Friday, December 12, 2014

Ellenton's Colony Cove residents aid Marines by digging deep for Toys for Tots drive

Colony Cove residents donated 15 bikes for the Toys for Tots drive.
Photos provided by Vickie Cochran and Isabel Jaekel 

A little Christmas elf -- well actually it was Vickie Cochran -- told us that Colony Cove residents came through in a big way with their Toys For Tots drive on Dec 7.

"Sponsored by the New England Club this year, Santa's little helpers, collected over 800 toys including 15 various sizes of bicycles.  Also, the business community along U.S. 301 participated with boxes and also donated several toys for our drive," Vickie said.

Colony Cove residents collected $1,000 which will be used in Manatee County  for special needs kids.  The  money will help pay for  adjusting toys in a way that children with special needs will be able to ride or play with them.

Colony Cove residents started their evening with a spaghetti and meatball dinner, made by Fred and Carol Roselli.  Many volunteers helped out with serving more than 200 meals.

After dinner, residents got into their golf carts and drove through the community in their Christmas attire to pick up toys. The Marines came with their truck and collected the toys.

"All the residents involved hope that this will put a smile on a child's face come Christmas morning.  We all enjoyed being Santa.  Next year we hope the drive will be even bigger and better.  Thank you to all involved," Vickie Cochran said.

Spaghetti dinner for Colony Cove residents, and a ton of toys for kids..
Photos provided by Vickie Cochran and Isabel Jaekel 

Spaghetti dinner for Colony Cove residents, and a ton of toys for kids..
Photos provided by Vickie Cochran and Isabel Jaekel 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Artists at Palm-Aire open their 23rd season with circus theme, circus legends

Pedro Reis, Helen Martin (Committee chair) and Dolly Jacobs.
Provided photo by Nan Miller

The Art Association of Palm-Aire opened its 32nd season with a champagne luncheon this month at the Palm-Aire Country Club, reports Charleen Gorbet.

Famed aerialist Dolly Jacobs and her husband Pedro Reis spoke to the packed house about their life in the circus, and Dolly added anecdotes about her father Lou Jacobs, renowned as one of the foremost professional clowns in the world.  His star was installed on the Circus Ring of Fame at St. Armand’s Circle in 1988.

If Lou was known as King of the Clowns, Dolly was Queen of the Air.  Her many accolades include her own star on the Circus Ring of Fame, awarded in 1997.  But Dolly did not speak of these; she and Pedro, who met on a circus tour, now share their passion for circus arts as founders of The Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota.

They developed and manage Circus Sarasota and its youth version, Sailor Circus.  Through teaching, outreach into the community, and performance, they promote and help to maintain the love of circus for which Sarasota is famous.

The circus theme was carried out with table decorations made by the members, and a  menu that used champagne in each dish.

Judy Hall with table decoration honoring Lou Jacobs.
Provided photo by Nan Miller

Circus scene became table decoration.
Provided photo by Nan Miller

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Here's a chance to check out the lemurs of Myakka City: annual open house is set for Nov. 8

Lemurs at Myakka City reserve.
Herald file photo

MYAKKA CITY — It's not every day that the public has a chance to see the beautiful and rare lemurs of Myakka City.

But there is an opportunity 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, when the Myakka City Lemur Reserve has its annual open house .

The reserve is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the primates of Madagascar through captive breeding, scientific research, and education, according to the reserve's website.

Planned at the free family-friendly open house are food and beverages, lemur-themed games and fun.

To RSVP and get directions to the 100-acre reserve, send an email to

For a gallery of photos, click here:

For more about Myakka City Lemur Reserve, visit:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Artists capturing the look of Parrish 'en plein air'

Eileen Laske works on a painting at Brown's Grove and Produce Stand. Provided photos by Norma Kennedy.

PARRISH -- Local artists have taken paint brush in hand and set about capturing images of Parrish on canvas "en plein air," French for in the open air.

Members of the Parrish Arts Council know that the Parrish of 2014 will change, just as did the Parrish of 1890 and the Parrish of 1940.

The en plein air days are one way of capturing  time in a bottle for posterity. Thus far, they have painted Fort Hamer Park and  Brown's Grove and Produce Stand.

The next Parrish en plein air is set for  Music & Art by the Train between 11:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Nov. 8.

For more information, contact Jerri Phillips at or on Facebook at parrishartscouncil.

Music and Art by the Train will be held at the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish.

 It will be the Council's first arts festival, and feature the museum running its regular train schedule. Bands scheduled to play include Kim Betts & Gamble Creek Band, Buffalo Creek Middle School Jazz Band, Chasing Blue from Boston, Mass., Berklee College of Music.

"It's a biggie," said Arts Council President Norma Kennedy of the festival. The council is working to make Parrish a tourist destination with its Fort Hamer rowing facility, farm history, and railroad museum.

One of Jerri Phillip's paintings of the Manatee River at Fort Hamer will be auctioned at the fest.

To round out the day, barbecue, hot dogs, drinks, snacks and beer and wine will be available for purchase.

Jerri Phillips paints a tractor at Brown's Grove and Produce Stand. 

Artis Wick sets up her easel at Fort Hamer Park.

Joe Kanoza works on a river scene.
Jerri Phillips' painting of Fort Hamer Park will be auctioned at Music and Art by the Train.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Get your downward facing dog on: Yoga festival in East Manatee to benefit All Faiths Food Bank

Heartwood Retreat Center,  17507 Waterline Road, East Manatee, celebrates National Yoga Month with a fundraising yoga festival 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13.

Afterward there will be community music by Kirtan 5-7 p.m.

The festival features a full day of events, including eight  yoga classes in a variety of styles and levels, special interest workshops, Sutra lectures, a kid’s yoga zone from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., a yoga art gallery, yoga art activities, music entertainment, more than 30 healthy lifestyle and food vendors, dance performances, and more.

Several of the area’s leading yoga facilities, ReFlex Arts Yoga, Prana Yoga and Garden of the Heart Yoga are represented to support this celebration for a community cause. Tickets are $25 for the full day’s events and all money collected will be donated to the All Faith’s Food Bank.

 For more information or a schedule of activities, visit

Tickets are available online at Eventbrite,, ReFlex Arts, Prana Yoga or Garden of the Heart Yoga as well.

 For more information, call 941 359-9642.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Former Lakewood Ranch High School student Alisha Erozer wins state speech contest

Alisha Erozer, shown in November of 2013, at the Manatee Agriculture Hall of Fame annual luncheon, recently won a state speech contest. Herald file photo
Alisha Erozer, a former Lakewood Ranch High School student, recently won a state speech contest sponsored by the  Association of Florida Conservation Districts in Ocala.

The contest was designed to develop leadership through participation in public speaking activities and to stimulate interest in conserving natural resources,

Students in grades six through 12 gave six-eight minute speeches. The topic this year was “Dig Deeper -- What are the Mysteries in the Soil?”

Erozer, who competed against students representing other Soil and Water Conservation Districts in the state, placed first and was awarded a prize of $500.

Last school year at Lakewood Ranch High School, Erozer served as Junior Advisory Board president, was a student government member, and started a speech and debate club.

Shortly after winning the state contest, Erozer left for Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina where she will be attending the United World College for the next two years, as one of four Americans in the pre-university college accelerated International Baccalaureate program.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Parrish resident Carmine DeMilio specializes in keeping them safe and happy at Manatee parks, playgrounds and beaches

Carmine DeMillio tries out a swing at the county's G. T. Bray Park. Bradenton Herald photo by James A. Jones Jr.

You've got to like what Parrish resident Carmine DeMilio does for a living.

"My responsibility to all park patrons is to provide safe playgrounds and facilities as well as aesthetically pleasing parks and beaches," he said.

As property management grounds operations manager for Manatee County, those responsibilities include three beaches -- Anna Maria Bayfront Park, Coquina, and Manatee -- as well as 52 parks and playgrounds.

The New Jersey native had similar responsibilities in North Brunswick, N. J., during a 22.5 year career before moving to Manatee County about five years ago. Except that what he was doing in New Jersey was not quite as broad. There, he had responsibility for 23 parks and 17 playgrounds.

"This is a great state and there are great people here," he said.

The DeMilios rented when they first moved to Parrish, and ended up liking the community so much that they bought a home there.

Even though DeMilo has 27 years in the business, he says there is more to learn.

He recently earned national certification as a Park and Recreational Professional. All the better to help keep parks and beaches users safe and having a good time, he said.

DeMilio plans to next seek certification as a Park and Recreation Executive.

"The bar has been raised in the recreation and parks profession," he said.

He is particularly proud of the changing stations that are going up at Manatee beaches.

For more about that, see story by Amaris Castillo (@AmarisCastillo):