Tidbits Dec. 2016

Check out news about your community, including holiday safety tips! (Compiled by Nanette Wiser)

HOLIDAY PACKAGE SAFETYAre you cybershopping? If so, make sure you protect your gifts from package thieves.

  • Take advantage of home delivery services. UPS has the UPS My Choice service. If you sign up for a free membership, you can get delivery alerts, sign for a package online, and even ask that you hold a package at a UPS facility instead of having it delivered to your home. For additional money, you can get it delivered to another address.
  • FedEx has a similar program with Delivery Manager.
  • USPS has the Package Intercept program. For a fee they will hold the package for pickup or you can have it sent to another address.
  • Have a security camera on your porch. This will help if your package is stolen so that police can catch the thief. Plus, if the package is damaged, you can use it as evidence against insurance.
  • Use signature confirmation. This way the package is not left out in the open because a signature is needed.
  • If a package is stolen, file a police report first, then contact your carriers. If you bought through Amazon, contact them as well.

GULFPORT

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Organizers of the first annual October Gulfport Chef’s Table recently presented a check for proceeds from the event to charitable recipient CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse).  Additional proceeds from the event were distributed to CASA at a later date for a total donation of $8,569.75.  Proceeds from the event were doubled by matching funds from the Sonia Raymund Foundation’s matching grant program.  CASA provides support and services for women, men and families living with or recovering from abuse.  

  • Restaurants participating were Backfin Blue Cafe, Boca Bay Grille, Isabelle’s at The Historic Peninsula Inn, Mangia Gourmet, Neptune Grill, O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille, Pia’s Trattoria and Smokin’ J’s Real Texas BBQ.  Tables were assembled end-to-end to accommodate diners, with décor assembled by each restaurant for its own section of seating with fine dining details including white tablecloths, china, glassware and full table service.
  • The event was sponsored by the participating Gulfport restaurants, the City of Gulfport, the Gulfport Merchants Association, J.J. Taylor, Olympus Printing, Republic National Distribution Company and Superior Auto Body.

GULFPORT MERCHANTS AWARD GRANTS:  Members of the Board of Directors of the Gulfport Merchants Association (GMA) presented checks to representatives of two local non-profit organizations, CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) and the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund, on December 7th.  CASA provides services to women and families who are recovering from abusive environments.  The Sonia Plotnick Health Fund provides grants to women in need of health services.  Each organization received a grant of $2375.  The recipients were among four groups awarded community grants funded with a portion of proceeds from 2015 GMA-sponsored  “Gecko events, ” including the annual Gecko Fest, Gecko Ball and Gecko Crawl.  The GMA offers the community grants each year to non-profit organizations which are located in Gulfport or include Gulfport in their area of service.  Grants were awarded earlier in the year to the Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library and the Daystar Life Center.  Grants totaling $7750 have been awarded in 2015.

PARTY HEARTY: The beautiful, historic Gulfport Casino hosts swing, Latin and ballroom dance classes and is a popular venue for weddings, proms and the annual Gecko Ball. The facility can accommodate events for activities for 50 – 750 with a dining capacity of 400. 727-893-1070.

MADEIRA BEACH

99 BOTTLES OF BEER IN THE WALL:  Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company just released their first bottled beer in late November. In anticipation of their first bottle release, co-owner & founder Matthew Powers reached out to local celebrity Tattoo artist, TJ Hal of Foolish Pride, to design the artwork for the bottle. Once the final product  was in hand Matthew, was so inspired he decided to commemorate the moment by having  TJ ink the masterpiece on his arm for all of eternity. www.madbeachbrewing.com

MARKET TIME: The Mid-Week Madeira Beach Open Air Market (Wednesday 9 am – 2 pm) and the Indian Shores Sunday Morning Market (9 am – 1 pm) reopened this month and run weekly through May 2017.  The Markets host local Vendors who offer everything from produce to fine art.  Both Markets are beach close, free of charge and family friendly. Leashed pets are welcome. New vendors welcome.  www.TheBeachMarkets.com

tampa-bay-ferryWATER TAXI:The new Tampa Bay ferry and taxi by Hubbard’s Marina has started inside Upper Boca Ciega Bay! This new ferry boat takes guests to Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and Western St. Petersburg. It currently runs on Fridays and Saturdays four times daily at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm and will be expanded in November to Sundays (and reduce Friday’s service to the afternoons at 4 pm and 7 pm). For a full route map, schedule, fares and to buy tickets check out tampabayferry.com

PINELLAS COUNTY

STAYCATION: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is running a campaign until the end of the year encouraging people to use their remaining vacation days here in St. Pete/Clearwater.

AMBULANCE PROGRAM: Pinellas County offers the Sunstar FirstCare Ambulance Membership Program to assist residents with the out-of-pocket expenses associated with ambulance transportation. Enrollment begins Dec. 1, for coverage Jan 1, 2017-2018. It is not an insurance plan.

It is a Pinellas County government program that works with an individual’s insurance company to cover 100 percent of eligible expenses associated with deductibles & co-payments. The membership plan will also cover 50 percent of the cost for any trips denied by the insurance company. It is estimated that the average cost of a single transport is $707. Annual membership fees are $63 for an individual and $98 for a family.

Uninsured plan members receive a 20 percent discount on ambulance transportation services, an average savings of $140 per transport. The family plan covers those related by blood, marriage or adoption who reside in the same household. Information, or sign up, call (727) 582-2008 X3 or visit pinellascounty.org/firstcare

ECKERD COLLEGE: Eckerd College offers myriad of activities and programs as a service to the community.  All events are held on the Eckerd College campus and are free and open to the public, unless otherwise stated. Eckerd College is located at 4200 54th Ave. S in St. Petersburg. Programs and events are subject to change. For more information, email events@eckerd.edu, visit eckerd.edu/events or call 727.864.7979. To see the  entire International Cinema series at Eckerd College offerings, visit eckerd.edu/international-cinema.

 

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS UPDATE: Commissioner Janet Long will become Chairman in 2017 and Commissioner Kenneth Welch will become Vice Chairman.

SHERIFF DEPARTMENT SAFETY TIPS(1) Leave at least one light on inside and out when you are away on a trip. (2) Do not give out personal information by phone or on internet. (3)When making a purchase online, make sure the site is secure before giving out your credit card number.  (4) Use a peephole, ifpossible; do-not open the door to strangers, unexpected repair people or those with deliveries; always ask for credentials.

PINELLAS PARK

ARTIST HAVENS: Pinellas Park transforms a once blighted urban area of the city into an eclectic arts village with affordable studio space and housing for working artists and entrepreneurs from bookstores to bakeshops, even Wordier Than Thou events. Art Walk is the 4th Saturday of every month at Pinellas Park Arts Village, 5600 Park Blvd.  http://bit.ly/2eaHNi6

REDINGTON BEACH, REDINGTON SHORES

HOLIDAY HOME CONTEST & PARADE: On Dec. 8, Redington Shores residents compete to show off their Christmas decorating style at this community contest. If you want to participate, call 727-397-5538. http://townofredingtonshores.com/event/holiday-home-decorating-contest/  On Dec. 17, enjoy the annual Santa parade from 2- 2:30 pm.

SOUTH PASADENA

NEW BUSINESS ASSOCIATION: The New South Pasadena Civic Association is preparing a brochure as a marketing tool to recruit new members and local businesses. If you join now through December 31, 2016 the annual fee is $10.00 per member. This amount will cover membership through December 31, 2017! Effective January 1, 2017, the annual fee will be $15.00 per member and $25.00 per couple through December 31, 2017. If you are interested in joining, contact Donna Pietarinen  d.pietarinen@gmail.com.

CITY HALL OPEN HOUSE: Make merry and meet your neighbors Dec. 9 4-6pm City Commission and staff will hold an open house with refreshments and Santa.    

ST.PETE BEACH

GOT AN ELECTION ITCH? St. Pete Beach residents interested in running in the March Election for Mayor or Commissioner in Districts 2 and 4 can pick up candidate packets at City Hall December 1st – 9th.  

HONOR WALK BRICK CAMPAIGN at UPHAM BEACH: The 2016-2017 Brick Campaign has officially launched. Orders will be received from November 5, 2016 until March 17, 2017. Installation of the bricks will occur late spring early summer.  For more information call 727-363-9232 

GOT SEWAGE ISSUES? If you have a sewer problem, first call a plumber. If the plumber determines the sewer problem is city related, contact the Public Services Department during normal business hours at (727) 363-9243 and they will send out staff to investigate the problem.

PASSE-A-GRILLE WAY PROGRESS: St. Pete Beach Public Services Director holds weekly meetings  from 3 pm to 4 pm at the Warren Webster Building regarding the Pass-A-Grille Way reconstruction project. Community meetings will be held every first and third Thursdays of the month from 3-4 pm. FYI: Mike Clarke, Public Services Director at 363-9224 or e-mail him at mclarke@stpetebeach.org.

DOWNTOWN ST. PETE 

Don’t miss the St. Petersburg Bowl– Tropicana Field on Dec. 26 @ 11 am. The 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl will match up the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) against the American Athletic Conference. The game, which is owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, will air nationally televised on ESPN. This year’s game will mark the second time the St. Petersburg Bowl is in the ACC bowl rotation. NC State defeated UCF 34-27 in the 2014 edition of the game. The American will have a representative returning for the third consecutive year. http://www.stpetersburgbowl.com/st-petersburg-bowl-set-dec-26-kickoff/

Kahwa Coffee celebrated their 10th anniversary this year with their 10th store in Tampa Bay (four in Tampa, four in St. Pete and one in Sarasota). Owners Raphael and Sarah Perrier are baristas with a purpose, growing from their first store on the corner of 5th Ave and 2nd St. downtown. You can see them on HSN, find them at local restaurant and even get their heavenly brews online; wwwKahwaCoffee.com

The Independent reopened in downtown St. Pete with some of the best beers, wines, music and conversation in town. After the Dec. 3 grand opening party, Ballast Pt. Brewing beer celebration kicks off noon-close with a tasting of the rare coffee vanilla imperial porter and other brews.

Ciccio Restaurant Group’s Better Byrd is a new chicken noshery, with classic and trendy chicken dishes to cluck about.

ThirstyFirst replaced Alvin’s Lounge on First Ave. with the motto Come Thirsty, Leave Tipsy and the Prohibition-style lounge, cocktails and food are a big hit.

Old Chicago Pizza features deep dish pies, subs and salads for a taste of the windy city.

The  Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club gets a facelift and is renovating the spa, fitness center, dining facilities and tennis courty. In January, they will break ground on a new marina and pool view restaurant on the Esplanade deck at the main resort.

Kozuba & Sons Craft Distillery in the Warehouse Arts District introduces Starkus Vodka, a barrel-aged vodka with hints of honey, oak spice and vanilla.

Largo-based artisan Pinellas Chocolates dark chocolate bars are all the rage and can be found at St. Pete Indie Market, Locate Market and Rollin Oats in St. Petersburg.

Downtown’s Savory Spice Shop introduced a Spice Up Your Holidays Gift Guide and new St. Petersburg Snapper seasoning.

World Class ZO Skin Center by Zein Obagi MD is now open in downtown St. Pete (240 1st Ave. South) in the bottom floor of Dr. Christian Drehsen’s Clinique of Plastic Surgery building. It is the first franchise and East Coast location of the Beverly-Hills based legendary products and services developed by skincare guru Dr. Obagi.

St. Petersburg Saturday Market is the place to nosh, from Brooklyn Knish to empanadas, French crepes to handmade pickles and fresh veggies, it’s a fun way to start the weekend and listen to the live band du jour.

Hollander Hotel/Tap Room offers yoga Saturday morning poolside and indie music on Sundays. Saturday and Sunday, you can enjoy $5 Bloody Mary and mimosas and on Sun. $10 all you can eat breakfast special.

ST. PETERSBURG

CHURCH NEWS: The diocese announced recently that the Most Reverend Bishop Gregory L. Parkes has been named the as the new bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Parkes, who is succeeding the retiring Bishop Robert N. Lynch, was previously the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. Lynch has served as the head of the St. Petersburg diocese since 1996.

CLEAN UP YOUR ACT: The St. Petersburg City Council formally approved the city’s commitment to transitioning to 100% clean, renewable energy on Monday, Nov. 21. St. Petersburg represents the first city in Florida and the 20th city in the country to make such a commitment. In a unanimous vote, the City Council Committee of the Whole allocated $250K of BP Oil Spill settlement funds to an “Integrated Sustainability Action Plan” (ISAP), which will chart a roadmap to 100% clean, renewable energy in Saint Petersburg. 

MAYOR KRISEMAN APPROVES NEW WASTEWATER IMPROVEMENT PLAN:   The new plan will increase the capacity of existing plants, line and seal targeted pipes and manholes, engineer enough redundancy in our system to sustain operations for two weeks should one of our three plants go offline or be otherwise rendered inoperable in a crisis situation, and operate totally within the rules and guidelines of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, even during a crisis. Additional capacity through the complete reopening of the Albert Whitted Wastewater facility or other facility expansions remains under consideration. http://www.stpete.org/public_works/

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Citizens are invited to share ideas and suggestions regarding the future of the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina Master Plan, including replacement of the Central and South Yacht Basin Docks, during an open house/community meeting, on Dec. 6 5-8 pm at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N. Citizens will have an opportunity to learn about current conditions at the Marina, hear an overview of the regional marina market and to offer suggestions and ideas on improvements to boating conditions and efficiency at the Marina, in keeping with the city’s Downtown Waterfront Master Plan. Two other community meetings are planned, with dates to be announced later.

City officials are looking to the Marina Master Plan for much-needed updates of the Central and South Yacht Basin docks, which would eliminate higher maintenance costs related to an aging infrastructure and the ability to accommodate changes in popular boat sizes and styles over the last 50 years. Questions should be directed to Marina Manager Walt Miller at 727-893-7820 or Rick Hermann, Project Manager at 727-893-7852.

CLEARWATER & AROUND TAMPA BAY

TECH UPDATE: The Clearwater Tower, a 12-story building was bought for 8.4 million by Steve Anderson, CEO of marketing company Autoloop. He plans to relocate Autoloop to the downtown Clearwater office tower, which is already populated by several other Tampa Bay tech firms. Autoloop employs about 450 people in Clearwater.

FLORIDA COUNCIL of 100: The CEO for Florida Blue and GuideWell Mutual Holding Corp. will serve a two-year term as the chair for the Florida Council of 100 after being elected last week in Tampa.The Florida Council of 100 is a invitation-only organization of business, civic and academic leaders that advocates for business-driven public policy. It’s members number about 120 and include many prominent Jacksonville business leaders including Haskell CEO Steve Halverson, who served as chairman from 2010 to 2012.

TIERRA VERDE

RATE UH-OH: Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved nearly $558 million in water and wastewater rate increases for Utilities Inc. The new rates are intended to be temporary, to keep the company solvent pending further review of its finances and operating expenses by commission staff.

TREASURE ISLAND

SANTA’S MAILBOX: Thru Dec.  16, Santa will personally answer letters from all boys and girls who drop off or mail letters to his mailbox located in front of the Treasure Island City Hall at 120 108th Avenue. Santa’s elves remind everyone to have a return address on their letters.

AN AFTERNOON at the NORTH POLE: On Dec. 17 from 1-3pm at the Treasure Island Community Center (Gulf Boulevard 106th Avenue), you can enjoy Santa Claus, live holiday shows, cookie decorating, making holiday arts & crafts projects, train rides, face painting, and enjoying interactive entertainers. Free.    

 

CLUB AT TREASURE ISLAND: Enjoy the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade and Celebration is scheduled Dec. 11 at The Club at Treasure Island (400 Treasure Island Causeway). The Holiday Celebration begins at 4:30pm with the Boat Parade leaving the Club at 6:20pm. Bring one unwrapped NEW TOY or provide a cash donation to the “Christmas Toy Shop of Pinellas” or “The Edward’s Family Foundation” to the Recreation Department at City Hall or Treasure Bay on Paradise Boulevardby Friday, December 9th   to receive a family pass to watch the parade from a spectacular vantage point, and participate in the events at the Club.  Live entertainment, a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus, cash bar and food will be served poolside.  For additional information, please call the Club at (727) 367-4511, ext. 236

WINTER CAMPRecreational Camp for Children ages 5-12 years old runs Dec. 19-Dec. 30 8 am – 5 pm; closed Dec. 26. Activities will include games, sports, arts & crafts, movies and field trips. Registration is held at the Recreation Department (City Hall at 120 108th Avenue).  Registration forms are also on-line at www.mytreasureisland.com.  The fee for the camp is $25/day for Treasure Island residents and $30/day for non-residents of Treasure Island (discounted weekly rates are available).

Holiday Gift Guide

My Favorite Things By Nanette Wiser

I love to find unique gifts, preferable handmade or shop local discoveries. Here in Paradise, it’s not all about the malls. Wandering John’s Pass, Corey Ave., downtown Central Ave., Beach Drive, Florida Craft Art, the Dali and MFA yields 1,001 magical presents fit for a king or queen. Here are some of  our Favorite Things for this holiday.

55009799 - christmas packages on a tropical beach.

MEN’S GIFTS

  • reno-beachIs your honey a beach nut? Check out Reno Beach Surf Shop for old school surfwear such as hats, flip flops, hip sunglasses, tees and board shorts. (And pick a little tank or dress up for yourself!). Get his and hers skateboards, skim boards, surf boards or paddle boards. 1031 4th Street North (near downtown St. Pete); 727 – 896 – SURF www.facebook.com/Reno-Beach-Surf-Shop-307603862617445/?fref=ts
  • Vinyl is hot, vintage is king at Daddy Kool Records or Bananas Music & Movies, the world’s largest record store with more than 3 million records.
  • For the wannabe Mr. Fixit, what about a mechanic’s tool kit from Ace Hardware?
  • Book a fishing charter or get him a new rod and tackle for his next snook hook session? Check out Gulf to Bay Bait Tackle, 727-367-4756.


WOMEN’S GIFTS

  • harmony-eco-spaGive a gift certificate to Harmony Eco Hair Spa, downtown St. Pete’s 5-star holistic salon and spa offers Special Event makeup and styling for all your holiday parties, certified biodynamic/organic hair color products, natural nail services, natural nail services, facial/skin rejuvenation, therapeutic massage, dry brushing & aromatherapy, bamboo, Fusion and Reiki health sessions and more. 400 4th Street N., St. Petersburg 727-822-8701 @ The Hollander Hotel – Harmonyecohairspa.com
  • Get your gift certificate now for your stressed out friends…or yourself. Relax and renew with a massage from Mobile Therapeutic Massage’s Libby Higgdon, who comes to see you in your home or hotel. 727-204-8602; massage.libby@gmail.com
  • Ocean themed gifts, from wine glasses to coastal décor can be found at Paradise Gifts & Home Décor, Paradise Lights & More and Décor Studio 1 on Corey Ave.
  • Get your Gucci Pucci panache with designer frames and sunglasses from Eye Designs Vision. 727-344-2020.

HOSTESS GIFTS

  • Yankee Candles in holiday flavors from Christmas Cookie to Candy Cane. You can find them at Beall’s and Beall’s Outlet. You’ll also find adorable candles at Corey Avenue’s boutiques and Sunday open market.
  • Exquisite ornaments from Sign of the Dolphin on Park Blvd. in the Winn-Dixie shopping center or Simply Perfect on Corey Ave.
  • Coffee coupons from Starbucks, Kahwa and Dunkin Donuts, in a travel mug with your hostess initial.
  • From poinsettias and orchids to glorious floral arrangements, Lou’s Seaside Florists can help you decorate for the holidays or deliver the perfect gift.
  • Why not make a Selfie Ornament of your girls’ night out, a t-shirt or mug at Walgreen’s, personalcreations.com or shutterfly.com

PET GIFTS

  • Homemade, healthy dog and cat treats plus oodles of toys can be found at BarkLife.
  • A Park Avenue puppy doormat featuring a bulldog or golden retriever is perfect for your pet’s water and food bowls, or your front door from Pier 1.
  • Need a family photo of you, the kids, Fifi and Fido? Bob@TropicalFocus.com is the perfect choice for any occasion, from professional headshots to pictures of your pets, 717-871-9402.
  • Does your pup and your shoes have a love affair? Bring in the dog whisperer/trainer Dogmandu for positive, fun and effective family dog training; www.dogmumdu.net
  • One Lucky Dog sells stylish bedding and unique travel carriers and strollers in addition to some kooky dog apparel and toys.

FOOD & SPIRIT GIFTS

  • Simpatico Wines boutique wine shop with club and wine tastings can help you create the perfect basket, from brews to vino. 722 Pasadena Ave., 727-803-6601 www.simpatico-wines.com
  • Vine & Grind Gourmet Market features free tastings daily and more than 70+ flavors of extra virgin and infused olive oils from around the world plus sea salt, spices, gourmet coffees, olives, pasta, organic chocolates and more. Order you gift basket now. 111 107th Ave., Treasure Island; 727-360-5051.
  • Burger Monger gift cards are the perfect gift for the hungry teenage or college student who likes crafted burgers, hot dogs, French fries and Haagen Dazs milk shakes oodles better than fast food joints. Best of all, during the holidays you get a $5 bonus card with any $25 gift card purchase. 1325 4th St., downtown St. Pete, 727-914-4819.
  • Got a sweet tooth? Bring them Beach Drive’s Kilwins chocolate concoctions, from homemade fudge to truffles and nutty delights.
  • Love homemade pasta? Why not bring at Chianti and Italian food basket you create with the help of the Da Sesto Italiano elves? Gift certificates are also available, 727-209-2695.

EXPERIENCE & LEARN GIFTS:

  • Get in shape for the New Year with Adam Hoffman Fitness. Learn to eat right, exercise and train to meet your fitness and lifestyle goals with his custom-tailored programs, 646-387-6297, adamhoffmanfitness@gmail.com
  • Help a loved one, take control of their financial future with Eric Moffitt, Northwestern Mutual, 813-875-2005.
  • Catch a sunset or a dolphin family in an island cruising adventure from Dolphin Landings or Hubbard’s Marina. You can also rent a Segway, Paddleboard or kayak from their John’s Pass location.
  • Spend a night with friends touring the holiday lights or New Year’s Eve in elegant style with  Tampa Limo, 727-361-5466.
  • Get serenity with yoga classes or a private session from Kripalu Yoga with Jeanne Salvo at the Pass-a-Grille Community Church, 727-224-7631.
  • Why not get a Winter Golf Membership at St. Petersburg County Club (available thru April 30 with a three month minimum) and play unlimited golf, tennis and enjoy the pool and fitness center, 727-867-2111, stpetecountryclub.com
  • For the person who hasn’t experienced downtown St. Pete, why not give them an overnight stay at the Hollander Boutique Hotel, located near scenic Beach Drive Beaches. The new deck and swimming pool, morning yoga and H20 Pool Bar & Cabana Club features fully stocked liquor bar, fresh new poolside menu, cool variety of craft beers on tap and a tropical assortment of frozen drinks. With over a 130 feet of beautiful outside Terrace, The Hollander Boutique Hotel St Petersburg will wow you with its elegant lobby, eclectic style decor, bar & restaurant and it’s amenities. 727-873-7900, 421 4th Ave N; St. Pete
  • Make music together with tickets to concerts at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Capitol Theater, the Mahaffey, Palladium, Jannus Landing, The Florida Orchestra and other local concert venues. If you love a curtain call, give them theater tickets to American Stage, Straz Center or freeFall Theater.

GIVING BACK GIFTS: Our absolute favorite thing is giving back to the community. Ask you kids to pick toys to donate and bring canned foods and home donations to RCS, Metropolitan Ministries and other charity organizations.

Arts & Events Dec. 2016

lights-in-the-garden-domeMuseums, holiday lights, New Year’s Eve parties! Crank up the Michael Buble Christmas tunes  and check out these artsy events. (Compiled by Nanette Wiser)

Holiday Lights: Start with the Florida Botanical Gardens and then check out these neighborhoods who transform everyday lawns into magical Disney-like spectaculars, complete with nodding reindeer and penguin blow-up balls. 

  • If you can weather the crowds, check out Downtown Disney’s drone light show.
  • At Ringling Museum in Sarasota, enjoy the Holiday Nights at Ca’ d’ Zan, Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 5-8 pm. Dressed for the holidays, Ca’ d’Zan features festive fireplace mantels, balconies, doors and most especially the 10-foot-tall tree that stands in the Grand Court.
  • On Dec. 3, John’s Pass lights up their Christmas Tree with music and Santa’s arrival. The Florida Orchestra hosts its annual tour of homes downtown from 10 am – 4 pm.
  • The Lowry Park Zoo opens a special holiday exhibit with reindeer and decorations.
  • Iconic to this area, the holiday boat parades in Madeira Beach, Indian Rocks, Redington, St. Pete Beach and downtown make mingling merry and bright.
  • Thru Jan. 3 from 6 pm – 10 pm, the Oakdale Neighborhood goes all out with 1/4 million lights, A walking yard tour that includes a small pond, several waterfalls & fountains; an 18-train HO scale railroad, with moving planes & carnival rides; animated & lit up figures and inflatables and houses a-glow. Featured on HGTV’s All Out HGTV’s All Out Christmas Special, NBC Today and PEOPLE Magazine.  2719 Oakdale Street S, St. Pete; www.ChristmasDisplay.org

hollander-hotelLike Culture & Cocktails? You’ll find it in downtown St. Pete, frocked with lights and glorious with artist murals. Look for me decked out in a red dress and silver bells at these holiday soirees:

  • On Dec. 7, check out the evening rooftop event at The Station House downtown catered by Fresh Kitchen.
  • On Dec. 10, it’s the 12 annual downtown Bad Santa Bar Crawl (Spark 5, Inc.), raising money for South Pinellas Autism Project and The Children’s Dream Fund & Blessings in A Backpack – Pinellas County! 
  • Enjoy wine and appetizer specials at 6 pm during Wine Down Wednesday at Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria.
  • Celebrate Punky’s Bar & Grill 1st Anniversary in the artsy Grand Central District for four days Dec. 15-18 with music by Chic; Ella Jet; DJ Bill Kody; Brothers Gabriel; Nora Riki; Halcyon and Mighty Mongo.

Happy Hanukkah, Kwaanza wishes and Merry Christmas to our Paradise friends and family. Hoping for Peace on Earth, goodwill to all. Ciao baby, see you around town!  – Nanette Wiser

ONGOING

St. Petersburg Second Saturday Artwalk – 5-9 pm – Five arts districts, one fun day: Ride the Trolley and enjoy 40 galleries, studios, warehouses and yummy brews and chews along the way downtown. www.StPeteArtsAlliance.org

Gulfport 1st Friday & 3rd Saturday   www.visitgulfportflorida.com   3101 Beach Blvd. S, Gulfport. Art Walk spans 6 city blocks that includes more than 35 unique and locally owned shops, businesses, boutiques, galleries, bars and restaurants. Over the last few years, several new art venues have popped up around town including Domain Home Accessories & Gallery, Country Harvest Craft Studio, Suzanne Vernon Mosaics, August Vernon Studios, Rejoys, Portspace Art Gallery, ProjectFree Gallery & Studio and Pitzen Studios.

OLLI at Eckerd College  www.Eckerd.Edu/Olli/Register  -727-864-7600. Take a trip or a class on Music, Film, Television, Florida Studies, Literature, Writing, Performing Arts and Visual Arts… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

Museum of Fine Arts 255 Beach Dr. NE, 727-896-2667 www.fine-arts.org

  • Thru Feb. 19: Jack Barrett People Watching – Mr. Barrett’s explorations of the human figure in paintings, sketches and select sculptures will be on view.  Some may know him as a former St. Pete Times illustrator.  
  • Thru March 19: The Far North – Inuit Prints and Sculpture – These 30 works by accomplished Inuit artists spans the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Inuit people of the Arctic, formerly known as the Eskimo, have combined traditional and contemporary worlds in their work and have developed a distinctive visual language using modern materials and techniques. Through their art, the Inuit have continued a vital storytelling tradition among themselves, while reaching out to the broader public. They are especially known for their prints and sculpture.
  • Dec. 8, 6:30 pm: Book Club at MFA – Presented by Keep St. Pete Lit – Melanie McGrath’s The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic will add another layer of understanding to The Far North.
  • Dec. 11, 5 pm: Free outdoor Christmas double feature, How the Grinch Stole Christmas & Gremlins. Enjoy music, food trucks and trivia at this dog-friendly event. Movie starts at dark.
  • Dec. TBD: Christmas Sing Along
  • Thru Jan. 22: Our America – The Latino Presence in Latin American Art – Explore how Latino artists shaped the artistic community of their day with 92 original works that delve into the history and imagination of the artists and the world that inspired them.

The Dali Museum http://thedali.org In addition to exhibits, guest can enjoy Sunday yoga at the Dali, programs for children and storytelling for families.

  • Dec. 8: Poetry with St. Petersburg Poet Laureate, Helen Wallace occurs on second Thursday of each month through May 2017. Each evening features Wallace joined by selected poets to present poems addressing the theme of Food and Sustenance.
  • On Dec. 15: there is a Holiday Arts & Crafts Bazaar beginning at noon. Join the talented, artistic staff and volunteers of The Dali at a holiday bazaar featuring their original art & crafts for sale. Enjoy the seasonal ambiance, holiday music and complimentary sweet treats & beverages. Melting clock and mustache ornaments from the Museum Store and more make unique gifts.

Dec. 17 thru  April 17: Frida Kahlo at the Dali An exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s paintings and drawings, together with her personal photograph collection showcase her dreamlike work suggesting that love and suffering create a new sense of beauty. Kahlo’s art and storied life stir immense public interest. Frida Kahlo at The Dali will be Florida’s first solo exhibition showcasing the extraordinary career and life of the acclaimed 20th century artist. The exhibit features a collection of more than 60 Kahlo pieces including 15 paintings, seven drawings and numerous personal photographs from the celebrated female artist and influential icon. The exhibition will extend outdoors where a special collection of flowers and plants representative of those in Kahlo’s own garden at Casa Azul, her home in Mexico, will grace the grounds of the Museum’s Avant Garden.

“With her dreamlike images, Kahlo has stirred huge public interest beyond the traditional art audience. In a way, Kahlo created a persona that serves as a contemporary feminine ideal – both tender and fierce,” said Dali Museum Executive Director, Dr. Hank Hine. “Much like Dali, she constructed an eccentric identity through the iconography in her paintings and then dressed and carried herself as the personality she created in her art.  Painting by painting, she becomes a heroic figure of struggle and perseverance.”  

  • February thru May 2017: Dali/Duchamp: The father of surrealism and the papa of conceptual art, this is the first exhibit dedicated to Dali and Duchamp’s friendship and influence on each’s art, showcasing 60 works and supplemented by correspondence and collaborative projects.

St. Petersburg Museum of History 335 2nd Ave. NE, downtown St. Pete, 727-894-1052  http://spmoh.com Fighting for the Right to Fight – African American Experiences in World War II – This exhibit explores the challenges and triumphs of African Americans during the war era and is the first time the exhibit has been seen outside of its home in New Orleans. Before the Civil Rights marches of the 1950s and 1960s, there was a group of young African American men who fought for equality and the right to defend their country. On loan from the National WWII Museum, the exhibit features artifacts,  photographs and oral histories to highlight some of the extraordinary achievements and challenges of African Americans during World War II, both overseas and  on the Home Front.

Florida Humanities Speaker Series continues through 2017 with these talks:

  • Dec. 15: Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition
  • Feb. 9, 2017 – The Magnificent Drama – Martin Luther King, Jr. in St. Augustine
  • April 13, 2017 – Getting to Know Florida’s Engaging Water World from the Inside Out.

Morean Arts Center  719 Central Ave. 727-822-7872  www.MoreanArtsCenter.org

  • Thru Dec. 30: Find hip gifts at “There is No Time Like the Presents” – 2016 Holiday Show & Sale.  Members of the Morean display gift-worthy items to purchase for the holidays including locally made paintings, functional pottery, jewelry, glass, ornaments and arty stocking stuffers. With more than 1000 members, the show displays a unique range of style and art to suit most tastes and décor and are one-of-a-kind.
  • Dec. 3, 10, 17: Parents Shop, Kids Create – Keep St. Pete Lit  $10 keepstpetelit@gmail.com  writing classes – beginners / pros.
  • 3-D Workshops and Design classes.  info@create-3d-biz

Morean’s Glass Studio & Hot Shop 719 Central Ave., downtown St. Pete, 727-822-7872 x 2220 www.moreanartscenter.org/hot-shop/ Discover how beautiful works of glass are created in real time with professional glass blowers educating them on the process. Events include Ladies Night, Friday Hot Date Night, and Live Glass Blowing Demonstrations daily at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.

Chihuly Collection 720 Central Ave.  727-822-7872 x 8  www.MoreanArtsCenter.orExplore the new home featuring 4,200 square feet of dedicated outdoor space, a premier retail store and an expanded temporary exhibition space that will host nationally acclaimed glass artists from around the country. 

The Morean Center for Clay  420  22nd Street S., downtown St. Pete – One of the largest working potteries in the Southeast United States. It offers education, studio space, rotating exhibitions and gallery sales in one large, beautifully-renovated train station. It’s here you will find The Morean Center for Clay’s Artist in Residence (AIR) program, which houses six artists on an annual work exchange basis.

Craftsman House Gallery  (10 am – 5 pm) 727-323-2787  www.CraftsmanHouseGallery.com

Suntan Arts Center @ The Don Vista 3300 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach 727-367-3818  www.suntanart.org Each month, Suntan Art Center sponsors a Members’ Show, and each month’s show is based on a different theme. Prize ribbons will be awarded by a group of judges and representation of the stated theme is a factor in the judging. Ribbons will be presented each month at the opening reception. Members not wishing to participate in the theme may still submit work for that month. There will be an opening reception on the second Saturday of each month 4 – 6 pm. Check out the 2017 calendar. http://www.suntanart.org/130-2/

ARTS & HOLIDAY EVENTS

Thru Dec. 31 5:30 – 9:30 pm: Holiday Lights In The Garden 12520 Ulmerton Rd., Largo, 727-582-2100  www.flbg.org/annual-events.htm The Florida Botanical Gardens light up nightly with whimsical flora and fauna, music and performances, plus warm cider and other delights including Santa

Thru Dec. 24: ‘Tis the Season at Sundial – Santa Visits the Courtyard Sundial 153 2nd Ave. N, St. Pete, On Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 1 – 5 pm, visit Santa and the Christmas Tree in the Sundial St. Pete Courtyard and whisper what you want.  Dec. 10, 2 pm: Santa Sisters, the fabulous dancing trio, will dazzle as they perform choreography to some of your favorite seasonal tunes.

Studio @ 620 620 First Ave. S, Downtown St. Pete 727-895-6620 www.thestudioat620.org

Wordier Than Thou: Open mic for storytelling, share prose or just catch tales from area wordsmiths.  (Check website for dates; starts 7 pm.)

  • Dec. 17 Holizaar 2016: Shop for unique artisan gifts, food gifts and funky treasures including Carnage Leathers (journals, belts, wallets, cuffs, bags, keychains); Crow and Lion (functional art lamps made of reclaimed wood and found objects); Louise’s Healing Calendula Salve (organic healing salves and tinctures made from Florida gardens); Calamity Kim (hand dyed fabric clothing and bags) and Our Lady of Perpetual Pickles (pickles, jams, plus baby burp clothes and pillows).

www.thestudioat620.org/events/holizaar-2016

Dec. 2: 6:30 – 8:30 pm: & Dec. 3: 10 am – 3 pm:   The Florida Orchestra Guild’s Fifth Annual Holiday Tour of Homes and Cocktail Party  – See fabulous decorations and enjoy a holiday boutique and tasty treats at this fundraiser and tour of homes in the Snell Isle and Brightwaters Blvd. area of Northeast St. Petersburg. FYI: Charlene Miller, 727-254-1176.

 

Dec. 8, noon: – Coffee and Conversation with Nathan Beard Dunedin Fine Art Center, 1143 Michigan Blvd. 727-298-DFAC

Hanging out, drinking delicious coffee, talking about art… ahhhh, that’s the life! Well, that IS the life at least for an hour or so each month at the Dunedin Fine Art Center’s Coffee and Conversation series. Enjoy coffee (Presented by the Sterling Society of DFAC) and insights as each month’s invited guest holds forth on their own area of expertise. Admission to these relaxed talks is $5 and is FREE to current DFAC members. From formative memories of his time in Egypt to advances in quantum physics, Nathan Beard’s work explores the patterns and processes at the confluence of human experience and natural forces. For his contribution to this year’s Coffee & Conversation Series, he will lead us through the inspirations and experiences behind the creation of his abstract paintings. He is also eager to share his thoughts for the future of his work and the inclusion of “communion” into his personal search for universal meaning.

gulfport-holiday-hooplaDec. 10, 10 am – 6 pm:  8th Gulfport’s Annual Holiday Hoopla! 3101 Beach Blvd. S, Gulfport, This celebration of arts, crafts, foods, holiday music, dance performances, roving street performers and holiday characters gives you a chance to shop early and stay late to see the Boca Ciega Club’s Lighted Boat Parade. Registration for the boat parade is available online at www.sailbcyc.org/Christmas

  • Boat Parade and at the club, 4600 Tifton Drive South, Gulfport.  A portion of event proceeds benefits Operation Santa and Gulfport families in need. FYI: Facebook Holiday Hoopla Gulfport; 727-322-5217.

Dec. 11: St Pete Beach Corey Avenue Christmas Market

(10 am – 2 pm) & Holiday Parade (4 pm): Shop for crafty gifts, nibble holiday delights and bring the kids to see Santa and the festivities.  www.coreyave.com

Dec. 15: Gingerbread House Benefit @ Loew’s Don Cesar Hotel, 2400 Gulf Blvd. St. Pete Beach. Decorate a gingerbread house with icing, candy and decorations in this competition that benefits the American Red Cross. 727-385-5786; www.redcrossgb.org

Dec. 17 – 18, 10 am – 5 pm  3rd Annual St. Petersburg Holiday of the Arts South Straub Park, 198 Bayshore Dr. NE, St. Petersburg. Enjoy this outdoor gallery of original and handmade art created by artisans from across Florida and throughout America featuring painting, sculpture, jewelry, glass, ceramics, fiber and wearable art, photography, digital art, mixed-media, metalwork, woodworking and more. http://www.paragonartevents.com/S-30St%2E+Petersburg+Holiday+of+the+Arts.html

St. Petersburg Opera 727-823-2040 http://www.stpeteopera.org

  • Dec. 18: 2 pm, Dec. 19: 7:30 pm: Seasonal Sparkle celebrates all four seasons in this eclectic program of orchestral, choral, and solo vocal music.
  • January 27: 7:30 pm, Jan. 29: 2 pm, Jan. 31: 7:30 pm: The Elixir of Love

ARTpool Gallery

2030 Central Ave. Downtown St. Pete

  • Dec. 17-18: 11 am – 5 pm Crafty Fest Market:

Buy local, handmade & vintage fabulous at this monthly event. Sellers can apply for a booth at http://www.artpoolrules.com/crafty-fest.html

  • January 21: 8 pm – midnight ARTpool Gala – 11th annual celebration of St. Pete’s creative culture through art/music/fashion

CHARITY EVENTS

Dec. 9, 11 am: 51st Annual SILVER BELLS Gala Luncheon “Elixir of Elegance” – St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave., downtown St. Pete. The event ushers in the holiday season in a festive setting, with entertainment by Maestro Mark Sforzini and members of the St. Petersburg Opera Company w/instrumental accompaniment.  The co-chairs Francesca Brusini and Linda Pugliese promise an ELEGANT afternoon with a delicious luncheon, a silent auction and fine entertainment. Contact Ursula Carroll 727-366-2476;  ursulacarroll7882@yahoo.com

St. Petersburg Arts Alliance

100 Second Ave. N, Ste. 150 Downtown St. Pete,  

FYI: John Collins 727-518 5142   john@stpeteartsalliance.org

Jan. 27, 2017: Muse Award

Benefit The Muse Awards will celebrate artistic inspiration at the Museum of Fine Arts, 7 PM. St. Petersburg’s fourth annual fundraising benefit for the arts will recognize the breadth and beauty of art and culture in our City of the Arts, and pay tribute to those that continue to inspire and guide St. Petersburg to its standing as an international arts destination. Sculptor & painter Kyu Yamamoto will be honored as the Muse Award’s visual artist for the fourth annual Muse Awards benefit.  Kyu joins 2016 winner, Steven Kenney, and 2015 winner, Carrie Jadus as the visual artist honoree. His artwork will be featured on the 2017 commemorative poster.

CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS

People and Place:

The Cultural and Natural History Center at Weedon Island Preserve

1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Thurs – Sat: 9 am – 4 pm. This art-inspired, permanent hands-on educational exhibit reveals the area’s history, ecology and people. For classes / events: http://www.weedonislandpreserve.org/programs-classes.htm

  • Dec. 10, 8:30 am: Great Weedon Bird Quest  

Heritage Village 11909 125th St. N, Largo. 727-582-2123; www.pinellascounty.org/heritage

Jan. 7, 10 am – 4 pm: Roc Day Tampa Bay – Join the spinners of Pinellas Weavers Guild to celebrate Roc Day as part of your New Year’s celebrations.  The annual Roc Day event will be held at Heritage Village’s McMullen House (also known as the Fiber Arts House) where Guild members plan to demonstrate fiber crafts including weaving, spinning and other portable fiber projects, answer questions about fiber crafts, share holiday stories, recruit potential new weavers and spinners, and generally have an old fashioned good time.  

ONGOING EXHIBITS

Turner House Artifacts:

Geraldine “Jere” Turner bequeathed her family home to Pinellas County, along with $100,000 in moving costs and the contents of the 1915 bungalow. When it was moved to Heritage Village in January 2014, thousands of objects and archival materials spanning 100 years of family history were discovered in the house, most in excellent condition. These included toys and games, glassware and china, personal accessories, pottery, clothing, furniture, artwork and items from the Belleview Biltmore Hotel.

Pinellas Passport: Illustrates major areas of development in Pinellas County, including coastal living with a focus on the sponge industry; agriculture featuring citrus industry artifacts; community life through newspapers and a printing press; and tourism, showcasing souvenirs and once-popular roadside attraction icons. Living History Demonstrations: Some of the living history demonstrations and hands-on activities you might encounter during your stroll through the Village include pine needle and palm frond weaving, laundry day, working in the heritage garden, rope making, net mending, blacksmithing, traditional fiber arts and pioneer cooking.

Florida Holocaust Museum

55 5th Street S, downtown St. Pete.  Celebrating their 25th anniversary year, USA TODAY recently named them as the #1 museum to visit in St. Petersburg – Clearwater out of a top 10 list of museums! For the past 25 years, The Museum’s focus has been to tell the story of millions who suffered or died during the Holocaust through the personal testimonies, official documentation, photographs and artifacts of individual narratives.

NOTEWORTHY: TAMPA & BEYOND

University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, 4202 E. Fowler Ave. Tampa Jan. 13 thru March 4: Duke Riley Flights of Fancy

Ringling College of Art & Design 2700 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Thru Jan. 27, 2017: Jenny Medved’s – exhibition  “INDIGENOUS PEOPLE” will be on display in this glorious Sarasota cultural mecca.  Jenny Medved (Class of 2004) is a figurative artist & illustrator based in Sarasota, Florida. Medved’s meticulously crafted watercolors of Hawaiian and Polynesian dancers and Native Americans are part of an ongoing visual exploration of indigenous cultures prompted by the discovery of her own Native American roots. In December of 2015, Medved was featured as one of ten artists to watch in Watercolor Artist Magazine.

OPEN CALL, CASTING NOTES, VOLUNTEERS

Tampa’s Gasparilla International Film Festival, March 2 – 9, 2017. Currently accepting submissions (no deadline listed for short films, U.S. narrative feature and College Student Feature Film, International Features, Made in Florida and U.S. Documentary features plus other categories. Details and the online application: 

www.withoutabox.com/login/5440

The Docent Program at the Chihuly Collection Docents are trained to serve the needs and interests of our diverse visitors, from elementary school children to adults. No prior art history background or work experience is required.

FYI: Andy Schlauch, Chihuly Collection Ex. Dir.  727.896.4527   Andy.Schlauch@MoreanArtsCenter.org

KUDOS & ART NEWS

A New Muse & Leader for MFA:

Kristen Shepherd, an innovative leader in the art world who has expanded community engagement at museums in Los Angeles and New York, has been named the new Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. She was unanimously approved by the Museum’s Board of Trustees after a national search. She will join the Museum December 15, succeeding former Director Dr. Kent Lydecker, who retired in March. She is the sixth director in the MFA’s history and its first female director. Ms. Shepherd brings to her new role the perspective of an art historian  combined with strong business acumen. She has served as Associate Vice President, Audience Strategy & Services, for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since 2013. She led her staff and volunteers to create engagement opportunities for the diverse local audience, increasing revenue from visitor attendance and membership by 19 percent during her tenure.

preserve-the-burg2017 Prestigious Preservation Awards Nominations (due by Dec. 16)

The awards recognize the people, associations and businesses that are actively working to preserve, restore, and complement the city’s historic buildings and places.  Nominations can be made by building owners, neighbors, neighborhood associations or other groups. Nominations are an excellent way to recognize those individuals who Preserve the ‘Burg! The awards recognize exemplary efforts in historic preservation in five categories: Residential and Commercial Restoration; Residential and Commercial Rehabilitation; Compatible Use; Adaptive Reuse; and Residential and Commercial Stewardship. There will also be an award for Preservationist of the Year. http://www.stpetepreservation.org/page-1806144

The 2017 Preservation Awards Celebration will take place on Wednesday, February 8th at the historic St. Petersburg Woman’s Club on Snell Island, in conjunction with an exhibit and sale of watercolor paintings of area landmarks by local artist Robert Holmes. Contact: Allison Stribling, Executive Director, St. Petersburg Preservation, 727-824.7802 director@stpetepreservation.org  www.stpetepreservation.org

Holiday Pet Safety

Whether you are entertaining at home or taking your pet to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, keep your furry friends safe and their routine as normal as possible. Steer clear of unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations. Here are some tips for keeping Fifi and Fido in tiptop health.

House Rules:

If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session. If you are having guests for the holiday, give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.

Put the Meds Away:

Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

holiday-dogThe Tree:

Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet.  Keep your animals away from stagnant tree water which can breed bacteria and cause stomach upset. Place your Christmas tree in a corner, blocked off from your pet’s wanting eyes. If this doesn’t keep your dog or cat from attempting to jump onto the tree, you can place aluminum foil, a plastic drink bottle filled with knick knacks, or anything else that creates noise on the tree’s bottom limbs to warn you of an impending tree disaster. Clean up pine needles which can puncture your pet’s intestines if ingested.

Seasonal Plants:

Mistletoe and holly can nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and mistletoe can affect your pet’s cardiovascular system. Poinsettias are also poisonous to pets and lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested, so find a Thanksgiving or Christmas centerpiece that is not pet toxic.

puppy-holiday-decorationsDecorations:

Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. Ditto for gift wrap, especially ribbon which could be easily ingested.

Holiday Glow:

Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out. For some animals, scented candles can be a problem for wiggly respiratory systems, especially for diabetic cats.

Wired Up:

Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.

Holiday Food Dangers:

Keep your pets on their normal food routine and don’t leave appetizing dishes where they can be tempted to taste. Keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans. NEVER feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol.  Ditto grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and leftovers. Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. As for cocktails, leave your drink where pets can’t get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

Gift Guide:

Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that  can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.

New Year’s Noise:  

As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. Remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

Ask The Experts:

If you have a question about your cat or dog, contact your vet. If you don’t have one, look to Dr. Scott Tretz and staff at Bay Moorings Animal Hospital for ultra compassionate, expert care for your furry family member. Call 727.867.0118 or baymooringsanimalhospital.com.

Gulf Beaches Transportation – Update

trolleyWith Pinellas County and Gulf Beaches tourism topping all records again this year, public transportation is a vital issue to take more cars off already overcrowded roads, bridges and highways.

The Gulf Beaches are fortunate to have several regular PSTA (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) bus routes connecting local residents, many business & hotel employees, snowbirds and other visitors to downtown St. Petersburg and north to Clearwater. In addition, there are two free van ride services, two new ferry services and a proposed PSTA Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) program.

PSTA’s Suncoast Beach Trolley operates daily including holidays from Pass-A-Grille in St. Pete Beach north along Gulf Boulevard to Clearwater Beach across Memorial Causeway to the downtown Clearwater Park Street Terminal. The Central Avenue Trolley runs Monday-Friday from the downtown St. Pete Pier across Central Avenue to Pasadena Avenue in South Pasadena across the Corey Causeway down Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach to Pass-A-Grille.

PSTA DART (Dial-A-Ride) is a special vital service available to the Americans with Disabilities Act Eligible, Disabled, Elderly, Medicaid Eligible and Transportation Disadvantaged. DART dispatch operates Monday-Friday 8 am – 5 pm; weekends and holidays, 9 am – 5 pm, with more info online at psta.net/DART or by phone at  727-540-1897.

COMP BEACH VAN RIDES

Local resident Dave Green opened Free Beach Ride in early 2009. Designed to give back to the community, the service was created to provide a safe, free transportation option for visitors and residents with free rides and drivers getting tips only. He opened with just a few golf carts, serving only St. Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille. As the service popularity increased, safer and more comfortable vans were added. Soon after, the service was expanded to Treasure Island and Madeira Beach. Today, service extends from the south tip of Pass-A-Grille to the northern parts of Clearwater Beach, open daily from 8 am to 3 am, except Clearwater Beach, 8 am to Midnight. Rides are available by calling 727-776-7553 in St. Pete Beach; 727-686-5396 in Madeira Beach or Treasure Island; 727-225-1982 in Redington Beach, Indian Rocks Beach and Clearwater Beach.

Free Island Hopper, LLC
Company was started as a free shuttle service in December 2009 by local owner Lisa Turbbert. With four 7-passenger minivans, it operates daily from 8 am – 2 am from Pass-A-Grille (Gulf Boulevard mile marker 0) north to 150th Avenue (Tom Stuart Causeway, mile marker 9 1/2) in Madeira Beach, including all of Treasure Island. Service is free, with drivers working for tips only. The service is a great way for both locals and tourists to get to work, shopping, visit friends, restaurants or bar-hop. Riders need to call 727-217-6935 about 15-20 minutes in advance and be outside waiting for their pick-up at the dispatched time.

Both Free Beach Rides and Free Island Hopper offer on-van advertising for any company or product. The vans – and eye-catching ads – are  “moving billboards” seen by thousands on a daily basis and are a great way to promote any business.

NEW FERRY SERVICES

The Madeira Beach Ferry and Water Taxi is run by Capt. Mark Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina in Madeira Beach.  The trips run Friday through Sunday to nine designated locations including John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk, Jungle Prada Park and Gator’s Café & Saloon on Treasure Island, with trips added as demand increases.  Full weekday service is targeted for next March 1.  

One-way tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for children and free under age 3, with an all-day pass for $20.  Grand opening and ribbon cutting was held in conjunction with the John’s Pass Seafood Festival at Hubbard’s Marina on Oct. 28, with early rider response very encouraging, according to Hubbard. With the goal of taking more cars off the St. Pete to Tampa bridges, in August the St. Petersburg City Council and Pinellas County officials issued their final approval for a separate Cross Bay Ferry service connecting its downtown to downtown Tampa. Both the operating agreement with HMS Ferries and the interlocal agreement splitting the $1.4 million, six-month pilot project at $350,000 each from St. Pete, Pinellas County, Tampa and Hillsborough County was approved.

Service began Nov. 4, with one-way fares for the 50-minute trip $10 for adults, $8 for children and those under 3 free. The boat can transport up to 149 passengers with space for up to 36 bikes at an added cost of $1 per trip. It runs from downtown St. Pete in the Vinoy basin adjacent to the St. Pete History Museum to downtown Tampa near the Tampa Convention Center. HMS Ferries and its partners are working with local businesses to provide discounts for ferry passengers and lower commuter fares are also possible.

The service will provide two round-trip runs Monday through Friday and Sunday, and three round trips on Saturday. Monday-Thursday departure times run at 7 am from St. Pete and 9:30 am in Tampa and 3 pm from St. Pete and 5:15 pm from Tampa. Friday trips are catered for after-work hours.

The ferry will depart from St. Pete at 5:15 pm & 9:15 pm and from Tampa at 6:30 pm & 10:30 pm. Saturday service leaves from St. Pete at 2:30 pm, 5:15 pm and 9:15 pm and from Tampa at 4 pm; 6:30 pm and 10:30 pm and Sunday from St. Pete at 11 am and 5:30 pm and from Tampa at 12:30 pm and 7 pm.

PSTA BRT Proposal

Earlier this fall, as a pilot program for future rapid transit routes throughout the county, the PSTA board broached the idea of a bus rapid transit route (BRT) that would connect a key Gulf Beaches community with downtown St. Pete. They considered two other destination cities on the beach, Treasure Island and Madeira Beach but decided that St. Pete Beach is the best choice to attract ridership, providing connections to other county destinations and qualify for federal matching grants.

The problem for the PSTA is St. Pete Beach is not a member and its residents do not pay any taxes to support the transportation service.  The community, along with Treasure Island, currently share the annual cost of fixed route, Trolley service and DART paratransit service. St. Pete Beach pays two-thirds of the total $754,991 – or $501,021 representing an 11% increase for the current year that runs from October 1 to September 30, 2017.  

The BRT beach route proposal calls for half the cost of the program to be paid for with federal funds, a quarter with state money and the remaining quarter through a partnership between the PSTA and St. Pete Beach that would be about $700,000 this coming year.  The projected cost could be as high as $1.2 million annually to cover startup and maintenance costs for the new route.

The PSTA Board made its presentation at an October 11 workshop prior to the regular Commission meeting. Although beach hoteliers and business owners favor the rapid transit system, the St. Pete Beach Commission at that meeting refused to sign a letter of intent requested by the PSTA. Commission discussion concluded with Mayor Deborah Schechner thanking the PSTA representatives for their presentation and assuring them that the City will remain open to further discussion.

SPB City Manager Wayne Saunders told Paradise News,  “There has been no further action by our Commission regarding the PSTA BRT proposal.  Brad Miller, PSTA CEO, has met with some of our Commissioners to discuss possible alternatives but the issue has not been scheduled for any future agenda at this time.”

Public transportation for the Gulf Beaches offers a nice array of options for tourists and local residents, hotels and businesses, but the crowded roads and bridges certainly can use some innovative and affordable new rapid transit proposals.

Story by Steve Traiman

[Editor’s Note: Special thanks to PSTA’s Ashlie Handy and Rachael Cappolla; Capt. Mark Hubbard; St. Pete Beach City Manager Wayne Saunders and City Clerk Rebecca Haynes for their vital information and comments.]

[Steve Traiman is President of Creative Copy by Steve Traiman in St. Pete Beach, offering freelance business writing services. He can be reached via email at traimancreativecopy@gmail.com]  

Champagne Bubbles 101

2017-champagneSip bubbly or give it as a present! Best bets from Nanette Wiser:

My New Year’s Eve parties paired bubbly with simple hors’ d’oeuvres (cheese, tapas, pate, olives, 12 grapes for peeling at midnight for good luck and, of course, Chinese fortune cookies). I served my favorites – France’s Veuve Cliquot, California’s Chandon and Shramsberg and an Italian Prosecco. For New Year’s Day brunch mimosas, Kir Royal or a Bellini (recipe below), I popped a Moscato or sweeter bubbly.

But why leave it up to the amateurs? When we are in doubt about what to imbibe, we always ask our friends at Pasadena’s Simpatico Wines, spirit maven and owner Mike Myers, for advice about what to serve at a party or take as a hostess gift.

vino-simpaticoVisit Vino Simpatico for tastings, join the wine club and learn about beer, wine, bubbly and spirits.  Closed Mon.-Sun.; Open 10 am – 6 pm Tues.-Wed.; 10 am – 9 pm Thurs. and 10 am – 7 pm Fri. & Sat. 722 Pasadena Ave. South, 727-803-6601; http://simpatico-wines.com

Bellinis

In a glass pitcher or decanter combine:

1 bottle sparkling wine (we’ll use Prosecco)

8 ounces pomegranate juice

2 tablespoons sugar

Stir ingredients together and set pitcher on ice for 20 minutes. Serve in a tall, skinny “flute” glass traditionally used for champagne.

Our Favorite Bubbly

$25 & Under

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava (Spain)

Charles de Fere Cuvee Jean-Louis Blanc de Blancs Brut (France)

Lucien Albrecht Cremant Brut Rose (France)

La Marca Prosecco (Italy)

Toad Hollow Risque (France)

Roederer Estate Brut (California)

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige (California)

Korbel

Gruet Blanc de Noirs (New Mexico)

De Chanceny Cremant de Loire

Bocelli Prosecco NV, (Italy)

NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs

NV Cristalino Extra Dry

NV Mumm Napa Cuvée

NV Parigot Rosé

NV Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Herdad

Chandon Brut Classic

Under $75

NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve 

NV Charles Heidsieck Brut NV Moussé Fils Or Tradition Cuisles 

NV Pehu Simonet Brut Selection Grand Cru 

NV Pehu Simonet Transparence Extra Brut 

NV Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvee de Reserve 

What’s New: Pinot Meunier-based champagnes such as the citrusy Cuvée Prémisse from Champagne Eric Taillet in Baslieux-sous-Châtillon with 90% of Pinot Meunier, Brut Grande Tradition from Champagne Roger Coulon in Vrigny, Brut Selection from Champagne Philippe Gamet in Mardeuil and the Fruit de Ma Passion Extra-Brut from Champagne Charlot-Tanneux in Mardeuil.

Wish List for 2017

harmony-eco-spa-girlHARMONY ECO SPA

Downtown St. Pete’s 5 star Holistic Salon & Spa. Gift Certificates available for all services*

  • Master stylists and highly skilled practioners 
  • Special Event makeup & styling for all your holiday parties
  • Certified Biodynamic/Organic hair color & products
  • Natural Nail Services
  • Facial and Skin rejuvenation
  • Therapeutic massage, dry brushing & aromatherapy
  • Bamboo Fusion 
  • Reiki and Core Health sessions
  • All in an Eco-conscious inviting & friendly atmosphere
  • Convenient hours available & easy online scheduling 

* 10% off Gift Certificates when you mention this ad

www.Harmonyecohairspa.com

727-822-8701  |  400 4th Street N., St. Petersburg 

Located at The Hollander Hotel in downtown.

harmony-eco-spa

ADAM HOFFMAN FITNESS

Give Yourself a Gift of Better Wellness – Eat Right, Exercise Often, Be Healthy

CUSTOM-TAILORED PROGRAMMING, One on One or Group Training Almost anywhere! Including: Local Parks, Beaches, In-Home, Business and more!

Serving: St. Petersburg, Largo, Gulf Beaches, Clearwater & Tampa.

Training is also available  via Video sharing. We write your  program & send you instructional videos to train anywhere!

ADAM HOFFMAN FITNESS Cell: 646-387-6297

Adam Hoffman: Owner/Certified Personal Trainer

Email: adamhoffmanfitness@gmail.com adamhoffmanfitness hoffmanfitness1

RENO BEACH SURF SHOP

Most people don’t think of Surf Shops as a place to Purchase Christmas Gifts, but Reno Beach is an old school Surf shop that is more like a Tropical Dept. Store. What sets us apart from the Mall is our unique product mix. Cool Stuff for both genders and for all ages, we carry Gifts from Head to Toe. Featuring Hats to Flip Flops * From Sunglasses to Jewelry * Bikinis to Board Shorts * Dresses to Dress Shirts * Tee shirts to Tanks * Cover Ups to Hoodies * Skateboards / Skim Boards / Surf Boards / Paddle Boards 

Reno Beach Surf Shop, 1031 4th Street N., Near Downtown St. Petersburg 727-896-SURF • Check our Facebook to see many of our products

www.facebook.com/Reno-Beach-Surf-Shop-307603862617445/?fref=ts

BURGERMONGER

Tampa Bay’s own fine casual restaurant company has the finest hamburger’s in the region as judged by Paradise NEWS and Tampa Bay Magazine. Burgers, Chicken Sandwiches, Hot Dogs and Salads are crafted with the finest ingredients. Ultra premium fresh cut French fries are cooked in natural beef tallow and Haagen Dazs milk shakes and malts round out the menu. Beer, Wine, big screens and a surprisingly luxurious decor enhances the consistently enjoyable experience. 

Gift Cards are available in any denomination. Special Holiday Sale includes a $5 Bonus Card with any $25 Gift Card purchase. Located at 1325 4th Street N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701  727.914.4819    

VINO SIMPATICO

Vino Simpatico is a “Boutique Wine Shop” offering single vineyard, small production

and boutique wines by the glass and the bottle.  Remember, wine is the most popular gift for the holidays. • Wine tasting every Thursday 6 – 9 pm.

Check out and like our Vino Simpatico Facebook Page. Also, join us Fridays & Saturdays from 6 – 8 pm, when we offer select wines by the glass and an opportunity to mingle with other wine lovers.  www.vino-simpatico.com (727) 803-6601, 722 Pasadena Ave., South Pasadena.

MOBILE THERAPEUDIC MASSAGE

Offering Swedish, Therapeudic, Neuromuscular or Myofascial Massage. Libby comes to your home or office or even your hotel room!  One Time or on a regular schedule. $60 to $95 for 60 or 90 minutes. Gift Certificates Available!  Lic# MA 66543. To make an appointment, call 727.204.8602 or email  massage.libby@gmail.com.

Investments: Instincts – Great for Survival, Bad for Investing

align-wealth-managementNow that the emotionally charged US Presidential election is over (along with all the media hoopla and guru predictions), we turn to the most significant factor in your evidence-based investment strategy: the human factor. In short, your own impulsive reactions to market events can easily eclipse any other investment challenges you face.

Exploring the Human Factor  Despite everything we know about efficient capital markets and all the solid evidence available … we’re still human. We’ve got things going on in our heads that have nothing to do with evidence and rationality.  

Historically, these primordial instincts have served us well.  Our prehistoric ancestors depended on them when being attacked by dinosaurs. Even today, our child’s cry brings us running without pause to think.  These natural human instincts are not only good – they can actually foster our survival.

In finance, where the coolest heads prevail, many of our human instincts cause more harm than good. If you don’t manage them when they occur, your own brain can trick you into believing you’re making rational decisions when you are, in fact, being high-jacked by ill-placed  “survival” instincts. As William Bernstein, MD, PhD, said:  “Human nature turns out to be a virtual Petrie dish of financially pathologic behavior.”

Behavioral Finance

There is a growing field of evidence-based inquiry known as behavioral finance. What happens when we stir up that Petrie dish of financial pathogens?

Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Zweig’s “Your Money and Your Brain” provides a guided tour of the findings, describing what happens in our brains to generate illogical financial decisions.  To name a couple of examples:

When markets tumble – Your brain’s amygdala, the trigger point for the  fight or flight response, causes fear to take over and every instinct screams “Sell!”

When markets soar – Neurons in the reflexive part of your brain fire up. Greed takes over convincing you to “Buy Now!” or miss the boat.

An Advisor’s Greatest Role: Managing the Human Factor

Beyond these market-timing instincts that lead you astray, your brain cooks up plenty of other insidious biases to overly influence your investment decisions.  To name a few, there’s confirmation bias, hindsight bias, recency bias, overconfidence, loss aversion, sunken costs and the herd mentality.  

So, managing the human factor in investing is another way an evidence-based financial practitioner adds value. By recognizing when clients are falling prey to a behavioral bias, we can “ hold up a mirror for them”  so they can see it too. This allows the client to return to their evidenced-based financial plan which is in service to their most cherished financial goals.

At Align Wealth Management, our job is to help you make the most of your one financial life.  It’s who we are.  It’s what we do.

Thanks for taking a look!

Brian Puckett  “Don’t you deserve a fiduciary advisor that puts your interest first and backs it up in writing? Call now for your FREE consultation.” (727) 455-0033

Please note: Brian Puckett is affiliated with Align Wealth Management, a Federally Registered Investment Advisor. This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as investment advice or a solicitation thereof. The views herein are those of Brian Puckett (not Paradise News) and are subject to change without notice.

While all information is believed to be from reliable sources, we can make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Certain material in this work may be proprietary to and copyrighted by third parties and is used by Brian Puckett and Align Wealth Management with permission. Reproduction or distribution for commercial purposes is prohibited. Please remember that all investing entails risk.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations

2017-new-years-galaWhat will you do to usher in 2017? Will it be a party at home, a dinner with friends at a restaurant or all out for a New Year’s Eve celebration? Book now to make sure you get your spot, then don your festive headwear and bring on the noisemakers. What’s better than spending New Year’s Eve in Paradise? Nothing!

GULFPORT

Go small or go big. Make a dinner reservation now at La Cote Basque Winehouse, Pia’s Trattoria, Neptune’s Grill or Backfin Blue and get home in time to watch the ball drop!

Gulfport Casino: The Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce’s New Year’s Eve bash features a variety of entertainment plus Otis Velt and the Old School Band. Enjoy reserved seating and tapas served to your table, non-stop dancing, live band, party favors, champagne toast and the gecko drop at midnight!  Tickets $35/$40,  8 pm – 1 am. 5500 Shore Boulevard South, Gulfport

BEACHES

Just put on your flip flops and LBD or Tommy Bahama shirt, and catch the music and charades at local beach bars! Best bets include the Undertow, Blue Parrott, Caddy’s On The Beach, Players, The Wharf, Gators, Ricky T’s or any of the Tiki bars behind the hotels especially  Sirata’s Harry’s Beach Bar and Rum Runners Bar & Grille.

For upscale dining, make reservations at Middle Grounds Grill, MadFish, Carino’s, Rooftop 360 or Castile’s at Hotel Zamora, Aqua Prime or the restaurant at Clearwater Beach’s Opal Sands.

Chill Restaurant & Bar: Carl tickles the keys in the piano bar, spectacular specials in the bar and the awesome menu is some of the fun on tap in this gorgeous and quirky restaurant and lounge. 357 Corey Ave  St. Pete Beach, 727-360-2445.

Loew’s Don Ce Sar Resort: Yes, there will be drinking, dining and music, but my idea of a perfect lead up to New Year’s Eve is to take advantage of their December Spaliday $150 Spa Credit Package Offer that ends Dec 31, 2016. Treat yourself to a romantic getaway in our beautiful Pink Palace, and we’ll treat you to $150 worth of pure relaxation. Imagine everything you’d need for the perfect romantic getaway and usher New Year’s Eve first by relaxing, then with an elegant meal.

Here’s the rundown of what you’ll find at the Don. 3400 Gulf Blvd., St Pete Beach, 727-360-1881

Sea Porch: Dinner Buffet featuring Prime Rib & Raw Bar,  5pm-11pm, $56 Adults, $26 Kids, A La Carte Menu also available

Maritana Grille: 5 Course Menu, 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm,  $135 per person, includes a glass of champagne

Lobby Bar: Live Jazz Trio & Party  – Favors, 9 pm – 2 am

Rowe Bar: Live Music & Party Favors 10pm-2am

New Year’s Eve Party: Three Cities, One Night: Havana, New Orleans & Mumbai. Party encompasses the entire 5th floor with city themes in King Charles, Del Prado & South Terrace, Passport Photo in Buena Vista and “surprise” room in North Terrace. 4-Hour Open Bar, Hors d’ oeuvres & Desserts. Entertainment: DJs, Blonde Ambition Band and a Casino/Gaming Room. Tickets available online at doncesarshop.com   Adults only—Must be 21+ to attend (no exceptions)

New Year’s Day: Sea Porch/Rowe Bar – Tailgate Brunch Buffet, 9 am – 3 pm, Unlimited mimosas included, $5 build your own Bloody Mary bar, $49 Adults, $18 Kids, A La Carte Menu also available

 

Grand Plaza Hotel: Level 11 is the new outdoor rooftop artisan bistro bar and Spinners is St. Pete Beach’s only 360 degree revolving restaurant, perfect for ushering in New Years Eve. 5250 Gulf Blvd., 727-360-1811.

The Pearl Restaurant: The exquisite food, wine and martini menu make this a sophisticated choice for New Year’s Eve, with party favors, music and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight and special holiday menu. http://www.thepearlfinedining.com/holidays  163 107th Ave. Treasure Island 727-360-9151

Tradewinds Island Grand Resort – Rockin’ in the Midnight Hour:

5500 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach; 727-363-2258 www.justletgo.com

New Year’s Eve 2-Night Package  “Toast by the Coast” Dec. 31 – Jan. 2: Enjoy the Island Grand and Guy Harvey Outpost’s two night package rates or just come for the party. Toast to a New Year and rock out to live music with Motel Funk and opening band Galbraith Group. Enjoy great food, open bar and more! 2 nights accommodations at a discounted rate, for two adults 2 adult tickets to the New Year’s Eve Party and Buffet “Toast by the Coast” (enjoy music by Motel Funk –  rock and roll with a funky twist, covering a variety of musical genres plus some originals that will keep you dancing all night long!) Beach Cabana, WiFi, parking pass and other amenities included in the nightly Resort Amenity Fee!

Teen/Kids NY Eve: A Teen New Year’s Eve Party (ages 13-17) and a Kids Celebration (ages 4-12) will be available, but not included in the package. For reservations, call the Adventure Center at 727.363.2294 (or Ext. 6020 during your stay)

“Light up the Night” Teen Party:  7 pm – 12:30 am; per person.

“Ring it in like Rio” Kids Celebration: 7 pm – 12:30 am; / add’l child.

*Additional adult and children tickets to the NYE Party can be purchased online during the booking process. Tickets sell out quickly, so if additional tickets are needed, purchase them online in advance.

*Package is based on availability, restrictions may apply.

  1. PETERSBURG

freeFall Theater – A London New Year’s Eve:

Starting at 4 pm, join the cast of Peter for a family friendly celebration ringing in the New Year. This performance offered at a special time (4 pm) will let us welcome Baby New Year London style and on London time! (7pm our time) With special refreshments and sparkling toasts for both young and young-at-heart, plus a few surprises. 727-498-5205. www.freefalltheatre.com

DOWNTOWN ST. PETE

First Night St. Petersburg: Kicking of Dec. 31 4pm with activities for kids in the churches and library, followed by a Giant Sea Creature Procession with Sea Creature Puppets created with the Morean Center for Clay Summer Campers led by the Mt. Zion Drumline and Color Guard at 7:15 pm. Presented by AARP Tampa Bay, First Night is an exciting evening of music and art shown in over 20 venues throughout downtown St. Petersburg from 4 pm until midnight.  Fun for all ages! Fireworks for the family at 8 pm and our Firework Finale at midnight!

Food will be available for purchase in North and South Straub Parks. First Night will feature many local favorite musical acts such as the David Pate Trio, the Fred Johnson Quartet, the fabulous Lakewood High School Jazz Band, WAHH World Fusion Band, Uncle John’s Band and Gumbi Ortiz and New Groove City.  It will also include Latin Dance Lessons by Simone and DJ Manny, St. Petersburg Opera singers and chamber music, choral and organ concerts.

The Dance Stage will feature ballet, tap dancing, Russian Folk dancing, hip hop and urban ballet. In the parks and around town, experience glass blowing demos from Duncan McClellon Glass and hands on art projects from Night Blooming, Hands On Art from the Bloom Arts group and children’s art activities with the NOMAD studio art bus, Human Foosball with the Rowdies, Tree Climbing with Pathfinder Outdoor Education, ice skating, and much more!

Swingin’ in the New Year: This grand New Year’s Eve celebration for all ages on Saturday features the Jive Aces. Live music & dancing 9 pm – 1 am and a swing dance lesson  8 – 9 pm. Other fun includes a midnight countdown with balloon drop; vintage fashion photo shoot and contest, party favors, noisemakers, chocolates and prize giveaways.  Full cash bar and champagne bottles. Tickets: $30 / by Dec. 10; $35 / after Dec. 10 online www.NewYearSwing.com or by phone 813-220-3911 or 813-579-4645, St. Petersburg Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg www.tampabayswing.com

The Party of the Century: The Morean Arts Center will celebrate 100 years of art in St. Petersburg with a night of history, mystery and fantasy. Masque 100 is not the traditional masquerade ball – but an avant-garde event with an edge – provocative and providing a myriad of live performance art hosted at the Morean Center for Clay (420 22nd St. South) beginning at 8 pm. Reservations for luxurious VIP alcoves, alluring lounge seating and tables for six are available.

The historic location will transform into a one-of-a-kind party featuring a curated auction of past and present finds from the Morean Arts Center, live music, costume contests and a few games of chance. Gastronomic delights and decadent dessert bars will be scattered throughout the renovated and historic train depot while guests enjoy spellbinding entertainment from fire breathers and dancers outside, to aerialists, acrobatic performers and roaming performance artists inside. At the stroke of midnight, masques come off and a toast is made to 2017 and the future of the arts in St. Petersburg. 727-822-7872 ext. 8.

Jannus Live New Year’s Celebration:

Dance the night away at this popular club or better yet, book a VIP experience with a table or room for 10-20 friends for $400-$800. 200 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg; 727-565-0550

GoToSteves.com: Downtown, Parkshore Grill, The Hangar and 400 Beach serve up dinner in style while in IRB, Aqua Prime’s seafood and steaks get rave reviews. Why not book your New Year’s Eve dinner here for some of the best cuisine in town.

CLEARWATER/DUNEDIN

Yacht StarShip Fireworks Celebration Cruise: Say “Bon Voyage” to 2016 boarding in Tampa or Clearwater. This dazzling event includes an open bar, souvenir boarding photo, hand passed hors d’oeuvres, gourmet food stations, carving stations, hand passed desserts, party favors, DJ entertainment and a fireworks show with a champagne toast at midnight! This sell-out cruise is the best way to enjoy New Year’s Eve. Dine on gourmet food, sip on delicious cocktails and dance the night away under the stars. Yacht StarShip will also provide party favors and a champagne toast at midnight to the fireworks over the water. No reserved seating; cocktail attire. http://www.yachtstarship.com/event/news-years-eve-fireworks-cruise/ 603 Channelside Drive Tampa, 33602

Boards: 10:00 pm, Cruises: 10:30 – 12:30 am; Party continues dockside until 1:00 am. 25 Causeway Blvd., Slip #55, Clearwater, FL 33767

Light It Up! NYE Fireworks on Clearwater Beach: This is a New Year’s Eve celebration that’s boomin’ and bright! Sink your toes into the white sand of Clearwater Beach and be awestruck as fireworks are set off over the sparkling Gulf of Mexico at the stroke of midnight. A free event hosted by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Shephards New Year’s Eve: Dance, drink and party with one of the best views of the Clearwater Beach fireworks display. 619 S, Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach; 941-727-2789

Chic-a-Boom: If you’ve been to the drag queen bingo or Blur Nightclub, you know how fun it is to spend time at the Chic a Boom room and Blur. Get a room and have breakfast on the waterfront New Year’s Day. 319 Main St., downtown Dunedin, 727-736-0206 and www.kellyschicaboom.com

Salute to Vienna: This New Year’s Eve, a stunning new program features Strauss waltzes and an exquisite night of magic and music at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater 727-791-7400 www.rutheckerdhall.com/

Capitol Theatre: Butch Trucks concert ends at midnight with a countdown and celebration. 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater, 727-791-7400. www.rutheckerdhall.com

TAMPA

From the Straz Center to Hyde Park, New Year’s Eve celebrations are everywhere. There are fireworks in Busch Gardens and downtown while the Hard Rock Café is the place to be for rocking away the night with a hotel room next door.

Aqua-Eve at The Florida Aquarium: Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a splash at The Florida Aquarium’s Aqua Eve! Enjoy fantastic live music, complimentary food, beer and wine along with a champagne toast and the best view in town for an amazing fireworks display at midnight. The Florida Aquarium’s Aqua Eve party is the premiere New Year’s Eve party in Tampa to ring in 2017! Food and desserts will be served. Beer and wine included in event admission with a champagne toast at midnight. Cash liquor bar will be available. 21+ only. ID Required.  701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, 813-273-4000, http://www.flaquarium.org/event-calendar/Aqua-Eve.aspx

Rooftop-Eve: Celebrate the New Year on the top level of a downtown Tampa parking garage transformed into Rooftop Eve 2017: In The Sky With Diamonds, where everyone is a VIP.  The price of admission is an ALL INCLUSIVE EXPERIENCE, as you will enjoy PREMIUM TOP SHELF spirits, Premium Wine, Beer and Premium Champagne!  Not to mention desserts by the Mini Doughnut Factory. This year’s party will once again be on top of a 10-story tall roof in the heart of Downtown Tampa with stunning views of the skyline and amazing views of fireworks.  The Rooftop Eve will be the ‘highest’ New Year’s Eve Party in the Southeast USA! Admission includes Premium Open Bar with Liquor, Beer, & Wine, Premium Champagne Bar All Night. Entertainment from Band and DJ; Desserts by the Mini Doughnut Factory. Ft. Brooke Garage, 107 N Franklin St., Tampa. www.therooftopeve.com

Jackson’s Bistro: Great food and a waterfront room and dining patio for the fireworks show. 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa, 813-277-0112 and www.jacksonsbistro.com

Pop the Cork: New Year’s Eve includes performances by Blender followed by Taylor John Trio  (lobby) and Stumble Fox followed by King’s Country (Council Oak Lounge. Check the website for event details about the party celebrations. Seminole Hard Rock Café is located off Interstate 4 at North Orient Road and Hillsborough Avenue about 10 minutes east of Tampa (5223 North Orient Road). 1-800-937-0010  www.seminolehardrocktampa.com

Skipper’s Celebration: Along with music by Donna the Buffalo, the night includes party favors, a champagne toast and more.  Distinctive, groove-heavy, and danceable, Donna the Buffalo is a band for the people. One of the most dynamic and determined bands continuously touring America since 1989, Donna the Buffalo has created a community environment at their shows through their distinctive, groove-heavy and danceable music. Donna the Buffalo is a band for the people that is accessible, positive, and memorable. With roots in old time fiddle music that evolved into a soulful electric American mix infused with elements of cajun/zydeco, rock, folk, reggae, and country, Donna’s music often contains social and moral responsibility as core beliefs, and they are just simply fun to get out and celebrate life with. 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. 813-971-0666. www.skipperssmokehouse.com

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2017!

By Nanette Wiser

Watch Out for Migrating Manatees!

please-slow-manatees-belowManatee numbers are up and these bulky aquatic mammals are on the move this month! The annual migration of Florida manatees begins in November, as the weather cools and Manatee Awareness Month is celebrated.

Watch out for manatees swimming in Florida’s rivers, bays or coastal waters. Keep in mind this time of year manatees are searching for warmer waters to help them survive winter’s cold.

With the onset of the manatee migration, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds people in boats and personal watercraft to slow down to avoid manatees, particularly in shallow areas. Many seasonal manatee protection zones go into effect as of November 15.

Adult manatees weigh about 1,000 pounds but can be difficult to see, especially when just below the water’s surface. Manatees are easier to spot if boaters wear polarized sunglasses and keep a lookout for signs of manatees such as the circular  “footprints” they trace on the top of the water.

Manatee numbers are up. In February 2016, the FWC announced 6,250 manatees were counted in an aerial survey of Florida waters. While that is good news, there have been 91 manatee fatalities caused by boat strikes so far in 2016.

“Boaters who slow down and keep a lookout for Florida manatees are an important reason the overall population of this species is doing better,” said Carol Knox, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management section. “Remember, it is especially important to watch out for manatees during Manatee Awareness Month in November, as they begin their annual migration to warmer waters.”

The FWC spends about $2 million a year on manatee conservation, including research, rescue, management and public education efforts, and works in partnership with agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service on manatee issues. Floridians contribute to manatee conservation when they purchase the “Save the Manatee” license plate at BuyaPlate.com or donate $5 for the manatee decal.

For information about manatee protection zones by county, including the seasonal changes, go to MyFWC.com/Manatee and click on  “Data and Maps.”

At the bottom of that same page, there is also information on FWC Manatee cold-weather changes to speed zones. FWC law enforcement officers will be on the water enforcing these seasonal rules to protect manatees in busy boating areas.

Report sightings of injured, sick or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922, #FWC and *FWC on a cell phone, or with a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.

Want to see a manatee? Go to MyFWC.com/Manatee and click on  “Where can I see Manatees?”