Ocala Style December '20

Page 1

The Holiday Issue

DEC ‘20

ocalastyle.com


Country Club Of Ocala – 2+ Acres 5 Bed 4 Full 2 Half Bath - Perfect for entertaining - Office - Game room - Outdoor lanai

$1,495,000

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

For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.


Clubside Village At Golden Ocala 3BR/3.5BA Open floor plan home. Firepit. Heated pool/spa. Summer kitchen. $969,000

Shady Road Ranches - 4.73 +/- Acres 4/4 main home. 2/2 guest home plus workshop.

$679,000

Ocala Waterway Estates - 1.25+/- Acres 4/3 plus office. Close to greenways & trails.

Lemonwood II

$410,000

4/4 home. Large pool. Exercise room. Covered lanai & private gardens. $585,000

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

For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.


Cherished Memories - Since most of us won’t be sharing the holidays with our loved ones this year, let’s take the time to reflect back on previous years spent with family and friends. FaceTime or have a Zoom holiday visit this year. I am grateful for all the time and sacrifices our doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers, clergymen, frontline workers, and citizens have given to our country to help us through the stressful times of 2020. May 2021 prove to be a better year for all of us. Thanks to all of our friends, customers and clients who have entrusted us with their real estate business this year. It’s been a very successful year with God’s blessings of properties, sellers selling and buyers finding the right property whether small or large. I am truly blessed with a great team: Bonnie Kash, Francis Galvez, and my husband J.J.


Pending

Country Club Of Ocala – 2.02 Acres Overlooks the 18th fairway. Spacious pool and deck.

$1,399,000

Pending

Wingspread Farm - 10+/- Equestrian Estate 2/1 guest house. Arena. 4-stall stable. Chapel.

$1,299,000


Hunt Murty Publisher | Jennifer jennifer@magnoliamediaco.com

Magnolia Media Company, LLC (352) 732-0073

1515 NE 22nd Avenue, Ocala, FL 34470

Art Editorial

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Brooke Pace brooke@magnoliamediaco.com FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER Simon Mendoza simon@magnoliamediaco.com IN-HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHERS Bruce Ackerman Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery PHOTOGRAPHERS Meagan Gumpert John Jernigan Dave Miller Rigoberto Perdomo Carlos Ramos Alan Youngblood ILLUSTRATOR David Vallejo

EDITOR IN CHIEF Nick Steele nick@magnoliamediaco.com SENIOR EDITOR Susan Smiley-Height susan@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Lisa McGinnes lisa@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Richard Anguiano JoAnn Guidry Scott Mitchell David Moore Jill Paglia Marian Rizzo Dave Schlenker Leah Taylor Patricia Tomlinson

Sales Marketing

DIRECTOR OF SALES AND PROMOTIONS Lee Kerr lee@magnoliamediaco.com

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Evelyn Anderson evelyn@magnoliamediaco.com Sarah Belyeu sarah@magnoliamediaco.com

MARKETING MANAGER Kylie Swope kylie@magnoliamediaco.com MARKETING COORDINATOR Sabrina Fissell sabrina@magnoliamediaco.com CLIENT SERVICES GURU Cheryl Specht

Distribution

Dave Adams Rick Shaw

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Publisher’s Note

e are on the home stretch of a year that will be one for the history books. It certainly has been one for the Ocala Style team. When I reflect on publishing the magazine in 2020, I admittedly stir strong emotions remembering how the team responded to difficult circumstances that posed threats to their health and their jobs. They did not use the circumstances as an excuse to go easy on themselves or become distracted from their role of keeping Ocala connected, despite the precautions that kept the community distanced. The team decided instead to lean into richer, more challenging multilayered stories that discussed subjects a little deeper than one would historically expect from Ocala Style. Some of the stories required lots of research and thoughtful dialogue on how to approach the subject in a way that would give it justice. I will always remember those conversations fondly as a point of growth for us as a team. It was during this trying year, our hardest ever, that the Ocala Style team flexed their muscles and delivered a magazine that I can honestly say that, if I were not the publisher, I still would have relished reading. When I bought the magazine two years ago, this was the type of quality content I hoped for and I have the leadership of Nick Steele, our Editor-in-Chief, to thank for delivering it. Nick not only worked long hours under unique and difficult conditions to deliver such content, but he also ministered to the spirit of his team valiantly. Trust me when I say that no call to Nick for help was too late, no encouraging word was left unspoken, no obstacle was too big to deliver on the vision, and no aspect of the job was too small for him to pitch in on. His deep laugh kept spirits high when everything around seemed to suggest spirits should be low. Woodrow Wilson is attributed with saying, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” It is for reasons along the lines of Wilson’s quote that the Ocala Style team closes a challenging year feeling satisfied with the work they’ve done. In this issue, we share some of our favorite stories and photos—and we’d love to hear about what stories struck a chord with you. Please send those comments—and join me in thanking our fearless Nick—by emailing those directly to him at nick@ magnoliamediaco.com. And, finally, thank you dear readers and advertisers for your support in 2020. That is what motivated us to give our best, and we hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have.

Jennifer Hunt Murty Publisher


Sponsored

352-732-8844 14 SE Broadway St. Ocala, FL 34471 gauseandsonjewelers.com

Gause & Son Jewelers Ocala’s premier jeweler for 70 years Photography by John Jernigan Gause & Son Jewelers, regarded by locals as Ocala’s jewelry store, has anchored the downtown square since 1950. The family business is owned by Jerry and Teddie Gause and Cammie McLeod, who are thankful for all the years of selling beautiful diamonds to amazing clients. Celebrating their 70th anniversary last month, the family attributed the long-term success of their business to their passion for beautiful jewelry, teamwork and placing great importance on maintaining the trust of the community. “What’s been rewarding is to build this company up like we’ve done,” Jerry says, “to go from a very small business my mother and father started to a larger, much bigger jewelry store recognized nationwide.” The Gause family anticipates a bright future for Gause & Son Jewelers under the leadership of their daughter Cammie McLeod, who brings her own fashion-forward vision as she continues the family legacy of giving customers a quality jewelry shopping experience.

Teddie Gause, Jerry Gause, Cammie McLeod


contents 58

74

on the cove r Tablescape by Cassandra LaValle, founder and creative director of the design blog Coco Kelley (cocokelley.com) Photography by Katie Parra.

insid e r

25

f e a tu r e s

34

26

THE AGE OF STEAMBOATS

30

SETTING THE SCENE

Commercial steamboats helped make Marion County what it is today. Coco Kelley founder Cassandra LaValle’s festive holiday tablescape.

It’s when times get tough that a community finds its strength.

40

A YEAR TO REMEMBER

54

DRIVEABLE DESTINATION

SCHLENKERISMS

Dave muses about channeling his Granddad’s fashion sense.

2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

58

living

63

THE WORLD IS HIS NEIGHBORHOOD

Father Patrick Sheedy has established a legacy as a community advocate— and he’s not done yet.

We look back on some of the stories and images that touched us most.

ta b l e

Just three hours from Ocala, Tallahassee is both historic and vibrantly modern.

71

IN THE KITCHEN WITH

DRIVING IN STYLE

74

DELICIOUSLY SIMPLE

We check out some stylish new vehicles that may just inspire you to upgrade your ride.

Ken Scott prepares a classic English roast chicken dinner. These delicious one-dish wonders can bring comfort and joy to a hectic holiday season.

Clockwise from left: Photo by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery; Photo by Rigoberto Perdomo; Photo courtesy of Visit Florida

54


Wishing You All the Best in 2021

We want to thank our friends, customers, neighbors, colleagues, and family for making 2020 another wonderful and productive year for our team here at Showcase Properties of Central Florida. We are proud to call Ocala home, and it is because of you that we able to inspire new people to fall in love with our beloved slice of Horse Country.

You are the foundation of our success– Thank you!

352.351.4718 • www.ShowcaseOcala.com • 5780 SW 20th Street, Ocala, FL 34474


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NSIDER

Social Members of the Gonzalez family were among the attendees at the November 7th TEDxOcala event, which featured 15 presenters from around the corner and around the world. Pictured: Dennis, Sasha, Stacy and Stephanie Gonzalez Photo courtesy of TEDxOcala December ‘20

11


INSIDER

Manal Fakhoury

TEDxOcala COLLEGE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA Photography courtesy of TEDxOcala

T Eileen Hernandez

TEDxOcala 2020 speakers. Not shown, Dr. Jimmy Jones.

12

ocalastyle.com

EDxOcala hosted its sixth event on November 7th, with 15 speakers ranging from a spoken word artist to a renowned horseman to a transformation coach. The goal is to bring together ideas and people from around the world. This year’s theme was “Voice.”


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of any purchase $750 or more

with this ad at Gause & Son Jewelers. May not be used on previous purchases, special orders, repairs or custom design jewelery, or in combination with any other promotion. Some brand exclusions may apply.

Valid through 12-31-20

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of any purchase $1,200 or more with this ad at Gause & Son Jewelers. May not be used on previous purchases, special orders, repairs or custom design jewelery, or in combination with any other promotion. Some brand exclusions may apply.

Valid through 12-31-20

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of any purchase $3,200 or more with this ad at Gause & Son Jewelers. May not be used on previous purchases, special orders, repairs or custom design jewelery, or in combination with any other promotion. Some brand exclusions may apply.

14 SE BROADWAY DOWNTOWN OCALA Valid through 12-31-20 352-732-8844 www.gauseandsonjewelers.com


Now Showing FILMS & LIVE PERFORMANCES WALKING DISTANCE FROM RESTAURANTS, BARS AND SHOPS IN DOWNTOWN OCALA!

Visit mariontheatre.org for list of showtimes, concerts and to purchase tickets! Godiva

Seasons of Change Opening NOMA GALLERY Photography by Xochitl Smith

FULL BAR | REDUCED CAPACITY | TICKETS $5

T

he Seasons of Change art exhibit opening on November 8th included brunch by La Cuisine, a performance by singer/songwriter Godiva and opportunities to meet with artists whose works are showcased. The gallery is located at 939 N. Magnolia Avenue.

Enigma of Life by Flaminio Antonio

50 S. MAGNOLIA AVE. OCALA, FL 34471

Bob Levenson and Grace Dunlevy

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ocalastyle.com

Angie Lewis and Rebecca Rogers


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6

Ocala Cars & Coffee Toy Drive & Escorted Cruise

11

After Dark in the Park: The Polar Express

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

16

Reilly Arts Center December 1-2 | 7:30pm Dance Alive National Ballet presents the traditional, family-favorite ballet with all its holiday magic. Visit reillyartscenter.com for tickets and more information.

Tuscawilla Park 7pm Ocala Recreation and Parks invites families to bring chairs and a blanket for a free movie. Visit ocalafl.org/holidays for more information.

12 Heritage Skills Day

Fort King National Historic Landmark 10am-5pm Experience living history with demonstrations of blacksmithing, broom, rug and basket making and historic cooking. Visit fb.com/fortkingocala for more information.

2

Christmas Holiday Tour

3

A Christmas Carol

4

The Jingle Bell Pop-Up

4

Symphony Under the Lights

15 Spoken Word Ocala

5

A Tribute to Elvis

18 After Dark in the Park: Elf

Grandview Clydesdale Farm December 2-30 | 6-7:30pm Enjoy a special holiday evening guided tour that allows you to get up close and personal with the majestic Grandview Clydesdale award-winning horses at their pastoral farm decorated in its holiday finest, complete with Christmas trees and sparkling lights. Offered Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Visit grandviewclydesdales.tours for tickets and more information. Ocala Civic Theatre December 3-20 | 2pm & 7:30pm The timeless holiday story of Scrooge presented in live theater. Visit ocalacivictheatre.com for showtimes and tickets. NOMA Gallery December 4-6 Friday-Saturday 10am-7pm, Sunday 10am-4pm An artsy holiday shopping experience featuring one-of-a-kind gifts handmade by six local artists. Visit fb.com/nomaocala for more information. Tuscawilla Park 7pm Bring your chairs and blankets for a free holiday concert by the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. Visit reillyartscenter.com for more information. Ocala Drive-In 5:30-11pm Elvis tribute artist Ted Torres Martin performs I’ll Be Home for Christmas and other favorites. Visit ocaladrivein.info for tickets.

ocalastyle.com

12 Reindeer Run

CenterState Bank 3-6pm One of the state’s oldest 5Ks raising funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marion County. Visit fb.com/ocalarunnersclub for more information.

Brick City Center for the Arts 7-9pm All styles welcome, from beat to baroque, formal to freestyle, spoken word to academic. Follow Spoken Word Ocala on Facebook for details.

Tuscawilla Park 7pm Ocala Recreation and Parks invites families to bring chairs and a blanket for a free movie. Visit ocalafl.org/holidays for more information.

Photo by Meagan Gumpert

1

The Nutcracker

War Horse Harley-Davidson 7:30am-12pm Bring a new, unwrapped toy and enjoy a police-escorted cruise ending with lunch at Mojo’s to benefit local charities. Visit fb.com/ carsandcoffeeocala for more information.


R


Entertainment Calendar Date Time Event

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ocalastyle.com

Venue

4

6:30 pm

Giselle Felice & Erik Abernathy

La Cuisine French Restaurant

5

6:30 pm

Doug Adams

Hiatus Brewing Company

5

8:00 pm

Tantric

O’Malley’s Alley

9

7:30 pm

Wynonna Judd & The Big Noise

Reilly Arts Center

10

7:00 pm

The Big Bad

Pi on Broadway

10

7:30 pm

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Reilly Arts Center

11

7:00 pm

The Big Bad

The Crazy Cucumber Eatery and Bar

11

8:00 pm

Dueling Pianos

The Lodge

12

4:00 pm

The Big Bad

Gator Joe’s Beach Bar & Grill

12

6:00 pm

Indigo

Circle Square Commons

17

5:00 pm

Jeff Jarrett

Bank Street Patio Bar

17

7:00 pm

Heather Lynne

Pi on Broadway

18

6:30 pm

Stephen Lopez

The Crazy Cucumber Eatery and Bar

18

7:00 pm

Warren McCullough

Hiatus Brewing Company

18

7:30 pm

Classic Albums Live: Led Zeppelin II

Reilly Arts Center

18

9:00 pm

Jeff Jarrett

The Lodge

19

6:00 pm

William Cintron

Circle Square Commons

19

7:30 pm

The Rocket Man Show Elton John Tribute

Reilly Arts Center

26

6:00 pm

Heather Lynne

Ocala Downtown Square

26

9:00 pm

Side Piece

Pi on Broadway


DEC 14

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HOTEL CALIFORNIA “A SALUTE TO THE EAGLES”

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DEC 19

$60-120 PER CAR

THE GREATEST PIANO MAN

THE ATLANTIC CITY BOYS

FOREVER MOTOWN

ABSOLUTE QUEEN

CELEBRATING TOM JONES

STARRING DAVID BURNHAM

DEC 20

$60-150 PER CAR

THE CHRISTMAS TENORS FEATURING FERNANDO VARELA, DEVIN EATMON & CRAIG IRVIN

BACKED BY THE VILLAGES PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

DEC 14-20TH

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For more details and to purchase tickets please visit: www.TheVillagesEntertainment.com Presented by

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SPONSORED

“I Let Someone Borrow My Car and They Were in an Accident. Am I Liable?”

I

t’s always nerve-wracking to get a phone call or text from a friend or loved one saying there’s been a car accident. But what if the car they were driving is yours? Now you’re not just worried about them, you’re wondering if you are liable for their accident. King Law Firm Managing Shareholder Greg King says that if someone is in an accident while driving your car, “you should immediately notify your insurance company and confirm that the crash was reported to the closest law enforcement agency to

where the crash occurred.” King goes on to explain that Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine covers motor vehicles. “Under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine, you are personally responsible for all damages caused by someone operating a vehicle you own. If you have insurance coverage, the insurance contract will have a provision that the insurance will pay the damages for which you are legally liable and for which you purchased coverage.” Payments for damages

and injuries after a crash will depend on what types of insurance you carry on your vehicle, King adds. “For instance, if you only purchased PIP and Property Damage Liability, and the person driving your car has no other coverage available, your insurance company will pay for the medical expenses of the person driving your car and the property damage they caused in the crash. Your insurance company will not pay the other person for bodily injuries they received, if you did

not purchase bodily injury liability coverage, but you are still personally responsible for those damages. Your automobile insurance will not pay for the damage to your vehicle, unless you purchased collision coverage.” After an accident with injuries, you have legal options and the experienced, local personal injury attorneys at King Law Firm are ready to help. King Law Firm › 2156 E. Silver Springs Blvd. Ocala, FL 34470 › (352) 261-6648 › www.kinglawfirm.org


MID-CENTURY TOURISM ON THE SILVER RIVER PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRUCE MOZERT Through January 3, 2021 Museum and Appleton Store

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

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Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Ocala Even in the midst of a pandemic, Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital is providing an easier path toward wholeness for individuals whose lives have been affected by physical trauma, such as Mike and Karen McCleary. Photography by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery

N

o one wants to lie in a bed, isolated from loved ones and wondering how long it will be before they can get back to life as they once knew it. At Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital, Marion County’s only inpatient rehab, survivors of traumatic injuries and debilitating illness receive a higher level of care while also having visits with friends and family. One of 136 Encompass Health

hospitals, which are accredited by the Joint Commission, the local hospital has more than 30 physicians and a team of therapists, registered nurses and nursing technicians who provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary care using stateof-the-art technologies. “Research shows patients live longer and have a better quality of life after an inpatient rehabilitation stay,” notes Jill Christy, business development director. “At Encompass Health we pride ourselves in providing a higher level of care. The right rehabilitation program can make all the difference in how quickly our patients return home or to their community after an illness or injury.” Mike and Karen McCleary know what it’s like to have their world turned upside down. Previously in good health and independent, they suffered numerous broken bones when a car broadsided their motorcycle in September. After their individual operations, the McClearys requested Encompass Health for their rehabilitation. “The staff is excellent,” praises Karen. “Everybody was just as nice as could be. They work you hard, but they also celebrate even the smallest victories.” The 80-bed hospital has private rooms, each with a view, a welcome relief to patients at a time when some post-acute care facilities have gone into serious lockdown. Fortunately

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Targeted Outcomes • Ability to complete daily tasks • Improve balance, mobility and coordination • Lower risk for future injuries • Effective pain management • Stronger muscles • Walking without assistance • Independent living • Community reintegration Source: Encompass Health

for the McClearys, they were given rooms directly across the hall from each other. “We were a unique story—a husband and wife in there together,” Mike says with a laugh. “We were in true quarantine, but fortunately we like each other. Both of us were bedridden, but they made it so it was at least tolerable.” In addition to their individual therapies, the McClearys also worked on their daily living skills. For Mike, that meant learning to make a grilled cheese sandwich and being able to bathe without assistance. “It seems kind of silly, but they make sure that you’re ready to go home and be independent,” he states. “From the time we hit the pavement all the way through our treatment with Encompass there were nothing but positives. There’s no reason we can’t expect to be fully recovered.” Tours of the facility are available daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call (352) 282-4000 or visit encompasshealth.com/ ocalarehab


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INSIDER

What Not To Wear By Dave Schlenker | Illustration by David Vallejo

E

very so often, we called Granddad “Mellow Yellow.” He wore his mustard yellow shorts pulled up to his belly, his shirt one shade short of aging banana. His socks were black, and his shoes were off-white business casual from the Eckerd Drugs Collection—aisle 16, bottom rack. He was a retired dentist who could afford better shoes, but Granddad strode comfortably into retirement with a clear fashion mantra: Ah, to hell with it. We laughed. Couldn’t help it. “Daddy!” my mom would say, “you …” She stopped because the clothes often left her speechless. I love those memories. Then, several weeks ago, I realized I was creating the exact same memories for our daughters. I was getting ready to take Caroline to school when I looked down and saw black socks and sandals. Cargo shorts flapped carelessly under a loud shirt. Worst part: The epiphany should have hit me harder. A savvy man would have shrieked and, at the very least, ditched the socks. That alone would have trimmed 10 years off the ensemble. Instead, I chuckled and thought, “Ah, to hell with it!” Recently, I searched for court shoes to aid my pathetic return to tennis. I wanted the shoes from my last bout with the game—white Stan Smiths from Adidas. Four frustrated clerks later, I secured white shoes with an oversize tongue that lapped my whiter ankles. I was thrilled. Look out tennis courts, Dave is back. And he looks great! Once home, I unpacked the shoes as if removing a precious stone from an ancient crate.

“Those look like shoes every middle school boy wears,” said my 21-year-old daughter Katie. It was said in the same spirit we used for Granddad’s Mellow Yellow ensemble. Soon thereafter, I bought a sporty shirt in a thrift store. It was adorned with colorful fish, and—get this—it was $3. So impressed was I that I asked the clerk at checkout, “So what’s wrong with it? Is it cursed or something?” Her hesitation was yet another clue that my choices were straight out of Eckerd Drugs. So, I put the shirt to the ultimate test, posting a picture on Facebook and asking for input. Reactions were as varied as they were passionate. Under “Love it!” was a green emoji fighting back vomit. “Hurts my eyes.” “A keeper.” “You got ripped off.” “I’ll give you $4 for it.” The most telling comments came from the Schlenker elder statesmen. “Is it in my size?” asked my 86-year-old father. “You are old,” noted my older brother, Russ. “You can wear anything you want.” And there it was. Truth. I’ve hit that age when I simply don’t care. Comfort rules. At least I’m wearing pants. Heck, I’ve already got the girl. I guess my only concern should be not embarrassing our daughters, and, frankly, that ship sailed long ago. Granddad, once again, thanks for the wisdom. As my shorts steadily creep north, I think of you. May your memory forever haunt aisle 16. December ‘20

25


INSIDER

The Age of Steamboats By Scott Mitchell Scott Mitchell has served as the director of the Silver River Museum since 2004. He has worked as a field archaeologist, scientific illustrator and museum professional for the last 25 years.

O

ne of Marion County’s distinguishing characteristics is our central location in a very long state. In recent years, big name logistics centers including FedEx, Chewy, AutoZone and Amazon have come to town, bringing jobs and helping move goods along that concrete river that is Interstate 75. While the vehicles and warehouses are modern and impressive, the idea of Marion County serving as an inland port and commerce center is not new. Well over a century ago, commercial steamboats plied the waters of the Ocklawaha and Silver rivers. Relics of the steamboat era are all but gone, though are still found in the names of the places they docked—such as Hart’s Point on the St. Johns River in Palatka and Grahamville or Gores Landing on the Ocklawaha River. The story of steamboats in Florida is fascinating— and they had a role in making Marion County what it is today. As early as the 1860s, commercial riverboats with steam engines and paddle wheels traversed the twists and turns of local waterways. The real boom in business came after the Civil War, when government contracts were made to clear the Ocklawaha River of snags and debris. This allowed for the delivery of mail,

passengers and other cargo. By the 1890s, several competing riverboat lines were making runs to Silver Springs from ports at Fernandina, Jacksonville and Palatka. Indeed, one could board a ship at any major port in the world, sail to Fernandina, change boats and reach Silver Springs by riverboat. Some boats traveled as far south as Lake Harris near Leesburg. Steamboats on

the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers also had the distinction of largely employing Black men as ship’s pilots and crew, which was not the case in many other parts of the country. Nineteenth century travel across the wilds of Florida was largely done by foot, horseback, wagon or boat, so it didn’t take many trips to realize that travel aboard a riverboat, complete with staterooms and a cook, was the way to go. The steamers came in various configurations. If you picture a pintsized Mississippi paddle wheeler

from a Huck Finn adventure, you’re in the ballpark. Average boats were about 85 feet long by 20 feet wide and needed only three to four feet of water to float. They had names like the Metamora, Okahumkee, Hiawatha, Sharpshooter and HelKat (a combination of the owner’s daughters’ names Helen and Katherine). They carried wealthy socialites from northern cities on winter pilgrimages to Silver Springs, local folks traveling to and from town, and cargo such as citrus, cotton, turpentine, stock for merchants and even chickens. By the early 1900s, Florida was changing fast. While railroads extended the reach of the steamboat lines (they often cooperated to link their lines), the invention of the automobile was the beginning of the end. Commercial steamboat travel to Silver Springs had ceased by 1920 and the age of carloads of tourists had begun. The old steamers were soon forgotten. While transportation is certainly more efficient now, I can’t help but imagine how nice it would be to cruise our rivers aboard one of these quaint vessels. For more information, visit silverrivermuseum.com or call (352) 236-5401.


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Setting the Scene In a season that can sometimes be dominated by excess, we like the idea of keeping things bright and sunny, with a nod to our native Florida lifestyle. That’s why we love this inspired tablescape by Cassandra LaValle, the founder and creative director of the design blog Coco Kelley, which offers great advice and stylish inspiration with a mission to curate and create fresh ideas for a well-styled life, from interiors, parties and tabletops to travel, food and fashion. Her philosophy is: “Life is in the details.” By Nick Steele | Photography by Katie Parra We chatted with LaValle to get her tips for achieving such breathtakingly simple holiday style, which would be a great option for a festive holiday dinner or chic New Year’s brunch. We love how fresh and optimistic the look you created is—can you describe why a look like this feels right for the holidays, even though it’s not a “traditional” decorating choice? While it may not be traditional, citrus fruits have long been associated with winter and the holidays, such as oranges stuffed 30

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with cloves or tangerines in stockings. Growing up, I remember stuffing my face with tangerines at my grandparents’ home. They would buy a whole box knowing that I loved them. This tabletop was inspired by that memory.

they can also come off as too precious. We want guests to feel welcome in our homes and at our tables. Also, sometimes perfect feels like it has no personality. I like my tables to have an element of play or wildness to them.

A lot of people try to make everything “perfect.” For you, is that the goal or should people go for something other than perfection? I prefer something in between relaxed and perfect… because things have to be inviting too. If things feel overly “perfect” then

You use a lot of organic elements— tell me why that appeals to you. I approach all my decorating with nature in mind. For this setting specifically, I wanted to really bring in some sunshine. Visit cocokelley.com for more information and inspiration.


Join us! 2nd Annual Olaf’s Chili Challenge January 9, 2021 | 12-4:30pm Highland Memorial Park - 1515 NE 3rd Street Free admission and a wristband can be purchased for $5 to taste all the great chilis. You can place your vote for the best chili and the best booth among the competitors while enjoying live entertainment! Come out for a day of fun for the whole family and support Sheltering Hands and all the local animal rescues while enjoying some great tasting chili.

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BWC Construction Bryan W. Caracciolo has earned a stellar reputation based on the construction and renovation projects he and his company have handled throughout the state of Florida, from residential work to businesses, churches, hotels and RV Dealerships. His most recent passion centers around the renovation of many of the historic buildings in his beloved hometown. Photography by John Jernigan

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o say Bryan W. Caracciolo is walking in the footsteps of his father and grandfather is an understatement. Though he comes from a long line of construction workers, Caracciolo has branched out on his own and has expanded his business all over Florida. It’s not unusual for him to hop on a plane in Orlando, check out a job site in Panama City, then fly back and stomp around several RV dealerships with ideas for a new sales center or with plans to renovate a hotel. But his true passion lies with his hometown of Ocala. The president and

general contractor of BWC Construction, Caracciolo and his staff have been giving a major face-lift to many of downtown Ocala’s aging buildings. It’s a work of love, claims Caracciolo. “We’re doing a lot of projects downtown— literally five or six, and we have a couple more in the pipeline,” he explains. “We have a project going on now on pretty much every square block downtown.” Started in 2011, BWC Construction has a staff of 20 workers, including project managers who have 75 years of combined construction experience.

Among BWC’s projects is The Lodge Brick City Craft Pub & Eatery, a flourishing venue inside the former First National Bank building. Caracciolo leased and renovated the premises, adding a restaurant, a speakeasy, the LOFT, and the Magnolia Room, which can be rented for special events. Recent projects include the renovation of the HDG Hotel Development & Management Group office that dates back to the 1930s or ’40s, and the 129-yearold Goldman Building, a two-story structure that recently housed the

Brother’s Keeper Thrift Store that had to be demolished and rebuilt. “For the most part we would have done what we could to save it, but it was structurally too far gone,” explains Caracciolo. “We’ll rebuild it to make it look like the old building with a new 6,000-square-foot rooftop.” Many of Caracciolo’s projects came to him through word-of-mouth. “We never really set out to do this,” he admits. “We did one project and everyone liked it.” Zach Cox and his partners at the Workspace Collective on Fort King


Sponsored Street were so pleased with the renovations Caracciolo did on their building, they hired him to do another similar project a couple of blocks away. “Bryan did a great job,” lauds Cox. “We designed it but he did all the implementation. He is organized, his guys are on time, he comes in on budget, and he makes some good recommendations. He did that renovation in four or five months.” Across the street from the Workspace Collective stands an old white house that was literally falling down. Caracciolo purchased it, did the renovations, and moved in with his wife, Corin, and their son Bennett, 3, and daughter Collins, now 18 months. “It’s a 112-yearold house,” notes Caracciolo. “It was on a demolition list since the 1980s. We did a complete remodel and saved the house. “I like a challenge,” Caracciolo adds. “Most people don’t want to do the headache, but I feel if it’s lasted 100 years, we can make it last another 100 years. We just give them some lovin’ and we make it work. The end result is better, knowing that you saved something.” A current project is Tuscawilla Apartments—27 twostory units and eight villas that will overlook the pond. Caracciolo expects they’ll be finished early next

year. He’ll follow with a 34-unit complex also in downtown Ocala. “I think the atmosphere of downtown and how everything works together is up-andcoming,” contends Caracciolo. “Just a few years ago we barely had any restaurants or entertainment down there. Now there are only two or three open spaces.” Such enthusiasm hasn’t slipped past the notice of Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn. “One of the things we talked about in our master plan for downtown, we wanted it to look like Ocala and do a good job in keeping with the historic nature,” Guinn recalls. “Things like that really make a difference in a downtown community. It’ll bring a lot more people downtown, no doubt about that.” This is just the beginning, notes Guinn. “I think it’s wonderful that young folks like Bryan are staying in Ocala or coming back to Ocala and are involved in renovating for the next generation to enjoy,” praises Guinn. “There’s still a lot of work to be done. For sure, Bryan will be involved in it. I’d love for him to do a lot more projects as we’re developing downtown. There are a lot of ideas on the front burner that will happen over the next year. I’m hoping he’ll be involved in them.”

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Portfolio • Camping World (State Contractor) • Gander Mountain & RV (State Contractor) • TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods (State Contractor) • Flip Factory Zone (Gainesville) • ANF Gyros & Grill • Best Western (Remodel) • Bounce N Play Indoor Family Fun Center • BWC Industrial Park • Goldman Building (Future home of the

Mellow Mushroom) • HDG Hotel Development & Management Group corporate office • Howard Johnson (Remodel) • The Lodge Brick City Craft Pub & Eatery • LOFT at The Lodge • Optimum RV • Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard • The Tipsy Skipper • Titan Processors • Tuscawilla Apartments • Workspace Collective


2020 Year In Review It’s when times get tough that a community finds its strength. In 2020, amid the challenges of a global pandemic and an uncertain economy, local government, organizations and businesses found success through cooperation. By Lisa McGinnes Supporting Local Business Recently named the National Chamber of the Year, the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP) found its role in supporting local businesses more important than ever in a challenging pandemic economy. “Remarkably, 2020 was an incredible year,” says CEO Kevin Sheilley, noting growth through national companies, including Amazon and Dollar Tree, which are opening warehouses in Marion County, and a strong entrepreneurship initiative for local residents. The Get. Gather. Go. initiative was the CEP’s greatest success this year, Sheilley says. “Part of our purpose as an organization is to be the voice of the business community and one-stop shop,” he explains. He believes the information consolidated through the initiative helped one out of every four 34

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Opposite: Planes fly in formation during the funeral of Police Chief Greg Graham. Photo by Bruce Ackerman.

businesses receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which he calls an example of great partnerships and a key reason our community has “rebounded so strongly.” Sheilley credits the adaptability of the CEP’s staff for fulfilling its mission of being a catalyst for a prosperous community. “Our word for 2020 is ‘pivot’ and the CEP team did exactly that throughout the entire year,” he says. “They have continued to be innovative, open and creative to make sure they are meeting the needs. They all love this community and take great pride in its success.” Supporting Nonprofits In the past few years, the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County has flourished under the leadership of Executive Director Lauren DeIorio, and the organization was ready to support local nonprofit organizations when donations slowed down this spring. “Our motto is ‘Building a stronger community…one passion at a time,” DeIorio says. “We have continued to be advocates for nonprofits as well as connecting donors and professional advisors to the causes that matter most to them.” When COVID-19 hit, the Community Foundation moved its Nonprofit Academic Series, a partnership with the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business, to an online format to make sure nonprofit staff still had access to valuable training. Through a partnership with Ocala Fire Rescue and AdventHealth Ocala, the foundation launched the Community Paramedicine program in April. In November they released the NonProfit Business Council’s Guide to Charitable Giving 2021-2022. Currently, the Community Foundation is working through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to administer Stronger Marion Nonprofits grants and, in October, they organized our community’s first online day of giving, Give4Marion, which raised more than $310,000 for 81 local charities. “Our mission has stayed the same,” DeIorio says. “We’ve just adapted how we administer it.” Embracing Technology for Customer Service Used to providing face-to-face customer service, the banking industry learned to embrace technology in a bigger way this year. “We’ve never had a playbook for how to run a bank during a pandemic,” says Rusty Branson, CenterState Bank community president. “We feel very fortunate that we learned how to adapt and deliver our services a lot differently than we used to—electronically—and have been able to adapt to that and focus on our customers without really sacrificing customer service.” Branson credits the bank’s IT vendors and staff

for figuring out how to empower employees to work from home, and he says patient customers “who were reluctant to use online banking” embraced it and “sped up their learning curve on how to bank that way.” With bank lobbies opened back up for in-person transactions, Branson says electronic options are “the new lay of the land” and at least “the way to do some of your banking.” He credits the CEP and local government with the “significant amount of momentum that we built up.” “If you look at the unemployment right now in Marion County compared to the state and the nation, we’re very stable,” he observes. “Ocala is a very resilient community when it comes to the economy. We’re more diversified now and the economic sectors we’re involved in. I believe we’re in a very good place to move into 2021 and hopefully start to come out of this pandemic, to continue this momentum and fully move Ocala/Marion to new heights.” Introducing Online Bidding for Thoroughbred Sales Technology was the way Ocala Breeders’ Sales (OBS) was able to move forward with thoroughbred sales after spring sales were moved to the summer. “We instituted online bidding,” explains Tod Wojciechowski, OBS director of sales. “We were the first sales company in the United States to have internet bidding on a live auction. The circumstances kind of forced our hand on that and it’s something that went extremely well and will remain part of the auction landscape going into the future.” Virtual bidding “provided a unique avenue for buyers who were unable or unwilling to travel…or just chose to bid this way.” The pandemic may have caused a very small decline in the influx of young stock for training, Wojciechowski acknowledges, but says “given the current state of the world, things went pretty well” and “with all of the OBS Sales photo by Bruce Ackerman


challenges there were certainly some bright spots and some nice horses sold well.” The future remains bright for Ocala’s thoroughbred industry, he predicts. “Ocala is still the major training center for young thoroughbreds in the industry and in the country. It’s by far the largest in not only the preparation of horses for auctions in the spring but also for horses getting their early tutelage and early training for racing.” Adapting, Expanding and Increasing Opportunities The City of Ocala didn’t slow down this year, opening the new Ocala International Airport General Aviation Terminal, the Ocala Wetland Recharge Park, the MLK First Responder Campus and the Archeology Center at Fort King National Historic Landmark, while simultaneously overseeing five new public art murals adding beauty to downtown. “COVID-19 has brought a set of very unique and unprecedented challenges to city governments everywhere,” says Ocala City Manager Sandra Wilson. “I am incredibly proud of how the entire City of Ocala workforce was able to quickly and seamlessly adapt to those challenges and new limitations without sacrificing the high standards for outstanding customer service our citizens and visitors have come to expect.” The city implemented live, online access for city council meetings and, where able, successfully transitioned staff to telework while city buildings were closed. Using CARES Act funds, the city installed sanitization equipment and employed increased sanitization methods in buildings to ensure the safety of citizens and staff. Now, city leaders are “really excited” about the city council’s vision to create the Targeted Local Hire Program, which provides an alternative pathway to careers with the City of Ocala in the form of on-the-job training. The program focuses on hiring and retaining Ocala residents from the underserved community of West Ocala with the objective of creating a steady cycle of candidates who will receive necessary job training and investing in individuals seeking the skills needed in today’s job market. 36

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Meeting Community Needs Marion County government never closed its doors or stopped providing services to citizens, even at the height of the pandemic, with nearly every department innovating to ensure services were still rendered, calls were still answered and the needs of the community were met. In a statement, Marion County officials commented, “We’re extremely proud of the way our county employees were able to rally and respond to make sure our critical services were never interrupted. We will never stop working to deliver our residents the best service possible.” Marion County Facilities Management in particular worked hard to keep the highest-risk environments disinfected. Fortunately, many of the county’s 300 buildings already had ultraviolet light air purification systems in place and facilities experts quickly vetted and procured new sanitation solutions for several county locations, including courtrooms, libraries and the county jail. Using CARES Act funding, Marion County Community Services representatives continue to assist residents who experienced lost income or incurred additional expenses due to the pandemic and need financial assistance. Providing Care With Bravery and Compassion Technology and a supportive community were key for medical providers working hard to care for patients while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ocala Health CEO Chad Christianson. Ocala Health staff

Airport photo courtesy of City of Ocala; Ocala Health photo courtesy of Ocala Health

New terminal at Ocala International Airport


Photo courtesy of Florida Health Marion County

“The complications of the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst to furthering the healthcare industry’s launch into new technologies,” he explains. “Throughout the pandemic with COVID-19 front and center, let’s not forget that there were still people needing care for other health care issues— residents were still in need of emergency care for symptoms of stroke and heart attack; trauma care Health Department workers was still being provided; patients with long-term care issues still needed to access their physicians and support groups.” He explains that expanding their telehealth platform allowed patients to see their loved ones with visitor restrictions in place. It would have been easy to get swept up into the chaos during the early days of COVID-19, Christianson acknowledges, but says their team “remained focused on providing high-quality care to our patients.” Ocala Health opened its Trailwinds Village ER in Wildwood this year and continued to expand the facilities at Ocala Regional and West Marion. Along with many other awards, this year Ocala Health received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Quality Achievement Award, which Christianson credits to the hard work of their staff and many community partners. “Without hesitation in a time of so many unknowns, our care teams stepped up to serve our communities with bravery and compassion,” he says. “Pushing themselves to new heights, they exemplified what it means to care like family. The private and public sector—from government to small businesses to area hospitals, along with hundreds of community volunteers, banded together with gracious hearts and determined minds to support our area.” Caring For Our Community In what they call a “year of tremendous challenges” AdventHealth Ocala cared for not just patients who received treatment, but others in need across Marion County as well. “Even in the most challenging of times we never wavered in putting our patients, our community and our team first,” says President and CEO Joe Johnson. “COVID-19 presented us with enormous challenges to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and community. Through it all, however, we learned the value of innovation and reliance on each other to

get through the most difficult times.” This year, AdventHealth Ocala opened a dedicated emergency room (ER) for expectant mothers and renovated the postpartum unit. Partnering with Ocala Fire Rescue, they launched the Community Paramedicine program to help frequent ER visitors get the right care at the right time. To respond to the needs of coronavirus patients, they created a dedicated 52-bed COVID-19 unit. With a mission of “extending the healing ministry of Christ,” the AdventHealth Ocala team provided more than a dozen local nonprofits with food for families in need. At Paddock Mall’s annual backpack drive, they provided masks, sanitizer and temperature checks. In partnership with the City of Ocala, AdventHealth helped renovate the Ed Croskey Recreation Center. Johnson says demonstrations of support from the community went a long way in keeping spirits up among hospital staff. “We were so encouraged with the support of our Marion County Emergency Operations Center, Health Department and the amazing cards, letters, gifts of food, prayers and car parades from our community. Adversity helped to define the resiliency and dedication of our medical community and our staff. It helped to solidify our determination to further our mission and follow through on our promise to elevate health care.” Working Towards Pandemic Mitigation Ocala general practitioner David Kuhn, M.D., of Trinity Clinic, says he “never intended to be a disaster response specialist.” But when he had to close the clinic and move to telehealth services in March, he saw a lot of fear and anxiety in his patients worried about COVID-19. He began to film a daily documentary at the clinic and post it online to help ease their worries, but knew there was more he could do to help the community. He set up Trinity Clinic as one of the first COVID-19 testing sites in Marion County while test kits were still hard to get. By the end of April, the clinic had shifted to providing free testing exclusively for doctors, nurses and other health care workers. “We were honored to help them,” he says. “The real heroes are the people risking their own lives—the nurses, doctors, respiratory specialists, janitorial staff… December ‘20

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Practice Award for their school-based teledentistry program and being recognized for their school health diabetes education program. Lander, who has worked in public health for 30 years, admits they have “done multiple training exercises over the years on how to handle a pandemic but it is definitely a different story when you’re actually living it.” He credits the health department’s “fantastic community partnerships” with agencies including Ocala Fire Rescue and Marion County Fire Rescue and Emergency Management for helping them reach all corners of the community. “It’s been an honor that we were called to serve as the lead agency in this ongoing crisis.” Community at a Crossroads Undeterred by challenging circumstances, Jennifer Hunt Murty, the publisher of Ocala Style, launched Magnolia Media Company’s new weekly community newspaper, the Ocala Gazette, in July. Its mission is to inform and uplift readers by reporting on the events, issues and stories that shape Ocala with accuracy, fairness and passion, and also to serve as a forum where all voices can be heard and to chronicle our community’s history. The Gazette allows our team to continue our awardwinning coverage of the community and gives us a fastbreaking outlet to carry the news and report stories that are outside the scope of the magazine. In October, this coverage included multiple stories on the tragic death of beloved Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham in a fatal airplane accident. “He loved being the chief of the Ocala Police Department,” one article quoted Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods. “He loved Ocala and Ocala loved him.” Friends and colleagues described Graham’s personal standards as “do the right thing” and “treat people the way you would want to be treated.” At his funeral, it was announced that the Marion County Hospital District board had voted to name part

Responding in Real Time The Florida Department of Health in Marion County has a big job under normal circumstances—providing our community with a huge spectrum of wellness services, from WIC nutrition programs for mothers and children in need to immunizations for school children to hepatitis and HIV prevention and so much more. Then, in the pandemic, the department was named the area’s lead response agency. The department led public COVID-19 testing and contact tracing efforts and set up a local hotline, taking more than 50,000 calls related to the coronavirus and distributing nearly 300,000 free, reusable masks to residents. “Reflections Through Flora” mural “Some of our jobs literally became 100 percent COVID,” explains Administrator Mark Lander, who says managers including himself worked weekends entering data so they could provide the most up-to-date information to the community. And they did it while not just keeping up with all of their other programs, but also winning the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ Promising 38

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Photo courtesy of City of Ocala

everybody in the hospitals.” Kuhn felt it was important to raise awareness about the virus and “get Ocala to think local.” Using his connections with hospitals and the Florida Department of Health in Marion County, he freely disseminated information to the community and was very forthcoming with the media. He began to post daily updates with coronavirus numbers and graphs on social media. He worked with hundreds of other local doctors through their WhatsApp chat group to share information and to urge the Ocala City Council to pass mitigation strategies such as a mask ordinance. “Even though masking has been a controversial thing, I think it was a good thing. That was a victory this year for sure,” he notes. “I think it really started to steer the behavior of people in our area towards mitigation. And anything to raise awareness to help in that cause ultimately will lead to less spread and it did.” Kuhn says the technology resources that helped us through a pandemic year will be the positive takeaways that improve health care going forward. Telehealth has improved access to care, especially for patients in rural areas, he notes, and adds that the WhatsApp group helped local doctors establish “a closer relationship than we’ve had for many, many years in our area” which “will benefit us long term, even after this whole thing is over, and that’s a good thing.”


of the new Beacon Point mental health facility The Greg Graham Recovery Center, recognizing the city’s opioid amnesty initiative, started by Graham about three years ago. The program allows anyone with an opioid addiction problem to contact any police offer to ask for treatment and to receive it, no questions asked. Moving into the new year, both Ocala Style and the Ocala Gazette remain committed to sharing an authentic representation of the city we love and call home, finding success through cooperation with our community partners.

The Appleton’s free art kits

Photo courtesy of The Appleton Museum of Art

Making Public Art a Priority Throughout history, the arts have provided solace to communities in crisis, and Ocala is fortunate to have a Cultural Arts Division committed to making public art a priority. This year the City of Ocala Cultural Arts Division oversaw 30 completed public art projects including large-scale downtown murals. After being shut down to comply with pandemic restrictions, the popular First Friday Art Walk resumed in September and the Discovery Center opened its Astronaut Academy exhibition in October. There are currently three Art in City Spaces galleries open, and Division Head Laura Walker says the community can look forward to 11 projects currently in process as well as expanded programs for public school students to learn more about local arts, history and science. “We were able to fulfill our mission to ‘provide an outlet for lifelong learning, enliven public spaces and instill prideful community spirit’ through an integrated approach,” Walker notes. “Our greatest successes during this roller coaster of a year have been the ability to continue supporting artists through projects and the addition of more virtual programming. The ability of our local arts agencies and artists to adjust and grow during a time of uncertainty has been refreshing.” Bringing Art to All While closed to the public from mid-March through mid-October, the Appleton Museum of Art team worked on enhancing their digital offerings including the Teaching Tuesday instructional art project video series for children and the Art Minutes video series highlighting their art collection. The museum’s free mobile app won a Southeastern Museum Conference 2020 Technology Competition Gold Honors Award. Appleton staff also delivered 3,000 free art kits to Marion County youth through partnerships with schools and community organizations.

Currently, the museum is finalizing designs to extend the outdoor sculpture walk and preparing to open the Memories and Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art in January. “Bringing art and communities together is at the heart of the Appleton’s mission,” explains Director Jason Steuber. Looking Toward the Future As the CEO and Artistic Director for the Reilly Arts Center and an Ocala City Councilman Matthew Wardell says he’s “extremely optimistic about our community and specifically about the success and impactful work of our nonprofit organizations” after facing the challenge of the pandemic and an unpredictable economic climate in 2020. “In our corner of the nonprofit realm, I’ve seen arts organizations support one another, work together for common causes, and truly become stronger together than they ever were apart,” Wardell says. He says “being open to new ideas and change” was key. “I’ve seen organizations have to move their fundraisers online and end up more successful than ever. I’ve seen performers and venues work together to produce new types of content and find larger audiences than they ever had before. We’ve seen so much transition, quick thinking and successful pivoting that it makes you wonder if we’ll ever go back to some of the perceptively stagnant ways we had before.” At the Reilly, Wardell says, they’ve “found energy in providing a spark at the Marion Theatre” and, “thanks to some incredible donors and supporters,” are moving forward with our expansion plans to double the size of the arts center. “We have found success because of the challenges 2020 forced upon us,” he says. “We are working together. We are open to new ideas. We are doing things for the right reasons. We’ve grown tremendously as a community. We should find comfort in the cracks of 2020 and continue to push forward, pursuing an even greater 2021—I know it’s going to be wonderful.” December ‘20

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A Year to Remember As we bid farewell to a year full of challenges, hardships and conflict, the staff of Ocala Style looks back on some of the stories and images that have touched us most during the past year. Along the way, we learned that we can take strength in the power of the human spirit and in the fellowship of community. By Nick Steele

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e tell our stories to share experiences, learn about our history and be inspired through powerful personal narratives. This allows us to connect as a community, which was more important than ever as we found ourselves amidst a devastating public health crisis that has redefined the way we live and work. As the editor of Ocala Style, I have a distinct vantage point on not only the stories we tell and our behind-the-scenes adventures, but I also have the pleasure of working with an extremely talented group of storytellers. Each month, I am consistently impressed by how our writers, photographers, illustrators and graphic designers exceed my expectations and come together to help us deliver a magazine that we are proud to share with you. These individuals regularly surprise me with their creativity, vision and enthusiasm for the story in front of them. We also manage to have lots of laughs along the way.

Left page: Carmen Pascual Maines and Cristina Pascual. Photo by Meagan Gumpert Right from top: Doug Oswald, photo by John Jernigan; the O’Farrell Family, photo by Bruce Ackerman; Riley Rowe, photo by Bruce Ackerman


Looking Back

When it comes to our favorite stories from the past year, I polled the staff—and while it was very difficult to choose just a few to highlight, we present to you some of our top picks. One of our most gratifying yet controversial stories of the year was called “Separate But Not Equal,” which appeared in our July issue and took a look back on the difficult process of school integration here in Marion County, as told by those who experienced it firsthand. The feature took months to research, develop and refine— myself and contributor Andy Fillmore devoted

countless hours to the feature, to ensure we got the story right. The recollections and insights shared by the white and Black students who experienced integration at a transformational time in our history are powerful testaments to the struggle for racial equality in America. And the sentiments, such as this one from Cheryl Lonon Walker, now a retired educator living in Tallahassee, about where we’ve been and where we are headed, are particularly poignant as we struggle through another transformational period in race relations:


“We are all ‘of the human race’ before we are any other race. By being part of the human race, we should be compelled to embrace everyone,” she asserts. “There are indeed more similarities than differences between us. And once we see ourselves in other people, we can share in one another’s plight and seek to help one another.” While working on that story, we had the pleasure of spending time with two extraordinary individuals—99-year-old William James, a true public servant who acted as a mentor to many Black students during the desegregation process, and the irrepressible Sylvia Jones, whose experiences as a student set her on a path to become an educator herself and a civil rights activist. I had the pleasure of working with

Left page: Sylvia Jones, photo by Meagan Gumpert Above: William James, photo by Meagan Gumpert

photographer Meagan Gumpert on both photo shoots for their stories and to say these were memorable sessions would be an understatement. The incredible mixture of pure joy, humility, kindness and gratitude they displayed both moved and inspired us. During our time together we spoke about meaningful topics, shared stories and laughed as we photographed each of them in front of the homes in which they were born. I knew the images would be special, but the portraits exceeded all our expectations and are among our most loved of the year. I’m very proud that we are able to feature incredible original photography in every issue, thanks to the talents of our top-notch contributing photographers.


Other stories this year that paired insightful profiles with compelling portraits included “The Original” in our January issue, which featured beloved local artist Margaret Watts and charted her journey as an artist, lensed once again by Meagan. In “Sunshine & Cigars,” which appeared in our June issue, John Jernigan presented stunning visuals that transport the viewer to Central Florida’s only Cuban cigar tobacco farm, which bridges back to Ocala’s once thriving

and prosperous cigar-making area, dubbed Marti City. Among many other contributions throughout the year, John also created touching portraits of 96-year-old civic leader and recent French Legion of Honor order of merit recipient Doug Oswald for our June issue. Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery, who lends her artful eye to our regular fashion features, “Style File” profiles and many other stories, took us on a sentimental journey with dancer, actress and Bruce Mozert model Peggy Mixon Singer Collins


in June’s “Hello My Honey!,” with a story by yours truly. Spending time with Peggy and her husband Julius at their home was a sweet escape from the modern world and left us longing for the simpler times when a young lady could sing and dance her way from Ocala to Hollywood and back again. Dave Miller’s photos of para-equestrian Lauren Barwick in June’s “Riding High” and Lauren Bandi’s “A Second Chance” in August are powerful and moving in a way that distinguishes Dave as a photographer. They are the perfect complement to the compelling stories about each woman by

Left page: Jeff Borysiewicz, photo by John Jernigan Above: Left on Broadway, photo by Meagan Gumpert

gifted storyteller JoAnn Guidry. Seasoned lensers Alan Youngblood and Bruce Ackerman have given us intimate and epic images of some of our leading equestrian and farming families, including the O’Farrells, de Merics, Baldwins and Lettelier sisters, as well as being up for challenges such as holiday decorating stories and capturing picture-perfect shots of adoptable dogs. In addition to her many other contributions this year, Meagan took on two of our most elaborate shoots. In September, she photographed a group



of local musicians for “Heart & Soul,” which was shot on location in the pioneer settlement on the Silver River Museum side of Silver Springs State Park—on one of the hottest days of the year. Meagan kept spirits high and delivered a portfolio that we’d been dreaming about for more than a year. Perhaps her most challenging assignment was when she courageously stepped in front of the camera herself to pose for our May cover as she shared her tips for creating healthier habits amid a pandemic. Did I mention that she was posing atop a stand-up paddleboard while floating around Lake Weir in a golden ensemble that was stitched onto her moments before on the beach at Carney Island Recreation & Conservation Area, all while being pursued by fellow photographer Dave Miller? The shot we chose for the cover is one that Dave captured of Meagan looking thoughtfully off at the horizon. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, we chose that image because it made us feel at ease and hopeful. Inside, we treated you to some

outtakes and a peek behind the scenes from the day, including Meagan’s two unexpected dips in the lake. Dave also photographed local academic and athletic prodigy Vincent B. Vaughns in “From Sparr to Times Square,” an inspiring tale chronicled by Susan Smiley-Height for our July issue. Vincent, now working on Wall Street as a sales and trading analyst, offered the following advice to local young people: “Find out what your dream is and then go after it with absolutely everything you have. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.” In recent issues we’ve continued our profiles of extraordinary individuals, from 18-year-old Riley Rowe, Marion County’s first-ever president of the Florida FFA Association, to 95-year-old esteemed educator Juanita Cunningham, both photographed by Bruce. In a recent Facebook comment about the Cunningham story, one reader shared, “Such a beautiful and inspiring story of courage, passion and perseverance.”

Left page, clockwise from top left: Vincent Vaughns, photo by Dave Miller; Lauren Bandi, photo by Dave Miller; Peggy Mixon Singer Collins, photo by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery; Emily Lettelier and Lauren Lettelier, photo by Alan Youngblood Above: Lauren Barwick, photo by Dave Miller


Inside Voices

Speaking of inspirational tales, our own deeply talented and much-loved Senior Editor Susan shared her personal story of graduating from mermaid camp at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in a piece called “An Inspiring Tail” in our March issue. This unique first-person perspective about an adventure few will ever experience is a vivid piece of storytelling that gives the reader insight into the rich history of the attraction, founded in 1947 by Ocalan Newton “Newt” Perry, which is still flourishing today. She describes the magical experience of swimming through the spring in her newly fitted

Above: Meagan Gumpert, photo by Dave Miller Right page: Susan Smiley-Height, photo by Alan Youngblood

tail in this way: “I did the “mermaid crawl” (a modified breaststroke) swim to the far side. I began to float, with the warm sun on my face, the cold springs on my back, and only the sound of my heartbeat coming through my water-filled ears. I was, for the first time in my entire 60 years of living, at complete peace. This, I thought, is what ‘zen’ is. I never wanted to leave that moment.” Susan is a versatile and gifted writer, but just one of the talents who gives Ocala Style its unique voice and look. Our writers are among the best in the business. Contributing Editor Lisa McGinnes is one of those journalists who can take an epic tale and distill it down to a poignant


and compelling narrative, full of heart and soul. She says she is especially connected to the “In the Kitchen With...” profiles she writes each month. “I have the privilege of being invited into someone’s home to share one of their favorite meals and get a glimpse into their family life, so I can share their personal story with our readers,” she explains. “At first glance, you’ll see a recipe and some amazing food photos, but if you read the whole story, it allows you the opportunity to meet fascinating local people in a new way and find out how they help make our community such a great place to live.” This year, we also welcomed Dave Schlenker and his signature column to the magazine, continuing the engaging dialogue he first established at the Ocala Star-Banner. Dave delights us with his ability to find the ridiculous in his everyday life and touches us with his insights, as in his August missive “Lost and Found,” in which he details how his family

discovered something special as they binged the decades-old TV phenomenon Lost. “We were together every night during dark times. We laughed, gasped and carefully dissected theories,” he explains. “Our dinner conversations were about fun and fantasy instead of pandemics and politics.” Illustrating those humorous dispatches for us each month is the deeply talented artist David Vallejo, who offers us his deliciously wicked spin on each column. Jill Paglia, another of our regular columnists, graciously opens her home to us each month, allows us to crowd around her kitchen table and entices us with delicious meals and genuine conversation. Whether she’s dishing up a plate of homemade pasta or reflecting on the importance of the family meal, we’re all in! I couldn’t recap this year without acknowledging the contributions of graphic designers Brooke Pace and Simon Mendoza,


who took our work to the next level by finding imaginative and vibrant ways of uniting the elements of each story. Good design is thoughtful and engaging. Good designers can elevate a story by incorporating inventive elements, like Brooke did with our profile of artist Jordan Shapot in February’s “Evolving Canvas,” or by creating creative photo illustrations, as Simon did for our “Female Trailblazers” feature in May. But good design also is often achieved through powerful restraint and though less noticed by the casual observer, it is an enviable talent. Our marketing team Kylie Swope and Sabrina Fissell ensure that our brand message and stories reach a wider audience and that the conversation continues online and on social media, as well as heading up our brand partnerships and events—

all of which connects us to the community in more robust way. Sabrina even agreed to model for one of our fashion shoots and graced our August cover with joyful exuberance. Style is in our name, but also in our DNA, so our fashion shoots are big productions. The reason we can bring you such beautiful images is because of the generosity of many members of our community, from real people who give of their time to appear in front of the camera to our wonderful local retailers who allow us borrow their stylish wares to the many businesses and other entities, such as Trilogy at Ocala Preserve, Golden Ocala, Sholom Park and NOMA Gallery, that allowed us to shoot at their locations. We work hard on these shoots but, like all the things we do, we have a lot of fun as well. However, we


Left page: Karina Lamb, photo by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery Above: Sabrina Fissell, photo by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery


derive great satisfaction when the images surpass our initial vision…as they often do. At the forefront of everything we do is our publisher, Jennifer Hunt Murty, whose passion, vision and leadership allows us to chronicle the stories of our community each month, which leads me to the story that was atop our list of favorites this year.

History In The Making

Sometimes, the stories are unknown to us or their details are elusive. One such example set us on a challenging path that stretched across several months. As 2020 was the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote, Jen asked us to find out who was the first woman to cast her vote in Marion County. So, we consulted local experts - to no avail. We reached out to the Florida Department of State, which led us to old newspaper clippings through digitized records online. One of these articles revealed the vital information we were after. We discovered that in 1920, Mrs. Rosa Belle Barco Veal was the first woman to register to vote in Marion County and that the first female from Ocala to vote in that year’s general election was Mrs. C.W. Moreman and the second was Miss

Alice Bullock. We then had the seemingly impossible task of finding a modern-day link to these women and learning what we could about them. We made calls, reached out to anyone with the same last name on Facebook and, eventually, connected with Shelley Rowland Dunn of Cotton Plant, in northwest Marion County. Veal was Dunn’s great-great-aunt by marriage. Dunn generously shared her knowledge of Veal and images of her to include in the story we titled “Say Her Name” to honor these pioneering women. The thrill in being able to share these details and images with our readers made that story the most popular article among our staff members. It is also especially meaningful as this year marks the election of Kamala Harris as the highest-ranking woman in the history of American government. In her first speech as Vice President-elect, Harris paid tribute to the women throughout history who made this milestone possible by breaking gender and racial barriers. “I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision, to see what can be, unburdened by what has been,” she said. “I stand on their shoulders. While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”


Heroes Among Us

In April, I had the honor of speaking with several first responders and essential workers who had been at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19. They talked about the risk and the responsibility that they dealt with on a daily basis. From doctors and nurses, EMTs to administrators, law enforcement personnel to firefighters, they spoke about their commitment to continue to serve the community in this ongoing time of crisis. They are our better angels and, as I said then—and it is just as true now— we offer them our heartfelt thanks and hold them in our thoughts every day. “I am profoundly saddened by the devastation of the virus but I am encouraged as I see continued selfless acts of courage and generosity,” Joe Johnson, President and CEO of AdventHealth Ocala offered in speaking about these brave frontline heroes back in the spring. “I invite you to join me in holding them in your thoughts and prayers as well. Together, we will get through this, and find a way to be even better.”

Left page, from left: Rosa Bell Barco, Veal family Above: Photo courtesy of Florida Health Marion County

The Year Ahead

In “A Story of Healing” from our April issue, Jessica McCune, a professional storyteller and the director of bereavement at Hospice of Marion County, told us that “Stories connect us one to another and the emotional connection offers support. It ‘feels good.’ Knowing our stories helps us see that we are so much stronger than we ever imagined.” We agree wholeheartedly and that is why we will humbly keep telling your stories, highlighting the great work being done throughout our community and sharing stories from our past. For us there is no greater satisfaction than knowing our articles touched you. We are honored to be able to share so many of our community’s stories and we are gratified by your support. And we know the year ahead will be another one to remember as we face monumental challenges and a sea of change, but we also know we are stronger together. We will be with you every step of the way, fulfilling our mission to bring you Real People, Real Stories, Real Ocala.


Driveable Destinations: Tallahassee

It’s the best and safest way to travel right now, and within a short span of time, it’s easy to reach some of Florida’s most historic and vibrant communities. In this new series, we’ll highlight some great destinations that will make you want to hit the road. By Susan Smiley-Height


Photos courtesy of Visit Tallahassee

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relishing the pecan-crusted okra raveling the streets of at Table 23 (housed in a 1920s Tallahassee today harkens restored residence) with chowing back to a city built on rolling down at at the very modern and hip hills in the days when Native Backwoods Crossing on Hog in the Americans farmed the rich soil Henhouse (their version of chicken and hunted and fished in the area’s cordon bleu), where the motto abundant natural resources. A is “from our farm to your fork.” visit can reveal the dynamics of the My visit there included finding a community’s deep heritage as well surprising connection to Ocala, as its commitment to developing in that a truckload of corn from emerging leaders in government, education, commerce, athletics and the arts. As one rolls into town on Highway 27—a mere three-hour journey from Ocala—the impressive sight of the elegant Florida Historic Capitol Museum nestled in the shadow of the sleek and modern Florida Capitol skyscraper is sure to stir even the most seasoned traveler. And the massive complex includes memorials to law enforcement personnel, first responders and veterans, notably Marion County’s only Medal of Honor recipient Hammett Bowen Jr. The nearby campuses of the historic Florida Agricultural and The Florida Capitol Museum and Skyscraper Mechanical University Backwoods Crossing made its way (1887) and Florida State University a year ago to Fish Hawk Spirits in (1851) continue to achieve national Marion County, where it has been acclaim for the depth of their made into whiskey. curriculums and the successes of If you’re looking for a great their graduates. breakfast option, try the fabulous Mixed in with all the stateliness Shrimp & Grits at the Grove Market and pomp and circumstance, there Café. This to-die-for dish comes is plenty of fun to be had in our loaded with a base of creamy, cheesy state’s capital city. grits, layered with collard greens, It would be possible to do a day green onions, tomatoes, bacon, trip to Tallahassee, but I recommend grilled shrimp and a lemon butter staying over for a bit to make sure sauce. Pair that with a deep mug of you get a good sampling of the Sweetwater Organic Coffee and your sights, scenes and eateries, especially day will be off to a great start. the eateries, because so many travel A perfect spot for lunch is memories involve great food. SoDOUGH Baking Company, My recent journey to Tallahassee where the grilled provolone cheese blended gustatorial history, as in

and ham on fresh made sourdough bread feels like a warm hug on a gray afternoon. At the end of the day, give yourself a real treat by having a nightcap at Bar 1903, which is housed in the historic Walker Library. The extensive menu at this cozy venue spans 160 years of mixology and the knowledgeable staff will be happy to explain each specialty cocktail’s unique complexity, such as the five varieties of gin and tonics that feature houseinfused botanical syrups. Even in a pandemic, it is easy to also whet your cultural appetite in Tallahassee, with ventures such as the selfguided Public Arts Mural Tour, opportunities to see visual arts and live music. For those who enjoy seeing the sights of a city on foot, it is very easy to navigate the area around the capitol complex, including miles of multiuse trails at Cascades Park, right in the heart of downtown. If you like to pick up the pace, check out Apalachee Regional Park, which offers opportunities for running, hiking and biking on several types of surfaces. This multi-use park includes one of the nation’s few sites designed specifically for cross country running. For thrill seekers, visit the Tallahassee Museum, where Tree to Tree Adventures combines an aerial obstacle course with soaring ziplining experiences and there is even a more down to earth platform for children. After you come down from the treetops, enjoy the serenity of the museum’s spacious and shaded grounds, the pioneer village, animal habitats and whimsical dinosaur sculptures made from old car parts.


An outdoor activity that combines history with stunning flora is a visit to the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park. The nearly 1,200 acres of “floral architecture” include an easy to navigate brick walkway, a secret garden, a reflection pool and a walled garden. The innumerable camellias and azaleas will take your breath away when in full blossom. Equine sports enthusiasts may want to check out the annual Red Hills Horse Trials, in which riders from around the world seek berths on Olympic and World Equestrian Games teams. The eventing competitions typically occur the second weekend in March, at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. With a careful eye to social distancing, even shopping in the time of COVID-19 can be a joy at hallmark venues such as Hearth & Soul, a lovingly curated home and personal goods emporium in The Market District. Owner Susie Busch Transou says she has a passion for things that warm the heart. “Our store is laid out like a home, which makes our products

more relevant,” she offers. “From when you enter the living area, to the women’s and men’s closets, to the kitchen area, everything here feeds the soul.” The store has a focus on wellness and works with community partners to provide fitness events and cooking demos, showcases local artists and authors, and supports area charities. In another interesting tie to Ocala, Transou, a member of the Anheuser-Busch family, and her husband Tripp, are the owners of Tri-Eagle Sales, a beverage distribution company with locations in Tallahassee and Marion County, and one of their children is an avid equestrian and participant in the annual Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) competitions. A visit to Tallahassee should end with a trip to Bradley’s County Store, built in 1927, where you can enjoy a famous smoked country sausage dog on the front porch or buy links to take home, along with some bacon, smoked pork chops, country milled grits and cornmeal, and homemade

jams and jellies. The spirit of Grandma Mary Bradley is still very much alive as her relatives continue the traditions started in her home kitchen. And, to really round out your southern breakfast or supper, at home in your own kitchen, take the slow route (Highway 27) back to Ocala and stop at the Perry Fish Market. Pick out your choice of fresh fish, which they’ll be glad to clean for you, and count your blessings if they have any swamp cabbage in the cooler. Swamp cabbage also goes by the name heart of palm, as it is the meat of a young cabbage palm tree. I’m a Florida native and, for me, heart of palm is great in a salad or as part of a cheese tray, but a steaming bowl of fresh-cooked swamp cabbage is akin to putting the heart and soul of the south in my mouth. Season the cabbage with some of the Bradley family’s bacon or sausage and serve it with some of their coarse ground grits and the market’s fresh fish, fried up crispy, and you truly will have captured the purest essence of old Florida.

MacClay Garden

Tree to Tree Adventures

DoubleTree by Hilton

Table 23 Bradley’s Mill House


Table 23 Hearth & Soul

Bar 1903

To Do’s for Tallahassee How do I get there?

To make haste, take Interstate 75 north to I-10 West, then hop off at any of the five exits for greater Tallahassee. For a more serene and green (as in tree farms and old growth forests) journey, follow Highway 27 west out of Ocala and take in the old Florida towns of Williston, Chiefland, Cross City and Perry along the way. This is definitely the route less traveled, especially through Taylor County and onward, and the path will bring you right to the impressive sight of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum and new Florida Capitol skyscraper.

How do I get around?

Navigation is surprisingly easy in the Capital City, with many streets going long and straight, or very gently curving beneath canopies of ancient, moss-draped oak trees. The downtown area features directional signage that is comprehensive and easy to follow, whether driving or on foot.

Where do I stay?

There are numerous hotels, motels, Airbnb and bed and breakfast options in the city and suburbs. In the downtown area, the boutique DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tallahassee, on South Adams Street, (Hilton.com) is very near the capitol complex and offers a good base from which to access many points of interest. As the floors go higher, the view from each spacious and well-appointed room takes in more and more of the city center and tree-lined suburbs. The 17th floor features the elegant Eve on Adams rooftop dining and leisure area that offers a truly spectacular view day or night. You can begin the day on the terrace with breakfast selections such as the delicious veggie omelet and cheese grits, or a platter of luscious French toast, accompanied by a refreshing mimosa. After sunset, Eve on Adams becomes a hotspot with the glowing lights of the city providing the perfect background for intimate conversation, appetizers and cocktails or a leisurely nightcap.

What else should I do while I’m there?

For history buffs, Mission San Luis and the Museum of Florida History both contain timeless treasures and glimpses into our state’s multifaceted past. You can take a stroll beneath a live oak tree that dates back to the days of Shakespeare at Lichgate on High Road, built by a Florida State University English professor and named for the gates of medieval England. There are abundant opportunities to get out on the water, which can become adventures of discovery when up close and personal via kayak or canoe, such as a paddle on the crystal clear Wakulla River. For a family-friendly outing, you can’t beat the Challenger Learning Center/IMAX Theatre and Planetarium “edu-tainment” destination in downtown Tallahassee. To learn more, log on to visittallahassee.com


Riding in Style When it comes to finding a new vehicle, the options are vast. We got behind the wheel to introduce you to three popular rides sure to get your motor running. By Susan Smiley-Height Photography by Rigoberto Perdomo

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f you’re thinking of going big for Christmas, who wouldn’t love the gift of a new vehicle! Or perhaps you’re thinking of upgrading your own car, truck or SUV. Experts will tell you that December is one of the best months to get a good deal on a vehicle as dealerships are eager to make room

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for new inventory. We recently checked out some of the most buzzed-about vehicles, including the Cadillac CT5 sedan, the Toyota Venza hybrid and the Dodge Ram 1500 Limited pickup. “The Cadillac CT5 and the smaller CT4 are two of the very few American sedans on the market

now,” offers Kevin Eller, the general manager at Sullivan Cadillac. “The CT5 is available as a luxury model, a premium model and the performance V model. Cadillac V division is the performance division of Cadillac. In fact, Cadillac has won the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the last three years.” Many of today’s vehicles come


loaded with the latest high-tech offerings. In some instances, the customer might ask for assistance in navigating the sometimes complex components. At DeLuca Toyota, Technology Specialist Chris Dehn has an essential role that is important to clients who purchase a vehicle loaded with new technology, like the Venza. “I assist customers one-on-one to solve questions and make sure they understand the full uses of all features. If needed, we can set up a personal technology class. I have also been able to help socially distanced customers via emailed videos as well,” he notes. “My title at DeLuca is Dr. Bluetooth.” For the many horsemen, ranchers and farmers in our area, Dale Coleman, the new car sales manager at Phillips Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, says the Ram 1500

truck line is ready for the road or the farm and for families. “The truck is not only rugged and capable,” he explains, “it is exceptionally comfortable, ergonomic and user-friendly.” We took these vehicles for a spin at the expansive and picturesque Winding Oaks Farm on southwest State Road 200 and here’s what we learned about them:

2021 Cadillac CT5-V

If you love the classic luxury of a Cadillac but want a bit more horsepower beneath the hood, then look no further than the sporty CT5-V, a new offering from this historic car maker’s highperformance division. The sleek CT5-V offers a 3.0L twin turbo V-6 engine, electronic precision shift 10-speed automatic transmission, electronic limited slip

differential, Brembo brakes and standard performance technologies such as magnetic ride control. The CT5-V boasts an information/entertainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an easy to use navigation system. This is what is meant by “riding in style.” J.D. Power, which analyzes vehicle owner levels of satisfaction, says what most attracts people to the CT5-V are exterior design, driver feel, safety technology and interior features. The base cost ranges from $37,890 to $51,290. So, settle into the comfy leather seats, call up some favorite tunes on the Bose premium audio system and ease out into traffic, where you can expect to get up to 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. And this beauty will turn heads.


2020 Dodge Ram 1500 Limited

This is a big truck made for big jobs, or for a very cool ride around town. The pickup offers a strong first impression when you open the driver’s door and the power running boards glide smoothly out to help you and your passengers step up and into the spacious cab. Once inside, you can’t help but notice the finely detailed leather work on the seats and many other surfaces, and the enormous infotainment console. But it’s when you start the engine, which is available in multiple configurations, such as a HEMI V8, that you know you have a powerful vehicle under your command. The Limited is as functional as it is beautiful. That means it is as well suited for slogging around a horse or cattle farm as it is for pulling up to a fancy soirée and letting the valet take over. This powerhouse can handle a towing capacity of up to 12,750 pounds and the multifunction tailgate offers split, swing-away doors that can accommodate forklift loading and make it easier to step up, load bulky items, unload and wash out the bed. This truck’s fuel economy ranges from 19 mpg in the city to 24 mpg on the highway. The base price is $57,215. Some of the key terms to describe this behemoth are “power” and “stability.” Car & Driver notes: “The Ram 1500 delivers unrivaled levels of innovation, luxuriousness and refinement in a workhorse that does a good imitation of a luxury car.”


2021 Toyota Venza

If the future of automobiles is the hybrid model, then the Venza is ahead of its time. This high-tech, high-style car is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and three electric motors which together develop 219 horsepower. One of the motors powers the rear wheels while the gasoline engine and the other two motors spin the fronts. Here’s some good news—Venza’s hybrid battery warranty lasts for 10 years from date of first use or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first. And more good news—the fuel economy ranges from 37 mpg in the city to 40 mpg on the highway. Toyota describes the Venza, which starts at $32,470, as blending the “styling and comfort of a passenger car with the flexibility of a sport utility vehicle.” The spacious cabin and back seats offer plenty of room to stretch out. Dehn says the new Toyota Venza is similar in styling to the Lexus NX Hybrid regarding the body shell. “After all, Lexus was evolved from Toyota,” he offers, as the Lexus brand is owned by Toyota. And, he adds, “This vehicle has all the latest safety features. The newest thing related to the lane keep assist is that the steering wheel will vibrate if you are leaving the lane without using a directional. Normally it has been an audible tone. I personally like the wheel vibrating.” Other safety features include a bird’s eye view camera with perimeter scan, overhead 360-degree view in low-speed drive and reverse, and curb view. The precollision system with pedestrian detection integrated camera and radar system is designed to help reduce the likelihood of colliding with a car or pedestrian. There are a lot of other high-tech components for the Venza and for those customers who want some

extra help learning the details—don’t forget, you can always call on Dr. Bluetooth. “The Venza hits a sweet spot that should appeal to shoppers who want a thrifty, smartly packaged SUV but don’t want to pay a premium for a model from a luxury brand,” says Consumer Reports. “It is large enough to seat four comfortably and compact enough to negotiate city streets.” We hope these reviews get your wheels turning and give you the inspiration you need to upgrade your ride. Because, it’s like they say…the road is waiting! December ‘20

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Giving back over 3 million gallons of water to the aquifer per day.

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

2105 NW 21st Street Ocala, FL | 352-351-6772

Follow us on Facebook & Instagram @ocalawetlandrechargepark


LIVING

The World Is His Neighbor The Rev. Patrick Sheedy, a priest, charismatic pioneer of education and driving force in the ongoing effort to address the homeless issue in Marion County, has established an enduring legacy as a community advocate—and he’s not done yet.

By Jennifer Hunt Murty with Nick Steele Photography by John Jernigan


LIVING

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ooking back on his more than 50 years as a spiritual leader and champion for the community, the Rev. Patrick “Father Pat” Sheedy, pastor of Blessed Trinity Parish in Ocala, describes his career as a “happy” one. He felt a call to the priesthood early in his life. One of 12 children growing up in Cooraclare, Ireland, Sheedy originally imagined a different path ahead of him.

Certainty

“We grew up on a farm,” he recalls. “And I love family, so, until I was 17 or so, I said, ‘I’m going to be a farmer.’” He assumed he’d follow in his father’s footsteps but, when the role of running the family farm went to one of his brothers, Sheedy decided to follow the path of four uncles, who were priests, and three aunts, who were nuns— all of whom had relocated to the

The Sheedy family circa 1959

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U.S. after entering the order. “The question was not whether I was going to be a priest or not,” he offers, “the question was, where.” At the time, the choice to “serve” a useful purpose rather than pursue wealth through your occupation

He is a man of great vision and also of great energy to match that vision. - Archbishop Thomas Gerald Wenski was the norm in Ireland. “One of the things that lasted my whole life was my parents’ belief that you help wherever you can. I was brought up in a total faith environment. It’s a matter of how you’re going to serve the Lord, as a teacher, social worker

or a nun,” he reveals. “It was not a matter of if you were going to serve, just how are you going to serve. When I was growing up, it was natural for parents to say, ‘We’d love for one of you to be a priest or a nun. That would be a big deal for the family.’ Not too many families are saying that these days. We have a bunch of people in the seminary, but we still don’t have enough.” He believes the focus has shifted to ambition for personal wealth and that is why families do not necessarily encourage their children to enter religious service the way they once did. “I think the culture is telling us the only way to success is how much money you can make,” he asserts. “Money is important, but it’s not the top. They used to say that money was the root of all evil. Now, according to a


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Harvard University study, they say, ‘No, money can be the way to happiness depending how you use it.’ Money is not the root of all evil, it’s just the way you use it.” Sheedy’s constant companion in life seemed to be certainty in his chosen path. “I’ve always thanked God that I never had a struggle with whether I should or I shouldn’t,” he says of his choice to enter the priesthood.

Choices

leadership role. “When I was in high school the dean invited me to be head (Head boy and head girl are roles of prominent student responsibility.),” he remembers. “You would have to ask for privileges for the student body. So, I would go up and ask for a free day and my knees would be knocking, but I’d still ask.” At seminary, he was cast in a similar role, which may have helped prepare him for the position he occupies today. “When you went to the

As was the custom for Irish children, he left home for boarding school around the age of 14. “I had already made the decision before I went that I would attend seminary after school,” he says. He signed up “on the spot” when a priest from Lake City came looking for recruits with a simple pitch: “We need help.” His reasoning for choosing Florida Sheedy presenting plans for Trinity Catholic High School was more about the present opportunity than a master plan. seminary you were given a “I didn’t want to stay in number from 1 through 40 or Ireland…too many priests,” he something. Whoever got 1 was confides. “But I wasn’t necessarily class president. The staff selected thinking about America. I had you,” he explains. “I got 1. And always liked to travel. I would I’ve no idea how to this day. So have gone to South America or I was class president for seven South Africa or Africa. That years. No choice.” would have been my instinct, but I At 24, Sheedy and his brother didn’t have the guts to do that.” Michael were both ordained to As to why he would have the priesthood in County Clare, preferred one of those places, he Ireland, on June 13, 1965, which replies, “The harder the mission, fell on the same day as their the greater the pull.” parents’ wedding anniversary. He entered the seminary at 18 Given that his aunts and uncles and attended St. Patrick’s College, had left Ireland as teenagers and near Dublin, for six years. had not returned for 20 to 30 “I’ve always been a very quiet, years, some not at all, his parents ‘stay in the background’ kind were understandably saddened by of person. I’m an introvert. But his departure. I was always being pushed. I “My mother said, ‘We won’t didn’t have the guts to say no, so see you for years.’ And I said, I went along,” he says of taking a

‘No, I’ll be home every year,’” he shares. “She thought I was just making her feel good. I’ve been home every year since but, with COVID-19, except for this year.”

Charity

Sheedy has served in a number of parishes and schools throughout the state, first teaching in Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, and coming to Blessed Trinity in 1988. He played an instrumental role in the founding and building of Trinity Catholic High School and has used his platform to promote community through such initiatives as Perpetual Adoration, a ministry that continues over 25 years later; day care and elder care services; and various programs under the parish’s Brother’s Keeper ministry to address the needs of the underprivileged and homeless populations in our area. He also established La Guadalupana Mission medical and dental clinic, which recently opened a new venue, and a mission church in Uganda. “I go to Uganda every year,” he says. “We have a parish over there that has close to 40,000 people. We’ve built 30 churches over there. We’re building 15 schools and they’re flocking to them.” Sheedy’s enthusiasm is tangible and, at 80 years of age, his goals are as ambitious as ever. “He is a man of great vision and also of great energy to match that vision,” says Archbishop of Miami Thomas Gerard Wenski. “He dreams big, but he also has the talent to bring those dreams to reality.” December ‘20

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Community

Sheedy is a stalwart advocate for the destitute and displaced of our community and the driving force behind the progress that has been made in recent years. “It goes very much with the most recent encyclical from Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti or Brothers All,” Sheedy explains. “There are people objecting to the title, but he’s using it because Saint Francis of Assisi used it. Yes, it should be Brothers and Sisters All and that is what it means.” In the directive to Catholics and world leaders, Pope Francis writes: “Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth, which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.” “That is my philosophy in life,”

Sheedy shares. “Everyone has dignity no matter who they are and nobody in the world can rob you of your dignity. Francis deals with it in Chapter 2 of the Good Samaritan story. Who was my neighbor?” he continues. “That basically is where I come from. Who has a need and I can respond to it. That’s who the neighbor is. We’ve always helped the homeless here, but it bothered us that our efforts were just a Band-Aid. It’s not just me. A bunch of us—we’ve always had a desire to help the chronic homeless. How about helping them settle?” He feels passionately that this is an issue not only for the church, but also for the larger community, including local businesses. “I would hope that more and more of the business community would see that it would help their business to help the homeless. I know a lot of homeless people will always be homeless. But I

Sheedy and his brother Michael give blessings to their parents

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also know there are a certain percentage of them, if they got help, they would take it. “So, we’ve made at least four attempts. We’ve been beaten down three times. We had some successes, like Project Hope and Open Arms. Saving Mercy came later. We got beaten down on all those. They would always tell me, ‘Wonderful idea, right cause, but it’s the wrong place.’ What do you call those people? NIMBYS—not in my backyard. They would say, ‘You’re bringing homeless into our area,’ and we would say, ‘No, we’re taking homeless out of your area and they’re not going to be homeless anymore.’ But they never bought into it,” he recalls. “People have a hard time understanding that you’re taking homeless people off the streets. But, eventually, we found a hotel that was already zoned, so nobody could fight us. Which is now Mercy Inn. So that’s how we’re


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Everyone has dignity no matter who they are and nobody in the world can rob you of your dignity. - Father Patrick Sheedy


there. We have big plans. I mean it’s slow, but if the cause is right, you gotta stick with it.” The 10-acre site’s RV park currently houses formerly homeless clients, but the motor inn was recently demolished to make way for new duplex units, which will cost $50,000 each. “Eventually, when it’s fully developed, we could be helping up to 100 people at a time,” he reveals. His drive to help is only exceeded by his focus, according to those who know him best. “I have known Father Pat for more than 25 years. I also have served in many committee capacities throughout that time frame with the church as well as in the community,” explains Saving Mercy board member Jim Hilty Sr. “Father Pat is the most focused person I have met in trying to transform this community, here and also in Uganda. He is always trying to improve the relationship of the underprivileged or people that just need some help. His business mind has not only helped the Blessed Trinity parish, but has also provided him the ability to help the community.” Sheedy credits the project’s board for the progress they have made. “They’re a great group,” he says. “There are five or six of us trying to raise the money to get the building project going. It’s just a matter of doing it. We don’t have any setbacks.” Sheedy explains that, much like the fundraising he did for La Guadalupana Mission, he is working to find sponsors for the homes. When asked what the timetable is for completion of that project, he playfully replies, “God’s time. If you put a time on it, then you can get frustrated.” He had a similar experience when he was seeking funding for La Guadalupana, which serves the local migrant worker population. “I wrote to all the farmers for that one. To buy the land and 68

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clinic cost $580,000,” he explains. “I’m a shy guy, but I’m not afraid to ask for money if needed. I can ask anyone and people will give me money, not for me personally… but for the cause, and I’ll take it.” When I was starting the high school, that’s 22 years ago now, one guy said, ‘It ain’t gonna work. Ocala’s not ready for that.” I said, ‘OK.’ and moved ahead,” he continues. “Eventually he came back in without me asking him and gave me $10,000.”

A lot of people box themselves in, and then a lot of good things that could have happened don’t because they’re not open. - Father Patrick Sheedy While one imagines you’d need to be tough to navigate the challenges and resistance Sheedy has faced, he has instead been described as a steady drip of water that carves a stone. “No, I don’t think it’s about being tough, but you just have to persevere,” he offers. “I love working with boards. I think we have about 12 boards in the parish. I have an endowment board, a finance board, the Brothers Keeper board, the Trinity Catholic board and an elder care board. I have a little church up in Citra, Christ the King, and at the Spanish church we have boards there too,” he continues. “I go to all the board meetings. I can go to a meeting and see if they’re going off course and bring ‘em back. I always say, ‘Well who’s doing that? Who’s doing this?’ So I think I’m good at that kind of thing. If someone

comes up with a good idea, ‘Yeah, yeah…you’re on the committee.’ I love boards because I love to delegate. Some people are micromanagers. I’m the opposite, and it might take longer to get something done, usually does take longer with volunteers, but you have to keep pushing. People are great and they like to see results.” At the suggestion that he splits his time between the role of business leader and spiritual leader, he is quick to counter, “I don’t separate the two. To me, everything is spiritual. If it isn’t spiritual, I shouldn’t be doing it. So everything is spiritual.”

Care

When discussing the recent statement from Pope Francis, featured in the documentary “Francesco,” which premiered at the Rome Film Festival in October, the Pope said, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.” Sheedy reflects on his own experiences ministering to gay, lesbian and transgender individuals and then offers, “That’s why I like the Pope’s encyclical. He’s pastoral. He’ll take care of anyone anywhere anytime. I think while we have our differences, we’re all the same when it comes to who is my neighbor. And that doesn’t mean just our neighbors in Ocala. What about all the other people? I can’t change people’s minds, but I can change what we say as a church. God loves all people individually.” He acknowledges some division in the church and the interpretation of the scripture. “If you’re a right wing Catholic, you’re looking by the book. They’re in every religion. Fundamentalists. Unfortunately, some Catholics


buy into that. But they are misinterpreting scripture because it’s convenient. Which they not only do on that issue, but on loads of issues,” he offers. “You’ve got to be open.” His concern is tangible as he considers how divided the country is currently, “It’s tough stuff. People are in camps now. And they don’t hide it,” he offers. “I worry about how we can get back together. If people would just use the Pope’s message as the basis, we’d all be on the road to at least respecting each other.” “My family has been a part of Blessed Trinity since before I was born,” shares parishioner Vianca Torres, who also attended Blessed Trinity and Trinity Catholic schools. “Father Pat showed kindness to all and did his best to spread awareness on the needs of the community while finding solutions to the issues at hand. As many of us students went on with life, Father Pat has somehow still remembered us from our time at school. He actually takes the time to catch up and see where life has taken us. His kindness is something that cannot be overlooked. He’s been one of the biggest influences in my life when it comes to community advocacy and giving back through our time, talent and treasure. Life as a Blessed Trinity parishioner simply wouldn’t be the same without Father Pat’s leadership. He is a true inspiration and force in our community.” Sheedy’s life has been built on connections, near and far, cultivated over time and composed of colleagues, former parishioners, extended family and friends made during his extensive travels. “One of the big things

about my life is that I’ve always stayed in touch with people,” he explains. “Unless they drop me. But I never drop them.” He regales us with tales of doggedly hunting down long lost relatives and reestablishing lasting bonds, how while studying in England, he and another young seminarian irritated a woman whose lawn they trampled while ministering door to door. “It’s kind of a neat story,” he offers with a chuckle. “She came out and said, ‘How dare you! What are you here for?’ So on and so forth. We were shy, but eventually we struck up a friendship. We’ve visited back and forth over the years. They were at my brother and sister’s weddings. That was 58 years ago and, to this day, the daughter still writes to me.” When asked what advice he would give his 25-year-old self, Sheedy replies, “Stay open.” “You never know where you’re gonna be led. You don’t have to have vision for the next five years or 10 years, just go where God leads you and stay open,” he urges. “A lot of people box themselves in, and then a lot of good things that could have happened don’t because they’re not open.” And his advice to any young people considering the same path? “If God calls you and you’re listening, you will be successful, you will be fulfilled and you will be happy,” he offers. “You have to immerse yourself into the priesthood and then you will be happy. That’s why I can’t retire, because I’m happy. To me, I’m not working. This is kind of a hobby. So, what would I do if I give up my main hobby?” December ‘20

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In The Kitchen With Ken Scott Modern homesteading in Ocala is providing this family with the lifestyle they’ve always wanted. By Lisa McGinnes | Photography by Carlos Ramos December ‘20

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T

ucked away amid fruit trees and bamboo thickets, down a two-track gravel lane, out where the roads are canopied by venerable old oaks near Southeast Ocala’s wide swath of the Florida Greenway, is where Ken Scott and his family are living their American dream. Their hobby farm is where he and wife Vanessa have chosen to live sustainably with their 7-yearold son Andrew, growing herbs and vegetables, raising goats and harvesting eggs from their chickens. Just a few years ago, the family was living in the dense London suburbs, buying organic food, actively recycling and dreaming of owning some land of their own. When their plans to purchase a farm in Europe didn’t work out, Ken’s mother offered them her Ocala property. A racehorse trainer, she

had purchased the land as a place to pasture horses bought through the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, but she didn’t end up using it much. When the tenants renting it took off after 2017’s Hurricane Irma, it seemed as though the universe was beckoning this family to make their home in Central Florida. “It just kind of happened,” Ken remembers. “We were originally going to buy a farm in Italy, but that sale kind of fell through. It wasn’t too long after that, this became available and we decided to come here instead.” Ken, who grew up in Massachusetts, had been living in England since age 20—first in Devon, working for a decade at a restaurant owned by his aunt and uncle, then in London, where he worked as a certified addiction counselor. Vanessa, originally from South Africa, was “fascinated by living in America” and they saw the quaint Orchard Lane Farm as their opportunity to put down roots. “Being outside and having a farm and animals is something I’ve always been into,” says Ken, whose family had a riding stable and around 30 horses when he was a child. “When we had my son, I wanted that back in my life, so it’s a big part of his life…actively trying to live in a more sustainable way. We wanted to have him familiar with that and the only way to do that properly is to do it so he can learn by

example. If you live in London you can say, ‘I should always eat organic vegetables’ but that’s not going to give him an idea of what an organic vegetable is,” Ken offers, explaining that he wanted to give Andrew the hands-on experience of day-today sustainable living—“more of a fundamental understanding of where our food comes from and what it really is.” “Food is important” is one of Ken’s prevailing philosophies. He remembers that, “back in the early 1990s everything was fresh.” “We knew most of the farms we got our stuff from. As things got more commercialized, that local feel sort of started to disappear. And then, 15 years later, in the 2000s, it was this whole renaissance of people wanting to eat and produce locally again,” he recalls. “That’s always been important.” The stay-at-home dad maintains beds of eggplant, kale, peppers, radishes, tomatoes, carrots, arugula, mustard spinach and several varieties of herbs. He enjoys preparing nutritious farm-to-table family meals using fresh produce seasoned with fragrant herbs. One of his favorite dishes to prepare for a relaxed Sunday dinner with friends or family members is a traditional one-pot English roast chicken with parsnips, carrots and onions, which he likes to serve with a rustic loaf of homemade bread. “It’s nice and simple,” he offers. “The whole point of this is, it’s easy and tasty.” The simplicity of their farmhouse-style décor is personalized with the lovely display of Ken’s grandmother’s china in the dining room hutch and the family’s own artwork adorning the living room walls. Ken and Vanessa both enjoy photography—he film and she digital—and Andrew is mirroring Ken’s love for painting. Vanessa, who holds a photography degree, works as a museum specialist at the Appleton Museum of Art. Ken’s artistic tendencies pervade


everything he does, imbuing his culinary creations and even his kitchen garden with a beautiful aesthetic. “The thing I like about gardening and cooking, as well as some other pursuits…they are things that require technical skill but there’s also a lot of artistic skill,” he shares. “I like my garden to look like it was very carefully designed. I designed it so that when it was in full bloom, it looked nice and was a pleasant place to be. It’s the same with the kitchen.”

Dutch Oven Roast Chicken

Whole chicken, around 4-5 pounds 1 onion, sliced 6 small potatoes, fingerling or new, halved 8 ounces carrots, halved lengthwise 8 ounces parsnips, halved lengthwise 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or thinly sliced 1/2 cup water 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary Olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Cover the bottom of a Dutch oven with onion slices. › Place the chicken, breast side up, on top of the onions and place the other vegetables around it. › Pour in water and place rosemary on top of chicken. › Coat chicken and vegetables lightly

with olive oil. › Cover and cook at 325 degrees for 30 minutes per pound of chicken (2-2 1/2 hours). › Remove the lid, turn oven up to 400 degrees and cook 10 minutes to brown the chicken.

Four-Ingredient, NoKnead Rustic Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour 16 ounces water 4 teaspoons salt 2 1/2 teaspoons activated yeast 2 teaspoons sugar Mix yeast with flour. › Mix in other dry ingredients then mix in water until dough forms. › Place bowl in a warm place to rise for around 3 hours. › Transfer dough into a greased or buttered bread pan. › Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. December ‘20

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Deliciously Simple These delicious one-dish wonders are truly satisfying and will bring you some serious comfort and joy during this hectic holiday season. By Jill Paglia | Photography by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery

D

ecember is very dear to my heart. The glitter, memories old and new, Hallmark movies and just that warm, cozy feeling. So what could be better than some delicious comfort foods on the table! I love to entertain during the holidays, but sometimes feel the pressure of perfection when it comes to a holiday dinner. Does that happen to you? If so, these three one-dish solutions can serve you well, whether you’re entertaining friends, family members or fellow foodies over a bottle of good wine. While these may not exactly be traditional choices for a holiday meal, they have served me well in the days leading up to and following those momentous December meals. The Ground Beef Vegetable Soup with Gnocchi and TexMex Casserole can be made ahead and ready to go when company drops in or when your guests’ visit extends into the dinner hour. You can also easily double or even triple the recipes for all three dishes, depending on the number of people you plan to entertain.

I came up with the Tex-Mex Casserole when my children were young because I needed a dish that was fairly simple, relatively healthy and would appeal to five little ones. I was never the mom to run a short order kitchen; what I prepared is what the family ate. I did give them a few choices and the winning dish was what I would prepare. Throughout the years, this one is

still requested. It’s melt-in-yourmouth delicious. You can make this in advance, then add the cheese and cover and freeze, or refrigerate for two days before you cook it. You also can make the soup in advance, but I wouldn’t add the fresh spinach, gnocchi and extra veggies until just before you are ready to serve it to ensure they don’t get mushy. You can do step one of this soup ahead of time and freeze it. Then, once you thaw it out, add your final ingredients. There are so many great ways to prepare lobster (remember my Lobster Po’boys a few issues ago). Personally, I have never found a lobster dish that I haven’t loved! If you are looking for a super decadent, splurge-all-yourcalories kind of happiness, then try Lobster Mac and Cheese. The cheeses are so rich in flavor, and you can make the batch big or small. Your friends will love you when you bring this dish to a potluck dinner. And this can be dinner all on its own or served with a side Caesar salad. I think the perfect


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complement is a nice bottle of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. For all of these dishes, you can add some heat to individual servings. And by heat, I mean crushed red pepper flakes. After all, what good Italian doesn’t have a bowl of crushed red pepper on the table? These simple and delicious dishes are great for any cook who is worried about the perfect presentation—because they all are perfectly imperfect! All that is needed are bowls big enough for every appetite. I’m sure your plans for the holidays might be a bit different this year—but whatever they are, I hope you find lots of comfort and joy in your gatherings with friends and family. And I sincerely hope these dishes can make your December a little less stressful and let you shine. I am so grateful for your wonderful feedback and look forward to “seeing” you again in the new year!

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Ground Beef Vegetable Soup with Gnocchi

1 pound ground chuck 1 pound ground veal 1 28-ounce can whole, peeled plum tomatoes 1 12-ounce package refrigerated gnocchi 1 bag frozen peas 8 cups lower-sodium chicken broth 6 ounces fresh spinach 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 4 teaspoons) 5 celery stalks, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) 2 large yellow onions, chopped (about 3 cups) 3 teaspoons kosher salt 2 teaspoons dried oregano 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1/8 teaspoon black pepper Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving Notes: Store-bought gnocchi helps make this soup hearty and filling. I prefer the refrigerated kind, such as Giovanni Rana, which cooks up light and puff y. Feel free to add more vegetables as you wish, such as green beans or zucchini. You can

prepare Step 1 ahead of time and freeze it, then do Step 2 when you are ready to serve the soup. You also can do both steps back to back and serve immediately. Step 1: Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat. › Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally until browned, about 8 minutes. › Add onion, celery and garlic, then stir often until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. › Stir in tomatoes and oregano, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. › Stir in broth and bring to a boil. › Reduce heat to medium-low, and gently boil for about 8 minutes. Step 2: Add the gnocchi and peas and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. › Remove from heat. › Stir in spinach (and other veggies as desired). › Add salt and pepper to taste. › Sprinkle each serving with grated Parmesan cheese.

Spiny Lobster Mac and Cheese

1 pound Florida spiny lobster, cooked and cut into medium sized chunks 1 pound pasta (your favorite shape), cooked 3 cups milk, at room temperature 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (or your favorite) 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, grated (or your favorite) 1 cup panko breadcrumbs 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped 1/2 cup fresh chives, finely chopped 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 3 large Florida tomatoes, sliced 2 large garlic cloves, minced 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper Sea salt to taste Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. › Drain and set aside. › Place 4 tablespoons melted butter in a saucepot over medium-low heat, add garlic and onion and cook until onion is translucent. › Whisk in flour and cook for several minutes. › Carefully pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. › Continue to cook and whisk until sauce is smooth


and thick enough to coat a spoon. › Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in cheese, a handful at a time. › Season cheese sauce with mustard, chives, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, to taste. › In a large mixing bowl, combine cheese sauce and cooked pasta, then fold in chopped lobster. › Lightly spray a baking dish with pan release spray. › Pour pasta mixture into baking dish. › Arrange sliced tomatoes on top. › In a small bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs, olive oil and parsley and sprinkle over the tomatoes. › Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 10 to 20 minutes, or until topping is crisp and cheese sauce is bubbly. › Let cool slightly before serving.

Tex-Mex Casserole

1 pound ground beef 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 10-ounce can RO*TEL mild diced tomatoes and green chilies 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup rice 1 cup elbow macaroni 1 cup vegetable broth 1 cup corn kernels; frozen, canned or roasted 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese 1 onion, diced 1 Roma tomato, diced 1 1.25-ounce package taco seasoning 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon cumin Juice of 1 lime Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. › Add ground beef, onion and garlic. › Cook until beef has browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks. › Stir in taco seasoning. › Drain excess fat. › Boil macaroni until it is al dente, then drain and set aside. › Stir in rice, vegetable broth, beans, RO*TEL, corn, chili powder and cumin. › Season with salt and pepper to taste. › Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked through, about 16-18 minutes. › Stir in macaroni, lime juice and cilantro. › Remove from heat and top with cheeses. › Cover until cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. › Serve immediately, garnished with tomato if desired. December ‘20

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DINING GUIDE

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

(352) 840-0900 › hookedonharrys.com Mon-Thu 11a-9p › Fri & Sat 11a-10p › Sun 11a-8p Located in the heart of downtown Ocala, Harry’s offers traditional Louisiana favorites like Shrimp and Scallop Orleans, Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Blackened Red Fish, Louisiana Gumbo and Garden District Grouper (pictured). Other favorites, like French Baked Scallops and Bourbon Street Salmon, are complemented with grilled steaks, chicken, burgers, po’ boy sandwiches and salads. Their full bar features Harry’s Signature Cocktails, such as the Harry’s Hurricane, Bayou Bloody Mary or the Cool Goose Martini. They also feature wines by the glass and a wide selection of imported, domestic and craft beer.

El Toreo

3790 E Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala

(352) 694-1401 › 7 days 11a-10p SR 200, Ocala › (352) 291-2121 › 7 days 11a-11p New lunch specials include Taco Salad on Mondays, $5.45; Speedy Gonzalez on Tuesdays, $5.45; Quesadillas on Wednesdays, $7.95; Chimichangas on Thursdays, $6.95; and Burrito Supreme on Fridays, $5.95. New dinner options include Fajita Mondays, $10.95; Chimichanga Tuesdays, $8.95; Alambre Wednesdays, $9.95; and Tacos de Bistec Thursdays, $9.95. Plus $1.95 margaritas on Mondays. On Sunday, kids 12 and under can enjoy $1.95 children’s meals (take-out not included). Wednesday is Special Margarita Day, 99¢ all day. Saturday is 2-for-1 margaritas all day. Happy Hour daily, 3-7pm. Everything is 2-4-1 (exceptions may apply).

For every purchase of $100 in gift cards, you receive a FREE $30 gift card in return. Promotion valid through December 24th. Free shipping and E-gift cards available online at hookedonharrys.com.

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 Happy Holidays!

Braised Onion

754 NE 25th Ave., Ocala

(352) 620-9255 › braisedonion.com Tue-Thu 11:30a-9p › Fri-Sat 11:30a-10p › Sun 11:30a-8p Braised Onion Restaurant, where you’ll experience “Comfort Food with Attitude” in a fun, warm and colorful but casual atmosphere. Open for lunch and dinner. Our team of experts will be dishing out perfectly seasoned prime rib with creamy horseradish sauce on Friday and Saturday evenings. Don’t forget the decadant dessert menu, which includes the prizewinning bread pudding, coconut cream pie, cheesecake and crème brûlée. Private meeting and banquet rooms available. Limited menu.

Now taking reservations for Christmas Eve and New Years Eve! Closed Christmas & New Years Day Please call for menu selections


DINING GUIDE

Sunday Brunch: Bottomless Mimosas & Bloody Mary’s Wednesday: Hump Day Happy Hour all day all drinks half price Thursdays: $18.00 Prime Rib

Salted Brick

At Trilogy at Ocala Preserve 4021 NW 53rd Avenue Road Ocala (352) 509-5183 › Call for hours

The award winning restaurant located in Trilogy at Ocala Preserve enjoys beautiful lake front dining, perfect for watching the sun set over the 18th hole on our championship golf course. The Salted Brick brings to life regional favorites alongside American classics, using locally-sourced, fresh ingredients. Featuring a centerpiece exhibition kitchen and wood-fired oven, watch as items are grilled to perfection above a natural flame. American grill, sophisticated atmosphere, and seasonal menu with fresh and healthy options are just a few of what our brand has to offer. ** Open Table’s 2018, 2019 and 2020 Diner’s Choice award for Gainesville, Ocala and Central Florida**

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Pictured: Family Portrait by Thomas Benjamin Kennington

Hygge for the Holidays Patricia Tomlinson, the Appleton Museum of Art Curator of Exhibitions, explores how art has the power to manage pain and bring about feelings of happiness and well-being. Tomlinson, a former professional archaeologist, joined the museum in 2016 after serving as curatorial staff in the New World Department at the Denver Art Museum. By Patricia Tomlinson

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his time of year, it is always nice to spend time with loved ones, cook holiday comfort food and honor cherished family traditions—in short, all things “hygge” (pronounced who-guh). What’s hygge, you ask? It is a Danish word that encompasses concepts such as cozy and contented wellbeing, something Scandinavians know a lot about. While northern climates lend themselves to snuggling up with a book by the fireplace while snow softly falls outside, what do you do if you live in Florida? It’s 75 degrees in December and there isn’t a snowflake in sight. It’s important to remember that hygge is a feeling and that feelings of comfort can come from things that make you happy. Unsurprisingly, art is something that has been studied extensively as far as its psychological impact. There are many studies that show art has the power to manage pain and bring about feelings of happiness and well-being. In short, art can totally be hygge. One of the nicest things about art is that it’s completely interpretive as far as each viewer is

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concerned. What I mean by this is that everyone brings their own life experiences, values and culture into play when they observe art. Some people may love depictions of mothers and babies because it makes them think of their own children or grandchildren. Others are drawn to the meditative serenity of landscape paintings because it reminds them of a special vacation or a place they used to live, and so on. You get to choose what you like, and what you want to look at, and gravitate towards what is meaningful and makes you feel good. That’s most likely why prints of famous artworks sell so well. People want to capture the joy art brings and have it in their own homes. In the bustle of the holidays, make time for yourself and experience hygge. Enjoy the season and be sure to include both enjoying art and giving it as gifts. Visit appletonmuseum.org for more information and online offerings. Appleton Museum of Art, 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd., (352) 291-4455.


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Al

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