Ocala Style September '21

Page 1

SEPT ‘21


ROMANCE ocalastyle.com



Near Florida Greenway & Florida Horse Park

10 +/- Cedar Creek Hilltop Estate

The perfect property for horse lovers! Exquisite 10-acre equestrian estate! 16 miles to WEC. 3.5 miles of private trails. Ideal home for entertaining. 4 stall stable yet room for 10 stalls, office and an RV hook up. Lush paddocks. $1,800,000

Private 10 +/- acres. 5 BR, 5BA home includes spacious living and family rooms with views of the outdoors. Extra-large chef ’s kitchen with center island plus breakfast nook. Office, bonus room, 4-car garage, plus pool and summer kitchen. $ 1,297,500

Just Listed

Just Listed

Leeward Air Ranch Estates - 2.62 +/- Acres

207 Acres – Nature Lover’s Dream

Timeless architecture and a pilot’s dream define this 4-bedroom, 5.5 bath home with direct access to a 6200’ x 165’ grass runway. 3-car detached garage, private 60 x 78 aircraft hanger. Located in a 500-acre private sport aviation community. $ 2,995,000

Private, secluded & architecturally designed home. 5-stall barn with workshop/storage. Adjoins Chernobyl Memorial Forest, access to Ocklawaha Prairie Area, plus Ocala National Forest for hiking, biking, hunting, fishing and trail riding. $2,497,500

Let Joan Pletcher, Realtor list and/or sell your property Sold in 2021 - $90,983,800 Pending Sales - $21,828,198 For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and photos. 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.

Lakeside at Golden Ocala – 1.09 +/- Acres

Income Producing Property – Close to WEC

Best homesite in Lakeside at Golden Ocala. Looking to build a home close to the World Equestrian Center? Great building site overlooking the lake and the golf course. Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club are just steps away. $875,000

39.67 +/- Acres located in NW Ocala. Two 3 bedroom/ 2 bath mobile homes. 12-Stall stable with living quarters. Lush green pastures, beautiful granddaddy Oaks, entrance of Highway 326 leading down your private drive. $2,200,000

Just Listed

28.42 +/- Acres - Close to WEC

32.45 +/- Acres – Hwy 27 – Close to WEC

Great NW location steps from WEC and Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club. Beautiful building sites overlooking pond with magnificent sunsets. Property is perimeter fenced with existing well ready for horses or livestock. No Deed restrictions. Zoning restrictions only. Zoned A-1. $1,500,000

Looking for a great property with Highway 27 frontage? This 32.45 +/- acre property is for you. Current zoning is 21.88 +/A-1 zoning, 10.57 +/- acres is B-2 zoning. Land use is rural land. Property is currently wooded but has great potential. $1,460,250

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

Publisher’s Note ne of the things I’ve always loved about this town is its generous support for a good cause. Like many communities across the country, COVID-19 has been the straw that broke the camel’s back for many families who were already living paycheck to paycheck. Although we’ve had an exceptional stream of federal relief since the pandemic started, the system has proved clunky and oftentimes there has been difficulty getting the money to where it is needed immediately. Our local nonprofit organizations became the boots on the ground, helping people while the politicians scratched their heads about how to distribute relief funds fairly. We learned during this pandemic that government cannot always be as nimble as we need it to be in a crisis, and that is why we need to support our local charitable organizations generously. Last year, as many nonprofits were struggling to meet increased demand with significantly reduced opportunities for fundraising, the Community Foundation Ocala/Marion County sprang into action in a remarkable way. Immediately, at the start of the pandemic, they created a web page compiling the needs of nonprofits and listing how the public could help. Next, they turned their attention to helping these organizations in two significant ways: coordinating with the county to get $4.1 million in federal relief funds and instituting a whole new day of giving countywide. In the first year, Give4Marion helped nonprofits raise more than $310,000. Since the start of the pandemic, the Community Foundation has been an advocate like no other for our nonprofits. Learn more about the vital role giving plays in our community on page 12 and this year’s Give4Marion campaign on page 29. You readers have come to expect a lot of beauty in the pages of this magazine, and justifiably so, because it reflects a beautiful place and the people who live in it. But it is the work of our charitable organizations that proves our town’s beauty is not just skin deep. Mark your calendar for September 21st and budget to show some town pride for our bigheartedness and give for Marion. No contribution is too small, because when it’s added to those of your neighbors, we can all make a difference.

Jennifer Hunt Murty Publisher


in this issue




ins ide r

f e a tu r e s




Dave goes from plant killer to thorn among roses.





The Ocala Symphony Orchestra offers an exciting new season.



Give4Marion returns for a day of online giving.

Great books from some talented local authors.

vow s




Join us in celebrating local brides and grooms.



Jill whips up homemade goodies for her four-legged friends.



Two brothers with an unlikely start share a love of polocrosse.


Before Silver Springs’ most iconic photographer, other talents helped pave the way.



This couple is making beautiful music together and taking Ocala by storm.

o n th e c o ve r Giselle Felice wears a Kimberly Whitman for Antonio Melani dress from Dillard’s at Heath Brook on location at the historic Herlong Mansion Bed & Breakfast, weddings and event location in Micanopy. herlong.com Photo by Meagan Gumpert Art direction and styling by Nick Steele Left to right: Photo by Meagan Gumpert; Photo by John Jernigan; Photo by Corynn Tant

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Longboat Key...Intentionally Better. The best beach destination—you likely didn’t know existed—is closer to home than you might imagine.


oes the idea of seemingly endless white sand beaches—fringed by the dazzling water of the Gulf of Mexico, which ranges from glowing emerald to deep turquoise, sound appealing? How about culinary delights ranging from fantastic fresh seafood and delectable desserts to a diverse brunch scene? What if this picture-perfect destination not only offered the chance to stroll secluded beaches and enjoy epic sunsets that visitors describe as “the best in Florida,” but also swim in idyllic waters, participate in yoga on the beach, or enjoy a kayaking or paddleboard excursion? Would you be surprised to learn that it is also a gateway to some of the region’s most cosmopolitan cities and rich culture and arts? Now imagine that this very experience awaits you just a few hours away by car. Longboat Key offers all of this plus a variety of diverse accommodations including top-rated luxury resorts, manicured surroundings, friendly locals and upscale amenities. This serene vacation spot has earned numerous honors including a Readers’ Choice Award as one of 10 Best U.S. Islands as ranked by Condé Nast Traveler and two of Longboat’s premier resorts, including Zota Beach Resort, were also named to the luxury lifestyle magazine’s 30 Best Resorts in Florida. It was also awarded a “World’s Best” reader’s survey ranking as part of the Travel + Leisure list of the Top 15 Islands in the Continental U.S.


Although considered a hidden gem by its many return visitors, this barrier island has been a prime vacation destination for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Before any significant settlement was recorded there, the Timucuan and Calusa tribes are said to have spent time on the island. Some believe they were the first tourists to this magical natural oasis, as evidenced by excavated shell mounds that reveal evidence of “picnics and community fish fries” which were enjoyed on the secluded island. The tribes were said to have lived on the mainland east of the island and were drawn there by the pristine beaches and bountiful fresh seafood—which are among the same features that continue to attract visitors today. The island itself has a vivid heritage that predates the town’s incorporation in 1955. From the enterprising homesteaders who

fished and farmed the island in the 1880s, to the arrival of wealthy industrialists, like John Ringling and his protégés, who arrived in the 1920s, the history of Longboat Key is a rich one involving Native Americans, explorers, pirates and pioneers. Today, it is an ideal destination for all types of travelers, families, seniors and couples seeking a romantic getaway—in fact, it has become an increasingly popular destination for weddings and family reunions. The reason is that it has something to offer for every type of traveler, from the beach bum to the adventurer. There’s not one best time to visit Longboat Key, though peak visitor season is usually from February through April. The average temperature of Longboat Key is around 81.3°F. August is the month with the warmest water temperature at 86.5°F and February has the coolest average

water temperature (around 64.2°F). June is typically the wettest month and August is the hottest. Many favor the summer months for their annual summer beach trip. “Longboat Key Is America’s Best Beach,” proclaims Holee Abee of Tifton, Georgia, declaring it her family’s favorite beach destination. “We wanted a beach that would suit all of us—one with that perfect combination of sand, surf, weather, restaurants, available activities and friendly natives.” You may even want to celebrate the Fourth of July on Longboat Key, when the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce hosts the charming small-town classic Freedom Fest celebration, with what is described as the “world’s shortest parade” including a group of adorable pooches walking Bay Isles Road in the Hot Diggity Dog! contest.

Things To Do While it is noted for peaceful beach days and tranquil nights, Longboat Key offers plenty of opportunities to create interesting itineraries and partake in activities both on and off the island. • Longboat Key is great place to ride bikes, offering flat, safe bike paths. Rent a bike and explore the 10 miles of paved bicycle paths. • From birding opportunities to dolphin and manatee encounters, get up close and personal with some stunning wildlife. Visit the Joan M. Durante Community Park to explore a wetland and coastal hammock forest ecosystem. • Hunt for the perfect seashell or sharks’ teeth along Longboat Key’s 11 miles of gorgeous beaches. • From deep sea charters to pier fishing, there are ample opportunities for anglers. The deep grass flats off Longboat Key in Sarasota Bay offer some of the best fishing in the area. • Rent a boat and explore Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. • With 10 soft clay courts, daily events and teaching professionals on staff, the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center is open every

day but requires advance notice to reserve a court. • There are plenty of opportunities for retail therapy from The Centre Shops, Shoppes of Bay Isles and Whitney Beach Plaza. • World-class attractions are just a short drive away, from the Florida Maritime Museum, Robinson Preserve, Ringling Museum of Art, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Jungle Gardens and the Sarasota Classic Car Museum to the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Where To Eat Longboat Key is home to a variety of wonderful eateries, but here are a few standouts we found particularly noteworthy. Harry’s Continental Kitchens is an upscale eatery with a relaxed vibe serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. With such mouthwatering breakfast favorites as Huevos Rancheros, Old Fashioned German Pancake and a grilled Gulf Shrimp Eggs Benedict, it’s not surprising that

Harry’s is a favorite brunch and breakfast spot on the island. Visitors also give high marks to such menu items as the Shrimp-Cargot starter, crab cakes, tacos and Gulf of Mexico grouper dishes and their wine list was awarded Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. You can dine inside or al fresco on their garden terrace. Call for same day reservations. Harry’s also has a corner market, as well as a deli and bakery where you can take away sandwiches, salads, prepared meals, a great bottle of wine and tempting bakery items. www.harryskitchen.com Euphemia Haye Restaurant & The Haye Loft is a locally renowned, award-winning, fine-dining eatery known for the romantic ambiance, old Florida interiors, gourmet cuisine, excellent wine list and mannered service. An eclectic à la carte menu is offered in their downstairs dining rooms and visitors praise delicacies such as the escargot, pâté, Key West Snapper and Prime Peppered Steak. Following dinner, a table

can be arranged upstairs in The Haye Loft dessert room and lounge, which features live music, a lighter fare menu, full bar and a selection of delectable confections. They are open for dinner every evening but Monday and it is encouraged to call ahead as hours may vary seasonally. Reservations are not accepted for The Haye Loft. www.euphemiahaye.com The Lazy Lobster is a popular seafood restaurant known for its fresh locally sourced ingredients, cheerful staff and great value. The atmosphere is inviting and airy, decorated with nautical accents and a tropical Floridian flair. The lovely outdoor garden terrace is framed in greenery with colorful umbrella-topped tables. With the word lobster in their name, it makes sense that the Maine Lobster Roll, Lobster Tacos and the Lobster Mac & Cheese are among the most popular items. In fact, one visitor called the lobster roll “Heaven on a bun” in a recent review. But the extensive menu includes other standouts,

including their Fried Green Tomatoes, Creole Shrimp Mac & Cheese and Seafood Gumbo. Don’t miss their signature Chocolate Brownie Creme Brulee. Open for lunch, early dining and dinner, reservations are suggested. www.lazylobsteroflongboat.com Diners describe the Blue Dolphin Café, serving breakfast, brunch and lunch daily from 8am to 2pm, as a hidden gem with friendly service and bottomless cups of coffee. The café offers a wide array of tasty favorites from omelets, waffles, pancakes and French toast to burgers, hot dogs and wraps. They receive high marks for wellprepared menu items dished out by their friendly servers. Customer favorites include their Bananas Foster French Toast and Eggs Benedict, as well as the Reuben, Rachael and BLT sandwiches. This laid-back and affordable café is located in the Centre Shops of Longboat Key. www.bluedolphincafe.com/longboat-key-restaurant Whitney’s is a delightfully retro restaurant and bodega on Longboat Key’s north end. It is one of the newest and most talked about spots on the island. Situated directly across the street from a public beach access point, this laid-back classic “diner style” eatery is perfect for attracting beachgoers in search of an affordable breakfast or a bite of lunch after a day in the sand and surf. Occupying a renovated 1950s-era Chevron gas station, this casual-dining option has a fun Americana vibe and great classic menu items— including tacos, burritos, burgers, fries, beer and cocktails, as well as breakfast staples like egg

sandwiches, strong coffee and donuts that visitors rave about. Whitney’s is first come, first served and does not take reservations. www.whitneylbk.com La Norma is a cozy dinner destination full of old-world charm. Their “Italian food made by Italian hands” is created by using a combination of fresh, farm-to-table local ingredients and imported-from-Italy specialty items such as San Marzano tomatoes. Their signature dish, Pasta alla Norma, is a tribute to the Sicilian opera and has been called “the quintessential Sicilian pasta dish.” Guests rave about their freshly made pasta, authentic pizzas and extensive wine list. Just make sure to save room for their luscious tiramisu! www. lanormarestaurant.com “This is our home; this is our family,” is how the Solorzano family describes Solorzano’s Pizzeria Longboat Key. The owners of this family-friendly eatery pride themselves on serving “real Jersey pizza” by the slice or by the pie, and their recipes have been perfected over three generations using the traditional simplicity of their Italian ancestors. Locals and visitors alike crave their specialties such as Buffalo Chicken Pizza, garlic knots and hot-fromthe-oven subs, and they offer gluten-free options. Dine in for lunch or dinner or call for delivery anywhere on Longboat Key. www.nobodymakespizzalikewedo.com Visit www.lovelbk.com and www.bradentongulfislands.com


(352) 622-5020 www.ocalafoundation.org

The Business of Giving


o you constantly receive requests for donations? Maybe your business is inundated with sponsorship opportunities, and with so many needs, it’s hard to know where to start. The Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County can help. As our community’s hub for nonprofits, our network of partnerships Lauren Deiorio makes it easy to support and sustain causes that strengthen our community—all while enhancing the quality of life for everyone in Marion County. For you, it’s all about creating a giving philosophy for you or your business. And we are experts in helping you get there. Whether you are looking to impact a specific target area or don’t know where to begin, our team can help create focus areas of influence where your resources can make the most difference. Once we get involved, it will be easy to know when to say “yes” and how to say “no.” At the Community Foundation, our mission is “Growing our community’s people and passions for powerful purposes.” We don’t just plant the seeds for change. We cultivate the relationships to ensure you’re doing the most good and seeing the greatest reward.

“It all starts with a meeting with our team where we talk through your interests,” says Lauren Deiorio, president and executive director. “What inspires you to give? When have you felt good about a donation you sent? How do you want to see results when you give? How has a particular cause impacted your family or business? Answers to those questions and many more help to create a giving philosophy and we can then guide you to where you can make the impact you want.” With the network and resources the Community Foundation has to offer, you’re going to be able to support and sustain the causes that matter to you and strengthen our community. We’re going to make it easy. Contact us to start raising the quality of life for everyone in Marion County.

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Healthy Aging Purposeful Living In honor of National Healthy Aging Month, we reached out to local businesses that focus on the positive aspects of growing older and specialize in helping you continue to live your best life.



Ageless Skin Care

kin deep doesn’t even come close to describing the breadth and depth of health, wellness and self-care options geared to those over 50 at MidState Skin Institute. MidState’s physicians and staff of credentialed providers have finetuned their treatments to meet their patients’ specialized needs with services ranging from medical, surgical, cosmetic and aesthetic dermatology to cutting-edge technology for treating incontinence. On the cosmetic and aesthetic side of the practice, Kristin Miller, MidState spokesperson, explains, “Age is not the determining factor. If you don’t feel happy looking in the mirror, do something about it.” That something could be as simple as filler injections to help smooth wrinkles and firm sagging skin or as advanced as laser and cosmetic surgeries that change the skin’s appearance or elasticity. Their licensed medical aesthetician offers free consultations to discuss options such as permanent makeup, microdermabrasion, peels and more as well as at-home skin care regimens all aimed at helping your skin look and stay more youthful and vibrant. On the clinical side, MidState encourages people of all ages to pay

particular attention to any skin conditions that “just don’t look right.” They suggest using the ABCDE rule. Even if you don’t have an immediate concern, they suggest a once- or twice-yearly skin evaluation, especially for seniors. Of particular interest to men and women experiencing incontinence resulting from aging, illness or surgery, BTL Emsella, a revolutionary, non-invasive, technology-based treatment, offers a welcome, discrete solution. Ninety-five percent of patients report an improved quality of life. “Our goal always is to improve the health of our patients and to help them look and feel their best,” says Ashley Cauthen, MD, board certified dermatologist and owner of the practice. Superficial Radiation Therapy (SRT) at our Deerwood office Unlike more powerful radiation therapy devices, the SRT delivers a precise, calibrated low dose to treat your basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma (a common type of skin cancer). A standard dose is no longer than 90 seconds each visit. The typical cure rate is about 98%. Stacey Schmidt, PA-C is our SRT provider and will ensure your treatments are effective and efficient.

MidState Skin Institute www.midstateskin.com 3 locations to better serve you

Deerwood 1740 SE 18th St., Suite 1102 (352) 512-0092

Jasmine 7550 SW 61st Ave., Suite 1 (352) 732-7337

Paddock Park 3210 SW 33rd Rd, Suite 101 (352) 470-0770


The eyes have it. See better. Look younger.


Ocala Eye

www.ocalaeye.com Offices in Ocala, Dunnellon and The Villages

hether they’re affecting how well you can see, or you just don’t like the way they make you look, your eyelids can hold the key to better vision and a more youthful appearance. Dr. Sarah Kim, a specialist in oculoplastics— cosmetic and functional eyelid surgery—at Ocala Eye, says patients come to her for any number of reasons, often age related. Some complain that their drooping eyelids interfere with their golf game or make reading more difficult. Some say their sagging upper lids impair their peripheral vision, making them feel less safe while driving or walking. Many, she says, just want to refresh their appearance and feel better about themselves without more invasive and costly plastic surgery. All are good reasons, according to Dr. Kim, and regardless of gender or age, she’s passionate about improving her patients’ quality of life and vision through eyelid repair or reconstruction. Dr. Kim distinguishes between functional eyelid surgery, which improves peripheral vision and may qualify for health insurance coverage, and cosmetic procedures, which are generally elective. She notes that both can dramatically improve appearance. Blepharoplasty, the most common eyelid procedure, removes excess skin and fat around the eyes so they no longer interfere with the field of vision and the face appears fresher and more youthful. Ptosis repair, another common procedure in her practice, corrects heavy, drooping upper eyelids so the pupil is not obstructed and the eye appears more awake. Eyelid surgery can also be performed to remove cancers around the eye and in restoration and reconstruction procedures. Dr. Kim says patients often see results immediately or very soon following the procedures, all of which are done on an outpatient basis and involve minimal discomfort and a generally rapid recovery. “Operating on the lids is really an art form,” says Dr. Kim. “It’s truly the greatest privilege to be able to make a meaningful difference for someone by doing what I absolutely love.” Dr. Kim welcomes anyone to visit her for a complete lid exam at either the Heath Brook office in Ocala or The Villages location to discuss their concerns and consider a plan of action.


The Right Choice


ertified Marijuana Doctors (CMMDR) is the first medical marijuana clinic to certify patients in Florida. With three offices in Ocala, patients often ask us how it is possible that marijuana has helped their condition more than some of the prescription drugs they’ve tried. The answer is simple. Marijuana has the ability to influence a wide range of systems because the receptors that it influences are located all throughout the body. Many doctors were never taught about the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a series of receptors that marijuana influences. The receptors are located on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord and some peripheral organs and tissues such as the spleen, white blood cells and endocrine gland as well as parts of the reproductive, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. The receptors that are influenced can produce a wide range of responses from calming inflammation in diseases such as Crohn’s and stopping an epileptic seizure to reducing chronic spasms such as those experienced by multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s patients. It can also improve sleep, calm nerves, increase appetite, reduce anxiety and block inflammation, which are all common concerns as we age. CMMDR has also learned it’s not just about influencing the receptors, but also influencing the receptor with the right combination of cannabinoids. These are compounds found in the

marijuana plant. Every patient is different. What we have come to learn over the years is that one size does not fit all. Some strains can give the patient an uplifting, alert, creative state, while others are more sedating—yet for some, the exact opposite effect will occur. You’ve heard of Benadryl causing some people to fall asleep, while others get a spurt of energy and want to clean the house! Marijuana is often the same. At CMMDR, we are here to guide you and determine what will work best for you. There are myriad intake methods and options available. New patients start on a low dose and slowly increase over time until the desired effect is achieved. All of this is part of the balancing act of treatment with marijuana. For more information, give us a call or visit our website to see if marijuana may be a good option for you.


Certified Marijuana Doctors (352) 414-4545

3 convenient locations: 3131 SW College Rd #408 3495 W Anthony Rd #101 1713 E Silver Springs Blvd #3


Older, Wiser and Healthier: Keys to Aging Gracefully


mericans are living longer, but how can they live healthier? Family Medicine Physician Dantuluri P. Raju, MD, has almost 50 years of medical experience and has been practicing in the Ocala area since 1980. He specializes in geriatric issues and explains that longer life expectancies mean you need to do everything you can to stay healthier, longer. “Stay active, stay active, stay active,” emphasizes Dr. Raju. “Physical activity is the cure for old age.” He clarifies that staying active doesn’t mean going to the gym five days a week, but even mild to moderate activity, like walking and stretching, can make a real difference in your overall health as you age. Beyond physical activity and, of course, a healthy diet, Dr. Raju says his patients who socialize and regularly interact with family and friends are much less likely to develop the depression that is often associated with aging. “People who stay active and stay connected are the healthiest, no question,” he admits. “When you isolate, you’re more likely to have mood disorders.” Older adults are at an increased risk for depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and mental health is connected to your physical and social well-being. In fact, the agency reports that depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer) or whose function becomes limited. Dr. Raju also reveals an often-overlooked health risk for the older population. “I always ask my patients what they think is going to kill them? They usually say, ‘heart attack, cancer, maybe stroke,’” he shares. “They never say ‘falling.’” Falls are, in fact, the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide, but can be easily prevented. The first step should be to ask your physician to evaluate your risk of falling and discuss specific things you can do to prevent it. The number of Americans 65 and older is projected to nearly double by 2060. This larger, healthier aging population can benefit from establishing a strong, trusting relationship with their primary care doctor. “My job is to improve their quality of life,” explains Dr. Raju. “As primary care physicians, the better we know our patients, the earlier we can intervene and improve their quality of life.”

“People who stay active and stay connected are the healthiest, no question.” Millennium Physician Group Dantuluri P. Raju, M.D. 2840 SE 3rd Court, Suite 100 Ocala, FL 34471 (352) 622-1777


Better Health. It’s about Time. The VIPcare Patient Experience


oing to see your doctor is probably never on your list of things to do for fun; however, it’s important in maintaining your health, especially for adults 65 and older. Patients who have an ongoing relationship with their primary care physician have fewer health incidences and unnecessary ER visits. That’s why you need a doctor you’re comfortable with and who you trust. One you can turn to 24/7. Quality over Quantity It can be hard to find that doctor with whom you truly connect. Health care has become so rushed. It’s like doctors compete to see the most patients. Sadly, that doesn’t leave much one-on-one time. That was the key difference Dan and Tina DiFrancesco noticed with VIPcare after moving from Pennsylvania. “They make you feel like you’re the only one,” Tina said. “It’s really the first doctor that I’ve had like that.” Time for a Better Experience Dan had two doctors before visiting VIPcare. He admits they were nice but immediately noticed a different experience upon switching. “The doctors, they care,” he said. “You get an X-ray or something, they call you, ‘How did you make out?’” By taking the time to know

you and your health history, your primary care physician can provide you with the specialized care you need and deserve. No more running around from doctor to doctor for answers. Your doctor is your direct link to comprehensive care. “The whole office, they follow up,” Tina said about her VIPcare experience. “The next day they’re on the phone with you. It’s great.”

www.GetVIPcare.com (352) 204-0099 Accepting new Medicare Advantage patients

Journey to Better Health Real health care is getting you healthy and keeping you healthy. Find a trusted partner in your health and get the care and attention you deserve. Call today to schedule a free consultation with a primary care doctor in your neighborhood VIPcare clinic serving the Medicare Advantage community.


Social The Florida Quarter Horse Association’s Summer Sizzler horse show featured a variety of equine disciplines. Pictured: Carmela Nespoll and Ziped N Potent | Photo by Bruce Ackerman


Ollie, Haley Edgin, Samantha Johnson

L.H. Heier, Matt Howell, Carolyn Johnson, Don McDuffee

Summer Sizzler

FLORIDA HORSE PARK Photography by Bruce Ackerman

T Glock

Hayden Knowles, Baylie Robbins, Peanut

he Florida Quarter Horse Association hosted its annual summer horse show on July 17th and 18th, with two full days of competitions for all ages. Events ranged from Small Fry Western Pleasure to Senior Trail to Grand & Reserve.

Jenny Baker, Diesel N Whiskey

Mary Stein, Olivia Stein





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Membership is open to anyone in Alachua, Marion, Lake, and Sumter counties.4 Offer subject to change without notice. There are costs associated with the use of this card. For specific information call 800-367-6440 or write us at P.O. Box 147029, Gainesville, FL 32614. 1. Rewards are credited based on purchases with CAMPUS Platinum Rewards Mastercard. Cash advances and balance transfers do not qualify for rewards points. 2. Rewards are credited based on purchases with CAMPUS Platinum Rewards Mastercard. Cash advances and balance transfers do not qualify for rewards points. $750 in purchases is tracked per billing cycle from the date of card opening. 3. Balance Transfer promotional rate available 7/1/2021-10/15/2021 only. Promotional Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Balance Transfer is 3.9% and will be effective for 12 billing cycles after the cycle in which the transfer takes place; then the rate on transferred balances will change to the then-current purchase APR consistent with the Cardholder Agreement. The Annual Percentage Rate is a variable rate for Platinum Rewards Mastercard and is based on the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate (index), plus a margin. The margin is based on certain creditworthiness criteria. The APR is as low as 10.15% as of 3/17/2021 which is determined by adding together the index and the margin applicable to the card type and the consumer’s credit. The APR could change without notice. APR not to exceed 17.99%. 4. Credit approval and initial $5 deposit required. Other restrictions may apply. Mastercard and the Mastercard Brand Mark are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated, used pursuant to a license. Insured by the NCUA.


Music In The Air



he Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band performed in concert July 17th and 18th in a rousing return to the stage. Under the direction of Les Muncaster, the band played musical selections including movie tunes and military band favorites.

Aaron Boarman

Les Muncaster

Bill Smith



Marcia Muncaster



NOV. 19, 2022 TICKETS FROM $65










IS: $

































































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TICKETS ON SALE SEPT. 10, 2021, AT 11 AM! Order tickets at CSCulturalCenter.com | 8395 SW 80th Street, Ocala, FL 34481 | (352) 854-3670 ALL SHOWS BEGIN AT 7 PM & DOORS OPEN AT 6 PM (EXCEPT AS NOTED) | GIFT CERTIFICATES AVAILABLE Schedule and prices subject to change without notice. Reduced ticket prices for residents of On Top of the World Communities and Stone Creek apply to Circle Square Cultural Center produced shows only. (Resident ID required when purchasing at box office.) Ticket prices do not include sales tax. Refreshments available for purchase at events. To arrange for handicap seats, call or visit the ticket office. According to CDC guidelines, wearing a mask indoors is recommended. *Free tickets not available online. Tickets must be picked up at the Circle Square Cultural Center box office during normal business hours. Limit two per household. **Online tickets subject to a convenience fee. All ticket sales final.

#14184 - 9/21

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

10 9/11 Memorial

Ocala/Marion County Veterans Memorial Park September 10-19 | 7am-7pm The traveling 9/11 memorial will be on view at the park September 11-19. Other special events include: September 10 | 10am A motorcycle police escort will accompany the 9/11 traveling memorial wall from War Horse Harley-Davidson to the park. September 11 | 9am Opening ceremony for the exhibit.





September 12 | 10am & 3pm A memorial service will be led by local chaplains at 10am. The Kingdom of the Sun Band will perform at 3pm.

Summer Sunset Polo

Florida Horse Park September 4, 11, 18 & 25 | 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.

September 19 | 10am & 1pm A closing memorial service will be conducted by chaplains at 10am. The closing ceremony will take place at 1pm. Call (352) 671-8422 for more information.

Summer’s End Horse Show

Southeastern Livestock Pavilion September 9-12 | 11am Thursday, 10am Friday, 9:30am Saturday, 10am Sunday This equestrian competition will include Morgan horses, American saddlebreds, dressage, carriage driving, hunter over fences and pony classes. Visit fmha.net for more information.


Ocala Comic Con


Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches Fundraiser

Forward Momentum – Annual Luncheon

Signature Brands Gymnasium at Dr. HR Harrell Club 11:30am-1pm Boys & Girls Clubs of Marion County invites the community to celebrate the past year’s accomplishments and preview how they will support local youth in the year to come. RSVP required. Visit fb.com/ bgcofmarion or call (352) 690-7545 for more information.


World Equestrian Center September 11-12 | 10am-6pm The comic book culture convention will include vendors, guest actors and artists, cosplay and anime. Visit ocalacomiccon.com for tickets and more information.

War Horse Harley-Davidson 10am-4pm This event will include a bike wash, live music, food vendors and raffles and a silent auction to benefit the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. Visit warhorseharley.com for details.



(352) 237-1223


September 25 11am-3pm

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• live music •

Thank you to our platinum sponsors

Rondo’s Blues Band

• craft beer • $5 per ticket

• food trucks • • VIP Terrace •

The VIP experience includes an exclusive party at the Hilton Garden Inn downtown, drinks, Buffet & 4 craft beer tickets ($75)

For Ticket purchases and information Visit: OcalaMainStreet.com – Click Register Here Or Contact Tim Rogers, tim@ocalataxprep.com

fun for the whole family!

RSVP today for the

oundtrack of Your Life

with Felix & Fingers Dueling Pianos & “The Paintman” an Evening of Entertainment Dance & Sing-along Thursday, October 7, 6 p.m.

Extension Auditorium • 2232 NE Jacksonville Rd Tickets: VIP $100 • General $35

Call (352) 291-5143 or email cmoody@hospiceofmarion.com seating is limited






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18 PacWest Barrel Racing

Southeastern Livestock Pavilion September 18-19 | 9am In this quick-paced rodeo event, horses and riders attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around barrels in the fastest time. Visit pacwestbarrelracing.com for more information.

18 An Evening with Macey Mac

Orange Blossom Opry 7pm The local teenage country music sensation and America’s Got Talent contestant will headline, backed by the Orange Blossom Opry Band. Visit obopry.com for tickets.


Art for Animals


NPD Classic Car Show and Beer Fest

Ocala Downtown Market 3-8pm The fifth annual celebration to benefit the Humane Society of Marion County will feature family-friendly arts and crafts, dog yoga, live music and food vendors. Visit fb.com/humanemarion for more information.

Country Club of Ocala 7am-12pm This four-person charity golf scramble for men and women will include breakfast, lunch, contests, prizes and a silent auction to benefit Hospice of Marion County. Call (352) 421-9292 for more information.

The Musical

Ocala Downtown Square 11am-3pm National Parts Depot and Ocala Main Street host this free car show featuring family fun, live music and food trucks. For beer fest tickets or to enter a classic car, visit ocalamainstreet.com

29 The Championship Show

World Equestrian Center Ocala September 29-October 24 | All day This equestrian event, offering a $2 million purse, will feature competitions including Western pleasure, barrel racing, cutting, hunter, reining, ranch and youth classes. Visit wec.net for more information.


11/Hackin’ It For Hospice 2

Night of Hope

College of Central Florida 5:30-8pm This event, which honors victims and survivors of domestic violence, will include dinner, music, giveaways and vendors. Call (352) 438-5993 or visit breakthesilenceonviolence.org for more information.

Book by Jeffrey Lane • Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek Based on the film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, written by Dale Launer and Stanley Shapiro & Paul Henning Original Broadway production directed by Jack O’Brien SPONSORED BY: Ocala Style Magazine • WIND FM

August 26 – September 19 When the French Riviera isn’t big enough for two charming con artists with their eyes on the same prize… May the best crook win.

Tickets $30 for adults • $15 for ages 18 and younger 4337 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, Florida 34470 (352) 236-2274 • www.ocalacivictheatre.com

September ‘21


A Thorn Among Roses By Dave Schlenker | Illustration by David Vallejo


n 1993, as my wife and I were renting an antplagued home in Marion Oaks, my mother called and said she was taking me shopping. Two things here: (1.) My mother detested shopping. (2.) Shopping with her as a kid was traumatic. We usually returned home with Toughskins jeans (made with polyester and sandpaper) and other garments that prompted classmates to beat me up. But that shopping trip in 1993 was different. Tired of looking at our dirt and ant mounds, Mom decided it was time for this adult-ish newlywed to have a big-boy yard. So, we went to a nursery (turns out, some have flowers instead of babies) and loaded up with colorful plants—marigolds, azaleas, orange things, red things—and cow poop. I planted the heck out of those flowers. They looked much better than dirt, and my robust agricultural feats impressed my wife. But, weeks later, I became a homicidal menace. A plant killer. A dangerous village idiot whose ignorance turned tolerant plants into acrid oatmeal. The struggle continues to this day. Plantsavvy family members, for example, give me succulents. These are domestic cacti, of sorts, that are impossible to kill—unless they fall under Schlenker’s Black Thumb of Horrors. When those relatives visit, I scramble to buy new plants to replace the ones they gave me. “Oh look,” they’ll say. “That succulent we gave you a year ago has grown into a mum with a price tag.” But there is one notable exception to my killing



spree: roses. I say “notable” because roses are very hard to grow in Florida’s humid, frying-pan climate. They demand attention. They demand leaf-by-leaf, petal-by-petal care. In the ‘90s, I was determined to learn. To be sure, there were casualties. Still, I remained vigilant, and by the time our first daughter was born, our house was filled with fresh roses. I clearly remember working on the roses while little Katie played nearby. There is a distinct magic to those memories—the giggles, the smells, the popsicle breaks, the first bloom of spring. Fast forward 20 years. I remain the luckiest guy in the world. One sweet daughter turned into two sweet daughters. My high-school crush and I have been married for nearly 30 years. We have a corgi and two rascally cats. And amid a pandemic with random targets, I think about my luck often. It is, indeed, blind luck. So, one day early into the pandemic, I decided to mark the moment. It had been 18 years since I grew roses. I would do it again. I needed to evoke some magic memories. In 2021, our sweet little girls are sweet young women. Our corgi is creaky but still at our feet. And our pandemic roses are blooming. I am a lucky father and husband. I also am a rosarian whose path to the rose garden is littered with the corpses of succulents gifted to me by family. I must remember to clear the cemetery before they visit again.


24-Hour Donation Drive Give4Marion returns September 21st-22nd, offering a way to help deserving local nonprofits through this inventive annual day of online giving. By Lisa McGinnes


ast October, the Community Foundation Ocala/Marion County’s inaugural online giving blitz was a huge success, with nearly 1,200 donors giving more than $310,000 to 81 local nonprofit organizations. This year, when give4marion.com goes live at 10am on September 21st, organizers expect even more participation from the community. “We hope individuals and businesses will be excited about helping our community nonprofits that need so much support right now,” says Lauren Deiorio, president/executive director of the Community Foundation. “Anyone can participate for as little as a $10 gift.” Give4Marion is a one-day donation drive modeled after successful campaigns done by other community foundations including the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Although it was planned long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the alternative to traditional in-person fundraising events proved to be a much-needed lifeline for local charities last year.

“Many nonprofits are trying to make up for the loss of fundraising events and recurring donations while also experiencing increases in service demand,” says Deiorio. “This is where Give4Marion and community givers can play a big role in helping make up those losses.” As simple as shopping online, the website will list participating local charities for donors to click and support. “The needs in our community are great, but through the generosity of donors, they can support and sustain causes important to them,” Deiorio explains. “They can say, ‘I’m passionate about children and healthcare and the arts,’ and they can go and look for organizations in those areas and add a donation into their shopping cart. Ultimately, our goal is to enhance the quality of life for everyone in Marion County, and Give4Marion provides us a step in that direction.” For more information, visit give4marion.com September ‘21


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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: Allison & Tyler Abney | Photographed by Kristy Gladney Photography


ALLISON & TYLER ABNEY March 27th, 2021 Venue: Pine Haven Ranch Photography by: Kristy Gladney Photography Wedding Planner: Jana Carlisle Florist: Heritage Flowers Their favorite memory: Walking back down the aisle as husband and wife! Spending the day celebrating with our family after the crazy year we all have had. Lastly, ending the day watching fireworks with my husband reflecting on our beautiful wedding.


ARIEL & MICHAEL HOPKINS April 24th, 2021 Venue: Pine Haven Ranch Photography by: Maudie Lucas Photography Their favorite memory: The whole day was like a dream come true. We loved being able to look around and see all of the people we love and who have supported us over the years come together celebrating us! There is no specific instance where we can look back and say “that was our favorite” because the entire day was truly amazing and filled with God and a lot of love.

Image by Molliner Photography


Your special day can be everything that you’ve imagined. We offer a variety of services to match your wedding style. Customize your total experience from engagement parties to bridal showers and rehearsal dinners. Stunning indoor & outdoor venues | Professional wedding experts | Customized catering menus Guest accommodations weddings@goldenocala.com 352.629.6229 | goldenocala.com

SEASON OF CHANGE The Ocala Symphony Orchestra will return for an eagerly awaited new season with opening weekend concerts on November 20th and 21st. By Susan Smiley-Height Photography by Maven Photo + Film

Symphony photo courtesy of Reilly Arts Center


usic has the power to lift our spirits and create deeply felt connections, even when our daily lives are filled with stressors and difficulties—like those that go along with a global pandemic. Live musical performances allow us to partake in an immersive experience that can entertain and even enlighten us. As he was considering the Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s (OSO) return to the stage as a full ensemble for the first time since February 2020, amidst renovations to the Reilly Arts Center (RAC) that will nearly double the venue in size, CEO and artistic director Matt Wardell said he took time this summer to “start studying the music for the season and it reminded me of all the work we’ve been doing for the past 18 months and kind of confirmed why what we do is important.” Wardell says he believes that music is different for every person who hears it and is important because it gives the listener an opportunity to think beyond their current situation or space. “When someone is in the audience listening to a symphony or an Adele concert or a Garth Brooks concert, they are in the music, they’re tapping into some emotion,” he shares. “We can’t do that sitting at work or talking with friends. When we’re listening to Beethoven or Mozart, maybe we are finally, in our busy day, taking a moment to think. And, with live music, we are spending time with a group of people all doing the same thing in a positive way, and so are the musicians on stage. There’s not much else in life that has that. It’s inspiring. I think it’s really important and, at the end of the day, it’s just really fun.” “If music is life, then live music is the fountainhead,” asserts RAC Executive Director Pamela Calero Wardell. “My hope for this season is that our seats are filled with familiar faces as well as those who have never been to an OSO

performance. I hope the music provides our audiences with peace, inspiration, awakening, perhaps some mild discomfort (Doesn’t all true art bring some discomfort?) and love for themselves and the world around them.” The November performances of Variations on Opening Night will include guest soloist Jasmin Arakawa joining the OSO for Rachmaninoff ’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Arakawa is a pianist of world renown and assistant professor of piano at the University of Florida. “It has been a reflective period for many of us during the pandemic and, for me, music is an essential tool to reflect, heal and hope,” Arakawa reveals. “Music has the incredible power to connect all people. I come from Japan and music has been like a passport for me, allowing me to travel around the world to meet and connect with people by sharing music. I am grateful to be part of the thriving Ocala community and look forward to the weekend with the magical program in November.” Continuing the theme will be Variations on America by Charles Ives and Enigma Variations (Variations on an Original Theme) by Edward Elgar. The maestro says he and the orchestra members are eager to return to the stage. “Everything changes when it’s a full orchestra. The repertoire changes, the musical styles and breadth of the music can change, so to be able to get back to that big music is really exciting,” he offers. “Ever since the pandemic, it was go, go, go; thinking how to get by, how to get through, how to keep our employees paid. And not only how do we stay afloat, but how do we grow with the expansion?” Among Wardell’s other considerations in outlining the season was diversity. “I want any little kid out there to be able

Jasmin Arakawa

to imagine themselves on stage. I don’t want someone to look on the stage and realize there’s no one there that looks like me,” he explains. “And diversity is important for us as musicians because so much about music is bringing ideas to the table. When you get people with diverse backgrounds and upbringings, you get this really culturally rich music-making experience. The orchestra is getting a little more diverse within the individual members and this year we have good diversity with our soloists. And I wanted to integrate a few composers who were underrepresented, Black composers, women, young composers and those who are alive, which, believe it or not, is actually an underrepresented group. And it all comes about to some degree because of what’s been on our mind since the summer of 2020, starting with George Floyd and the things our nation has been thinking about.” Concertgoers can find some of that diversity in such upcoming themes as The Four Temperaments, The Unfinished and 21st Century Anthology. Other concerts include 90 Years of John Williams, Pops! Goes the Holidays and Symphony Under the Stars. Calero Wardell especially hopes that new audience members will discover the OSO in the new season and expanded space. “An orchestra experience should never be intimidating. Our goal is to bring audiences works of music that are celebrated, thought provoking and exciting, while also educating them on the story behind the music,” she notes. “There’s always a connection to be made through the story, character or emotion. When someone buys a ticket to see an orchestra concert, makes a donation

Performances of Variations on Opening Night are 7:30pm Saturday, November 20th, and 3pm Sunday, November 21st. Tickets are $15 to $40. The Reilly Arts Center is located at 500 NE Ninth Street, Ocala. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, which is open 10am to 2pm, Tuesday through Friday, at reillyartscenter.com or by calling (352) 351-1606.

and tells someone else about their experience, these are the things that sustain the orchestra. We exist because of our audiences. It’s rare that a community of our size has a professional orchestra, and with musicians of our caliber.” For those who cannot attend in person, a selection of concerts will be presented digitally through sponsorship by Bank of America Private Banking. The opening night concerts are sponsored by Roberts Downtown Chapel, a new acquisition by noted local equestrian Chester Weber, the primary shareholder of Gratitude & Compassion, LLC. “Our principal, Chester Weber, was a leading figure in identifying the city auditorium as a place where the Ocala Symphony Orchestra could build a permanent home. In 2013, the Weber family’s Live Oak Foundation made a significant donation to renovate what is now the Reilly,” shares spokeswoman Barbara Carbaugh. “This is a fullcircle moment to help present the new expansion by sponsoring the opening weekend concerts.” The arts center is named in honor of Robert Reilly, a philanthropist and patron of the arts who donated $700,000 toward the renovation in memory of his late wife, Bonnie. In mid-August, both Calero Wardell and her husband noted that with the resurgence of COVID-19 and variant virus concerns, the OSO and RAC teams will work to ensure the safety of staff, musicians and guests. “We will take whatever precautions are necessary in November,” Wardell offers. “You think you’ve got it under control, you think you know what’s going to happen and then it’s totally different.” September ‘21


Well Read By Susan Smiley-Height

Marion County is blessed with an abundance of talented creators, including visual and performing artists, and authors. Among the latter are this group of writers, who have created works of historical significance, books that investigate the past and present of our beloved natural springs, and tomes that enlighten and entertain. We selected some books that we think are absolutely worth checking out and posed several questions to each author, to get the story behind the story.

ONE House, Block, Street, Community, Revitalization of West Ocala Historic District Barbara J. Brooks, Ph.D. What’s it about? It is a history of a group of people living in a neighborhood during segregation, who, despite restricted opportunities, built businesses, educated themselves and others, bought properties and became pioneers of the community. Their stories connect the past to the present with lessons from history. It is a look at what was, is now and a vision for the future. What was your inspiration? In a conversation with my niece, I revealed

All My Sins Remembered Ron Cooper, Ph.D. What is the synopsis of your book? Former academic now veteran deputy sheriff Blevins Bombardi of the Marion County Sheriff ’s Department tries to solve a freakish murder in the Ocala National Forest. He is distracted by struggles with his inner demons—heavy drinking, depression, suicidal thoughts—largely from the torment of the

something of my past that surprised her. I realized she did not know my history, family history and our community history. I wrote this book for my son, grandchildren, 40-plus nieces and nephews, classmates and people of all communities to think about their lineage. There is a commonality we all share—who we are today is a result of the people, experiences and decisions in our lives.

recent murder of his wife. In the meantime, a Category 5 hurricane rushes toward central Florida in February, bears in the forest are mysteriously slaughtered, politicians push to privatize all public lands, a vagabond cult squatting in the forest clashes with locals and Bombardi cannot track down his runaway daughter. When a bizarre ex-con shows up insisting that Bombardi help him locate a former love, the deputy may have to step far outside the law to restore any order to his off-balance world. Like my previous novels, it is part mystery, part philosophical inquiry and part tragi-comedy. It won the Silver Medal from the Florida Book Awards for general fiction in 2018. What do you like about Marion County? If you love the outdoors, Marion County is a paradise—swimming, kayaking, camping, hiking, fishing, birding. The College of Central Florida’s long-running Debra Vasquez Memorial Poetry Series features the best American poets, including seven United States Poets Laureate and a Nobel Laureate, a record that far exceeds any college in the country of CF’s size and better than most of any size. We have a spectacular museum in the Appleton and the Ocala Civic Theatre consistently offers drama of the highest quality. September ‘21


Silver Springs: The Liquid Heart of Florida Robert L. Knight, Ph.D. and Marian Rizzo What is the premise of this book? Rizzo: It is a compilation of stories I wrote for the Ocala Star-Banner about people who worked at Silver Springs attraction, the filmmaking there and the changes that occurred when the property was taken over by the State of Florida. Bob Knight contributed an equal number of articles he wrote for the Star-Banner and the Gainesville Sun about the condition of central Florida’s springs and what needs to be done to preserve their clarity. When I was interviewing Bob for an environmental piece, I suggested our joint project and it turned out to be a nice pairing of human-interest stories and scientific studies.

and scientific understanding of Silver Springs’, Florida’s most iconic tourist attraction before Disney World. It encompasses the past, present and future of Silver Springs, historically the largest spring in Florida, home to one of the most productive natural and endangered freshwater ecosystems in the U.S., appreciated by millions of visitors and now threatened by excessive urban and agricultural development. Silver Springs provides a window into the health of the Floridan Aquifer, which is the water supply for everyone in north Florida.

Knight: The book provides the reader with a cultural

Ocala’s Shop Pets Juliana Henningsen How did this book come about? In visiting local shops with my mom, Jeanne, we noticed a number of pets. She would go to Phillips Graphics for her business and I would drop everything and go with her because they have a dog there, Griffin. I loved going to the different shops and she thought of turning it into a book. We started with the ones we already knew and then mom put a call out on Facebook and that’s how we got to meet more, like Elvis at Greiner’s. We partnered with Amy Mangan, who is editing the text to make it flow a bit better because it’s from the dog’s perspective. She put us in touch with Steve Codraro, a graphic designer, and Phillips Graphics is printing it for us. All of the proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Marion County. People can order on the Shop Pets of Ocala Facebook page and many of the businesses featured in the book will have copies for sale. 42


Uplift and Empower, A Guide to Understanding Extreme Poverty and Poverty Alleviation Danielle Hawa Tarigha What is this book about? Rather than assuming people from high-income countries need to save the poor, it encourages a new mindset: helping people save themselves. You will learn about the history and context of poverty and how the Industrial Revolution shaped modern social structures, major challenges caused by poverty and what it means to live with a “poverty mindset,” and innovative solutions to addressing poverty. How do you feel about our community? Supportive communities are the heart of creating customized solutions to alleviate poverty, and Ocala is a great example of one. When I launched the Uplift and Empower

Scholarship Fund last year, thanks to the generosity of friends, family and former teachers, two scholarship winners received $500 and were paired with mentors for their first year of college. The Public Education Foundation of Marion County guided me in establishing the fund. In July of this year, I launched year two of the scholarship fundraiser, with a goal to raise $2,000 to support four students. My friends and family have already started supporting the fund by sharing my social media posts and donating to the GoFundMe fundraiser. I am always amazed by their generosity, and their support is an accurate reflection of the community’s character countywide.

Runaway Masters, A True Story of Slavery, Freedom, Triumph and Tragedy Beyond 1619 and 1776 Joseph Ford Cotto, 1st Baron Cotto, GCCCR What is the focus of your book? They were—and still are—the Seminoles, the only American Indians who never surrendered to Uncle Sam. Runaways from other tribes, the Seminoles carved a kingdom for themselves out of the wilds of Florida, despite British and Spanish imperialists theoretically ruling the day. The Seminoles also enslaved fugitives from American plantations, creating a slaveholding society unlike any other. When the Americans wanted not only their slaves back, but unsurpassed control over Florida, the Seminoles formed a groundbreaking alliance with those they held in bondage. What happened next is an epic story of victory, defeat, friendship, betrayal, hard truths, damnable lies, integration, segregation, heroism, cowardice, deep respect, blind hatred and—above all else—the struggle for survival. This story challenges the way we view race relations, enslavement in the “land of the free” and the nature of

American history itself. It provides no guidance as to what we should think. It does, however, offer valuable insight on a history oft-forgotten, or even hidden. What inspired you to write about the Seminoles? As a native of this state, what has happened in it explains how the society in which I was born and raised came to be. Looming large over the story of Florida is the Seminole tribe. Despite so many places being named after Seminoles, the chronicles of these people are rarely told. I did not imagine that Seminole history would prove boring, but I was surprised at how deep, rich, and exciting—let alone interesting—it turned out to be. I realized it was too astounding, and far too important—especially regarding issues of the present day—not to share with others. September ‘21


Top: Bruce Mozert at Silver Springs. Courtesy of Florida State Archives. Left: William Henry Jackson and camera at Browns Landing on Rice Creek. Courtesy of Library of Congress. Below: The Tempter by H. R. Bezant. Photo courtesy of Silver River Museum.

Before Mozert Bruce Mozert is certainly the most famous and accomplished photographer in the history of Silver Springs, but there were also some other intriguing and pioneering talents who helped pave the way. By Scott Mitchell eople have been drawn to the natural beauty of Silver Springs for centuries. As soon as the camera was invented, visitors began to record what they saw with photographs. Early cameras were clumsy, expensive and complicated to operate. Up until about the 1930s, most photographs at Silver Springs were created by professionals. Early images are rare and unique in that they provide an honest window to the past. Want to see what Silver Springs looked like during the heyday of steamboats or the some of the first glass-bottom boats? Well there are photographs that record those moments in time and, when compared to the landscape today, can reveal fascinating details about how much Florida has changed over the years. Ask any longtime resident of Ocala who the best-known photographer was at Silver Springs and you’ll undoubtedly hear the name Bruce Mozert. He was hired on at the springs in 1938 and, other than leaving to serve in World War II, worked there as the staff photographer into the 1980s. Mozert helped create the images that were instrumental in the aggressive and wildly successful national advertising campaign that made Silver Springs one of the nation’s most popular tourist attractions in its day. Mozert is also credited with developing the very first watertight camera housings that made underwater photography possible. Disposable underwater cameras are easy to find these days but when Mozert took the first camera below the surface it was cutting-edge technology. Dig around in the history books and look back in time before Bruce Mozert and you’ll find that, while he was innovative and creative, he was not the first person to view the springs through a lens. Long before Mozert made his mark in advertising and underwater pinup girl shots, there were interesting characters who had visited the springs over the years to record what they saw. Two photographers, both born in the 1800s, stand out. They are similar in that they made lasting images of Silver Springs using the camera, but were very different in how they created their photos and the lives they led. If you are a history buff, lover of old photographs, or have been around Marion County for any period of time, chances are you have seen photographs produced by both William Henry Jackson and Henry R. Bezant.


William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) This page: Top: Waiting for the Sunday Boat. Bottom: Metamora at Silver Springs. Both photos by William Henry Jackson, courtesy of Library of Congress. Opposite: Top: The Sunken Forest by H. R. Bezant. Courtesy of Silver River Museum. Bottom: Henry R. Bezant preparing items at the Florida State Museum in 1957. Courtesy of the University of Florida and the Florida Museum.



Although Jackson was born and died in New York he was not an idle man. He was a painter, photographer, illustrator, publisher and explorer. He served in the Civil War as a young man and headed west immediately afterwards to start his career and extensive travels. While Jackson is best known for his images of Western landscapes (he published the first photographs of what is now Yellowstone National Park), he was a world traveler. Thankfully, he also took time to record images of everyday people and scenes. Over the winter of 19001901, Jackson traveled along the Atlantic Coast from Virginia to Florida. While in Florida, he visited the Ocklawaha River, Silver River and Silver Springs aboard the small but ornate steamboat Princess, which he chartered out of Palatka. It was on this trip that he captured iconic scenes of steamboats at Silver Springs and a few wonderfully candid images of locals waiting at the docks. Other images capture the Princess with crewmen and a large camera on the deck. His work for Western railroads as a photographer led to an exhibition featuring Native Americans and scenes of the American West at the famous 1893 world’s fair in Chicago. The next year he joined the World Transportation Commission as a photographer to travel the globe between 1894 and 1896. During this expedition he created more than 900 images in North and East Africa, the Middle East, India, Australia, East Asia, Europe and Central and South America. The cameras Jackson carried used fragile glass plates of various sizes (the one in the photo of the Princess likely used an 18x22 inch glass plate). Although primitive by today’s standards, the large glass plates resulted in detailed and sharp images. Developing the glass plates into photographs was complicated and time consuming. The process is known as wetcollodion emulsion and requires extensive experience to master. Jackson was, in fact, a master and, between 1870 and the late 1920s, he created 53,879 glass plate images, of which 30,000 eventually went to the Library of Congress and can still be researched today.

Henry R. Bezant (1887-1984)

Like Jackson, Bezant was born during the 1800s (in England) amid the pioneering days of photography. His images can be found in the early hand-colored postcards of Silver Springs with the name H.R. Bezant appearing in one of the lower corners. While Bezant is not as wellknown as Jackson, nor was he as well traveled, he is important to Silver Springs for several reasons. It is unknown when Bezant moved to the United States. However, at the age of 33 he had already authored at least one article in the 1920 American Journal of Photography on “Improving Prints by Retouching.” One must remember that color photography was not available to the public until the late 1930s and, even then, it took years to become affordable and commonplace. Bezant brought black-and-white images to life by adding color and went one step further. He took his camera underwater years before scuba gear was invented and before Mozert had developed his waterproof camera housings. Bezant made extensive use of the newly developed “photo-sub” boats at Silver Springs. The modified glass-bottom boats featured a small compartment that extended down into the water and allowed passengers to view underwater scenes from the side. The unique photo-sub arrangement allowed Bezant to snap images of his subjects, who, much like Mozert’s models, were often attractive young women, swimming or posing in the crystal-clear water of the springs. While not considered extreme by today’s standards, this was practically unheard of during the 1930s. Bezant’s postcards showing underwater scenes can be misleading in that they appear at first glance to have been made more recently during the days of color film and scuba. It is only upon closer inspection of copyright dates, and the style of clothes and automobiles, that we see they actually predate those technologies and that Bezant was in fact very much ahead of his time. It is not surprising that Bezant’s colorized photos appear on numerous early postcards of Silver Springs. His images were also featured in the booklet The Shrine of the Water Gods produced by Carita Doggett Corse (copyright 1935). Although long out of print, this small but romantic booklet can still be found today in antique shops and it played a central role in immortalizing the lore of Silver Springs. Bezant is listed in the 1940 census as living in Ocala with his wife and two children. He next appears in the historic literature as working as an artist/exhibits preparator for the Florida State Museum (when it was located in the old Seagle Building near downtown Gainesville) where he created museum displays. Like Jackson, Bezant lived to see old age and incredible developments in photography. He died in Texas in 1984

after moving there to be closer to family. Although Bezant was not a famous photographer in his day, his retouched and hand-colored underwater photographs of attractive female “bathers” at Silver Springs set the stage for Bruce Mozert who would further develop the same genre and export it as a local art form across the United States in advertising shots that helped make our part of Florida world famous. Jackson, Bezant and Mozert are similar and different in many ways. Each photographer was a pioneer in his own time to some degree. Each of them recorded a fleeting moment in time and helped immortalize Silver Springs for the ages. 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. September ‘21




Meet the talented musical duo who have been enchanting Ocala with their soulful musical stylings and charming love story. Written and styled by Nick Steele | Photography by Meagan Gumpert Hair & makeup by Caitlynn Brown | Shot on location at the Herlong Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Micanopy Opposite: Erik wears a Perry Ellis shirt and Giselle wears a Kimberly Whitman for Antonio Melani dress. This page: Kensie dress and Kendra Scott earrings. All items from Dillard’s at Heath Brook.



iselle Felice and Erik Abernathy are having a conversation through music—a conversation that takes place, in part, on stage—about intimate moments, past loves, pain, passion and their own beguiling romance. This powerhouse duo is composed of two equal measures of potent talent, made greater when combined. Both are gifted songwriters and their collaboration has produced a distinct and soul-soothing tapestry of original musical compositions. What is distinctly different about them is the abundant and joyful chemistry they have on stage. They seem to genuinely enjoy watching each other work and offer asides about how a song was inspired by emptying the dishwasher together or enjoying their morning cup of coffee. They describe their sound as having roots in jazz and pop with “Brazilian spirit and folk influences” which shows up in both their originals and covers such as The Beatles’ Till There Was You, Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine and Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide. Their originals also reveal a shared sensitivity and willingness to take the audience into their confidences, offering personal insights, as with Giselle’s Frame of Mind about how she is perceived as a woman. The refrain “I can be beautiful and powerful and kind, and damn you if you don’t have that frame of mind” is a potent challenge to those who would tell her otherwise. Erik admits his main inspiration these days is Giselle, so many of his songs are romantic missives to the object of his affection. There’s a special sense of gratification in watching Giselle give voice to his words as Erik gazes at her—eyes flashing excitedly with an adoring smile—as if he is discovering her for the first time. Together, they have captivated local audiences and caught the attention of leaders in our local music scene. “Ocala fans love their covers, but they are also very talented songwriters with some deeply moving original compositions,” declares David Midgett, chairman at NOMA Records. “When we decided to host live audience recording sessions (called NOMA Live), we knew we wanted this talented couple to be our first act, and we wanted to record their original songs live. They exceeded our expectations and enraptured our crowd.” Executive Director Pamela Calero Wardell of the Reilly Arts Center says the way they “bring the audience in” is what has made them so popular and is why she engaged them for the Reilly Digital Series and made them the headliners for a significant event last year.

“While they are outstanding musicians, they aren’t over the top to make their performance about them. They create an ambiance and make the music about the audience and their experience,” Calero Wardell offers. “This is the reason they were my first choice to perform at the opening for the Marion Theatre in September 2020. They performed original songs and covers, against the backdrop of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and they made people smile, cry and think of beautiful times. That is what makes them so special.” Erik’s dancing fingers, full of precision and artful complexity, are a perfect complement to Giselle’s sultry vocals and he manages to fill the room with music, especially when he occasionally uses his guitar like a drum. And Giselle can scat with the best. Her Opposite: GB gown and necklace by Natasha Accessories. This page: Baird McNutt jacket with Murano pant and shirt. All items from Dillard’s at Heath Brook.

melodic solo improvisations are a fun ride on songs like Ray Charles’ Hit the Road Jack. As people, they are engaging and charismatic. Giselle is bright and breezy and Erik is thoughtfully inquisitive with a shy smile. “Erik lives for the small moments, and I love that so much,” Giselle explains. “There’s that quote, ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ And with Erik, there are so many times each day where he does stop and look and smile. And he encourages me to do the same. I love that he can make the sweetest memories out of the smallest of moments—using a silly voice and accent to ‘present’ me with my morning coffee, pulling me to dance in the kitchen when we’re cooking...and a trillion more. I’m so proud to have him as my partner in life and be his. He is an incredible human.” “My favorite thing about Giselle is her willingness to try new things. She is always trying to learn from her experiences and is never afraid to invite new experiences into her life,” Erik offers. “This gives me great peace of mind, because I know we will overcome the ambiguities associated with this musical life we have chosen to pursue as a duo on and off the stage. I have no doubt that Giselle will be with me regardless of what life throws at us.” Giselle says that they have charted their love affair through their compositions. “One thing I love is seeing how our original music evolves with our relationship. Our relationship can be mapped out with our songs: you have songs that reflect the initial flutters and learning about each other...but recently I’ve seen this turn in our music reflecting the deeper kind of love we have for each other or exploring non-romantic forms of love we have in our life...experiencing new, complex feelings we’re both encountering as young adults. Our songs are truly us—who we are as individuals, as a unit, and who we’re growing to be.” Read an expanded version of this article on ocalastyle.com and learn more at giselleanderik.com 52


This page: Dress by Free People with Kendra Scott earrings. Erik wears a ROWM shirt (above and preceding page). Opposite: Gown by Betsy & Adam, Kate Spade bangle and Jessica Simpson earrings. Perry Ellis shirt and Murano pant. All items from Dillard’s at Heath Brook.

to e m i t e ow’s th

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Canine Cuisine Our resident foodie serves homemade goodies to all her family members—even the four-legged ones. By Jill Paglia | Photography by John Jernigan



o say that I am a dog lover would be an understatement. For as long as I can remember, my family always had at least one dog. At one time during my childhood, we had a Great Dane, a miniature poodle and a Chihuahua who co-ruled the roost. My husband John and I added our first dog to the family, a Samoyed, not long after we married. A golden retriever followed closely and our list of pets goes on and on. Currently we have three four-legged children: Cooper, our silver Labrador retriever, whose 7th birthday we just celebrated on August 1st; Bentley, a brindle French bulldog who turns 11 this month; and Luca, who looks like Bentley’s much younger twin. With three exuberant pups in the backseat on our long car trips to the Florida Keys, I am always interested in taking along some quality treats to bribe my fur babies for good behavior. I initially turned to homemade dog treats because, just like the rest of my family, I really wanted to know what they’re eating. Since silver labs and Frenchies tend to have allergies, I am especially careful what I



feed them. Besides, I’ve always focused on feeding my family healthy and nutritious ingredients. I prepare organic food for my husband, children and grandchildren, so why should it be any different for our dogs? My first experiments with homemade dog treats were baked dog biscuits. Both the carrot cake and peanut butter varieties were big hits and include simple ingredients I usually have on hand, such as carrots, applesauce, eggs and nut butters. When I realized how easy it is to spoil my dogs with homemade snacks, I was hooked. When I have a free hour, I can cook up a month’s worth of wholesome goodies. If the ingredients sound good enough to sample, that’s because they are. I can honestly say I have tried them all! The frozen blueberry and apple treats that Cooper, Bentley and Luca can’t get enough of really are delicious. With a touch of sweetness from real fruit and only a few wholesome ingredients, they’re the perfect way to keep our furry best friends cool during the hot Florida summers.


Peanut Butter Doggie Treats 2 1/2 to 3 cups whole wheat flour 2 large eggs 2/3 cup pumpkin puree 1/4 cup peanut butter Preheat oven to 350 degrees. › Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. › Put the puree, peanut butter and eggs in an electric mixer bowl and use the paddle attachment to blend for about 1-2 minutes. › Gradually add 2 1/2 cups flour at low speed, until just incorporated. › Add 1/4 cup flour at a time until the dough is not sticky. › Work on a lightly floured surface to knead the dough 3-4 times. › Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. › Cut out shapes and bake for about 20-25 minutes. › Let cool completely.

Frozen Apple Dog Treats

Frozen Blueberry Dog Treats

2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1 cup plain yogurt 2 teaspoons water

3/4 cup blueberries 3/4 cup low fat Greek yogurt 1/2 ripe banana

Chop up the apple, throw it in blender and add yogurt and water. › Blend until smooth. › Pour in ice tray or silicone dog treat tray and freeze.

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. › Blend for about 90 seconds. › Pour into molds or ice trays. › Freeze until solid. › Remove from containers to serve. › Treats will store for 3 months in the freezer. September ‘21



Carrot Cake Doggie Treats 4 cups oat flour, plus 1/2 cup more for dusting and if needed during mixing 2 large eggs 1 cup plain, unsweetened applesauce with no additives 1 cup peeled and grated carrots 1/2 cup unsweetened, natural coconut flakes 1/4 cup raw and natural almond butter, unsalted, unsweetened and free of flavors and xylitol Preheat oven to 350 degrees. › Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. › Put the applesauce, almond butter and eggs in a large bowl and beat with mixer. › Add oat flour, carrots and coconut flakes. › The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch; if too sticky, add more flour. › Transfer dough to a surface lightly sprinkled with oat flour. › Knead dough 3-4 times. › Dust a rolling pin with oat flour, then use it to roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness. › Use cookie cutters to create shapes, such as dog bones. › Bake until edges are golden, about 18-20 minutes. › Let cool completely before serving or storing. 58


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

Happy Hour Specials: 2-7p every day $3 Draft Beer $4 House Wine & Premium Cocktails $5 Super Premium & $6 Harry’s Signature Cocktails $7 off bottles of wine

Louisiana favorites like Shrimp and Scallop Orleans, Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Blackened Red Fish, 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 Head to El Toreo for the best Mexican food this side of the border! Enjoy all of your favorite traditional Mexican dishes in a friendly and festive atmosphere. On Sundays, children’s meals are $1.95. Lunch special: $5.45 Taco Salad Mondays, $5.45 Speedy Gonzalez Tuesdays, $7.95 Quesadillas Wednesdays, $6.95 Chimichangas Thursdays and $5.95 Burrito Supremes Fridays. Dinner specials: $10.95 Fajitas Mondays, $8.95 Chimichangas Tuesdays, $9.95 Alambre Wednesdays and $9.95 Tacos de Bistec Thursdays. Margarita specials: $1.95 Margarita Mondays, 99¢ Margarita Wednesdays and 2-4-1 Margarita Saturdays.

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

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

September ‘21


Brotherly Bond Despite years of obstacles, including an earthquake, fate and determination bring two brothers together. Among the many things they now share is a love of polocrosse. By JoAnn Guidry | Photography by Corynn Tant


wo days after arriving from Haiti, adopted 12-year-old Joe Guzman sat on a horse for the first time in his life at Summerfieldbased Charlie Horse Ranch. The latter, owned by Jamie and Deb Zito, is the home base for the Charlie Horse Polocrosse Club. Alex Guzman, also 12 at that time, but who grew up in Winter Garden, was now Joe’s younger brother by six weeks. He was already an experienced rider. The brothers may have had very different early childhoods, but they were immediately bonded by polocrosse—a combination of polo and lacrosse played on horseback. “My parents bought me a pony when I was 8 and I started doing Pony Club competitions

in equitation and dressage,” explains Alex, who reveals his early need for speed. “I liked it, but when I was 10, I was invited to a polocrosse clinic at Charlie Horse Ranch. And I fell in love with polocrosse right away. I loved how fast the game was played as opposed to the other riding I had been doing.” Despite having no riding experience at all, Joe’s initial reaction to being on horseback and polocrosse was a positive one. “I really liked the feel of being on a horse,” recalls Joe, his wide, ever-present smile working its way across his face. “I watched Alex playing polocrosse that day and knew right away that I wanted to do that too.”

Today, Joe and Alex, both 24, are still playing polocrosse together. In fact, Alex is now the owner and coach of the nonprofit Charlie Horse Polocrosse Club. The Zitos, who established the club in 2002, turned it over to Alex in June 2020, but it still operates at their Charlie Horse Ranch. Jamie Zito is currently the U.S. Eastern Zone representative, ratings chair and umpire for the American Polocrosse Association (APA). Sitting on a patio attached to the main Charlie Horse Ranch barn, Joe and Alex are a little antsy since predicted thunderstorms forced cancellation of their regular Saturday afternoon polocrosse practice. Both are athletic, polite, easygoing and very in sync. Ask a question and they look at each other, maybe communicating telepathically to make sure they agree on the answer. This connection and that they are even together on the barn patio is a bit of a miracle.

knew someone who had a connection to an orphanage in Haiti. We began the paperwork when Joe was 3 and he was officially adopted at 4. But then we just couldn’t get him out. When he was 8, we lost track of him entirely for four years. It was horrible.” The Guzmans flooded the

Port-au-Prince area with missing person ads and worked with Interpol to locate Joe. And then, on January 12th, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, literally rocking Joe’s already precarious world. “I was outside when the earthquake happened, which was probably what saved me,”

Photo courtesy of the Guzman family

Joe’s Journey

“I was told that my mother died shortly after I was born. But then I was told that I was adopted when I was 4 by David and Leslie Guzman. I never met them; it was all done remotely,” Joe reveals quietly, a Haitian lilt in his voice. “But I was told that my name was Joe Guzman. Then I kept being moved around from orphanage to orphanage, foster home to foster home. Some days I didn’t know if I would eat or not. I didn’t even start school until I was 11. But I never gave up hope.” Neither did the Guzmans. “Alex had been my miracle baby and I knew I would never be able to have another child. But we didn’t want Alex to be an only child,” explains Leslie Guzman. “My husband David

When I first met Joe, it was like we had grown up together. Even though he could only speak Haitian Creole then, we really had no trouble communicating. - Alex Guzman

September ‘21


recalls Joe, who was 12 at the time. “It was like the world was ending.” As horrific as the earthquake was, the Guzmans seized the opportunity of the country being flooded by the press and rescue groups, like the Red Cross. Through their network of contacts, the Guzmans made sure as many people as possible on the ground had pictures of Joe and were looking for him. “It worked and someone recognized Joe; he was taken to a Red Cross station. We were then contacted and just elated that Joe was alive,” recalls Leslie. “We contacted a pastor we knew there and Joe was taken to an orphanage. A month later, he was on the last U.S. government plane taking refugees out of the country to Miami. When we picked up Joe at the airport, his first word to me was ‘Mom.’” And when Joe and Alex met that day, it was also an instant connection. “When I first met Joe, it was like we had grown up together,” says Alex, smiling. “Even though he could only speak Haitian Creole then, we really had no trouble communicating.” Joe adds, “Yes, Alex and I were brothers immediately.” To that point, Leslie shares a moving scene she happened to witness. “I looked out my kitchen window one day, only days after Joe was home with us, to see the two



boys going to feed our pony Sassy,” she remembers. “Each had an arm draped over the other’s shoulder, walking side by side to the paddock. And that’s been their brotherly relationship ever since.”

Polocrosse 101

The origins of the aptly named polocrosse, an equestrian sport that combines elements of polo and lacrosse, trace back hundreds of years to

Persia. But the modern version that is played today came into being in Australia in the late 1930s. The game is played on a 160-yard long and 60-yard wide grass or dirt field. Teams are comprised of two sections with three players each. The players wear numbers denoting their position: No. 1 is the scorer; No. 2 is the midfielder; No. 3 is the goal defender. Players use a netted racket, throwing a spongy rubber 4-inch ball between the opponent’s goalpost to score. The two sections alternate players in 6- to 8-minute chukkas with four or six chukkas in a match. Polocrosse is open to all, usually age 8 and up, of all skill levels. Clubs host or travel to weekend tournaments sanctioned by the APA. Players are rated A, B, C, D, E at every tournament to maintain an even playing field among teams. While all horse breeds are allowed as polocrosse mounts, thoroughbred and thoroughbred crosses, known for their speed and agility, tend to dominate the sport. Unlike polo, a player can use only one horse throughout a tournament. The Guzman brothers currently own four polocrosse horses, all thoroughbreds. “We currently have 15 members on the Charlie Horse team,” says Alex, the team’s coach, who is consistently an A-rated Top 10 APA player and a past member of Team USA in polocrosse. “My best position is 1 (scorer) and then 3 (goal defender). Joe’s best position is also 1 and then 2 (midfielder).”

But Alex is not only an outstanding polocrosse player, he is quite an all-around athlete. He was one of the top-ranked U.S. Youth A athletes, having competed internationally for several years in the pentathlon. The pentathlon consists of fencing, swimming, show jumping and the combination of cross country running/pistol shooting. But recovering from an ankle injury and the COVID-19 pandemic led to him taking a break from pentathlon. “When I stepped back from pentathlon, I then decided to take over ownership of Charlie Horse Polocrosse Club,” says Alex, who has to be coaxed into revealing he’s trying out for the USA Polocrosse World Cup Team. “I’m the president and Joe is the vice president of the club. Polocrosse is something we will always enjoying doing together.” Joe, who was also a talented track athlete in high school and is now consistently a B-rated Top 10 APA player, chimes in. “We are both taking online college courses toward business degrees. We’re renovating a house to flip and we may turn that into a business. And we’d like to buy a farm in Ocala,” says Joe, with his big smile on display. “But polocrosse was the first thing Alex and I did together as brothers. So, oh, yes, we will always play polocrosse.” For more information, visit chpolocrosse.com September ‘21


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