleaning them as a diver and handling snakes, alligators and the exotic wildlife that used to reside at the attraction. Browning was famous for appearing as the grotesque creature in the underwater sequences in the 1954 film Creature from the Black Lagoon. He also appeared in two “Creature” sequels. Browning visited Silver Springs in September 2019 and team members presented him with his honorary membership. In a nod to the famous movie series, the logo of the Silver Springs Professional Dive Team depicts the face of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. July ‘21


The lovely horticultural streetscapes around downtown Ocala are created by a talented team of city employees. By Susan Smiley-Height Photography by Becky Collazo


isit downtown Ocala any time of the year and you are sure to see lush landscaping, beautifully curated planters along many sidewalks and on street corner crossings, and hanging baskets dripping with colorful blossoms. You’ll also find accent trees in strategic spots, along with carefully tended ancient oaks and bright bursts of towering crepe myrtles, whose mauve, pink or white flowers cover the ground like confetti in early summer. These streetscapes are all examples of the work done by a special team within the City of Ocala’s Recreation and Parks Department. And if you venture to one of the city’s many parks, such as the nearby Tuscawilla Park, you’ll see more outstanding examples of the horticultural beauty they help create. “The Downtown Beautification Crew is an essential part to what we do in Recreation and Parks,” says Parks Division Head Bill Rodriguez. “They help us make Ocala a great place to live, play and prosper. They maintain, install and design most of our landscape downtown, but they also maintain the landscaping on 40-plus city park properties, which enhances the user’s park experience and coexists well with the native flora of our parks.” Among the most striking examples of the team’s efforts are the giant concrete planters all around the downtown square and being added along the Magnolia Avenue and First Avenue corridor. The colorful containers might showcase feathery ferns, a miniature palm and flowing cascades of petunias, ice plants or Blue Daze, along with a mixture of snapdragons, zinnias, dusty miller, salvia, marigold and dianthus. The lovely creations begin in the mind of the

team’s supervisor, Greg Vandeventer, who worked at a nursery when he was in high school and in his father’s landscaping company. He later was a recreation supervisor for Marion County for 11 years and director of operations for an alternative school for 14. “I loved being outside, doing landscaping,” he shares. “When the opportunity to get back into horticulture opened up, it was coming back to what I like to do. It gets me out in the environment and I like being able to create something everybody can enjoy.” Some of the designs spring from the aesthetics of the area in which the planter is placed. “In some areas, we want plants that are going to cascade out of the pot and flow out,” Vandeventer explains. “In others, for example where there is sidewalk traffic, we need to keep it linear. Down on First Avenue, just south of Broadway, we’ve got a cathedral oak that is 15 feet tall and an 8-foot-tall teddy bear magnolia that will grow to about 15 feet. Those grow upright and that’s how we’ve given some dimension between the taller buildings.” Vandeventer says he envisions floral groupings based on color combinations, dimension, height, flow and just “what goes together.”

Kenny Myers, Greg Vandeventer and Vivian Herrera Juarez

Team members who help achieve the stunning streetscapes, as well as manage the landscaping and maintenance projects, include Kenny Myers, Vivian Herrera Juarez and James Carsey. Among their duties is making sure some venues are cleaned early each morning and are ready for visitors. Juarez arrives at work at 6am. After she opens the Ocala Skate Park, she heads over to Citizens’ Circle to make sure it is clean and that the restrooms are open. She then might manicure hedges around the City Hall complex, pull weeds or help replant certain areas. “She also takes care of the Customer Service Center and the Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership’s Power Plant Business Incubator,” Vandeventer shares. “She’s got quite a bit on her plate.” Among Myers’ duties is watering all the planters and hanging pots around the downtown area. “Then there’s picking up trash, pulling weeds, spraying for weeds, trimming trees, sweeping streets, anything that’s needed,” he shares. “We do everything from Ninth Street to the post office, from Highway 441 to Watula Avenue, that includes Tuscawilla, the art park, all of that. We also maintain several parks. Any place there is a public meeting, we make sure it is clean.” Myers, who previously worked as a mechanic, explains that he gets great satisfaction in his work for the city. “People hate bringing their car in for repairs, so everybody’s angry all the time,” he recalls of his years working in a garage. “Now, I get people all the time telling us how pretty it looks and that we’re doing a good job.” Carsey is the team’s irrigation specialist. He recently tied several new concrete landscape pots on the east side of North Magnolia Avenue into the irrigation system. “We’re trying to get as many of our pots irrigated as we can so it frees up more time for an employee to be doing something rather than watering,” says Vandeventer. “We had gotten to where it was eight hours three days a week that one employee was dedicated to watering. The irrigation we’ve done has cut it down to about four hours three days a week, so we gained those hours of productivity.” Rodriguez explains that more new irrigation points will be added over the summer as the team’s efforts will

“expand up to the Magnolia split at the train station.” To achieve year-round beauty, the team changes out plants seasonally. “Part of the challenge is to select plants that are going to thrive in a certain season and location,” Vandeventer says. “These will be full sun,” he notes, pointing out one of the new planters on Magnolia Avenue, “so we have to select plants that can take full sun most of the day. And we have to adjust the water because it’s in the sun all day, compared to one that’s in between two buildings and gets three hours of sun, in which case we need something to bloom with minimal sunlight.” Among the reasons for beautifying the area through landscaping is to attract visitors and residents to spend time downtown and midtown. “People often tell us how nice it looks,” Vandeventer adds. “And, sometimes, they don’t say anything at all, but you’ll see them standing there looking at it.” Rodriguez says the team’s efforts do indeed consistently generate positive feedback, especially while they are working on site. “Our residents, visitors and merchants often stop me while I am completing a monthly inspection downtown and ask, ‘What type of plant is this?’, ‘How often do you replace the plants?’ and my favorite is always, ‘Who do you hire to do your plants downtown?’ I, along with staff, take great pride in what they accomplish,” he enthuses. “The best feedback is that they love it so much they always want us to expand it.” “We’re trying to do the maximum amount with the least amount of city taxpayer’s money,” Vandeventer offers. “We shop around to get the most bang for our bucks and that’s where we came up with the pots. Rather than cutting into the sidewalk, which costs a lot more, and putting wells in, it’s less expensive to put in a concrete pot. We move a pot around, pull a pot out, put them in different locations. As the years have progressed, so has the development of downtown. Now we’ve moved from the square area pushing north. There are hundreds of people down here every night. The hotel, the restaurants and bars and businesses, and everybody is walking, and this provides them a good atmosphere.” July ‘21



In the Kitchen With Zlata Sabo European influences and fresh produce come together in flavorful combinations. By Lisa McGinnes Photography by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery



imple, plant-based dishes full of garden-fresh and seasonal ingredients are the focus of the meals retired music teacher Zlata Sabo prepares for herself and her husband, Joseph. Since retiring several years ago, she discovered how much she enjoys growing a vegetable garden at their southwest Ocala home. Situated across the backyard from Joseph’s more than 100 flowering camellia bushes, which bloom in the winter, her produce patch is currently brimming with organic kale, celery, green beans, peppers and squash. “I cook a lot of vegetables,” Sabo says. “I do eat a little bit of meat here and there but my husband eats

only vegetarian. I have a lot of friends I like to have over for lunch. I make some nice soups. Whatever I have in the refrigerator and from the garden I try to incorporate.” She’s “still learning how to cook,” says Sabo, who likes to watch TV cooking shows for inspiration and is usually accompanied in the kitchen by her adorably fluffy, white Maltese dog, Obi. These days she’s becoming a little more adventurous, she says, experimenting with different ingredients and new flavor combinations after mostly sticking to tried-and-true recipes since she learned to cook as a young bride-to-be in the late 1960s. “I went to my mom and said, ‘How do you cook?’” Sabo remembers. At the time she was a busy student at a music conservatory in her native Yugoslavia (now Slovenia). Her mother helped her put together a little book of recipes she still has today. After living in Ocala for nearly 50 years, she still enjoys preparing dishes she learned from her mom, such as plum dumplings and kohlrabi, and swapping recipes with her sister for pastries such as börek and baklava. The entrée she’s prepared most often over the years is her go-to for lunch guests or a quick meal for two. Crepes, whether filled with savory ingredients or fruit and sweet cream, bring back fond memories of school-day lunches with her mother and sister, both of whom still live in Slovenia. “It’s a basic recipe,” she insists. “Here, when you think of crepes, you think it’s time consuming, French, hard,” she says with a laugh. “It’s so easy—anybody can do it. It’s really simple.” And the best part, she says, is the recipe works with practically any substitution or modification. “If the recipe calls for two cups of milk and you only have one, use a cup of water,” she advises. “If you don’t have three eggs, put two—whatever you have, whatever you want to put in.” Having a bounty of her own homegrown vegetables plus more time to spend in the kitchen has inspired Sabo to discover new favorites, such as the Hokkaido squash soup she developed when she substituted the pumpkin-like gourds that flourish in her garden for the potatoes in her favorite recipe for cream of celery leaf soup. “If it turns out, we’ll eat it,” she says with a smile. “If it doesn’t, no big deal.”


Crepes with Creamy Strawberry Filling Makes 12, 6-inch crepes.

4 cups strawberries, sliced 2 cups milk (or replace some milk with water) 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup heavy cream, whipped 3 eggs 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 2 tablespoons grape-seed oil or melted butter 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon lemon zest 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon salt Blend eggs, milk, oil (or butter), flour, sugar and salt in a blender or mix by hand until smooth. › Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes. › Blend the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until smooth. › Gently fold in the whipped cream. › Heat a lightly oiled nonstick 9- or 10-inch skillet over medium heat. › With a mediumsize ladle, pour the batter in the middle of the skillet and quickly tip and rotate pan to spread batter and cover entire pan thinly. › When the edges begins to brown, flip it over with a butter knife or spatula and cook until the other side begins to brown. › Stack finished crepes on a plate and cover with a cloth or food wrap. › To serve, put 1/3 cup of cream cheese mixture and 1/4 cup strawberries in each crepe and roll up. › Top with a small dollop of the filling and strawberry slices.

Savory Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese Crepes Prepare crepes as above and fill with this savory mixture. Makes 12, 6-inch crepes.

1 1/4 pounds (about 8 cups) any mushroom variety or combination, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (or any hard cheese of your choice, such as gruyere or asiago) 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 1 10-ounce package fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 1 garlic clove, finely chopped Salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 350 degrees. › Heat the oil in a large skillet until hot enough to sizzle a slice of mushroom. › Add the mushrooms all at once and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. › Stir in the parsley, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. › Cook for 1 minute. › Reduce heat to medium and stir in the spinach. › Cover and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. › Uncover and add the goat cheese, stirring until melted. › Spoon mixture down the center of each crepe. › Roll up crepes and arrange side by side in a baking dish. › Sprinkle with shredded cheese. › Cover pan with foil and heat until cheese melts, about 15 minutes. › Serve warm.

Cravings The Tipsy Skipper is a quirky oasis in downtown Ocala. Photography by Maven Photo + Film


ucked away in a small, unassuming storefront in downtown Ocala, just two doors down from The Marion Theatre, is a little piece of Polynesia called The Tipsy Skipper. Since opening its doors in mid-2020, the boutique 1950s tiki-themed bar has quickly become an Instagram worthy hotspot for a night out on the town. The lounge takes on the personality of a well-traveled sea captain who has searched the globe hunting for treasures in the form of handcrafted drinks. Upon entering, patrons are greeted in what feels like a 50s-era retro living room. Continue into the main room and you’ll find a bar with enough kitschy faux-Polynesian decor to transport you to a tropical hideaway. There is plentiful bar seating and cozy tables around the perimeter, or take your drink

to the small outdoor tables that flank the entrance to enjoy a fantastic view of downtown. The Tipsy Skipper offers a wide variety of drinks, including rotating seasonal menus and drink-of-theday specials. You can expect cocktails with generous pours, made with fresh juices, served in ornate glasses and decorated with fresh garnishes. Popular choices include the Adult Capri Sun, a flavorful cocktail served in a juice pouch. The menu includes an expansive beer selection and delicious signature drinks. We highly recommend the Velvet Rose, a refreshing drink made with Four Roses Bourbon, Velvet Falernum, lemon juice, pineapple juice and rose water, topped with fresh fruit and a pineapple leaf. For more information, visit thetipsyskipperocala.com July ‘21


Put ‘Em Up Preserving puts the pleasure of eating natural, delicious foods at your fingertips year-round and through a few simple techniques you can enjoy fresh fish, homemade sauces, ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables even when they are out of season. By Jill Paglia | Photography by Meagan Gumpert


hen my children were young, we had a farm where my husband, John, helped make me a vegetable garden that was worthy of Martha Stewart. We grew eggplants, tomatoes, corn, radishes, zucchini, squash and cucumbers, all inside a beautiful white picket fence. Though we had a bountiful supply of fresh produce, nothing went to waste. Cooking for my five children and their friends, I can say with certainty that we did not have leftovers or the need to freeze food. I started food saving when my family got heavily into fishing. We do most of our fishing in the Florida Keys, so we purchased a commercial grade VacMaster vacuum sealer to keep at our home down south. Vacuum sealing is a fairly simple process, particularly when it comes to freshly caught fish. After filleting the fish, place it in an icecold saltwater brine to help season the meat, dissolve muscle fiber and retain moisture. After soaking in the brine, the fish is ready to be vacuum sealed and tossed in the freezer for later use. This type of food preservation works well for any kind of meat. My biggest tip is to clean the vacuum sealer after each use to avoid any buildup of juices that are extracted during the sealing process. Vacuum sealing is also a fantastic option for preserving produce. When strawberries and blueberries are in season, I will vacuum seal them to use later in smoothies, muffins and blueberry streusel. A friend of mine began growing pineapples in the Florida Keys, so I have started to preserve them as well. My mom’s signature dessert is pineapple upside down cake, and I love a good pineapple rice. While I enjoy using our vacuum sealer for produce and meat, I have recently gotten into canning. I love having jars of sauces on hand that were canned when tomatoes were in season. I make the sauce with fresh tomatoes, adding in a good amount of sliced organic garlic, basil from my garden and red pepper flakes for a bit of spice. I also add a dash of sugar with each jar to help tone down the acidity of the sauce, but this is optional. Pesto is another of my favorite sauces to make because of its wide variety of uses. My mango tree in the Keys is in full bloom and I have started food saving the ripe mangoes to make mango jam. So far this season I have made 16 jars that both my friends and family have enjoyed. Making jam is a bit of a process, but I must say that I am a little addicted, now. I was thrilled with the outcome of my mango jam and I plan to make blackberry jam next time there is a buy-one, get-one sale on organic blackberries.

Before diving into canning, I suggest purchasing a canning kit, which will include items such as a rack, funnel, jar lifter, jar wrench, lid lifter, tongs and bubble popper tool. I only use glass jars when canning and it is important to boil your jars and lids for 10 minutes before use for sanitation purposes. After filling the jars with jam or sauce, the canning kit comes in handy to ensure a tight seal on the lid. It is essential to leave the canned jam or sauce out overnight and check the lids in the morning. If any lid pops up or down, then the seal was not tight and the jam or sauce should be refrigerated and used within a week. I encourage everyone to give jam and sauce making a try. Homemade jams and sauces make great hostess gifts when you attend parties and a gift from your heart and your hands at the holidays is a wonderful gesture. If you have any questions about canning or food saving, feel free to direct message me on Instagram @festivelysouthernjill. July ‘21



Mango Jam

This jam is very versatile. It is delicious on toast, on top of vanilla ice cream or as a pop of flavor for thumbprint cookies or flaky tarts. 7 cups sugar 4 cups diced mangoes 1/2 cup water 3 tablespoons powdered pectin 2 tablespoons lemon juice Wash, peel and dice the mango flesh. › Put into a large, heavy-based pot. › Add the water and lemon juice and simmer, uncovered, until the fruit is soft. › Mash the mango for a chunky jam or puree for a smooth jam. › Leave the fruit on the stove and prepare the jars and lids. › Cover the jars with water and boil for 10 minutes, then leave them in the hot water. › Put the lids into a


3 cups fresh basil, lightly packed 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts 3 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked In a food processor or blender, pulse the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper together

until finely chopped. › With the food processor or blender still running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it is completely combined. › Pause the food processor or blender and scrape down the sides, then pulse again until the mixture is smooth. › Serve immediately or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to three days or freeze for up to three months.

bowl and pour boiling water over them. › Let them sit until you are ready to seal the jars. › To finish the jam, whisk the pectin into the fruit and bring to a boil. › Add the sugar all at once and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. › Turn off the heat and skim the foam from the top. › Ladle the hot fruit mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top. › Remove any bubbles with the tool from the canning kit. › Wipe the rims clean and put the lids on. › Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (start timer once water is at a full boil). › When the time is up, turn the heat off and rest the jars in the water for 5 minutes. › Using the jar lifting tool, carefully place the jars onto a towel-covered surface and allow them to cool overnight. › The next day, check the lids for a good seal. › Label the jars and store in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months.


Fresh Tomato Sauce

This is my favorite basic tomato sauce—just add some lemon juice to bump up the acidity to safe levels for canning (Note: the USDA recommends bottled rather than freshsqueezed juice for standardized acidity.) This is a neutral base for recipes from weeknight pizzas to a fancy lasagna. 15 pounds ripe tomatoes 1/4 to 1/2 cup bottled lemon juice 1/4 cup basil, freshly torn 1 garlic bulb, thinly sliced 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes Bring a 6-quart or larger Dutch oven or stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. › Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set this next to the stove. › To prepare the tomatoes for blanching, core out the stems and slice a shallow 62


“X” in the bottom of each fruit. › Working in batches, drop several tomatoes into the boiling water. › When you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, about 45 to 60 seconds, lift the tomatoes out with a slotted spoon and put them in the ice water. › Continue with the rest of the tomatoes, transferring the cooled tomatoes from the ice water to another large bowl. › Peel the tomatoes by using your hands or a paring knife to strip the skins. › Discard the water used to boil the tomatoes. › Coarsely chop the tomatoes. › Working in batches, place the tomatoes in the food processor, fitted with the blade attachment. › Pulse a few times for chunkier sauce or process until smooth for a pureed sauce. › Alternatively, chop the tomatoes

by hand. › For a smoother sauce, process through a food mill. › For a very chunky sauce, skip this step entirely and let the tomatoes break down into large pieces as they cook. › Transfer each batch into the Dutch oven or stockpot and add the basil, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. › Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches the taste and consistency you like, for about 30 to 90 minutes. › Prepare the jars and lids as described in the mango jam recipe, then follow the rest of the steps for ladling in the sauce, putting the jars in the water bath canner, etc. › Before sealing, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to each pint or 2 tablespoons lemon juice to each quart for safe pH levels.

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille 24 SE 1st Avenue, Ocala

(352) 840-0900 › hookedonharrys.com Mon-Thu 11a-10p › Fri & Sat 11a-11p › Sun 11a-9p Open for dine in, carryout and delivery through Doordash and Bite Squad Located in the heart of downtown Ocala, Harry’s offers traditional Louisiana favorites like Shrimp and Scallop Orleans, Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Blackened Red Fish,

It’s Christmas in July at Harry’s! Receive a FREE $30 gift card With every $100 in gift cards purchased. Purchase in-store or online at hookedonharrys.com Free Shipping & E-gift cards available. July 1st – July 31st

Louisiana Gumbo and Marinated Salmon Salad. Other favorites, like French Baked Scallops and Bourbon Street Salmon, are complemented with grilled steaks, chicken, burgers, po’ boy sandwiches and salads. Their full bar features Harry’s Signature Cocktails, such as the Harry’s Hurricane, Bayou Bloody Mary or the Cool Goose Martini. They also feature wines by the glass and a wide selection of imported, domestic and craft beer.

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).

REAL PEOPLE REAL STORIES REAL OCALA Subscribe to our digital issue of Ocala Style Magazine to have it delivered monthly to your inbox. OCALASTYLE.COM/ SUBSCRIBE

Wednesday: 99¢ House Margaritas All Day Thursday: Trivia Night, 7-9pm (Blvd. location) Thursday: Mariachi band at the 200 location, 6-9pm Dine-in now available

Day in the Life By Bruce Ackerman

In observing the beauty that exists in the here and now, we can find the extraordinary revealed within the ordinary. We invite you to see our community with fresh eyes through the lens of one of our talented photographers.

Bruce, a longtime photojournalist, stopped by Lily’s Pad at Lillian Bryant Park on a hot day in early June, because, as he says, “When the splash pads open, it’s summer.” “Kids of all ages can get to be good friends on the splash pad with all the fun and surprise of the different jets of water that shoot out unexpectedly. When it’s hot and you want something to do with your kids, you go there and you start having fun.”

The average person walks 110,000 miles in a lifetime.

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