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26TH ANNUAL STORIES OF THE SEASON CONTEST ... PAGE 16

December 21, 2017 — January 3, 2018 | Since 1986

@John Magrino

Finished!

Dr. Phillips High School scores its first football

state championship.

THE SEASON FOR

TREATS

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4 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT ........................................................................... 5

Finished!

FOODIE FOR THOUGHT .................................................................. 10

'Tis the Season For Treats

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS .............................................................. 12

26TH ANNUAL STORIES OF THE SEASON ........................................ 16

LAST-MINUTE HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE .................................................. 34

TOURISM UPDATE ........................................................................... 37

IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD ............................................................. 38

Join us in congratulating Dr. David Boers

for being voted TOP DENTIST

in Windermere 2016 by

Orlando Family Magazine.

Dr. Boers & Dr. Alford wish you a very Happy Holiday Season!

NEWS & BUSINESS BRIEFS .............................................................. 42

COMMUNITY BULLETIN BOARD ....................................................... 44

SOUTHWEST SERVICE DIRECTORY ................................................... 46

PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER

Rick V. Martin

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This information is not intended to provide tax, accounting or legal advice. As with all matters of tax or legal nature, you should consult your

own tax or legal counsel for advice.

December 21, 2017

Vol. XXXII, No. 4

P.O. Box 851

Windermere, FL 34786

407-351-1573

www.southwestorlandobulletin.com

The Southwest Orlando Bulletin is published semimonthly by

Cornerstone Publishing & Multi-Media LLC. No material may be reproduced

without written permission. Subscriptions are available in the U.S. and

Puerto Rico for $25.56 per year and in Canada for $31.80 per year.

For foreign surface mailing, add $20 per year.

Neither the publishers nor the advertisers are responsible or liable for

typographical errors, misinformation, misprints, etc., unintentionally

contained herein. All letters received become the property of Cornerstone

Publishing & Multi-Media LLC and may be reproduced and edited without

consent.

©2017/Cornerstone Publishing & Multi-Media LLC

VICE PRESIDENT

Yvette Martin

MANAGING EDITOR

Lisa Sagers

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

Lauren Salinero

CIRCULATION

Robert Barlow

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Kirsten Harrington, John Magrino

MARKETING CONSULTANTS

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Lindsay Richardson

(407) 351-1573, option 2

lindsay@kearneypublishing.com


For 365 days, Dr. Phillips High

School football was haunted

by the demons that destroyed its

dream of a state championship in

2016. But rather than succumb to

them, the Panthers used them as

motivation for redemption.

Saturday night, Dec. 9, in the cold

confines of Camping World Stadium,

DPHS football exorcised those same

demons, both individually and as a

team, with a 17-7 victory over Delray

Beach Atlantic Community High

School to bring home its first football

state championship in school history.

One year ago, then-sophomore

Cameron Williams was flagged

for pass interference, which allowed

Miami Southridge High School to

continue a touchdown drive that

led to its 14-10 victory over DPHS.

Saturday night, Williams, now a

veteran linebacker with 137 tackles

this season, intercepted an Atlantic

pass and returned it 8 yards for the

game-sealing touchdown.

One year ago, then-sophomore

Jaquarri Powell intercepted a

Southridge pass and was on his

way to scoring a touchdown, but

he was tripped up by a shoestring

tackle, resulting in no points. During

this year’s battle, Powell, an unquestioned

team leader and captain, was

an assassin on defense, registering

seven tackles, including a crushing

tackle on a fake punt and a fourthquarter

sack for a 10-yard loss that

effectively buried Atlantic’s bid for a

comeback.

One year ago, the Panthers saw a

10-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate

in the span of two drives. This

year, the football team grabbed a

10-point lead, added seven more

and delivered the knockout blow on

defense they had trained for and

envisioned every single day for an

entire year.

Play by Play

Coming into the game, the

Panthers knew they had to stick to

the game plan on both sides of the

football. Offensively, they had to

secure the football, sustain drives

and take advantage of field position.

Defensively, they had to create

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 5

SPORTS

turnovers, swarm tackle and prevent

the big plays that had been a staple

in Atlantic’s success this year. And it

worked. While the offense did not

put up eye-opening numbers, they

didn’t need to. DPHS’s defense accounted

for two touchdowns, held

Atlantic deep in its own end of the

field on eight of their 12 drives, and

eliminated the Eagles’ rushing attack

to just 19 yards on 34 carries.

Midway through the opening quarter,

Atlantic faced third and 1 at its

29 and handed off to their bruising

fullback up the middle, but DPHS senior

defensive tackle Brice Ingram

met him in the hole and buried him

for no gain to force a punt. That set

the stage for junior linebacker Powell,

who charged in untouched from the

left side, blocked the Atlantic punt at

the 20, scooped it up at the 9, and

took it to the house to give DPHS a

7-0 lead. That was just the first of

many highlights for Powell, who finished

with 11 tackles, six of them for

a loss, including three sacks.

Atlantic was clearly shaken on its

next drive. On second and 6 at the

34, DPHS senior defensive end Joe

Gulla broke into the backfield and

chased down the quarterback for

a sack and a loss of 6 yards. One

SPOTLIGHT

Finished!

The Panther Nation Celebrates DPHS Football’s First State Championship

After winning its first football state championship, the

Dr. Phillips High School Panthers give a moment of thanks.

by John Magrino, DPHS Assistant Athletic Director

play later, it was

Powell again, tearing

through the line

and sacking the

quarterback for a

loss of 11, forcing

the second of six

first-half punts.

Later in the second

quarter, Powell

drove the Atlantic

quarterback into

the turf again with a

sack for a loss of 12

to force a punt that

gave the Panthers

possession at the

Atlantic 44.

DPHS senior Devodney Alford

busted into the secondary for a 14-

yard gain and senior quarterback

BeSean McCray followed up with

a 16-yard keeper for a first down

at the 14. Alford carried again for

a gain of 7, but the drive stalled

two plays later, and senior kicker

Sterling Stockwell split the uprights

from 28 yards out to put the

Panthers up 10-0 through the half.

Atlantic had gained only 39 yards

of total offense in the first half and

virtually nothing on the ground, so

the game plan for the second half

was to get the ball in the hands of

its talented receiving corps and use

whatever tricks it had in its bag to

establish some momentum. On its

opening possession of the third

quarter, that backfired.

Facing fourth and 1 at its own 29,

Atlantic faked the punt, but the back

was drilled immediately by DPHS

senior defensive tackle Christian

Williams and Powell for no gain,

giving the ball back to the Panthers

on downs. Midway through the third

quarter, Atlantic’s next offensive possession

drove it into DPHS territory for

CONTINUED ON PAGE 6


6 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5

the first time all game. A 2-yard run

on fourth and short gave them a first

down at the 49, and one play later, a

13-yard pickup set the Eagles up with

a first down at the Dr. Phillips’ 38.

Three plays later, Atlantic opted

not to try a 47-yard field goal on

fourth down and, instead, pitched

the ball outside, but DPHS’s Cameron

Williams chased down the running

back and knocked him out of bounds

a yard short of the stick to give the

Panthers the ball once again.

Atlantic’s final possession of the

third quarter met the same fate as

its other drives. The Eagles drove 49

yards in six plays down to the DPHS

13, looking to break through, but

Ingram and Powell crashed through

the line and drove the quarterback

down for a 10-yard loss.

On fourth and 22 from the 23,

Atlantic heaved a pass toward the

left side of the end zone, but DPHS

senior safety Tanner Ingle knocked

it away for the third consecutive

turnover on downs.

The Dr. Phillips High School football players are excited to add a state championship

ring to their fingers.

The mighty DPHS offense took

over at the 23 and needed to chew

time off the clock but could not pick

up a first down in its previous two

possessions. Things were different

on this drive, though. On third and

5 from the DPHS 28, sophomore receiver

Trey Schyck caught a pass

from McCray in the right flat and

dove for a first down across the 36-

yard line to move the chains. After a

pair of runs by McCray for 8 yards

sent the Panthers into the fourth quarter,

the senior quarterback zipped

a third-down pass into the hands

of junior Devon Buckhanon and

the 6-foot-3-inch receiver churned

ahead for a gain of 19 and another

DPHS first down.

While the drive stalled at the

Atlantic 34, the success was in the

4 minutes burned off the clock and

gave Stockwell another opportunity

to flip the field with a punt down to

the Atlantic 15. Still trailing 10-0,

Atlantic immediately went to the air,

but it proved disastrous. On second

and 10, Cameron Williams, who

was lined up at the 20, saw the

Atlantic running back flare out to

the right and immediately saw the

screen pass coming.

Before the quarterback could even

see him, Williams charged to his

right, intercepted the pass with one

hand, and, in a split second, was

in the end zone, nearly buried under

a pile of Panthers. For Williams,

who has so consistently and quietly

delivered all season long, this was

his defining play of the year and the

redemption he so richly deserved.

With a 17-0 lead and just over 9

minutes remaining, the DPHS defense

was tested again on Atlantic’s ensuing

possession. Completions for 18

and 23 yards gave the Eagles a first

down at the DPHS 35, but one play

later, Powell slipped into the backfield

and drilled the quarterback for

a 10-yard loss to forever wash away

his disappointment of a year ago, as

well.

Three plays later, on fourth

and 5, Cameron Williams put the

CONTINUED ON PAGE 8

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www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 7

You Can’t Take It With You

by: Kristen M. Jackson

Often the poorest people leave their

children the richest inheritance. Regardless of

how much or how little, throughout one’s lifetime

most people acquire some measure of prosperity.

Whether it is simply family photos, an old car and

a small bank account or an abundance of wealth

including real estate, savings, insurance policies,

and investment accounts, most everyone today dies

having acquired something to leave behind to their

loved ones. If you have made no plans to pass your

prosperity on to your loved ones, you may burden

them with needless family feuds and substantial

legal and court costs to settle your estate. Realize

“You Can’t Take It With You.”

Although the holidays are supposed to be

a time for family and celebration, for many it is

a time for unexpected sadness. According to a

study published in the journal of Social Science &

Medicine, it found that more people are likely to

die on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day than

any other day of the year. Also reported by the

National Center for Health Statistics, as many as

18% more people die during the holiday season,

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, than any

other time of the year.

In the Charles Dickens’s classic, The

Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Present

told Ebenezer Scrooge that “There is never

enough time to do or say all the things that we

would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as

you can in the time that you have. Remember

Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you’re not

here anymore.”

Realizing that one, or both, of your parents

is getting older and possibly needing assistance is

difficult to process. Often parents are unwilling

to discuss their health with you because of their

embarrassment, shame, denial or even pride.

There is no better time than the Holidays to open

the dialogue with your parents about their health,

welfare and happiness.

Why are the Holidays an opportune time

for discussions about family health issues and

asset protection? Most people are less pressured

by daily work routines, family members are able

to come together, and most importantly, you, your

spouse and your siblings can comfortably open a

discussion over a glass of eggnog and a turkey leg

or while opening gifts. Rarely, if ever, is there a

first-hand opportunity throughout the year to

have such discussions with your parents.

So how do we make our parents feel

comfortable talking about their health and asset

protection? Remember, the discussion is about is

your parents’ estate planning which includes their

health, assets, family, loved ones, not-so-loved ones,

gifts, feuds, drama and more. It is about their dayto-day

living and their legacy and not simply about

their demise. So start the discussion anywhere.

One way to begin is to discuss those

documents everyone should have during life

such as a health care surrogate or a durable power

of attorney. If your mother enters the hospital

while unconscious, your father or another family

member cannot make a medical decision for her

without her having granted written authorization

them to do so. If your mother is your only

surviving parent, who will pay her bills while she

lay unconscious? This too, requires a durable

power of attorney signed by her.

The Holidays are meant to be a joyous

time for family and friends to share intimate and

loving concerns for one another and to celebrate

the coming New Year. And once you have shared

eggnog, turkey, gifts, champagne and fireworks

with family and friends, think about beginning

the New Year by setting up a consultation with

an estate planning attorney to discuss how to help

safeguard your parents’ future. Remember, mom

and dad, “time is short, and suddenly, you’re not

here anymore and you can’t take it with you.”

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Attorney At Law


8 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6

exclamation point on a perfect personal

performance, breaking up a

pass to give the football back to the

Panthers. While Atlantic did score on

its final drive of the game to make it

17-7, DPHS senior receiver Michael

Fox recovered the onside kick with

just more than 3 minutes remaining.

DPHS still needed to get a first down

to run out the clock, and what better

way to do that than by putting the

ball in the capable hands of Alford

and McCray.

On third and 5, McCray knifed

through the line for a gain of 12 and

a first down. Alford ran one more

time for 4 yards, and that was all

the Panthers needed as the clock ran

down to zero, icing DPHS’s first-ever

football state championship.

Congrats to the Champs!

Much has been written about

DPHS’s football program throughout

the years. One thing many have stated

is that while being a powerhouse

program, DPHS could never be considered

elite until it won that elusive

state championship. The wait is over,

and the crown fits.

Congratulations to head coach

Rodney Wells, who, in seven years

at the helm, upholds the standard of

DPHS excellence without compromise,

both on and off the field.

Congratulations also to the finest

team of assistant coaches in the

state of Florida: David Aubrey,

Adrian Bouie, Steve Breitbeil,

Tony Gulla, Bryan Ingrande,

Boris Jackson, Jason Jackson,

Ken Jones, Lorenzo Martinez,

Roderick Ryles, Steve Schyck,

Adam Sitter and Riki Smith.

Most importantly, congratulations

to Dr. Phillips High School’s graduating

seniors — all of them — who

refused to let the disappointment of

a year ago keep them from realizing

just how great they could be. The sacrifices

they made for each other, their

coaches and their school, and their

refusal to let self come before service,

are the reasons they are champions

today, tomorrow and forever. ª

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www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 9

Apex Wealth Management

Congratulates Dr. Phillips High School

Varsity Football FHSAA CLASS 8A

STATE CHAMPIONS!!

2017

REGULAR SEASON

(8 - 2)

Date Opponent Result

8/24 Orange City University (Home) 24-21 (W)

9/7 West Orange (Away) 44-24 (W)

9/22 Mainland (Home) 20-0 (W)

9/29 Oak Ridge (Away) 41-6 (W)

10/5 Wekiva (Away) 0-14 (L)

10/9 Apopka (Home) 14-21 (L)

10/13 Freedom (Away) 35-8 (W)

10/20 Olympia (Home) 31-10 (W)

10/26 Cypress Creek (Home) 37-7 (W)

10/30 Timber Creek (Away) 35-14 (W)

PLAYOFFS

(4 - 0)

Date Opponent Result

11/10 Ridge Community (Regional) 35-7 (W)

11/17 Osceola (Regional) 17-13 (W)

11/24 Sarasota Riverview (Regional) 28-19 (W)

12/1 Wekiva (State Semi) 28-7 (W)

State Championship Game

17 Dr. Phillips vs. Delray Beach Atlantic 7

COACHES

Rodney Wells –

Head Coach

David Aubrey

Adrian Bouie

Steve Breitbeil

Tony Gulla

Bryan Ingrande

Boris Jackson

Jason Jackson

Ken Jones

Lorenzo Martinez

Roderick Ryles

Steve Schyck

Adam Sitter

Riki Smith

ROSTER

# Name # Name # Name # Name

1 Tanner Ingle 16 Be-Jai McCray 33 Devon Charitable 54 Alesandro Martinez

2 Davarius Bargnare 17 Tarvon Young 34 Gerald Rice 55 William Lewis

3 Devodney Alford 18 Bobby Johnson 35 Riley Stephens 57 Jecquari McKnight

4 Brice Ingram 19 Jacquez Jones 36 Jayden Ellis 58 Dontae Ortiz

5 Jaquarri Powell 21 Braxton Clark 39 Sterling Stockwell 59 Michael MacNeil

6 Brandon Fields 22 Malik Clark 40 Frannel Rene 72 Jacob Tesggai

7 Tarrie Reese 23 Dwight May 41 Christian Williams 73 Brian Velez

8 Japerri Powell 24 Tevin Griffey 42 Joe Gulla 74 John Campbell

9 Bryan Bell-Anderson 25 Nivon Holland 43 Frank Maciejczyk 75 Christian Przybysz

10 Devon Buckhanon 26 Sebastien Celestin 44 Khalil Hicks 77 Derek Haupt

11 BeSean McCray 27 Islander Timeau 45 Matteo Morange 80 Trey Schyck

12 Demarquis Cummings 29 Stephen Dix 46 Michael Jean Baptiste 81 Jackson Hodor

13 Kenyon Baron 30 Jeremiah Grandison 51 Shawn Evans 82 Arron Edwards

14 Michael Fox 31 Joshua Gabbidon 52 Jordea Bayron 84 Marcus Pruitt

15 Cameron Williams 32 Canaan Mobley 53 James Richardson 85 Matthew Messina

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10 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

I know the holiday season has arrived

at our house when my favorite

grocery store starts carrying Andes

Creme de Menthe baking chips.

These little minty morsels elevate

everyday chocolate chip cookies to

a special seasonal treat. (Find the

cookie recipe on the back of the

bag.)

For Holly McCall of Winter

Garden, it’s the buttery, melt-inyour-mouth

cookies she makes every

season.

“The recipe came from my friend,

Monty, so we call them Monty’s

Melting Moments,” she said.

For Ann Dannenfelser of

MetroWest, it wouldn’t be

Christmas without the chocolateand-cherry

Belgian macaroons her

grandmother taught her how to

make.

Alison Madrid of Ocoee and

her family celebrate the season by

making pizzelles, decorative Italian

waffle cookies baked in a special

iron.

“I grew up making them with

my grandparents,” she said. “My

FOODIE FOR

grandmother would make the batter,

and my grandfather would press the

cookies with the pizzelle iron. [The]

tradition continued with my mom

THOUGHT

‘Tis the Season For Treats

Residents Share Their Holiday Favorites

by Kirsten Harrington

Andes Creme

de Menthe baking

chips turn everyday

chocolate-chip cookies

into a special seasonal

treat.

making the batter and my dad pressing

the cookies at their house. Now,

I have my own iron and make them

with my kids at home.”

People of Madrid like to share

these anise seed cookies with friends

and neighbors.

In Puerto Rico, coquito, a thick coconut-flavored

rum punch takes center

stage at Christmas and New Year

celebrations, and Orlando’s Gabe

Medina continues the tradition with

his grandfather’s recipe. It is these

recipes that are passed down through

families or shared by a friend that

create long-lasting memories that linger

even after the last cookie crumb

or sip of punch is gone. There’s still

time before Christmas to make another

batch of your favorite or try a new

one to share with a friend.

Monty’s

Melting Moments Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups of butter

courtesy of Holly McCall

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1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

Mix dry ingredients together.

Cream butter until smooth in large

bowl. Add vanilla and almond extract.

Mix in dry ingredients. Chill

dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to

375 F. Roll dough into log and slice.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 6

dozen. Variation: Add peppermint

extract to the dough, color one-half

with red food color and shape them

into candy canes.

Belgian Macaroons

courtesy of Ann Dannenfelser

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sifted confectioner sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 square unsweetened chocolate,

melted

1 1/2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

20 to 25 maraschino cherries,

well-drained

Chocolate frosting or colored

buttercream frosting

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix first

four ingredients together. Slowly sift

in flour and salt. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons

of cream if dough is dry.

Wrap a level tablespoon of dough

around a cherry. Place on ungreased

baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes.

When cookies are cooled, dip tops

in frosting.

Belo’s Coquito

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 11

courtesy of Gabe Medina

This chilled coconut drink is traditionally

served in very small cups,

and the amount of rum can be adjusted

to suit your preference.

Ingredients:

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened

condensed milk

1 can (15 ounces) Coco López

coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup Don Q white rum or more

to potency and taste

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients in a blender,

strain and chill in refrigerator, preferably

overnight. Shake before

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12 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

HOME

for the

HOLIDAYS

The kids are home from

school, and relatives are flocking

in from out of town. It can

only mean one thing: it’s the

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Check out the private party

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Again!

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www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 13

Massage

Envy Dr. Phillips

Drafts is open daily and located at

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For more information, call 407-352-

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At Light Up UCF, there is fun for

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light show with new music;

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CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

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14 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13

From our famil

to yours ...

We wish you a

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this season. Stop by Suite 100 at 8081

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Royal

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Looking to take care of some projects

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Stop by Royal Landscape Nursery at

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Merry Christmas

&

Happy New Year

The heartbeat of the community


www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 15

401 Main Street, Suite A, Windermere, FL

Windermere Center for

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with planning your next landscaping

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The Woodhouse

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The Woodhouse Day Spa

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Emilia M. Godoy-Rapport, D.M.D.

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www.windermeresmiles.com

(407) 909-1097


16 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

26 th

annual

of the

Stories of the

Season

The entries submitted for Southwest Orlando Bulletin’s 26th annual Stories of the Season

contest told tales of special visits from Santa, mystical holiday creatures and the joy of

spending time with family and friends. Whether they recreate holiday memories or take

readers to imaginary places filled with elves, reindeer and their ilk, they are sure to add

holiday spirit to all this year.

Congratulations to first-place winner Cassidy Eaton of Tildens Grove, runner-up Megan

Ramsey of Hickory Hammock, and child winner Brooke Larweth of Lake Davis Reserve,

all of whom received cash prizes. Also included are submissions selected as honorable

mentions.

The staff of the Southwest Orlando Bulletin extends thank-yous to everyone who entered the

contest and wishes a happy holiday season to all.

Winner

A Holiday Surprise

by Cassidy Eaton

Tildens Grove

As I walked through the hallways at

school, I kept my head down. My dad

had taught me to keep my head high,

but that was before I turned 14. I grew

up in Sugar Land, Texas, and had never

told another person about my dad —

about the months he spent away; about

the wars he fought in; or about the times

he would come home, barely able to

walk, and then he would leave a month

later. The only thing that helped me function

while my hero was away was knowing

that he would always come back,

especially for Christmas, that he was

able to come home and see us for the

one holiday that we asked him to. But

like all good things, it had to come to

an end.

The beginning of the end was when

my mom came into the house with our

mail one Friday. Her face lit up. It was

a note from Dad! In barely a second, I

was standing next to Mom, prepared for

the update.

She carefully opened the letter and

pulled out a white piece of paper.

“Dear family,” she began. “I know you

were planning on having me all to yourselves

this Christmas, but unfort- …”

Mom stopped there. As she continued

reading, her face grew pale.

“What is it?” I asked.

Mom gave me the letter, and I found

where she had stopped, continuing from

there.

“I cannot make it home this Christmas.

We’ve made advances, and I have been

given the order to stay put. I am so sorry,

Firefly, but I can’t come home until the

battle is over. Love, Dad.”

When I was done reading the letter,

my mind kept going to the name he

had called me — Firefly. He had given

it to me the very first Christmas I can

remember.

For the rest of the week, I kept my

head down. On Christmas Eve, it began

to snow. I hated that the rest of the town

would be joyful at home with their white

Christmases and happy families, while

I would be stuck fearing what could be

happening to my dad.

As sunset arrived, I remembered what

my dad would say every Christmas Eve,

“The day we celebrate would never

have been important if Jesus hadn’t been

strong and stood up for the right things in

life, Firefly. So you need to do the same.”

I fell asleep that night remembering

all of the Christmases before that one.

Before I turned 14.

I awoke on Christmas morning to

shouts coming from the living room. I

rushed out and saw a big box on the

floor. Tears spilled down my face as I realized

what was inside. And when my

dad came out, my tears turned into sobs.

For the rest of the day, we heard stories

of his adventures. And I went to

sleep that night knowing that my prayers

had been answered.

Runner-Up

Wedding Surprise

by Megan Ramsey

Hickory Hammock

“‘Twas the night before Christmas and

all through the house ...”

“Mom, I’ve heard that story so many

times,” Jessie, my 8-year-old daughter,

said with a whine.

“Tell me a new one?” she asked,

looking up at me with hazel eyes full of

curiosity.

I let out a small laugh and closed the

book, pushing it aside as I thought of the

perfect story to tell.

“There was once a girl just like you.

She loved Christmas, and her biggest

concern in life was that she couldn’t

get every toy in the store,” I said with

a laugh.

Jessie laughed, too, and looked away

shyly, knowing she was guilty of doing

the same.

“Well, years later, when this girl was

in her 20s, the holidays were a bit different

and so were her life problems.

Around this time of year, she opened

her mailbox and received an invitation

from her cousin, Bailey, saying, ‘‘Tis the

season. You are formally invited to Mark

and Bailey’s wedding on Dec. 23.’ This

was something the girl was definitely not

looking forward to.”

“Why?” Jessie interrupted. “Weddings

are exciting!”

“Yes, they are,” I said. “However, this

was a bit different. She knew all of her

family would be there. Every time they

got together, they hassled her about getting

married and tried to set her up with

guys she had no interest in!”

“That’s no fun,” Jessie said, shaking

her head.

“Not at all. But Bailey was her cousin,

and she had to go to her wedding to support

her. At least there was food involved

and plenty of dessert!”

At this point, Jessie became more

interested.

“During the wedding reception, she

spent most of her time near the buffet.

Luckily, she met someone who she could

talk to instead of her overly inquisitive

family. This someone was one of the

waiters. He was super-easy to talk to,

and they shared many similar interests.

During their conversation, she saw some

of her family walking toward her and

gave the waiter a panicked look. He

grabbed her hand and was able to get

her out of the reception to escape! She

realized she wanted more time away,

and he took her to his favorite spot, on

the roof of the hotel where there were

lights and a beautiful garden.”

“That sounds so nice!” Jessie said.

“It really was. They spent hours talking,

and she knew she was really interested

in him. However, her family always

pressured her to be with someone successful

like a doctor, but she didn’t care

about that. Then, one thing crossed her

mind. ‘How are you allowed up here?’

she asked him. He scratched his neck

awkwardly, admitting that he was not a

waiter. He was the owner of the hotel

and wanted someone to like him for who

he was, but it didn’t make a difference to

her; she liked him all the same. His name

was Matt, and her name was Brooke.”

“That’s you and Dad!” Jessie

exclaimed.

Child Winner

Count Your Blessings

by Brooke Larweth

Lake Davis Reserve

I’ve seen snow before — the pearly

white glimmer of a fresh layer on the

lawn; the wet, gray slush it eventually

morphs into. The best type of snow

though is Christmas snow. Just one single

snowflake on the tip of your nose, sets

you into a trance of wonder and awe.

But there’s no Christmas snow in Haiti.

It was a long, rickety, dust-covered

drive from the airport to our destination:

a small, rural town called Capotille. All

CONTINUED ON PAGE 18


www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 17


18 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 16

of us went silent as we gazed upon it.

There was no garland strung up nor

carols reverberating from speakers.

One by one, each member of the

youth group stepped cautiously out of

the van.

The first thing we noticed was the air.

How heavy it was, and how it smelled

stale and musty, and not like snicker

doodle cookies. Next to me, Casey, my

best friend, wrinkled her nose, then immediately

started planning where all the

Christmas decorations would go. She

was always one to look on the bright

side.

All of a sudden, Collin, our group

leader, turned around to face us. His

face was solemn, yet hopeful.

“Why are we here?” he asked, taking

the time to look at each one of us individually.

“As you’ve noticed, these people

don’t have money to buy lights for

their houses or wreaths for their doors.

So, one, we’re here to spread Christmas

cheer. But, more importantly, we’re here

to show these people the same love that

God bestows upon us.”

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The determination in his voice was

clear. Each member hurried over to the

van and unloaded the Christmas presents

we’d packed for the children. I carefully

handled the box, studying the little

reindeer and bearded, chubby Santas

on the wrapping paper. This may be

the only present they receive this year,

I thought.

I squinted at the boys playing soccer

on a grassy field, gazed at the

little girls giggling and twisting each

other’s hair, and smiled to myself at the

sight of the many fathers, as well as

mothers, cooking and tending to their

homes.

I took a deep breath, swallowed my

pride and strolled over to a young girl,

head held high and a smile on my face.

I knelt down on one knee and said

softly, “Hi. My name’s Becca. My friends

and I,” and I paused to point at them,

“are here to spread a little Christmas

cheer.”

Then, as the girl slowly picked up her

head to look at my face, I noticed her

big, beautiful brown eyes. Eyes that

were filled with curiosity and wonder

and shine.

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“Thank you,” she said, as she gently

took the box from my hands and set it on

the ground next to her.

And, to my surprise, the brown-eyed

girl jumped up and wrapped her arms

around me, hugging me tightly.

She then whispered four short words

in my ear, “My name is Nadia.”

And I hugged her even tighter.

To this day, my eyes still fill with tears

when I think about that moment. Most

of us think of Christmas as just a time of

glittery decorations and holiday music,

but it’s so much more than that. We are

blessed with so much, so we can always

give love. And that’s the way it is — love

and share, share and love.

Honorable Mention

My Favorite Day

by Emma Jane Patterson

Stoneybrook West

There are many exciting and fun days

during the year. As I go through the year,

I get closer to my favorite day. My favorite

day of the year is Christmas! What I

like about Christmas is getting time off

for vacation, going to the movies, seeing

my friends, sleeping in late and wearing

pajamas.

Usually around Christmas, it is much

colder than any other time of the year.

I like having the windows open at home

and letting the cool air come inside.

I also like being able to wear different

kinds of clothes like sweatshirts and

warmups during this time. Many people

do not like the cold weather, but I find it

refreshing. The colder the better!

Obviously, presents are all-important

during Christmas, because they surprise

the person with the gift inside. I like seeing

a person’s reaction when he or she

receives a present. Most importantly,

I find that giving a present to someone

makes me feel better than receiving

one. It is really the thought of giving

that counts. At my school, we have a

program that is called the Operation

Christmas Child Shoebox Program. The

program gives each child in our school

a shoebox, and we fill the shoebox with

whatever we want. At the deadline of the

program, the people come to each classroom,

collect the boxes and ship them to

a poor country. It is a great way to make

someone feel delighted.

Spending time with my family is important

to me. My family is pleasant to hang

around with on Christmas day. We all

get together at my house. I usually play

with my sisters, cousins and my grandparents

all day. We play basketball,

watch Christmas movies, and gather

around and eat a great Christmas feast.

I am lucky to have so many people be

around me at once.

I hope I will always feel the same way

about this time of year. Christmas is coming,

and I can’t wait to take part in all

my favorite things. I hope you all have a

Merry Christmas, as well!

Honorable Mention

A Christmas Without Her

by Emma Neary

Celebration

Christmas has always been a holiday

that has remained in most people’s

hearts as a joyous tradition; however,

for one young girl, this occasion brought

nothing but the sadness and pain of

ugly memories. Her name was Holly,

and she adored Christmas more than

anything, because the season was spent

with her dear mother, Carol. The holiday

brought them closer, keeping the motherand-daughter

bond. They would make

gingerbread houses, go ice-skating

and sing carols. But their favorite thing

to do was decorate the Christmas tree.

The one thing that connected them was

Christmas.

Unfortunately, all good things eventually

come to an end. Holly’s mother

died a few months before Christmas

due to a fatal car accident. This ended

Holly’s world; her mother was everything

to her, but death had taken her

away. She swung into a hurling depression,

not wanting anything that associated

with her mother, even Christmas.

Holly wanted to avoid the pain, even if

it meant skipping this holiday. Cookies

weren’t made, the skates were untouched,

and a tree was never put

up. Her life remained dark rather than

being lit by the glimmering lights of

Christmas. Holly just couldn’t celebrate

without her mother.

Strange things can happen on

Christmas Eve, not only bizarre events,

but teaching moments. So, on the night

before Christmas Day, Holly got ready

for bed just as she would normally

do. Suddenly, a gust of wind smacked

against her window, pushing it open

with full force. With it, a small picture


lew in and floated to the ground. Holly

picked it up curiously to see what it

was, discovering that it was an old family

photo. It showed Holly and her mother

decorating a Christmas tree. Where

did it come from? she asked herself. As

she was about to discard it in hopes

of avoiding the pain, something caught

her eye. In the photo, her mother was

smiling. This made Holly curious. Why

was she happy? Was it because the

tree looked so beautiful with its shiny

balls and glimmering lights? Was it the

huge star that sat on top and watched

as they celebrated? Was it something

else that made her smile? What if it was

just them being together?

Then Holly thought, You don’t need

shiny balls and lights to make your

Christmas better. You need friends and

family who can share the joy you feel.

Even if somebody cannot be with you,

they are always there, especially in your

heart. Holly’s mother was always there.

It was not a Christmas without her, because

Holly was never alone, somebody

was always there!

Holly knew Christmas must come, so

she rushed downstairs. When she got

there, it was the start of a Christmas

miracle! Her eyes widened as she saw

a huge Christmas tree that was not

there before. It was decorated with

sparkling lights, colorful ornaments

and a huge gold star on top. Presents

lined the bottom as music played in the

distance. The first smile in ages grew

across Holly’s face, because she realized

something very special had occurred,

and that she would never be

alone nor spend a Christmas without

her mom.

Honorable Mention

Everest’s Way Home

by Sofia Franceschi

Arlington Bay

“Everest?” Alma called.

“Let’s go back inside,” Mrs. Hadrian

said. “We’ve been looking for an hour,

and it’s too cold to look any longer.”

As Alma sat on the warm couch, Mrs.

Hadrian gave her a small cup of hot

chocolate and turned on her favorite TV

show.

“We’ll never find him,” Alma said,

starting to cry.

“I’m sure we will,” Mrs. Hadrian

assured her.

A small Maltese roamed the streets

confused. Where did that squirrel go?

the little dog thought.

Soon enough, Everest became tired

and decided to head home. As he

turned around, he quickly realized there

was no certain way home. Everest was

lost!

Eventually, snow began to fall. As the

weather grew colder, poor Everest grew

more worried. At this point, warm shelter

was a top priority. The streets became

more empty by the minute, and, eventually,

what was once a busy street was

now like a ghost town. Alas, the frail

dog found a small shelter that would

have to do for the evening. He rested

his head on a dirty blanket and fell fast

asleep.

As Alma stapled the paper onto the

post, she let out a sigh. It had been a

week since her little dog had been

gone, and she was close to giving up.

Mrs. Hadrian held Alma’s hand as they

moved to the next post. Mr. Hadrian finished

stapling a few papers and soon

caught up with the pair.

“Are you sure you are going to be OK

doing more papers?” he asked. “You

look tired.”

Alma, facing her dad, turned to the

paper and shook her head.

“I can finish stapling the rest,” Mrs.

Hadrian said, motioning toward Mr.

Hadrian’s stapler.

There was an uncomfortable silence

between Mr. Hadrian and Alma as they

walked back home. Mr. Hadrian broke

the silence as Alma was fixing her scarf.

“Are you excited for Christmas?”

Mr. Hadrian asked.

“Sure.” Alma said quietly, and the conversation

started from there.

Eventually, the pair arrived home.

“Well, we’re home,” Mr. Hadrian said.

“Do you have any homework you need

to do?”

“Yeah,” Alma said.

“Finish the rest of your homework,”

Mr. Hadrian said. “By the time you’re

done, Mom will be home, and she’ll

make you lunch.”

As Everest roamed the park, bells were

ringing, and songs of the season could

be heard throughout. Everest sniffed the

sheets of snow. There were several people

hanging an evergreen bough with ornaments

onto a fence. Everest longed to

be with Alma when he saw this, knowing

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 19

her joy when she helped her parents

add these festive items around the house.

Suddenly, a familiar scent came to him,

and he began to follow it.

Once Alma finished lunch, she headed

to her room. Her mother quickly stopped

her.

“Alma, I have an idea.”

“What is it?” Alma asked.

“Maybe we can invite your friends

over to help look for Everest,” Mrs.

Hadrian said. “I’m sure they will have the

winter spirit to help you find him!”

Alma’s face lit up with joy.

“I love that idea!”

About an hour later, Alma and three of

her friends — Becky, Sophie and Zoey

— were scattered around the neighborhood.

Alma paced around the front

yard, searching for any signs of Everest.

Almost 20 minutes later, the group was

searching every inch of the front yard for

the dog. All of a sudden, a small Maltese

with a bright Christmas-themed collar

came racing to Alma.

“Everest!” she exclaimed, as the small

Maltese ran into her arms.

The group sang holiday songs of joy

as Everest lay joyfully in Alma’s arms.

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Honorable Mention

One Day in

the Life of Esmeralda

by Leticia Subbarao

Dr. Phillips

The city of Santiago was getting ready

to welcome the holiday season, and the

sounds of Christmas could be seen and

heard all over the city. It was summer and

the end of the school year. Esmeralda,

a vivacious 11-year-old girl with light

brown hair and beautiful greenish eyes,

was still sleeping when her mother’s

voice woke her up.

“Sweetheart, breakfast is ready.”

Esmeralda got out of bed and ran

barefoot to open her window.

Her eyes had to adjust to the morning

light. The day was so bright and inviting,

a soft breeze was caressing her face.

She smiled. In the distance, the sunlight

reflected off the white peaks of the majestic

Andes Mountain with a silver glow.

The sound of the bells ringing from the

old Spanish church in her neighborhood

reminded her of the busy day ahead.

Esmeralda went to take a shower and

CONTINUED ON PAGE 20

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to Grade 12 College Preparatory School

Definitively Christ-Centered Distinctly College-Prep

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19

began singing an old Christmas song

her Grandma Rosita had taught her. She

chose the song on purpose, because

she knew in no time her dog would be

singing with her, and it was funny.

Downstairs, her mother was sitting

at the table having her coffee when

Esmeralda hugged her and said, “Mom,

Grandma Rosita came to visit me last

night. She knew that we would be going

to visit the retirement home, and

she wanted me to tell her dear friends,

Carmencita and Cristina, that she loved

them very much.”

Esmeralda’s mother hugged her back

and kissed her rosy cheek. She knew her

daughter well. Esmeralda was a sensible

and clever child, so generous and friendly,

but she also had a great imagination.

After lunch, they went to the old people’s

home with the dog and rang the

bell.

One of the nuns opened the heavy

door. The long corridor was dark, but

at the end, there was a well-lit hall

where the residents usually gathered.

Esmeralda ran to hug everyone and

asked about their health, especially

Carmencita and Cristina. Her dog was

doing his own thing, waving his tail

to everyone. He got many hugs and

affectionate words.

Her mother and the nuns served tea,

and Esmeralda cut the cake. They were

having a lovely afternoon, chatting between

themselves and remembering the

good old days. Somebody suggested to

bring a guitar to Esmeralda. The nuns

cleared up the room, and the party began.

Esmeralda was singing old Spanish

Christmas songs with all of them. They

also sang Silent Night. The last song was

the one Grandma Rosita had taught her.

Almost at the end of the song, her dog

started singing. Everybody laughed.

Esmeralda and her mother hugged the

residents and wished them a good night.

They thanked them for a happy time

together.

Back at the house, Esmeralda helped

her mother put things away, fed her dog

and went to her bedroom to get ready for

the night. After a while, her mother came

to say good night and to comment about

the wonderful day they had. As she approached

her daughter’s bedroom, she

listened to some voices in Esmeralda’s

room. She opened the door slowly and

asked her with whom she was talking.

”Mom, Grandma Rosita was with me,”

Esmeralda said.

Her mother asked what she had said.

“Mom, Grandma was very pleased.”

Although Mom believed that it was

Esmeralda’s imagination, she could not

ask the next question, because she felt

a breeze kissing her forehead, leaving

behind a soft aroma of roses that filled

the room. It was Grandma’s favorite

perfume!

She said in silence, “Merry Christmas,

Mother Rosita.”

Honorable Mention

The Elf & the Lamborghini

by Carter Flesner

Summer Lake

Once there was a salesman who

worked for Lamborghini. He was having

a hard time making sales.

Then one day, an elf wearing cool sunglasses

and waving big stacks of cash

around walked into the dealership. The

elf said he wanted to buy a Lamborghini

Aventador SV.

I’ll show you our two best ones, and

you let me know which one you would

like to take home today,” the salesman

said.

The elf picked the best one, which

happened to be green with blue stripes,

and then threw his stacks of cash at the

salesman and sped away.

“What? Did I really just sell a

Lamborghini to an elf?” the salesman

asked himself.

When the elf got back to the North

Pole, Santa bought him a racetrack,

and the elf raced around the track as

happy as he could be. Believe it or not,

he zipped around that track all the way

until next Christmas. As a matter of fact,

I should know, because I, Carter Flesner,

am the elf!

Honorable Mention

A Christmas Miracle

by Jaden Nice

MetroWest

Christina’s alarm clock rang. She shot

up with excitement.

“It’s Christmas Eve!” she exclaimed.

Today was the day that she was going

to surprise her grandpa with cookies.

She shot out of bed, racing to her closet

to find her special Christmas dress.


Christina changed her clothes and

brushed her tangled hair.

“Ouch!” she gasped, with a whimper.

Christina waited a few seconds before

attempting to get through that crazy

mess. She decided to pull her hair into a

braid. Weeks and weeks of hard work

trying to learn how to braid hair had finally

paid off! After completing her task,

she ran downstairs to find her mom and

dad waiting for her.

They surprised her with a plate full of

pancakes shaped as stars. Christina’s

eyes shone with appreciation. She hurriedly

gobbled up her food and anxiously

waited an entire minute before

asking her parents, “What about the

cookies?”

They laughed, and her dad assured

little Christina that they would have cookies

that year. Relieved, she asked where

they would buy them.

“This year,” her mother exclaimed,

leaning forward as to build anticipation,

“we’re baking cookies!”

Christina squealed and giggled.

They then spent the entire morning

baking, mixing frosting and making

messes all over the kitchen.

Finally it was time for them to take

the hour-long trip to her grandfather’s

house. The entire duration of the car

ride, Christina was restless. She kept

glancing toward the plate of cookies

that they had wrapped. Even seeing all

the Christmas decorations outside could

not calm her down. They parked in his

driveway, not knowing what was going

on inside.

Before they went to Grandpa’s door,

Christina’s dad stopped her.

“Darling, your grandfather is a little

sad right now,” he said. “Try and make

this visit extra-special and cheer him up

in any way you can.”

Christina nodded, wondering if it had

anything to do with her grandma going

to a “better place.”

Grandfather William sat alone in his

living room, staring at the now-empty

rocking chair that was no longer filled

by his wife, Ann Marie. It would be the

first Christmas since she had passed

away, and his heart, once filled with

happiness and joy, now felt heavy with

grief. He had prayed and prayed for

a Christmas miracle so his wife would

be saved, but his wish never came true.

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 21

William had decided that he would

decline the invitation to his daughter’s

Christmas party.

Just then, there was a knock on the

door. He sighed and stood up to open it.

He was greeted by three friendly faces

and a plate of cookies.

“Surprise!” Christina yelled and smiled

a large toothless grin.

Grandfather William’s heart warmed,

and he was gladdened.

He invited them inside and poured a

glass of milk for each of them, so they

could all enjoy the delicious homemade

cookies. They sat by the fireplace and

told Christmas stories.

Grandfather’s grin broadened, and

he exclaimed, breathless, “This truly is a

Christmas miracle!”

Honorable Mention

A Snowman’s Christmas

by Valentina Thibault

Windermere Ridge

Not long ago, a snowman learned a

lesson about Christmas. The snowman,

named Jolly, was a favorite of all the children

in town. He stood frigid near the

center of the town square, just in front of

the tall, wide, fresh, green, pointy pine

Christmas tree. The tree was decorated

with gold cylinder ornaments mixed with

bright red and silver rounded spheres;

red and golden ribbons tied around the

pine stems; and red, blue, green and yellow

lights attached to a camouflaged

dark-green wire that led all the way to

the top, where the shiniest part of the

tree — the Christmas star — was covered

with diamonds and golden wires.

It was a week before Christmas, and

everyone in the small town was preparing

for the holiday, decorating their

houses with lights around their bushes,

trees and roofs. They were also setting

out stockings, baking, singing carols and

buying presents to put underneath their

Christmas trees. Many played in the falling

snow — laying on the thick, white

ground, while expressively making their

arms go up and down along with their

feet, creating snow angels.

Jolly smiled as all the children encircled

him, wearing their three-layered

jackets and wool hats matching their

clothes. Their laughter brought Jolly no

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small amount of joy. He loved seeing

their faces, red-cheeked and red-nosed,

hiding their necks with their scarves.

On previous Christmas mornings, he

would look through the windows of the

houses to see all the boys and girls opening

their presents. Each year, he heard

of a famous tradition, where if you were

good, Santa Claus spent time collecting

the children’s Christmas cards and sending

his fellow elves to design and tinker

with the toys the children had asked for

on the cards. On Christmas Eve, Santa

Claus would fasten his sleigh to his reindeer,

carrying all the toys for the children

around the world. As he landed his

sleigh, he would climb down the houses’

chimneys to lay wrapped presents underneath

Christmas trees and fill stockings

with trinkets.

This year, Jolly began to wonder what

Christmas was really about.

“Isn’t it all about presents and, instead

of going to school, playing?” he would

ask as the kids came to see him.

The children would give various

answers, but none of them gave an

understanding answer. Jolly decided to

ask one more time.

“Excuse me, young boy. Can you tell

me what Christmas is about?”

The boy turned around and looked

at Jolly, his brown hair hanging over his

eyes.

“To me, Christmas is about spending

time with your family and loved ones.”

Another boy came forward and said,

“Most importantly, it’s being thankful to

have people who love you.”

“But I do not have any family or

friends,” Jolly said wistfully.

A freckled girl with short brown bangs

and green eyes came toward Jolly and

wrapped her arms around him.

“You have all the love you need right

here,” she said.

On Christmas morning, as the sun

beamed its light across the sky, Jolly

found himself surrounded by presents

and cards written with sincere words

from the children. Afterward, the children

came to the town square. Jolly

smiled, seeing all the presents he had

been given.

“Merry Christmases, Jolly!” the

children around him shouted.

Right then Jolly smiled. He now knows

Christmas is not just about presents and

skipping school, but Christmas is about

being around family and loved ones.

Jolly felt loved and said, “Merry

Christmas!”

Honorable Mention

A Beautiful, Bright Star

by Tabitha A. Eastman

Forest Ridge

On his drive home from work, Tim noticed

a strange youngster strolling along

the snowy, busy road with a shaggy

dog. Something was unusual about him.

His coat was torn, his shoes were worn,

and his face appeared dirty. He was unfamiliar,

and Tim knew virtually everyone

in this small town.

The strange young man never entered

Tim’s mind again until Saturday of that

same week when he was at the grocery

store, buying groceries for the upcoming

Christmas holiday. Tim was in the checkout

line, waiting to pay for his groceries,

when he gazed out the window and

saw the same strange youngster petting

his dog in the parking lot of the grocery

store. Tim noticed that the dirty-faced

young man was wearing the same

tattered coat and shoes.

Tim decided that, after he paid for his

groceries, he was going to speak to the

boy to inquire where he lived.

When the clerk handed him his

change and said, “Have a nice day, Mr.

Wilkins,” Tim looked up only to see that

the youngster was gone. It was as if he

had vanished into thin air!

Thoughts of the disheveled boy

haunted Tim all weekend. Monday

was the elementary school Christmas

pageant, and Tim’s wife was feverishly

trying to put together costumes for their

two children. Amidst the stress, Tim

mentioned the young boy to his wife.

She confirmed that there was no such

boy at Gruber Heights Elementary

School.

Monday night came, and all the children

gathered onstage to present the

Christmas story to the community. As the

little angels made their way down the

aisle of the school’s auditorium, Tim was

taken aback by what he saw. There, at

the end of the angel band, was the little

disheveled boy. He had the same dirty

face and same tattered shoes — only

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this time, he was wearing an angel costume

and holding a beautiful, bright

star.

Tim squirmed through the entire performance

— waiting for the right time

to talk to the principal about the young

man. When the pageant ended, Tim hurried

up to the school’s principal.

“Ms. Wright, do you happen to know

the name of the young man at the end of

the line of angels?” he asked.

“You must be mistaken, Mr. Wilkins,”

she said. “The angels were all girls this

year. No little boys volunteered to wear

angel costumes.”

Tim was shocked to the core. Could his

eyes have been playing tricks on him?

Was he the only person who had seen

the young man?

All night, Tim tossed and turned.

He worried. How could he have seen

something that wasn’t there?

The next morning, he went to the

town hall to do research on the town’s

history for the upcoming Christmas

tree-lighting ceremony. As he turned

the pages of the town’s scrapbook,

a familiar face in a photo caught his

attention. It was the disheveled young

boy holding the town’s Christmas tree

star.

Immediately, Tim asked the town hall

secretary, who had worked there for

many years, the identity of the young

man holding the star in the photo.

“Tommy Brown,” she said. “He died

shortly after that picture was taken. His

mother lives up on Route 9. That sweet,

lonely lady comes to the tree-lighting

every year.”

Tom asked about the whereabouts of

the star. The secretary assured him that the

star had been misplaced many years ago.

Tim knew his mission. He knew that

he had experienced a heavenly visit

to show him what would make this

year’s Christmas tree-lighting ceremony

the most memorable yet ... that same

beautiful, bright star.

Honorable Mention

The Little Things

by Meghan Grindle

Williamsburg

I was pacing around my room, running

my hand through my hair. My class’

Christmas report was due in two days,

and I still had no ideas. I glanced out

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 23

the window to see it frost-covered by the

New York snow.

Maybe I can do my report about a

snowman, I thought, then crinkled my

nose as I remembered the classic Frosty

the Snowman had already been done.

My frustration only grew as my mom

kept calling to me that lunch was ready. I

stomped down the small stairs of my family’s

second-floor apartment and made a

beeline for the front door.

“Jack, where are you going?” my

mother called to me.

“To find Christmas cheer!” I shouted,

as I ripped my coat off its rack and

slipped it on.

Before I could even press the elevator

button, the doors opened before me,

and someone in a dark blue hoodie and

navy-blue pants stepped off as I stepped

in and pressed the ground-floor button. I

stared after the person as he walked to

his room. Weird, I thought and shivered

a little.

As I walked down the busy streets,

people were walking back and forth

from shop to shop. Many were also carrying

or dragging Christmas trees from a

nearby seller.

I saw an older woman dragging a

tree by herself. She looked as though it

was painful to keep going, so I hurried

my pace and asked her if she would like

help.

“Yes! Thank you so much!” she smiled

at me, and I returned it.

I hoisted the tree from her shoulder to

mine and followed her to her complex.

Once we were outside the building, she

told me she could handle it the rest of

the way. I trusted that she could and

continued my walk, a little bit calmer

now. I kicked snow as I made my way

back to the apartment my mom and I

shared.

Still no ideas, I sighed. I let my eyes

wander, and I found the same guy with

the dark blue clothes. Maybe I could

write about a Christmas stalker. I laughed

at the joke I had made inside my head as

I continued home.

When I went through the lobby of our

apartment, I saw a huge box wrapped

in wrapping paper with toys inside. I

read a paper attached to the box saying

that the toys inside were donations

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for a charity of some sort. I remembered

some old toys my mom never got rid

of. I also remembered where she had

stashed them.

I headed up the elevator to Level 2,

then on to Room 250. I opened the door

slowly, slipped off my coat, and hung it

up as I closed the door. Once I heard it

click, I ventured forward under our ministairs

where all the stuffed animals were.

I gathered as many as I could before

hauling them down to the donation box.

I felt light while I ate dinner with my mom

in silence.

Seeing the toys dropping and the relief

on that lady’s face when I offered help

kept flashing in my mind. I looked up to

my mom, eyes wide.

“What is it, Jack?” she asked

concerned.

“I need to write my essay now. I just

had an idea!”

I jumped up from the table and hurried

to my room. I had performed little acts

of kindness in the spirit of the holiday, so

my essay would be about the things most

don’t see — the little things.

Honorable Mention

An 80s Christmas

by Valeria Quintero

Southwest Orlando

On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2017, a

14-year-old girl named Frankie sat with

her family. In the midst of all the noise,

the only person Frankie was listening to

was her mother, Diana. Her mother had

always enchanted Frankie with stories of

her past. Frankie’s favorite was the story

of Christmas 1984. When her mom was

a child, she asked for all the newest toys,

and even though she received everything

she wanted, she still felt something was

missing.

Diana went on a walk to think things

over. She soon found herself on the

other side of town. Lost and forlorn, she

searched for a way home. Then, she saw

a few families opening their gifts together.

The children were sharing what little

they had, yet they were happy. Diana

was shocked. She had not taken into

consideration how much she had in comparison

to others. At that moment, she

realized what mattered the most. It was

people who made the holidays, not what

you received.

After hearing the story for the 100th

time, Frankie went to bed. She thought

about the trinkets she would receive in

the morning and about what Christmas

must have been like in the 80s. Soon she

drifted to sleep.

The next morning, Frankie sprinted

into the living room but soon realized it

looked very different. Confused, she went

into the kitchen looking for her mother,

but when she passed by the calendar,

there was something horribly wrong. The

date was Dec. 25, 1984. Frankie went

blank. Was this a dream?

She heard a noise behind her. It was

her grandparents.

“Hey, honey,” they said. “Are you

ready to open your presents?”

“Grandma, Grandpa, what is going

on?” Frankie asked. “Where are my

Mom and Dad?”

“What?” Grandma asked. “We

are your parents, silly. Grandma and

Grandpa? We aren’t that old!”

Frankie was then ushered toward the

tree to open presents. Reluctantly, she

opened the first present. It was a cassette

player. She opened the next one.

It was a CareBear. Frankie was beyond

confused. What was happening? These

presents were old and not what she

wanted. Frankie decided she needed to

take a walk to calm down, so she told

her “parents” and left.

Frankie felt completely lost. She soon

realized that just like her mother, she had

reached the other end of town. This was

the same day her mom had seen those

children in the street. She then spotted

the kids. Frankie now understood what

her mother meant. They really didn’t

have much, yet they were so happy. They

were not focused on the toys they had,

but instead were interested in spending

time with each other. Frankie finally understood.

She ran back to her house, but

when she got there, her grandparents

were sleeping. Although she felt awful,

she decided to talk to her grandparents

in the morning.

Frankie woke up early and headed for

the living room. To her surprise, everything

was back to normal! Her parents

greeted her with warm smiles. Frankie

ran over and gave them a huge hug.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” her mother

asked. “Don’t you want to open your

presents?”

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“Mom, after thinking about it, I want

to spend some time with you before

opening presents,” Frankie said.

“But why?” her mom asked.

“Well, because I now know that

Christmas isn’t about the material

gifts we receive. It’s about the gift of

love we receive from our friends and

family.”

Honorable Mention

I Still Remember

by Peter Kinakin

Ocoee

I still remember traveling to Castlegar,

British Columbia, Canada, for Christmas

when I was just 7. I still remember traveling

with my family — Papa, Mama,

Sarah and me, Peter. I still remember

saying, “Bye, home!” I still remember visiting

the Space Needle. I still remember

skiing. I still remember Baba’s cookies. I

still remember playing piano for Great

Baba.

We left the Cedar Rapids airport for

Seattle at 6:35 a.m. When we got there,

I noticed there was a two-hour time difference.

We stayed in Seattle for two

nights.

On the first day, we were tired, so we

rested at the hotel for a bit. Later that

afternoon, we visited Pike Place Farmers

Market. We looked around, then ate a

lunch of macaroni and cheese, and lobster.

I even got to try fried squid head!

Yum! I also got a very cool laser-printed

replica of the Space Needle for a

souvenir.

The second day, we woke up early so

we could go to the Space Needle. Up

at the top, there was an awesome view

and beautiful weather. We also looked

around town with binoculars and took

lots of pictures. You could see everything

for miles. That same afternoon, we visited

the Chihuly Gardens and Glass museum.

It had a small fee, but it was OK,

because it was amazing! We also had

a quick snack at the original Starbucks.

We checked out of the hotel then drove

to the Bavarian-styled German settlement

of Leavenworth, Washington. The

two-hour and 15-minute drive was full

of beautiful scenery. By the time we got

there, it was 9:45 p.m.

“Suppertime!” I said happily.

We had supper at a good food truck.

Both Papa and I had a German sausage

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 25

called a bratwurst. Sarah had a pretzel,

and Mama got cabbage. The next

day, we went sledding and later skiing

until nighttime. It was that night that I

remembered seeing the twinkling in the

Christmas lights and snow. After we slept

that night, we got some souvenirs and set

off on the five-hour, 45-minute drive to

Nelson, Canada. Oh, and may I suggest

to never say no to German chocolate

cake!

In Nelson, we picked up Uncle Ryan

and went to visit my great grandmother

at the Castleview nursing home. I played

the piano for her and the other people

there, like I do every time we visit.

Last but not least, we were at Baba

and Deda’s! I remember running through

about 3 feet of snow to their door. I remember

everyone hugging and greeting

each other. I entered and smelled piroshki,

a Russian fruit tart in a pie shell. I saw

the Christmas tree full of ornaments of

all kinds and many colored lights. Those

nights before I flew back home were lots

of fun — staying up late to play games

and eating snacks and desserts. The

only night we couldn’t stay up late was

Christmas Eve.

Baba said, “Don’t stay up late or else

Santa won’t come!”

The next morning, we had lots of

fun unwrapping gifts, and the next day,

after saying our goodbyes, we left for

home.

I will never forget this trip, as it was the

last time before Baba and Deda moved.

I still remember the landmarks in Seattle.

I still remember the twinkling of the lights

and snow in Leavenworth. I still remember

playing the piano for everyone at the

Castleview nursing home. I still remember

piroshki and Baba and Deda’s old

house. I still remember the trip up to now.

I still remember Castlegar as a white

Christmas. I still remember ...

Honorable Mention

No Way Without Sadie

by Sandra Roman

The Willows at Lake Rhea

I left my beloved island, because a

monster hurricane named Maria destroyed

my house and my business, a

tiki bar appropriately named Ocean Air.

I worked 30 years in a boring IT job,

CONTINUED ON PAGE 26

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socking away money to buy it. In the

past five years, I happily wore Panama

hats and golf shorts to work.

I’ve lived my entire life on an island

that embraced me, but in one solitary

day, shook me with such defiant force

that I felt embarrassingly helpless.

Through the howling winds of Maria, I

could hear my mother island whisper,

“You must leave.”

Struggling to make sense of how to reroot

myself, I wondered where to go.

Anxious and alone, I made a trip to

Florida to seek shelter and employment.

I got lucky. I found a job right away. I

was delighted and hopeful for the first

time in weeks. Next, I had to find a home

for my wife and three children. My wife,

Julia, and I have been married 25 years,

and our only children are our loving and

loyal rescue dogs — Hannah, George

and Sadie.

Finding a suitable home for my family

was a challenge. No one would rent to

us. They said I had too many “children.”

No one wanted my princess, Hannah,

the beagle beauty; or much less, my

boy, George, a clumsy, friendly Lab who

loves to run on the beach. But the biggest

problem proved to be Sadie, a terrier

runaway we took in a few months ago.

She quickly got under our skins with her

street smarts.

I ran from one apartment complex to

the next with rental application in hand

and pictures of my three children. I was

rejected from every one of them. At best,

the property managers informed me they

would only allow two dogs. I was heartbroken.

Julia inconsolably said, “Come

home, honey, better we should struggle

here together than to be separated,” but I

knew we couldn’t make it on an island so

battered and devastated. As it stood, the

five of us had been living in a makeshift

shack constructed with wood salvaged

from the Ocean Air, and Christmas was

coming.

After a week of looking for housing,

I had no choice but to head home and

make the difficult decision of returning

without Sadie. I worried Julia would say,

“No way without Sadie.”

While at the front desk waiting to

check out, the clerk, a cheerful young

man, asked if I had enjoyed my stay.

“Yes,” I said. “I loved my room with

its awesome running water and air

conditioning.”

He laughed. He thought I was being

funny. I explained that where I live, we

were currently without basic utilities like

water and electricity. He asked if my

plan was to relocate. I replied I didn’t

know, and I shared my sad housing

predicament.

“Don’t go yet, stay another day,” he

quickly said. “I’ll call someone who may

be able to help. It’s my mother, who is a

total dog lover and a Realtor.”

I am amazed at how the universe delivers

in your desperate hour. Angela

the Realtor was wonderful. She moved

heaven and earth to find us a nice home

that would take the three dogs.

On Christmas morning, I watched

Hannah, George and Sadie run

around the big backyard. They were as

gleeful as real children opening gifts.

In the kitchen, I could hear Julia singing.

Exhaling, it occurred to me that

life often has a reset button that can

work miracles, but first we must climb

through the newly opened window to

reach it.

Honorable Mention

The Season of Giving

by Tatum Cempella

Southwest Orlando

Slowly, as the sun peeks out over the

softly swaying trees, the December sky

brightens. First it’s dim and untouched

by my loosely closed eyes, but gradually,

the air grows warmer, the sun

higher and suddenly a golden ray of

shimmering sun streams through my

window. This small bit of light opens

my eyes, and I burst out of bed in a

frenzy, the excitement almost making

me tremble.

It’s Christmas morning, the one and

only day of the year when everyone you

meet seems happy, like their hearts are

swelling with joy that had been shrouded

by the news and hate we experience every

other day of the year.

While my depiction of Christmas

morning has been true for 12 of my 13

Christmases, it was not the case for one.

That was the year I was diagnosed with

leukemia. I was only 2 years old, and

the weeks before Christmas and after

were spent in and out of the hospital.

Thankfully, I was well enough to come

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home and celebrate Christmas Day with

my family.

That morning, I vomited before opening

my presents, but I was still grateful

I was in the comfort of my own home.

I wouldn’t have to spend such a heartwarming,

beloved holiday in the cheerless

and void hospital.

Other kids, some of whom were my

comrades for the few years I was treated

for my illness, were not so lucky. They had

to stay in the hospital, and some went

without presents. Who could blame their

parents? It was excruciatingly expensive

to have an illness like cancer, even with

insurance. It was hard for even my parents

to pay the piling bills and provide

the wonderful Christmas I always have.

Also, with your child always being in the

hospital or needing attention due to their

medical needs, your job gets harder to

maintain.

Christmas. The one day of the year

where everyone seems happy, at least

when you’re home.

One year, as Christmas drew nearer,

a charitable group a few of my friends

and I started, the Reach Out Committee,

sought people in need of help. Since

my family is always mindful during the

holiday of people who are affected by

cancer and other terminal illnesses —

specifically Nemours, a pediatric hospital

that authorized most of my treatment

— we offered to give toys to children

who had none on Christmas morning.

So it began. Packages upon packages

of brand-new toys piled into our school.

The jolly season had opened the hearts

of parents and children, and they gave

until they could give no longer. On the

first day of Christmas break, more than

200 toys were wheeled into Nemours,

all decorated with bows and ribbons by

the Reach Out Committee. It filled me

with much more happiness than presents

given to me on Christmas morning

ever could. It reminded me, as it should

everyone, that giving is infinitely better

than receiving. Christmas is about giving

back to those who aren’t as lucky as you.

Honorable Mention

A Mouse’s Best Christmas

by Terran Davidson

Crown Point Springs

'Twas the night before Christmas and

all through the house, not a creature was

stirring except one little mouse.

Jack Mouse peeked out of his

hole and saw a beautiful sight. The

Christmas tree was lit for the night. It

was very tall and trimmed with iridescent

ornaments and a glistening star on

top. Other ornaments were shaped like

bells, candy canes and cute Christmas

elves.

Jack wanted to see the ornaments

at the very top of the tree. He climbed

and climbed. The tree smelled fresh. The

needles were prickly. Lights with bright

colors hung on the branches. The only

sound he heard was the rustling of his

feet and the ticking of the grandfather

clock.

Jack reached the top of the tree

with a grin on his face and stared at

the beautiful star. Just then, the clock

struck midnight. Jack jumped and

caught his tail in the wires of the lights.

Strange noises from the room scared

him. Soot fell into the fireplace. Jack

struggled to get untangled, when a big

jolly man appeared from the cloud of

soot.

Jack kicked and knocked off one of the

ornaments, which landed with a crash

on the floor. The big man turned quickly

and looked up.

“Ho, ho, ho!” he said. “I’ll get you

down.”

He untangled Jack and set him down

gently on the floor. With a grin, the man

said his name was Santa, and he gave

Jack a tiny, glittering package with a

bow tie.

“Wait until the morning,” he told Jack.

“Thank you,” Jack said and scurried

back to bed, holding the package.

His family smiled and told him to open

it. His mother gasped.

“What a glorious sight!”

They were so happy, their eyes filled

with delight.

“This is the best Christmas! A cheesecake,

what a present!”

Jack’s little sister asked him where he

got the cake, and Jack said, “It’s a long

story. I’ll tell it all while we eat.”

Honorable Mention

Winter

by Xavier Matias

Winter Garden

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year is winter. I like winter because of

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CONTINUED ON PAGE 28

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 27

the holidays, especially New Year’s

Eve. On New Year’s Eve, my family

and I get together at my aunt’s

house. I like it because of all the food

they cook, the games we play by the

campfire, and the Christmas music we

listen to.

It all begins in the morning, when

Uncle Gaby lights the campfire and

starts to cook the pig. He cooks a

whole pig over the fire, turning it

around and around slowly so it cooks

all the way. My mom and aunts are in

the kitchen, making the rest of the food.

They make yellow rice with pigeon

peas, potato salad, macaroni salad,

sweet potatoes, eggnog and much

more.

We play games by the fire with

Uncle Jose. He gathers all my cousins,

and we play football, softball, tug

of war and hopscotch. When we are

tired, we sit down and play Monopoly,

bingo, Chutes and Ladders, and other

board games. I like to watch my dad,

grandpa and uncles play dominoes.

They can sit there playing dominoes

for hours and hours, telling stories and

jokes all day.

When the sun goes down, everyone

sits around the campfire to listen

to Christmas music. We listen and sing

along to both American and Puerto

Rican Christmas songs. My grandpa always

likes to say a prayer and thanks

God for the food we eat and for having

the family come together.

The music and dancing continues

through the night as the year comes to an

end. When we are ready to bring in the

new year, I like to go inside the house, because

I don’t enjoy the fireworks and the

loud popping sounds. I watch the countdown

on TV with my parents, and when

the new year arrives, we go around and

give hugs and kisses to everyone.

Honorable Mention

The Christmas Mystery

by Alexandra “Lexi” Clark

Dr. Phillips

Santa’s Gone Missin’

Every elf gathered in the North Pole

Conference Room. They FaceTimed

Copper and The Bent, the world’s

No. 1 missing-animal detectives. Copper

looked at his iDogPad, accepted the call

and said, “Copper here. Who’s this?”

“Oh, hello there, Copper. It’s the

North Pole, and we’ve got a situation.

Santa has been kidnapped!”

Bentley snatched the iDogPad from

Copper’s paws.

“Brilliant. But we only do animal cases.”

“But you guys are the best ... and you

do believe in Santa, don’t ya?”

Copper snatched the iDogPad again.

“You ain’t whistlin’ Dixie, we believe!

Well, shucky dern, looks like we’re headed

to the North Pole. We’ll grab the first

bird outta here.”

"Brilliant!"

The Crime Scene

Standing outside in the arctic cold,

Bentley buttoned his wool tweed coat.

Copper rolled his eyes, unbuttoned his

jean jacket, and knocked on the North

Pole door. A group of excited elves greeted

the detectives and walked them to the

crime scene.

“We last saw Santa here,” one of the

elves stated. “He was drinking hot cocoa

while checking his final list — twice.”

The Bent grabbed his notepad and

began asking questions. Meanwhile,

Copper sniffed everywhere.

“Chocolate hearts and Easter eggs,

eh? Brilliant.”

“Somethin’ ain’t smellin’ right. It smells

like ... “ Copper said but didn’t finish his

sentence.

“Coppuh, we’ve got the evidence we

need. Time to make tracks, chap.”

“I reckon yer right. Let’s bolt on outta

here.”

Smells Like ...

At their favorite fire hydrant, Copper

and Bentley discussed the next moves in

their case. Just then, the Bent caught a

whiff of Boston Market from across the

street.

“Did you smell that, Coppuh? That’s

the same smell from the North Pole!”

“I’ve been tryin’ to tell ya, Bent! Them

there eggs and chocolate ... they smell

like ... “

They both looked at each other and

yelled, “Turkey!”

“You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?”

Copper asked.

“Brilliant. Let’s go visit the Thanksgiving

Turkey.”

Was It the Turkey?

“Bent, we need this here Turkey to

squawk,” Copper said.

“Leave that to me, Coppuh. I’ve got a plan.”

The two detectives barged into Turkey’s

tree stump apartment and began their interrogation.

During their questioning, Bentley

secretly grabbed three feathers from the

floor and placed them behind his back.

“Turkey, we found these feathers at the

North Pole.” He fanned the feathers in

front of Turkey. “Now where’s Kringle?”

Turkey immediately broke, sobbing uncontrollably.

“It was me! I took Santa. I did it.”

“Cough it up, gobbler,” Copper

demanded. “Where’d you put ‘em?”

“The one place where Thanksgiving

never dies ... the Dallas Cowboys stadium.”

The Stadium

With Turkey in handcuffs, everyone,

including Santa Claus, met on the big

blue Texas star at the 50-yard line.

“I’m so sorry,” Turkey cried. “I’m a

good bird. Everyone just forgets about

Thanksgiving. Halloween gets over, and

they’ll all start putting up Christmas lights.”

“You’re goin’ down bird,” Copper

shouted.

“Bloody right, Coppuh. Behind bars,

Gobbluh,” Bentley chimed in.

Santa interrupted, “Hold on. You’re

right, Turkey. Thanksgiving is important.

Furthermore, Christmas is about the spirit

of giving and forgiveness. I accept your

apology. And, I apologize to you. I’d like

to invite you on a sleigh ride with me.

Christmas Eve. You busy?”

“Well, shuck dern!” Copper exclaimed.

“We’re goin’ on a sleigh ride!”

“Well, not you Copper,” Santa said.

“Just me and Turkey ... and the reindeer,

of course.”

Turkey smiled.

“Yes! As long as you come over for

Thanksgiving football. And everyone is

invited!”

“Ho, ho, ho,” Santa yelled.

“Another case solved, Coppuh. Merry

Christmas to all.”

“And to all a good bite,” Copper said.

Honorable Mention

Christmas Lost in Unicorn Forest

by Aliza Britton

Windsor Landing

It was a dark and gloomy time in

Unicorn Forest. There were no colorful


lights, decorated trees or rainbows.

Most importantly, there were no floating

marshmallows in Hot Chocolate

Lake. Also, all the unicorns were at

home. Even Santa’s elves couldn’t fix

the problem in the forest. It was up to

Santa to find four jolly good helpers to

get Unicorn Forest looking and feeling

like Christmas.

A week later, Santa found four

bushy-tailed helpers. They were squirrels

named Ginger, Cinnamon, Eggnog

and Cookie. They all adored Christmas

and were each excited about the jobs

they had to do. Santa had to fly with

them to help make the magic happen in

the mystical forest.

When they arrived at Unicorn Forest,

it looked dull and ordinary. The squirrels

looked at each other and agreed

that it was going to be a big challenge

to bring Christmas joy to the forest.

In the morning, the squirrels got

right to work. Ginger hung garland,

popcorn and ornaments on the trees.

Eggnog had to string the bright, colorful

sugar lights on all the trees. Cinnamon

baked sweet treats, like cookies, cannoli

and confetti Pop-Tarts. Ginger went

shopping to bring beautifully wrapped

presents back to the forest. Last but not

least, Cookie tried to find where all the

brightly colored rainbows had gone.

After they finished most of their jobs,

they celebrated by eating Christmas

nuts and berries with Santa. They still

had two more things to do. They had

to wake up the unicorns and show

them that Christmas wasn’t lost in the

forest after all. Also, Cookie still had

to find those rainbows. Cookie called

the birds to do an overview of the forest.

As the birds searched up high, a

blue jay found the rainbows on top of

Sprinkle Peak. The blue jay swooped

down and grabbed the rainbows with

his strong beak and pulled them up to

the sky.

To wake up the unicorns, Santa

gave the squirrels magical bells that

his reindeer wore. The squirrels went

to each house, jingling bells over every

chimney. When the unicorns heard the

bells, they immediately woke up. They

were shocked when they smelled freshly

baked goodies in the kitchen. There

were newly wrapped presents under

every tree outside each house. When

they went to the window, they saw

bright, dazzling sugar lights all over the

forest. The unicorns didn’t know who

decorated and brought the Christmas

spirit to Unicorn Forest. They loved that

they were going to celebrate Christmas

that year.

The squirrels could see that the unicorns

really appreciated what they did.

Unicorn Forest found its Christmas spirit

after all. With the help of four awesome

furry helpers, it was a happily ever

after Christmas in Unicorn Forest.

Honorable Mention

A Christmas to Remember

by Francesca Reilly

Bay Hill

‘Twas the night before Christmas,

and it was silent through the Robinsons’

house. Not a creature was stirring, not

even a mouse. On the other hand, the

house next door was as ecstatic as ever.

The Robinsons had always known that

their neighbors were a bit peculiar but

often ignored their behavior. Tonight,

however, the family couldn’t help but

pay attention to the bizarre behavior

coming from their next-door neighbors’

house.

Eleven-year-old Peyton, 7-year-old

Lela, and Mr. and Mrs. Robinson decided

they would go over to the Claus’

house and check out the racket that they

were causing. The thought occurred to

the children that the house could possibly

be Santa’s house, but the pair immediately

doubted their thoughts.

Santa lives in the North Pole, doesn’t

he? They went over to the Claus’ house

and quickly discovered that there were

toys and charming Christmas decorations

scattered around the house. It also

appeared to be snowing inside, and

they could tell all of this by standing by

the front door and peeking into the window

where Mrs. Claus was standing

next to Santa by the fireplace. Wow!

They had lived right next to the Clauses

for about seven years and never thought

of this happening. How had they never

perceived that they lived next to Santa

Claus?

Peyton excitedly knocked on the

Claus’ door and found herself standing

in front of Santa. Santa laughed in a

jolly fashion and amiably asked how he

could help the charming little girl.

“Are you Santa Claus?” Peyton said

with a giggle.

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“Why yes, I am!” Santa said. “Ho,

ho, ho!”

As Lela made her way to the front

door, Santa gave Peyton a candy cane

complete with a red ribbon wrapped

around it.

“Can I have one, too?” Lela asked.

“Why of course you can!” Santa

said.

Lela went up to Santa, politely

grabbed the candy cane, and gave him

a warm, cozy hug. Then Mr. and Mrs.

Robinson went up to Santa and introduced

themselves, and Santa called for

Mrs. Claus to come over with six cups

of hot cocoa. They chatted for a while

and drank their delicious hot cocoa.

“Remember it’s Christmas Eve,

so, why don’t you girls tell me what

you want me to put under your tree

tonight?” Santa said.

The girls, full of joy, smiled widely

and took turns sitting on his lap. They

told Santa what they wanted. When

they were done, they said thank you

to Santa and Mrs. Claus, gave Santa

one last hug, and went home. The next

morning, they woke up, ran downstairs

and found a bunch of presents under

the tree. The room was so full of joy,

you could tell Santa had sprinkled

Christmas magic around the house the

night before.

The girls found a note that said, I

hope you like all of your presents. See

you tomorrow at dinner. (Your parents

invited us over.) Your friend, Santa

Claus.

The whole Robinson family agreed it

was the best Christmas ever!

Honorable Mention

A Christmas Puppy

by Holland Roedema

Pembrooke

The Christmas of 2015 was a time I

will never forget. I was given one of the

greatest gifts then, and it has brought

an incredible amount of happiness

to my family and me. Receiving this

shocking present was an enormous surprise

to our family and brought great

cheer to the holidays. This gift has truly

brought our family together to celebrate

the Christmas season and will continue

to bring about more joy.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 30

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29

Let me begin with how we were given

this sweet and loving gift: a puppy! Both

of my parents supposedly had some “errands”

to run and were gone for almost

four hours on Christmas Eve. I felt confused,

and, to be honest, a little worried

about where they went. As the hours

went by, they finally pulled into the driveway.

However, only my mom got out of

the car and approached the front door.

She told my brothers and me to head into

her room while we waited for my dad.

After a long period of impatiently

waiting, we were eventually able to

leave the bedroom and were soon sitting

in front of a huge box in our living

room. I was anxious to see what was

inside the box but was also a little overwhelmed

by all the chaos occurring

during those first few minutes. Once

we settled down, the box was opened,

and there he was. A small ball of fur

with giant paws and floppy ears. We

were so shocked, we did not have as

big a reaction as you would expect.

Not too long after the big reveal, we

were crowding around and admiring

the newest member of the family.

That cheerful evening showed me

what the Christmas season is truly

about, and that is family. I have realized

how much my furry friend brought

us closer together as a family. It showed

me that we can enjoy things together

and should show our gratitude for the

gifts we are given throughout the entire

year. I was quickly able to notice the

love our family had for this creature of

God and realized how much happier

our lives became after that Christmas

season.

Not only has this gift brought an

abundance of great joy, but it has

shown me that Christmas is so much

more than what you want on your

Christmas list. It has shown me that

this time of year is about sharing time

with friends and family and trying new

things. For example, taking care of a

puppy! I feared that I would not be

able to take care of our new pet, but

with the help of my family, our puppy

has now grown to be a huge, healthy

and loving delight to my day. This was

truly the most memorable Christmas

that I will not forget.

Even though I truly enjoy spending

time with family, I also need to make

time for Christ. As a Catholic, I have

made it a priority to keep Christ in

Christmas and to make the Advent season

an important event in my life, as

well. Christ should be a significant part

of Christmas and should be a time of

preparing ourselves through prayer.

Christmas truly means something much

more to me now that I have set apart

time for family and time for Christ.

Honorable Mention

The Family of Christmas

by Mia Appleby

Windermere

We are the family of Christmas.

When I say everyone is there, everyone

is there! Nanny, Bop, Poppy and

Nani are my grandparents. Then everyone

from my mom’s two sisters to

my six boy cousins, uncles, siblings

and parents. We are the family that

starts to decorate our home before the

scary costumes ring at our front door.

I guess you could say we have a slight

Christmas obsession; yet, we wait until

the day before Christmas to get our

presents. We celebrate Christmas like

many families around the world, but

what makes us different is that we have

literally celebrated Christmas around

the world.

What most people love about the

holidays is the cooler weather, warm

fireplaces and hot cookies right out of

the oven. Lucky for you, we are not like

most people. Our Christmases growing

up took place on the other side of the

world. Literally. We have spent many

Christmas holidays “down under.” My

dad was born and raised in Ka Huna,

Australia. He grew up on a farm, where

he and my grandparents lived the life

of diary farmers. When we would go

visit for Christmas, we would spend our

days playing on the farm and learning

the importance of taking care of

animals and the farm.

Unlike in the U.S., the weather in

Australia during this time of year can

get up to 118 degrees. The days of

Christmas plaid and scarves were long

gone. Although the weather was much

different than here, we could not make

it through the holiday season without

making Christmas cookies. This is one

of my favorite memories growing up.

Nani was always in charge of baking

duty. We would spend the day decorating

with Aunt Kozzi and my cousins.

Even here, I can close my eyes and

smell those cookies baking in Nani’s

kitchen. We would feel so accomplished

later that night when everyone

would come over for Christmas Eve

dinner.

Another one of my favorite memories

always took place on Christmas Eve.

My dad, brothers and I would set out

to make the best possible Santa trap

in town. This would include string from

Poppy’s workshop, bells from Nani’s

craft bucket, and of course, those delicious

ginger bread cookies that we

baked earlier in the day. We would

spend hours coming up with what

we thought was the perfect plan. We

would go to bed that night in hopes that

our trap would be successful the next

morning. These memories are of things

I hope to share with my kids someday.

Spending Christmas on the other

side of the world while growing up is

not something that many kids could

say they have been able to do. The

journey to get there sure is tough, but


definitely worth it. Christmas is not defined

only by cold weather and warm

cookies. It is not defined by being in

your own home or waking up in your

own bed. Christmas to me means

much more than that. Christmas to me

will always be special memories of

spending time on Poppy’s farm, baking

ginger bread cookies with Nani

and cousins, and coming up with the

perfect plan to catch Santa in action.

I truly believe that we are indeed the

family of Christmas. One that could

never let a jet plane and thousands of

miles take away the true meaning of

Christmas.

Honorable Mention

Christmas

Dinner Goes to the Dog

by Garret Milhausen

Summerport

Once upon a time, a family was preparing

for Christmas. This family had a

dog. He wasn’t really a mean dog, it

was just that whenever his nose caught

scent of something he wanted, he got it.

And this is the story of how the Johnsons

ended up eating out on Christmas.

It started when Mr. Johnson was

stringing the lights. The dog, Sully, was

outside when Mr. Johnson climbed up

on the ladder. In his pocket was some

beef jerky that he planned to eat later.

Once Sully caught whiff of this, the

game was on.

When Mr. Johnson had his back

turned, Sully went to work. He was a

very large dog, more than 100 pounds.

Sully took a step back and charged the

ladder, which wobbled briefly and

fell. Luckily, Mr. Johnson landed in the

hedge. Sully then went over and briskly

ate the beef jerky out of his pocket.

Later that day, just as dinner finished

cooking, Sully found another interesting

scent and immediately put his plan

into action. Mrs. Johnson always made

a tenderloin on holidays. When she

was about to take it to the dinner table,

Sully retrieved his favorite toy, a very

realistic rat. Positioned right outside the

kitchen door, Sully lay in wait. As Mrs.

Johnson walked out of the kitchen carrying

the tenderloin, Sully dropped the

“rat” at her feet. She freaked out and

dropped the tenderloin, which Sully instantly

picked up and took outside to

gorge himself.

Feeling pretty low, the Johnsons

turned on the television. On came a

Christmas miracle: an ad for a Cracker

Barrel Christmas buffet. The Johnsons

had a wonderful Christmas night after

dinner, which was spent at the vet

getting Sully’s stomach pumped.

Honorable Mention

Christmas Traditions

by Antonio Adornetto

Bay Springs

Christmas is one of my favorite times

of the year. All the memories, traditions,

time with family and Jesus’ birth

are what make this holiday so unforgettable.

There are happy, sad, joyous

and new and enduring remembrances

made each year. Traditions are at the

heart of what makes all holidays special.

They are what makes your family

and anyone you celebrate with unique.

Some of my favorite family traditions

surround decorating the Christmas

tree, attending special Christmas programs,

choosing ways to give Jesus

a special birthday gift of helping

and being kind to others, and celebrating

Christmas Eve and Christmas

Day.

During the beginning of December,

we decorate our Christmas tree. We

have a large collection of ornaments

that all have a special story behind

them. There are ornaments from my

great grandfather, grandparents, parents

and special ones to commemorate

all our family vacations and special

events throughout our lives. This gives

us a wonderful chance to look back at

many wonderful memories.

We always attend at least one special

Christmas program or event each

year. In the past, we have gone to

Epcot and visited the countries in World

Showcase and learned about all the different

Christmas and holiday traditions

around the world. We even adopted

the tradition of hiding a pickle ornament

and giving the one who finds it

a special gift after we learned about it

in the German pavilion. We have also

seen SeaWorld’s holiday celebration,

The Nutcracker ballet and the lights at

Disney Studios. These all create fantastic

memories to look back on.

Every year, we have chosen a special

way to give back to Jesus during

the holidays. When I was very little,

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 31

my mom would fill a specially wrapped

box with good deeds that I would do

throughout the holidays. We would

open it on Christmas morning for Baby

Jesus and read to him all the positive

ways his spirit had guided me during

that time. Now, we try to volunteer at

different places. We also look to pay

it forward to others whenever possible

and give to those in need to show the

spirit of caring and love that Jesus

teaches us truly lives in us every day

and especially during the holidays.

On Christmas Eve every year, my

grandmother comes to our house for a

special steak dinner, and we open our

presents from the family. We put on a

Johnny Mathis Christmas CD, which is

my dad’s favorite, and I hand out presents

to everyone. It is always a quiet

night with no TV.

Christmas morning is just my mom,

dad and me, opening gifts from Santa

and special presents that were not

opened the night before. We then attend

Mass. For the past two years, I

have served Mass, which is a very

special honor. This is a special chance

to thank God for giving us the ultimate

gift of his Son to save us. After Mass,

my aunt and uncle host the family for

the day, which includes dinner at their

house with extended family and my

great grandmother.

Spending time with people you care

about is what family is all about and

what creating special memories really

means to me. All of these traditions we

create together show how important

family is and remind us of the special

bond Mary, Joseph and Jesus had as

the Holy Family as we celebrate His

birth every year.

Honorable Mention

Christmas Is Back!

by Zach Wolsonovich

Lake Roberts Landing

It’s November, and signs of Christmas

are beginning to show up. Lowe’s is

drowning in poinsettias, and the peppermint

mocha, a Starbucks classic,

has returned. The Christmas spirit has

arrived with a bang and has no signs

of leaving.

It’s Black Friday, and the world

seems to have exploded. Yesterday

the world-famous Macy’s Thanksgiving

Day Parade should’ve been called the

Macy’s We Love to Celebrate Christmas

Early Parade. I score some great gifts,

as well as some things for myself, from

Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

My favorite Christmas tradition is

decorating the house, inside and out. I

enjoy the struggle of trying to find lights

that work and figuring out how to attach

them to the house. It is always funny

when we lose the remotes for the timers

or step back to admire our work at night

and see entire sections of lights out.

The tree is another story. Being the

owner of a dog is amazing, but it

comes with its struggles. It seems that

year after year, we lose more and more

ornaments.

One of the things I love about

Christmas is giving back to those less

fortunate. Last Christmas, my friends

and I helped with a toy drive at our

school for the children at Nemours

Children's Hospital. Seeing how happy

all of the people who worked at the

hospital were about this act of kindness

was a wonderful sight. As Christmas

approaches, I hope that we can give

back to those who need it.

Around two weeks from Christmas,

one of my favorite Christmas traditions

is baking cookies with my mom.

Also, around this time, we begin to

watch Christmas movies with the whole

family. Our favorites include Elf and

Christmas Vacation. I personally feel

that Christmas movies are some of the

best in the world.

When break finally arrives, it is nearly

Christmas. Everyone in my family is

hustling and bustling, trying to get lastminute

preparations done, and finally

it’s here. Christmas Eve is one of the

most anxiety-filled days of the year. You

cannot wait to wake up the next morning

to see all of your presents. Finally,

after you finish dinner and leave

cookies out, you slowly drift to sleep.

It’s here, Christmas! I always run

downstairs to find presents waiting for

my family and me. My youngest sister

sleeps in for what seems like forever

until finally, she awakes, and we can

begin the festivities. As we open presents

and enjoy Christmas festivities,

I remember to be thankful for the gifts

I have received, not just material things.

I thank God for my family, friends

CONTINUED ON PAGE 32


32 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 31

and all of those who have made a

difference in my life.

Honorable Mention

A Memory

by Samantha Payton

Windermere

Once, on Christmas Eve, a girl,

dressed warmly, was sitting on her

porch, when she saw a dog shivering.

She felt sad for the dog, so she

approached it and gave it one of

her many layers of clothing. The dog

stopped shivering and turned into a

beautiful sorceress. She had never seen

someone so magnificent and majestic.

Then the sorceress spoke.

“You, darling child. You have a very

kind and pure heart. What is your

name?”

“Tai Angelis,” the girl said.

“Well, Ms. Angelis, you have earned

yourself a gift,” the sorceress said.

After wondering if she should get

something for her family or something

cool, Tai answered, “I would like ice

powers, please.”

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Then, the sorceress pulled out a

sphere-like orb, handed it to Tai, and

said, “Just twist the orb three times carefully

to the right before you brush your

teeth. Also, keep the orb with you at

all times.”

And just like that, the sorceress

vanished.

Tai immediately went to tell Sam, her

twin sister. “Sam!” Tai exclaimed as she

burst into their room.

“What happened?” Sam asked as

she jumped off her bed.

“Don’t worry. I’m alright. Look, I got

this orb from a sorceress, and if I drink

the liquid inside it, I’ll get ice powers.”

“Whoa, Tai, how do you know it’s

not poison,” Sam asked suspiciously.

“I dunno, but I guess we’ll find out,”

Tai replied.

After eating their Christmas dinner,

Tai was ready.

“OK, on the count of three. One, two,

three!”

Once Tai finished drinking the sweet

liquid and brushed her teeth, she fell

asleep. After awhile, the door creaked

open. It was Sam.

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There was no answer. She pulled out

a key and unlocked a secret door in

the closet.

Sam whispered, “Riccamora.”

She opened the door and headed

down the dark passage way.

The next morning, Tai woke up early

to test her powers. After waking up her

twin, they met in the living room. As she

was focusing on her new powers, ice

blocks came out of Tai’s hands.

The girls played with Tai’s ice powers

every winter for the next couple

of years until a terrible storm hit their

town. Tai was about to go inside the

house when she heard a screeching

noise. She turned around and saw a

car spinning out of control. Although

Tai was capable of helping the out-ofcontrol

car, she did nothing to stop the

car from crashing.

“Sam, I just witnessed a car crash on

the icy road!” Tai exclaimed.

“Did you try to stop it?” Sam asked.

When Tai responded “no,” she saw

a disappointed gleam in her twin’s

eyes.

“Why do you use your powers only

for playing?” Sam asked.

Tai saw the same troublesome look

on her sister’s face two years ago when

she first got the orb. Sam asked Tai if

she remembered why she got the ice

powers.

“No, I don’t,” Tai replied.

Sam had no words to explain her disappointment.

Tai sat down gingerly, as

she pulled out the orb. Sam took out a

key from her pocket. With no words,

Sam opened a secret door and gestured

Tai to go in. Once they were inside,

Sam asked for the orb. Tai gave it

to her, and Sam put it on a torch holder.

Without warning, the torch burst into

flames. They were not ordinary flames,

they were pictures of when Tai helped

the dog. Then, Tai realized she had

been selfish.

“Tai, promise me you’ll use your

powers to help others,” Sam said.

Tai promised, and she kept her

promise forever.

Honorable Mention

White Christmas Prayer

by Bryce Barbon

South Bay

In my small town, just outside of

Chicago, it was a snow-less Dec. 24.

Being 12, my siblings and friends were

bored. We couldn’t go sledding, iceskating,

skiing or snowmobiling with

the absence of snow. It was unthinkable

that tomorrow morning was Christmas

Day, and there would be no snow

for Santa’s sleigh, let alone for our

traditional winter fun.

As we closed our eyes and drifted

off to sleep, we each prayed a “white

Christmas prayer.” When I awoke on

Christmas morning, I looked out my window.

No snow — just frozen, barren

brown grass. Despite it being Christmas,

spirits were down. We had never experienced

a Christmas Day without snow.

Without snow, what would we do while

Mom, Dad and my grandparents spent

the day preparing our Christmas feast?

On past Christmases, we had frolicked

in the snow with cousins and friends. I

also secretly worried that the reindeer

food sitting outside my window sill

on our roof had gone untouched. Of

course, reindeer can’t land on rooftops

without snow!

We gratefully opened our gifts. New

toboggans, racing skis and hockey

skates had all been neatly wrapped

with colorful foil and ribbons. The exciting

new winter toys quickly became a

tease as we knew we couldn’t use them

on the frozen brown grass outside. After

opening gifts, we decided to check on

the reindeer food we had left out the

night before. Shockingly, when we

peered out the window, it was snowing

heavily. It looked like white icing had

been spread over the landscape. Our

“White Christmas” prayers had been

answered!

Rushing to put on mittens, hats,

scarves and boots, we returned to our

gifts strewn under the Christmas tree

and gathered them up to head outside.

The same scene repeated itself from

every front door on our small town

street. Hoots, hollers and screams of

delight echoed in the cold, crisp air.

Snow had miraculously been delivered.

It even seemed as though my parents

and grandparents were giving a sigh

of relief as all of us kids ran out of the

house. Neighborhood friends zoomed

down backyard slopes with new toboggans,

skates were laced up for a

hockey game, and snowmobiles could

be heard zooming in the fields behind

the houses.


FAIRBANKS AVE

GARDEN AVE

Winter fun would be had after all! Our

prayers for snow had been heard and

delivered. I pondered this thought as I

later walked into church with my family.

I looked up at an intricate stained glass

window at the end of my pew and saw

an image of Jesus in the stained glass.

I saw a twinkle of sun come through

the stained glass. It seemed as though

He was winking at me. Quietly, I wondered

if He had something to do with

the white Christmas miracle for all the

children — and our parents — in our

small Illinois town.

Honorable Mention

Stranded in Space

by Zachary Yadi

The Willows

On Dec. 24, 2001, John McGuffin, a

former astronaut, was sent out to space

to work on a satellite that had been

damaged by an asteroid. John was

a family man with an ex-wife and a

seven-year-old daughter. At 7:08 a.m.,

seven hours before John was sent to

space, he was packing for his trip. His

daughter, Clare, walked into the room

while he was packing.

“Do you really need to leave? It’s

Christmas Eve.”

“I know, honey. I want to be home

too, but when duty calls, I can’t say no.

But I promise you, when I get home we

will be able to have as much fun as any

other Christmas Eve.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

At 12:27 p.m., an hour before John

was sent out, he got his astronaut suit

on and headed inside the spaceship.

“Your directions are to get to the

satellite, fix it and get back as soon as

possible,” said the flight commander.

“When you get there, you will need to

turn on the power so you can get it up

and running and be able to see. But

before you leave, we are going to need

to do a systems check.”

Two hours later.

“We are ready to lift off. We will

begin the countdown. John, are you

ready?”

“Affirmative.”

“T minus five, four, three, two, one,

blast off! We have liftoff.”

John reached the satellite at 6:55

p.m. He grabbed his gear and headed

inside the satellite. He fixed the satellite

with no problems. He pressed the button

that hooked him to the ship. When

he got back to the ship, he headed

back toward Earth. He put the ship on

autopilot and decided to take a nap.

He was dreaming about Christmas and

all the joy in it.

He woke up 15 minutes after he had

put on the autopilot. He looked out the

window and saw that it was all black

outside. He could not see a thing, then

sparks started flashing. The ship got

hit really hard and started going out

of control. When the ship turned, John

saw the reason why he was hit. He was

in an asteroid field!

He put on the thrusters and tried to

get his ship to safety. When he did that,

he felt another bang. Red lights turned

on, and the speaker started beeping

like crazy. He realized that if he got

another hit like that, the ship might

explode. He turned his ship around,

but when he did that, a small asteroid

hit the back of the ship and sent it

straight toward Earth. John’s ship started

to deform when a fire started, then

everything went black.

When John woke up, he was in a hospital

bed with a bunch of people surrounding

him. All he was thinking was

that he made it just in time for Christmas

Eve, or at least he thought he did.

Then, a nurse walked up to him and

said, “What is your name?”

“John McGuffin.”

“OK, John McGuffin. You have been

in a spaceship crash. You have broken

your left hip and legs, and your chest

was punctured badly. Luckily, the thick

coating on your suit protected you from

the worst. You will be fine, but it will

take a long time to heal.”

Clare came running in and saw her

dad.

She asked the nurse if he was OK,

and the nurse said, “He will be fine.

God has blessed you with a Christmas

miracle.”

Hearing that brought Clare joy.

Honorable Mention

Story of the Season

by Jacob Lee

Falcon Pointe

What do you think Santa does on

Christmas Eve? He takes presents

around the world, of course. Usually, he

starts his trip at the North Pole. But this

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 33

time, he started someplace different ...

Universal Studios of Orlando! Well, it’s

a long story, but here it goes.

During the off-season, Santa visited

Orlando to enjoy sunny days and

brought most of his crew with him. The

only problem was he and his crew

had too much fun at Universal Studios

and forgot where they parked his

sleigh.

Santa ran inside Islands of Adventure

looking for his sleigh. He thought it

might be at Hogwarts. He looked all

around, but it wasn’t there. Then, he

went to the Marvel comics section.

As he arrived, he saw The Hulk roller

coaster. And there it was — his sleigh!

So, he jumped right in.

When the ride started to move, the

safety bar moved onto his shoulders

and chest. The ride started, and Santa

was launched up a steep hill and went

into a loopy-loop. After he came out,

the sleigh turned down, and it felt like

he would fall out on to the ground. But

the sleigh kept going. Santa begged to

get off, but the ride wasn’t over.

It can’t get any worse, Santa thought.

But Santa was wrong.

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Just then, the sleigh climbed up so

high, it felt like it was touching the sky.

As Santa held on tightly, the sleigh fell

over the hilltop and down it plunged.

Nightmares filled Santa’s head.

I want to get off this ride, Santa

thought to himself. He heard people

yelling at the top of their lungs. Santa

felt like he was going to take off into the

air. But instead, his sleigh slowed down

right in front of his elves.

The ride was over.

Then, Santa got out of his fake sleigh,

and the elves were yelling at Santa.

“Why are you on that ride?” they

screamed. “You only have a few hours

left!”

Quickly, they hooked up the reindeer

to the sleigh and took off into the night.

“Ho, ho, ho,” Santa said with a

laugh. “Merry Christmas!”

The staff of the Southwest Orlando Bulletin extends

special thanks to everyone who participated

in the 26th annual holiday short-story contest.

Editor’s note: Entries may have been edited for

grammar, punctuation, length and content. To

honor as many holiday short stories as possible,

School News does not appear in this issue. ª

(Location: Winter Park Garden Club - Clubhouse)

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Camellias for sale with other plants, merchandise and food. (Location: Clubhouse Area)

10 – 11 a.m. Camellia 101 Class with Robert Bowden, Director of the City of Orlando’s Harry P. Leu Gardens – (Location: Barn)

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34 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

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www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 35

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36 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

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www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 37

TOURISM UPDATE

submitted by Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association

Help our

customers.

A job seeker

meets with a

representative

from the

DoubleTree by

Hilton Orlando

at SeaWorld

at the Central

Florida Hotel

& Lodging

Association

Hospitality

Career Fair.

Representatives

from Hilton

Worldwide

discuss

employment

opportunities

with a job

seeker during

the Central

Florida Hotel

& Lodging

Association

Hospitality Career

Fair.

Customer Service Representatives

Full Time Roles with Excellent Benefits

Go to jobs.conduent.com

Email charity.thalacker@conduent.com

On Nov. 6, more than 30

Central Florida Hotel &

Lodging Association companies

participated in a Hurricane

Relief Hospitality Career Fair with

the purpose of securing employment

for those who fled to Central

Florida in the aftermath of the destructive

hurricane season that

impacted Puerto Rico and neighboring

islands. The complimentary

job fair, held in partnership with

CareerSource Central Florida,

Latino Leadership, Puerto Rico

Family Response Center, and Heart

of Florida United Way, led to the

employment of approximately 100

job seekers.

Thanks to a robust Central Florida

tourism industry, many career

opportunities exist for those who

have relocated to our region and are

in need of meaningful employment.

CFHLA maintains a brief listing of job

opportunities on its website at www.

cfhla.org/employment-opportunities.

In addition to conducting the career

fair, the CFHLA Foundation, in

partnership with CFHLA members,

donated $13,000 to Fondos Unidos

(United Way) of Puerto Rico to assist

in recovery efforts on the island.

CFHLA will also be sending hospitality

industry representatives to Puerto

Rico in the coming months to meet

with those on the island who may

be interested in relocating to Central

Florida to pursue a “new chapter”

and are available to work in the

hospitality industry. ª


38 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

n Dr. Phillips

I’m in. Events. and Base Camp

Children’s Cancer Foundation representatives

are gearing up to cohost

more than 800 supporters from

all over Central Florida and beyond

for Black and White Weekend. The

event was first envisioned in 2000

in an intensive care unit hospital bed

when a near-fatal case of pneumonia

almost claimed the life of entrepreneur,

philanthropist, University of

Central Florida Hall of Famer, and Dr.

Phillips resident Heissam Jebailey.

Immediately prior to a miracle surgery

that cured him, Heissam envisioned

black and white colors, as well as

making it out of surgery alive, to host

a big event for family and friends

while giving back to the community.

The ninth annual Black and White

Weekend for Charity and Wellness

will take place from May 11-12, 2018.

Admission is $45 in advance and

$60 at the door, if not sold out, with

access to the entire weekend. The

cost includes food and drink specials,

music, a photo booth, ongoing entertainment

and more. Sponsorships are

also available. For more information,

visit blackandwhiteweekend.com.

Dr. Phillips resident Salli Setta,

president of Red Lobster Seafood

Co., was inducted into the Central

Florida Hospitality Hall of Fame by

UCF Rosen College of Hospitality

Management at The Pineapple Ball,

alongside John Rivers of 4 Rivers

Smokehouse. The Central Florida

Hospitality Hall of Fame annually

honors a distinguished group of

leaders for their outstanding service

and commitment to the hospitality industry.

Salli was recognized for her

contributions to two major Central

Florida-based restaurant companies:

Red Lobster, now privately owned,

and Olive Garden Italian Restaurant,

which is part of Darden Restaurants.

Currently president of Red Lobster,

Salli leads operations, marketing

and culinary departments for

more than 700 restaurants in North

America. In her current role and during

her 15-year tenure with Olive

Garden, she has received numerous

industry awards and led significant

advancements for both brands. She

serves on the board of the Women’s

Foodservice Forum and actively

shares her knowledge to help others

develop in their careers through

speaking engagements.

n Gotha

IN YOURNEIGHBORHOOD

compiled by Lauren Salinero

Red Lobster

Seafood Co.

President and

Dr. Phillips

resident Salli

Setta, pictured

with Abraham

Pizam of UCF

Rosen College

of Hospitality, is

inducted into the

Central Florida

Hospitality Hall

of Fame.

The competition team from Ready

Set Dance in Gotha competed in

the DanceMakers Inc. competition

and convention in Daytona

Beach. Team members and families

sported yellow ribbons and “I

Dance For Rachel” shirts to support

Rachel Bruning, who was

diagnosed with cancer four months

ago. Rachel was able to compete

that weekend and is thankful for the

team spirit and love shown to her

by her teammates.

n MetroWest

MetroWest Master Association

members hosted the sixth annual

WinterFest at the MetroWest Golf

Club. The free, family-friendly event

featured the holiday movie Shrek the

Halls shown on a big screen on the

golf green. There was also a Shrek

slide and donkey rides for children,

an ice-skating rink, Santa and Mrs.

Claus, Chick-fil-A’s Santa cow and

baby cow, and photo opportunities

with a life-sized snow globe.

Holiday-themed performances were

by Perfect Pointe Productions and

MetroWest Elementary School,

and local food trucks provided bites

to eat for attendees. The event benefited

Edgewood Children’s

Ranch, a nonprofit residential program

for boys and girls ages 6-17 to

address and overcome behavioral issues

in a positive, safe environment.

n Phillips Landing

Drs. Harpreet and Devendra

Kahlon co-hosted Rep. Val

Demmings and Orange County

Sheriff Jerry Demings, as well as

several prominent members of the local

Sikh community, in their Phillips

The Ready Set Dance competition team wears “I Dance For Rachel” shirts at the DanceMakers Inc. competition to support team member

Rachel Bruning (front, center).


www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 39

with items specifically with veterans in

mind: two bars of soap, repurposed

shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush,

deodorant, shaving cream, a razor,

comb, socks and an inspirational notecard.

The veterans were also connected

with counselors, pastors and

organizations in their local communities

to provide them with the support

needed to transition to civilian life and

into the workforce.

n Windsor Hill

(L. to r.) Devendra Kahlon, M.D.; Kudrit Riana Kahlon; Southwest residents

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and Rep. Val Demings; and Harpreet Kahlon,

M.D., and Suchait Kahlon gather at the Kahlon’s Phillips Landing home to endorse Sheriff

Demings as Orange County mayor.

Landing home. The gathering raised

funds to endorse Sheriff Demings as

Orange County mayor.

n Sterling Pointe

Sterling Pointe resident Robert

“Bobby” Olszewski was

elected to the Florida House of

Representatives in a special election

representing House District 44. Rep.

Olszewski was sworn in on election

night and headed directly to

Tallahassee to attend the legislative

committee weekly meetings. He also

was given committee assignments

by Florida House Speaker Richard

Corcoran. Rep. Olszewski represents

District 44 on the Government

Accountability Committee, as well as

the Pre K-12 Appropriations; Careers

and Competition; and Local, Federal

and Veteran Affairs subcommittees.

n Windermere

During the Hike Across America,

powered by Clean the World and

Booyah Veteran Bus Project, Shane

Johnson of Windermere traveled

more than 3,000 miles (22 miles every

day) in 65 days from Orlando

to California to raise awareness for

veterans experiencing homelessness

Windermere resident Shane Johnson,

founder of the Booyah Veteran Bus Project,

hikes from Orlando to California to raise

awareness for veterans who are homeless or

in transition.

and veterans in transition. The 22-

mile intervals represented the number

of veterans that commit suicide every

day. Clean the World partnered with

Shane, founder of Booyah Veteran Bus

Project, to distribute a total of 10,000

hygiene kits to veterans in need at 20

different city stops along his journey.

Veteran hygiene kits are specialized

Windsor Hill

resident and

Olympia High

School alumna

Analisa Sorrells

is inducted into Phi

Beta Kappa at the

University of North

Carolina at Chapel

Hill.

Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest

and most honored college honorary

society, inducted 165 University

CONTINUED ON PAGE 41

Messages will be published in the Feb. 1, 2018, issue.

Deadline: Jan. 10, 2018 • Length: 20 words maximum

Robert “Bobby” Olszewski (far right) of Sterling Pointe is sworn into the Florida House

of Representatives by Paul Henry (far left), rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of

Mary, Queen of the Universe. He is joined by (l. to r.) Mother Rosie Olszewski of Orange

Tree holding daughter Reagan and wife Allison.


40 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 39

of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

students as new members. Among

the inductees was Windsor Hill resident

and Olympia High School

alumna Analisa Sorrells. Phi Beta

Kappa membership is open to undergraduates

in the college and professional

degree programs who meet

stringent eligibility requirements. Past

and present Phi Beta Kappa members

from across the country have

included 17 American presidents,

40 U.S. Supreme Court justices, and

more than 130 Nobel laureates.

Analisa is the daughter of proud parents

Tom and Mitra Sorrells.

n Winter Garden

About 20,000 residents and visitors

took part in 11 hours of simultaneous,

continuous entertainment at last

month’s Winter Garden Music Fest.

More than 25 musical acts performed

for audiences of all ages, from Beauty

and the Beast shows by Pinocchio’s

Marionette Theatre, theater troupe

Phantasmagoria, a magician, African

storytelling and music to show-stopping

bands highlighting the main

event — the Jonnie Morgan Band,

Thomas Wynn and the Believers, the

SH-Booms, Beebs and Her Money

Makers, and Switch. Attendees also

had an opportunity to sample a variety

of local food and craft beer.

n Et Al

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 41

Steve Clapp (left), president of the Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips,

presents the prestigious Paul Harris Award to Paul and Susan Paulikas

(center) for their outstanding contributions. They are joined by Dave

Lehman, director of the many other foundation programs for the club.

President/CEO of

International Drive

Resort Area Chamber

of Commerce and

Southwest resident

Maria Triscari (left)

and John Stine,

general manager of

I-Drive 360 and 2017

I-Drive Chamber,

co-present Southwest

resident and Orange

County Mayor

Teresa Jacobs

with the Visionary

Leadership Award.

Southwest Orlando resident and

Orange County Mayor Teresa

Jacobs was recognized by the

International Drive Resort Area

Chamber of Commerce with the

Visionary Leadership Award during

IDRACC’s 30th anniversary Awards

Luncheon held at the Orange County

Convention Center. Under Mayor

Jacobs’ leadership, the I-Drive corridor

has expanded and developed

during the past eight years — during

her time as mayor and when

she previously served two terms as

an Orange County commissioner.

In the past year, more than 89,000

square feet of commercial space

was added to the area, including

223 hotel rooms and the opening of

two attractions.

Although we try to ensure that all information

presented above is the most current, correct and

dependable available, we do rely on others for

the source of our news. Therefore, the Southwest

Orlando Bulletin and Cornerstone Publishing &

Multi-Media LLC cannot be held responsible for

the validity of the information presented here, nor

does mentioning it constitute an endorsement. In

Your Neighborhood news is welcome and may be

mailed to P.O. Box 851, Windermere, FL 34786;

or emailed to Lauren@kearneypublishing.com. ª

PICTURE MY PET!

Submit your purrr-fect pet photos for Southwest Orlando Bulletin’s 17th

annual pet photo contest! Southwest Orlando's picture-perfect pets will

be featured in our Feb.15 issue.

All photos must be received by Jan. 31 and will be returned after the

issue date. Mail photos to: Cornerstone Publishing & Multi-Media,

P.O. Box 851, Windermere, FL 34786; email to

Lauren@kearneypublishing.com; or upload online at

www.southwestorlandobulletin.com.

Please include name, pet’s name, address, neighborhood and phone

number on entry. For more information, call 407-351-1573, option 4.

* Must be a Southwest resident to participate.

Dogs • Cats • Birds • Reptiles • Rabbits • Fish • Rodents • Horses • Etc.


42 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

n Big Orange Awards take

place next month

West Orange Chamber of

Commerce will hold its 2018 Big

Orange Awards on Jan. 26, 2018, at

Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The evening

celebrates the accomplishments

and triumphs of some of the chamber’s

most admired and inspirational members.

It will include handcrafted hors

d’oeuvres, gourmet fare, fine beverages

and fabulous silent auction items,

and the evening will conclude with the

announcement of the 2017 Big & Small

Business Members of the Year.

For more information, visit

wochamber.com/chamber_events/

the_big_orange_awards.

n From destruction to art

A giant live oak tree that fell during

Hurricane Irma in Oakland Park,

a residential community in Winter

Garden, was moved to the community’s

future amenity center as a piece

of natural art. The tree was beyond

saving after the hurricane. It will be left

NEWS & BUSINESS BRIEFS

in its natural state and will be a centerpiece

for the future park near the amenity

center, which is under construction

and will be completed in early 2018.

n Special Olympics

Champions’ Gala

Special Olympics Florida held its

annual Champions’ Gala, presented

by Publix Supermarkets, at the Four

Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt

compiled by Lauren Salinero

A fallen

giant live

oak tree

serves a new

purpose as a

centerpiece

for a future

park near

Oakland

Park’s

amenity

center.

Disney World. Jim Payne and

Meredith McDonough, awardwinning

news anchors for WESH 2

News, hosted the event, which celebrated

the organization’s 45th anniversary.

Elite guests included Rep. Val

Demings, Orange County Sheriff

Jerry Demings, Orlando Magic

player Aaron Gordon, and others.

The event also included recognition

of Special Olympics Florida’s most incredible

athletes, coaches, volunteers

and community partners from across

the state while raising awareness

and funds for its programs, which

serve more than 41,000 children and

adults with intellectual disabilities.

Guests also had the opportunity to

meet and learn more about athletes

from Florida who will be competing

in the 2018 Special Olympics USA

Games in Seattle next year.

Jim Payne and Meredith McDonough of WESH

2 News co-host the Special Olympics Florida Champions’

Gala.

For more information, visit www.

specialolympicsflorida.org.

n GKTW goes Over The Edge

In February 2018, Give Kids The

World will give supporters a chance

to “walk the walk” — 428 feet straight

down — to raise money for its village.

As part of the Over The Edge

fundraiser, 76 people will rappel

down the side of the Hyatt Regency

Orlando on International Drive.

GKTW has partnered with Over

The Edge, a Nova Scotia-based

company, to make its most extreme

fundraiser ever happen.

Over The Edge has hosted similar

events across the country, raising

more than $50 million for nonprofits

like Habitat for Humanity, Special

Olympics and Big Brothers Big

Sisters. Over The Edge will handle

all technical and safety issues, and

GKTW is responsible for attracting

participants. Rappellers must raise at

least $1,000, and the total number

of climbers is capped at 76.

For more information or to register,

visit gktw.org/overtheedge.

n Harbor House gets state

funding for three attorneys

Harbor House of Central Florida,

Orange County’s only state-certified

domestic violence organization,

received state funding through

VOCA (the Victims of Crime Act)

to participate in the

Florida Coalition Against

Domestic Violence Civil

Injunction for Protection

Project. The project funds

three Florida Bar-licensed

attorneys to provide free

legal advice relating

to, and free legal representation

in, civil IFP

proceedings to individuals

referred by Harbor

House and other community

agencies. The

attorneys are available

to speak with eligible

individuals about how

Florida laws provide for

domestic, dating and sexual

violence and stalking


www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 43

civil injunctions, which may protect

them from being hurt or harassed.

For more information, visit www.

harborhousefl.com.

n Executives Sleep Out to

stand with homeless youth

Orlando City Soccer Club cosponsored

more than 100 executives

for Sleep Out: Executive Edition, a

one-night event, during which participants

slept outside to experience the

impact of homelessness and stand in

West

Orange

Chamber

of

Commerce

members

celebrate

the opening

of Best

Cleaners.

Photo courtesy of WOCC

Christmas Eve and reopen at 10:00

a.m. on Dec. 26. Regular hours are

Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-4

p.m., and 10 a.m. on Friday to 4

a.m. on Monday. The club is also

offering special holiday cocktails,

treats and craft beers. For more information,

call 386-252-6484 or

visit www.orangecitypoker.com.

More than 100 executives spend a night sleeping outside for Sleep Out: Executive Edition.

solidarity with homeless youth. The

annual event raised funds for the

Covenant House Florida, a nonprofit

organization that serves runaways,

homeless and at-risk youth ages 18-

21, including teen parents and their

babies.

Sleep Out is a nationwide initiative

that takes place across the U.S. and

Canada at 19 Covenant House shelters.

It also coincides with National

Hunger and Homeless Awareness

Month.

For more information, visit orlando.

thesleepout.org.

BUSINESS BRIEFS

West Orange Chamber of

Commerce representatives held

a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Best

Cleaners in Dr. Phillips. WOCC

builds partnerships, strong businesses

and commitment to the

community by serving as the leading

business advocate in Central

Florida, facilitating opportunity to

nearly 1,000 member businesses.

For more information about

WOCC, call 407-656-1304 or visit

wochamber.com.

The owners of Orange City

Racing and Card Club, located

at 822-4 Saxon Blvd. in Orange

City, invite guests to join them this

holiday season. The club is now featuring

Vegas-style poker games and

all-new Texas hold’em tournaments.

The club will close at 6 p.m. on

Orange City Racing and Card Club, "Orlando's Closest Poker Room," now features

all-new Texas hold’em tournaments. ª

Carlos Ortiz, ARNP

Desiree Fouse LMHC

CAP

WE TREAT "ADHD, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, BIPOLAR DISORDER, SUBSTANCE ABUSE,

BEHAVIORAL ISSUES AND MANY MORE"-IN CHILDREN AND ADULTS


44 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

n Charities/Fundraisers

Jan. 28, 2018 — This Is My Brave

Show Orlando

The SunTrust Auditorium at Orlando Museum

of Art, 2416 N. Mills Ave., Orlando, hosts

the This Is My Brave Show Orlando, a production

that showcases the personal stories

of local individuals living successful, full lives

despite mental illness. People share their

powerful, personal stories onstage through

original music, poetry and essays. In conjunction

with the show, an art exhibition features

works of local artists who live with a mental

health diagnosis. Time: 1:30-4 p.m. for the

art exhibit and 2:30-4 p.m. for the show.

Cost: $20-$40, with proceeds benefiting the

National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater

Orlando. For more information, call 407-

253-1900 or visit www.namigo.org/brave.

Jan. 30, 2018 — Author’s

Luncheon

Windermere Town Hall, 520 Main St.,

Windermere, hosts the second annual Author’s

Luncheon, featuring Kristen Harmel, international

bestselling author; and including lunch,

a silent auction, raffle and book sale. Time:

11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Cost: $30, with proceeds

benefiting Julie’s Mission for critically ill babies.

For more information, call Patty Goonen, 407-

234-8471; or email pattygoonen@gmail.com.

n Children’s/Teens

Programs

Dec. 26 — Library Program

The Winter Garden Library, 805 E. Plant

St., Winter Garden, hosts Peppermint Pals

for ages 2-4. Time: 10:30 a.m. For more

information or to register, call 407-835-7323

or visit ocls.info.

Dec. 28 — Library Programs

The Windermere Library, 530 Main St.,

Windermere, hosts Plastic Bag Print Making for

ages 11-18. Time: 2 p.m. For more information

or to register, call 407-835-7323 or visit ocls.info.

n Classes/Programs

Dec. 30 — EcoSaturday Program

Tibet-Butler Preserve, 8777 Winter Garden

Vineland Road, Orlando, hosts Wool: The

Whole Nine Yards, a program for age

7-older about how wool makes its way from

sheep to consumer. Participants learn the differences

between renewable and nonrenewable

resources and ways to responsibly use

both. Class size is limited to 30, so arrive

early. Time: 11 a.m. The class is free. For

more information, call 407-254-1940.

March 1, 2018 — Classes Begin

Registration is open for National Alliance on

Mental Illness Greater Orlando’s free Family-to-

Family education program, a 12-week course

COMMUNITY BULLETIN BOARD

for family, friends and caregivers with a loved

one age 18-older living with mental illness,

while maintaining their own well-being. The

program, in Southwest Orlando, is taught by

peer volunteers who possess lived experience,

and the course includes information on schizophrenia,

bipolar disorder, major depression and

other mental health conditions. Preregistration is

required. For more information, call 407-253-

1900, email information@namigo.org or visit

www.namigo.org.

n Events/Performances

Through Jan. 13, 2018 — Art

Exhibition

Crealdé School of Art, in partnership with the

Winter Garden Heritage Foundation, presents

The Lake: A Documentary Exploring the

Land and People of Lake Apopka, in its two

galleries — 600 St. Andrews Blvd., Winter

Park; and Hannibal Square Heritage Center,

642 W. New England Ave., Winter Park.

After more than a year of planning, two artist

teams set out to capture the contemporary

view of the land and people of the diverse

and distinctive Lake Apopka community. For

more information, call 407-671-1886.

Dec. 27-30 — Basketball

Tournament

The new Cramer Family Field House at The

First Academy, 2667 Bruton Blvd., Orlando,

hosts The City Beautiful Invitational Basketball

Tournament, featuring 16 teams from across

Central Florida, the state and the country.

For more information, including game times

and ticket prices, visit thefirstacademy.org/

blog/inaugural-basketball-tournament-to-takeover-tfa-orlando.

Jan. 20, 2018 — Camellia Show

The Winter Park Garden Clubhouse in Mead

Botanical Garden, 1300 S. Denning Drive,

Winter Park, hosts the 72nd annual Camellia

Show, including assorted varieties of camellia

plants for sale, a camellia plant raffle, a

Camellia 101 class from 10-11 a.m. (RSVP to

presidentcscf@gmail.com), self-guided tours and

more. Time: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; however, camellia

blooms are not viewable until 1 p.m. Admission

and parking are free. Anyone who has camellias

growing in their yard can enter a bloom

or blooms for a competition that takes place

between 7-10 a.m. Cash prizes are awarded.

For more information, visit www.camelliacfl.com.

n Holiday Happenings

Through Dec. 29 — Holiday Friday

Nights

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of

American Art, 445 N. Park Ave., Winter

Park, hosts Holiday Friday Nights, including

free admission from 4-8 p.m. and live music

compiled by Lisa Sagers

from 5-8 p.m. Programming also includes family

tours, curator tours and an art demonstration

on selected dates. For more information, call

407-645-5311 or visit www.morsemuseum.org.

Through Dec. 30 — The Best

Christmas Pageant Ever: The

Musical Performances

Orlando Repertory Theatre, 1001 E. Princeton

St., Orlando, presents performances of The

Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical,

Time: Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. and

5:30 p.m. Cost: $25, adults; $18, students,

seniors (55-older) and military personnel; and

$15 for youth 3-17. For more information,

call 407-896-7365 or visit orlandorep.com.

Through Dec. 30 — It’s A

Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

Performances

The Margeson Theater at Orlando

Shakespeare Theater in Partnership With UCF

presents performances of It’s A Wonderful

Life: A Live Radio Play. Showtimes vary, and

ticket prices are $13-$50. For more information,

call 407-447-1700, ext. 1; or visit

www.orlandoshakes.org.

Through Dec. 31 — Light Up UCF

CFE Arena and the University of Central Florida

host the 10th annual Light Up UCF, an annual

holiday festival that includes 45 nights of iceskating,

a world-class choreographed light

show with new music, free holiday movies,

live entertainment, rides, a Light Up Express

kids train, photos with Santa and more. The

Holiday Market Under the Stars takes place

Dec. 16. Times, dates and costs vary. For more

information, visit www.lightupucf.com.

Through Dec. 31 — Christmas

Services

Lifebridge Church, 12120 Chase Road,

Windermere, hosts the Upside Down Christmas

Series during the month of December. There

are no morning services Dec. 24, instead they

will be held at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. There

is also a New Year’s Eve service at 10 a.m.

For more information, call 407-505-4888 or

visit www.lifebridgechurch.org.

Through Dec. 31 — Now Snowing

Celebration Town Center hosts the 19th

annual Now Snowing event, including iceskating,

community performances by some

of the area’s top young talent, horse-drawn

carriage rides, train rides, photos with Santa

and special concerts. Snow falls at 6 p.m., 7

p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. For more information,

visit www.celebrationtowncenter.com.

Through Jan. 1, 2018 — Holiday

Fountain Show

Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs

hosts the annual Holiday Fountain Show at

the Plaza fountain, featuring special shows

with dancing water and dazzling lights choreographed

to classic holiday tunes. Time: 6

p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. For more

information, visit www.uptownaltamonte.com.

Through Jan. 6, 2018 — Holiday

Celebration

Universal Orlando Resort celebrates the

holidays with the following festivities:

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry

Potter, including uniquely themed Christmas

decorations, garlands and lights; holidaythemed

food; and holiday performances

by the Frog Choir and Celestina Warbeck

and the Banshees; and more. In addition,

there’s a Universal Holiday Parade featuring

Macy’s, Mannheim Steamroller performances

on select dates, Grinchmas at

Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and much

more. Times vary. Access to the theme park’s

holiday festivities is included with admission

to the parks. For more information, visit

www.universalorlando.com/holidays.

Through Jan. 7, 2018 — Winter In

The Park

The Central Park West Meadow, 150 N.

New York Ave., Winter Park, hosts Winter in

the Park, the city’s annual holiday ice-skating

rink, holiday music, games, special guests

and more. Time: Monday-Thursday from 3-9

p.m., Friday from 3-10 p.m., Saturday from

10 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday from noon-8

p.m. Cost: $13 to skate all day. Skate rental

is included. For more information, call 407-

599-3203 or visit cityofwinterpark.org/witp.

Dec. 21 — WhizKids Library

Program

The Winter Garden Library, 805 E. Plant

St., Winter Garden, hosts WhizKids: Write

a Letter to Santa for children 6-8. Participants

type text and insert graphics into a letter,

while recognizing the parts of a letter and

using editing tools in Microsoft Word.

Preregistration is required. Time: 10:30 a.m.

For more information, call 407-835-7323.

Dec. 22, 23 & 29 — Holiday

Festivities

Downtown Winter Garden hosts the following

free holiday festivities: Christmas carols

and holiday pop performed at the Plaza by

Safia Hudson on Dec. 22 from 7-9 p.m., A

Very Merry Farmers Market with Santa on

Dec. 23 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., A Merry Winter

Garden Light Show at city hall Dec. 23 from

6-9 p.m., and Christmas carols and seasonal

tunes performed by the Good Times Jazz

Band at the Plaza Dec. 29 from 7-9 p.m.

For more information, visit www.cwgdn.com.

Dec. 22 & 29 — Holiday Library

Programs For Children/Teens

The Southwest Library at Dr. Phillips, 7255

Della Drive, Orlando, hosts the following

holiday-themed programs for children/teens:

Cookie Decorating for ages 6-18 on Dec. 22

at 10:30 a.m. and Noon Year’s Celebration

for ages 3-12 on Dec. 29 at 11:15 a.m.


Seating is limited for all programs, so registration

is recommended. For more information,

call 407-835-7323.

Dec. 23 & 24 — Visits With Santa

& Mrs. Claus

Beverly Hills Jewelry Watch and Loan, 12348

W. Colonial Drive, Winter Garden, hosts visits

with Santa and Mrs. Claus, including photo

opportunities (well-behaved pets included) and

light refreshments. Time: 1-3 p.m. Admission

is free. For more information, call 407-877-

5626 or visit www.facebook.com/bhjwl.

Dec. 24 — Christmas Eve Open

House

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of

American Art, 445 N. Park Ave., Winter

Park, hosts a free Christmas Eve Open House,

featuring live music by the Raintree Chamber

Players. Time: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., with live

music by the Raintree Chamber Players from

1-4 p.m. Admission is free. In addition, all

visitors receive free admission on Fridays from

4-8 p.m. For more information, call 407-645-

5311 or visit www.morsemuseum.org.

Dec. 25 — Christmas Brunch

Nine 18 at the Villas of Grand Cypress, 1

N. Jacaranda, Orlando, hosts a Christmas

Brunch, including an abundance of holiday

favorites and a visitor from the North Pole.

Reservations are required. Time: 11 a.m.-3

p.m. Cost: $49-$60, adults; $19.95, children

6-12; free for children 5-younger. For

more information, call 407-239-1999 or visit

grandcypress.com.

Dec. 31 — New Year’s Eve Dining

Nine 18 at the Villas of Grand Cypress, 1

N. Jacaranda, Orlando, offers New Year’s

Eve five-course dining. Reservations are recommended.

Cost: $65, tax and gratuity not

included. For more information, call 407-

239-1999 or visit grandcypress.com.

n Miscellaneous

Through Jan. 24, 2018 — Call For

Female Artists

Professional female artists are invited to submit

their work for Women in the Arts’ Celebrating

the Genius of Women arts competition. Selected

art is featured in the annual Celebrating the

Genius of Women exhibition at Orlando Public

Library in March and April 2018. Finalists are

eligible for up to $2,000 in cash prizes and

gallery representation. Entry deadline is Jan.

24, 2018. For more information or to enter,

visit www.womeninthearts.org/art-competition.

Dec. 23, 30, 2017 & Jan. 6, 13, 20

& 27, 2018 — Farmers Markets

Winter Garden Farmers Market, voted No. 1

in America, takes place at 104 S. Lakeview

Ave., Winter Garden. The market has more

than 150 vendors, and there is a new parking

garage next to the event. Time: Saturdays

from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Dec. 28, 2017 & Jan. 11 & 25,

2018 — Food Truck Takeovers

MetroWest hosts Food Truck Takeovers,

including 12 food trucks and music, at 6996

Piazza Grande Ave. in Veranda Park. Time:

the second and fourth Thursday of every

month from 6-9 p.m. For more information,

visit www.metrowestfoodtrucks.com.

Jan. 6, 2018 — Food Truck Night

Summerport Village Food Truck Night, a

family-friendly event that features a variety

of food trucks, local vendors, live music and

children’s activities, takes place at 13790

Bridgewater Crossing Blvd., Windermere.

Time: the first Saturday of every month from

5:30-9 p.m.

Jan. 29, 2018 — Open House

Holy Family Catholic School, 5129 S.

Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando, hosts an

open house. Time: 8:30-10 a.m. For more

information, call 407-876-9344 or visit

www.hfcschool.com.

n Networking/Club

Jan. 4, 2018 — Retired Educators

Meeting

The Orange County Retired Educators

Association meets at College Park United

Methodist Church, 644 W. Princeton St.,

Orlando, for a program about Orange

Technical College and scholarships. Anyone

who has worked in education is invited. Time:

10 a.m. For more information, call 407-677-

0446 or visit www.ocrea-fl.org.

n Support Groups

Dec. 26, 2017 & Jan. 9 & 23, 2018 —

Mental Health Support Group Meetings

Room 201 in Building B at St. Luke’s United

Methodist Church, 4851 S. Apopka-Vineland

Road, Orlando, hosts free individual and

family support groups for individuals affected

by mental illness. The 90-minute meetings are

peer-led and help participants connect with

each other, learn from each other’s experiences,

share coping strategies and offer

each other encouragement and understanding.

Time: the second and fourth Tuesday of

each month at 6:30 p.m. For more information,

call 407-253-1900, email information@

namigo.org or visit www.namigo.org.

Jan. 9, 2018 — Support Group

Meeting For Caregivers

The Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center

sponsors a free support group meeting for

caregivers in the Suite 281 Conference Room

(next to the south elevators on the second

floor) at Health Central Hospital, 10000

W. Colonial Drive, Ocoee. Time: second

Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. For more

information, call 407-843-1910 or visit

www.adrccares.org.

www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 45

Jan. 11, 2018 — Cancer Support

Group Meeting

The Attic of Building C (Second Floor) at St.

Luke’s United Methodist Church, 4851 S.

Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando, hosts a cancer

support group for cancer fighters, survivors,

caregivers and spouses/partners affected by

cancer. Meetings include a time of sharing,

spiritual and emotional support, and a different

topic each month related to the key challenges

associated with cancer. Time: 6:30-8 p.m. For

more information or to RSVP, call 407-876-

4991, ext. 262; or email care@st.lukes.org.

Jan. 15, 2018 — Stroke Support

Group Meeting

The Winter Park Civic Center, 1050 W.

Morse Blvd., Winter Park, hosts a free

meeting of the BCenter’s Stroke Support &

Social Group. A deli-style lunch is provided.

Reservations via email are requested to valerie@bcenter.com.

Time: third Monday of

each month from 12:30-2:30 p.m. For more

information, call 888-942-9355.

n Volunteer

Opportunities

Ongoing — Volunteers/Docents

Needed

Oakland Nature Preserve, 747 Machete

Trail, Oakland, seeks adults interested in

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learning about the history, wildlife, plants

and restoration efforts at ONP to volunteer

at the preserve to greet visitors, help answer

questions and lead a tour from time to time.

Workdays are Mondays and/or Saturdays.

For more information, email outreach@

oaklandnaturepreserve.org or visit www.

oaklandnaturepreserve.org/guide.To

register online, visit oaklandnaturepreserve.

org.

Ongoing — Volunteers Needed

The Mustard Seed of Central Florida, 12

Mustard Seed Lane, Orlando, seeks volunteers

who can help with donation sorting,

mattress recycling, warehouse maintenance,

administrative work, special events or general

maintenance. For more information,

call 407-875-2040, ext. 110; or email

jessi@mustardseedfla.org.

Ongoing — Volunteers Needed

The Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Program, which advocates for quality

long-term care, seeks volunteers.

Training is provided. For more information,

call 888-831-0404 or visit

ombudsman.myflorida.com.

Contributions to Community Bulletin Board are

welcome. Please send information six weeks

before the event to P.O. Box 851, Windermere,

FL 34787; call 407-351-1573, option 5; or email

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133 Terra Mango Loop, Suite 100, Orlando, FL 32835

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46 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com

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