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Eclipse Draws Hundreds at Boca Library

As I’m writing this, the Great American Eclipse has just passed, and first thing’s first: We’re still here. Despite the prognostications of some, the apocalypse has been postponed yet again. So we have that going for us, which is nice.

I experienced this one-in-a-lifetime communal gathering at Boca’s Spanish River Library, one of the city’s three public venues still giving away glasses the day of the eclipse. It felt like a be-in for science nerds, or at least science nerds for a day, a place where all our cultural and political divisions were covered like the sun. We stood together in unified awe, hundreds of paper lenses pointed skyward.

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However, only those who queued up early enough received glasses. By the time I arrived, at a few minutes before 1, library representatives were already urging people to go home, or to share with others: The venue’s 300 pairs of complimentary shades were already spoken for, and the event hadn’t even officially started.

The line snaked around the building, filled with throngs of sweaty pilgrims arriving by car, bike and foot. It was another manic Monday, in other words; what normally would have been a sleepy weekday afternoon resembled an airport on a holiday weekend.

Luckily, my wife and I bought our glasses weeks before. We just wanted to enjoy the atmosphere, the crowds and the perks of watching the eclipse at a public event, which in this case included free water, pink lemonade and protein bars. As the families piled onto the lake-view pavilion, many arrived with supplies and munitions—umbrellas doubling as parasols, insulated coolers full of beverages, tripod cameras and MacGuyvered duct-tape and cardboard solutions for savvy viewers who missed out on glasses.

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By 1:10, the sun was a mostly complete amber orb, the moon a looming foreign object just beginning to invade its space. Over the next two hours, it slowly consumed the sun, which at times resembled a partially devoured medallion of marmalade, then the Pac-Man heroine, then the DreamWorks crescent. At 2:45, we finally felt the sun’s brutal warmth subside a bit. The air crackled with anticipation for our 80 percent of totality, just minutes away. Library staff handed out pinhole-cut pieces of paper, which reflected tiny, flickering crescents everywhere.

Just like at New Year’s, there was a countdown to our fullest totality, at 3 o’clock, by which time the enormous sun looked like half a parentheses. Cue the cheers. And then, it was over—been there, seen that, let’s beat the traffic, etc. It’s the South Florida way.

I felt the same. Not being in the path of totality, we didn’t experience the eclipse like the most hardcore stargazers did, such as the 250 Japanese tourists in Oregon I learned about on CNN, who planned their eclipse vacation in 2011. We didn’t get to enjoy some of the more disconcerting effects of the phenomenon; none of the animals around the lake acted differently, and it never got dark.

But we can all say we went through an eclipse, hopefully with our retinas healthy. The next one is in April 2024. Time to start the clock.

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
mizner 200

Mizner 200 Decision Nears, Delray Looks For City Manager, More on Boca Downtown Campus

Game time for Mizner 200

Concept view of the entrance of Mizner 200.

One concept view of the entrance of Mizner 200.

Mizner 200 made today’s agenda for the Boca Raton Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Whether the city council approves the revised project remains, like the question of whether an injured athlete can play, a game-time decision. Read more

Randy Schultz has lived in Boca Raton since 1985 and has worked as a journalist in South Florida since 1974. He spent 37 years at The Palm Beach Post, the last 23 as editorial page editor. He has written the City Watch blog for Boca Raton Magazine since February 2014. He also writes a weekly oped column for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
ocean breeze

Council, District at Odds on Ocean Breeze; A Taller Ocean Palm

Ocean Breeze hits a snag

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The Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District would like to close on its purchase of the former Ocean Breeze golf course in October. Based on my conversations with city council members, that doesn’t seem likely.

Why? The district still hasn’t given city staff materials that the city council requested. Lennar wants $24 million for the roughly 200 acres of Ocean Breeze, which includes a site zoned for a hotel. That parcel is not subject to the covenant that restricts use of the course property to golf.

Rollins, though, wants the city council and district board to hold a joint meeting in September. At that meeting, Rollins told me this week, “We will answer all the city’s questions.”

The city has a lot of them. Ten days ago, Mayor Susan Haynie asked City Manager Leif Ahnell for a summary of the council’s questions after the May 8 meeting of the council and district. Art Koski, the district’s executive director, had made an emotional but vague argument that the city underwrite bonds for the district’s purchase of Ocean Breeze. The district doesn’t have the cash, so the city would issue the bonds and make the annual payments, for which the district would reimburse the city.

As Ahnell summarized them, those questions are:

  • What are the “details of the requested bond financing?” In addition to bonds for the course, the city wants to know details of what Koski said would be a second request for “facility redevelopment.” The course would need a lot of work.

Among other things, the city wants to know how much of the bonds would be non-taxable and which would be taxable. That would affect the rate. To issue the bonds, the city would have to craft an agreement between the city and the district. Ahnell said the district “has not finalized details of its proposed transaction(s) to enable staff to proceed with drafting of interlocal agreement in detail.”

  • What would be the schedule to “purchase, design, reconstruct, and open (the) golf course?” Ahnell noted that the district’s contract with Lennar presumes a closing on Oct. 25, though Koski said “extensions would be possible.” That would seem necessary. Ahnell called it “unlikely” that the city could complete the financing by then.
  • What about a third party in the deal? It could be the operator of a hotel on the commercial site. Ahnell noted that the district presented information at the May 8 meeting that included $300,000 from Ocean Breeze in “hotel ground lease” revenue.

“Whether or not there is private activity is a key consideration in structuring the financing,” Ahnell said, “and the related questions cannot be clearly answered until the details of third-party involvement are finalized. The district is still considering these issues.”

  • What is the appraised value of the golf course? What is the appraised value of the hotel site? Could the hotel parcel be considered separately? Haynie had asked whether the district could separate the hotel parcel and thus lower the purchase price. Ahnell said, “We have not received any further information on this issue.”
  • How much did improvements cost at the county-owned Osprey Point course in West Boca? The city wants to know, Ahnell said, “so we would have a benchmark in looking at the Ocean Breeze redevelopment. We have not received a response to that question from the (district.)”
  • How much might property values rise in Boca Teeca, the largely condo community that Ocean Breeze surrounds, if the course reopened? Added revenue could give the city reason to back the sale. Haynie asked for the information. Ahnell said, “We have not received a response on this issue.”

Ahnell concluded by saying that Koski “has advised me that the district is diligently working … to give the city a complete picture of the proposed plans, transactions, and related matters, but there is not currently a firm timeline.”

I emailed Koski twice and got no response. So I called Rollins. He said the district will have a new appraisal of Ocean Breeze that will “improve upon” the previous ones, all of which valued the course at far less than $24 million.

“Improve upon” means that the appraisal will be higher. How will that happen? Rollins said, “Factors have changed” regarding the “highest and best use of the property. I feel very comfortable.”

Rollins also said the district will present research from the National Golf Foundation on the “financial projections” for a new Ocean Breeze. The foundation, Rollins said, has been gathering information over the last two weeks.

Rollins would like the district board and the council to meet on Sept. 18, an off-week for regular council meetings. He points out that the contract is contingent upon the council agreeing to the financing. Why did the district go ahead with the contract? “Lennar was getting anxious.”

I reached Haynie and two of the four council members. Of that October closing, Weinroth said, “I can’t foresee that happening. That timetable is very ambitious.” Weinroth noted that the council faces other big issues, and he added that city staff still hasn’t crafted an agreement for the three bidders on the city’s western course.

Jeremy Rodgers called the October deadline “extremely aggressive. We’re still waiting on the due diligence. I’m eager to see the proposal, but I can’t comment beyond that.”

Haynie said the district wants a decision “rather quickly for something of this magnitude.” Counting the costs to fix the course, we could be talking almost $40 million. Haynie also stressed the need for information. “I don’t want to waste my time hearing again Art’s impassioned vision for the course.”

The city faces another deadline for its decision on the western course. Three developers have bid $73 million, though the offers vary from there. Assuming that figure is real or even close to real, the council risks with every succeeding month a softer economy and thus a lower price.

The council, though, has resolved to keep golf in Boca Raton even if the city sells the western course. How long can the council wait on the district and Ocean Breeze? “We don’t want to lose what we have in our own hand,” Weinroth said. “I have some concerns about prolonging the sale of the western course,” Haynie said. Rodgers said, “I’m all for moving on the western course.”

Beach and park district board member Craig Ehrnst said the October closing “is possible, but several factors need to come together.” Each agency, he said, may be working on a different schedule.

But there’s more at stake for the city. The two golf course proposals represent a potentially huge return for Boca Raton and also a potentially huge investment, with a fair amount of risk. Would a new Ocean Breeze course be successful enough not to strain the beach and park district, which would strain the city? Three months after the council-district meeting that was supposed to produce all the necessary information, we don’t have any information.

Ocean Palm wants a penthouse

Last April, the Boca Raton City Council approved Ocean Palm as a six-story condo on the southeast corner of AIA and Palmetto Park Road. On the site now are a commercial building and a 20-unit condo.

Residents praised the developer for consulting with the neighbors to create a compatible project. An earlier plan called for a 110-room hotel. Everyone seemed pleased.

Not long afterward, I heard that Ocean Palm might come back with plans for another floor, possibly because more residents of the current condo than expected preferred to move to Ocean Palm Beach rather than elsewhere. Now Ocean Palm has submitted documents that call for six “residential” floors and a “penthouse” floor, still with underground parking. To me, that adds up to seven floors. The documents refer to seven floors, still with 70 units. The project could come before the planning and zoning board next Thursday.

I contacted Ocean Palm’s representative but did not hear back by deadline for this post. Next week’s planning and zoning agenda has not been posted. I will update this item when more information becomes available.

Median update

I had written about the county’s decision to close the median opening into the Palmetto Park Square commercial center on Palmetto Park Road just west of Interstate 95. Some criticism had followed, and the county held up the project, which was to have begun this month.

Mayor Susan Haynie told me this week that she plans to meet with business owners in the center, but it may be a short meeting. Mike Tomasso, who owns Tomasso’s Pizza and Subs on the service road into Palmetto Park Square, told me Wednesday that he hadn’t heard the opposition that he anticipated.

“It doesn’t affect me,” Tomasso said. If anything, it would mean more cars on the service road in front of his fine, venerable restaurant. But he thought that owners inside the center would have disliked the idea of customers losing an easy entrance point from the west.

With the project, the county seeks to lengthen the northbound turn lanes onto 12th Avenue from Palmetto Park Road. At morning rush hour/school openings, traffic can back so far that it holds up drivers who want to go through the intersection. What appeared to be a controversy may not be a controversy after all.

Still waiting on Mizner 200 changes

As of Wednesday, Boca Raton had received no modified development application for Mizner 200. Representatives of Elad Properties and Investments Limited had discussed changes to the design after the city council last month delayed a decision on the 384-unit downtown condo project.

Participants told me that the talks were cordial and productive. Still, the council asked for the item to come back at the Aug. 21 community redevelopment agency meeting. The deadline for that agenda, a city spokeswoman said, is Tuesday. Staff would have time before that to review a modified application. I will have an update on Tuesday.


Missed the last City Watch? Visit our Community/City Watch page, and subscribe to the magazine for more City Watch columns in every issue. You can also sign up for our City Watch e-newsletter, where you’ll get the latest column delivered directly to your inbox. 

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Randy Schultz has lived in Boca Raton since 1985 and has worked as a journalist in South Florida since 1974. He spent 37 years at The Palm Beach Post, the last 23 as editorial page editor. He has written the City Watch blog for Boca Raton Magazine since February 2014. He also writes a weekly oped column for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
BBB 2017_Boca Mag ad_JUNE

Countdown to the Big Night! Boca Ballroom Battle Time!

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The weeks have become days now for the eight brave souls dancing in this year’s Boca Ballroom Battle. And the premier event of the summer is right around the corner! So I am here to remind you to get your tickets now! Quick! Before it’s sold out!

Things are moving fast, especially for me, one of the 25+ alumni who agreed to dance in the opening number of the event. It’s the 10th anniversary so they are letting us veterans back out on the dance floor (crazy thinking on their part) so we have strapped on the old dance shoes and spend most practices running into each other, kind of like how the band in “Animal House” marched straight into that brick wall.

We only have four practices left and I am sure I’ll be able to finally do that twisty thing at the end. Or not. But this time I don’t care as much; It’s just fun being part of the Ballroom Battle again—and in a group, as opposed to out there all alone on a dance floor the size of Texas.

This year’s dancers already look good; I can’t wait to see them dazzle us with their routines. They have worked for months learning their steps and raising money for the George Snow Scholarship Fund. In a week, the spotlight will be all theirs.

So here’s a big break-a-leg to the following rock stars, and a reminder to the rest of you that this is the DO NOT MISS event of the summer. I’ll see you there.

Doing that twisty thing.

  • Jim Dunn, Vice President and General Manager, JM Lexus
  • Teresa “Terry” Fedele, Registered Nurse, Retired Hospital Executive, Community Volunteer
  • Lisa Kornstein Kaufman, Founder & Creative Director, Scout & Molly’s
  • Derek Morrell, Proprietor, Ouzo Bay
  • Heather Shaw, Vice President and General Manager, Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Logan Skees, Director of Business Development, Trainerspace
  • Elizabeth Murdoch Titcomb, President, EMT Creative
  • John Tolbert, President, Boca Raton Resort & Club

Boca’s Ballroom Battle is Friday, August 18, at 6 p.m. at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Tickets are $185 per person, or $1,850 per table, with all proceeds benefiting the George Snow Scholarship Fund. For more information, sponsorships or tickets, please call 561/347-6799 or visit ballroombattle.com.

Marie Speed is group editor of all JES publications, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Worth Avenue, Mizner’s Dream and the annual publication for the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. She also oversees editorial operations of the company’s Salt Lake City magazines.

Her community involvement has ranged from work with the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce to a longtime board member position at Caridad Center. She is also on the George Snow Scholarship Fund review committee. She is a past officer of the Florida Magazine Association and a member of Class XVII of Leadership Florida. In her spare time, Marie enjoys South Florida’s natural world through hiking and kayaking, and she is an avid reader and an enthusiastic cook.

46710608 - lincoln road, a tourist landmark and shopping boulevard in miami beach

Miami Beach or Bust

46710608 - lincoln road, a tourist landmark and shopping boulevard in miami beach

It was another Sunday Funday field trip this weekend with my pack of up-for-anything explorers, this time to Lincoln Road and the newly renovated Española Way nearby, arguably the most charming street in Miami Beach.

We used to drive down to Lincoln Road to hire our fashion models. All the agencies were there then, of course, and every single person you saw sitting at a cafe or skating by on Rollerblades was about 17 years old and drop-dead gorgeous. It was unnerving, like you were trespassers in the Land of Perfect Humans. The women all had legs longer than LeBron’s and glowing alabaster skin; the men were so swoon-worthy it was weird. I mean you hardly ever see even one handsome man anywhere, not even in a year, but here were literally hundreds, all with ripply abs and curly hair and glacier-blue eyes. Which is why our then-art director Susan Rosser and I would take ourselves to a really good restaurant for lunch after a casting call; we were determined to eat all the food none of the models had obviously ever tasted, in a kind of tribute ritual.

Lincoln Road back then had a drug store/Botanica we always visited that sold Cuban cigars, a variety of purposeful religious candles, even anti-werewolf powder (because you never know.) There were galleries and tiny ethnic restaurants, even the Miami City Ballet, which had a picture window where you could watch them practice, complete with Edward Villella.

This Sunday, all that was gone.

Some of the old places were there, like Sushi Samba, and Books & Books, wild parrots rustling and squawking in the palms. But we only saw maybe one gallery and a Forever 21 that took up half a block. There were those annoying spa hawkers who try to give you free face cream samples and lure you into a store, restaurant shills shoving menus into your face and roving bands of tourists and families out for a Sunday stroll. The Botanica was long gone, and there were no impossibly beautiful people, either, no ballerinas twirling behind plate glass windows.

This is the New Miami, I thought, which felt a lot like the New Orlando or the New Sarasota.

Española Way was better, but something was still missing. Built as an artists’ colony in the 1920s—and the first commercial street in Miami Beach—the tiny vintage street has completed a $2.5 million restoration, intended to evoke an Old World “Spanish village with large overhangs, thick stucco walls and glazed tile” everywhere. This narrow little street—pedestrians only—still has some of that untapped historic charm—but is almost completely populated by one small café after another, with virtually no retail. Like an elaborate al fresco food court, only better.

We were looking for some trace of boho South Florida we remembered, or felt authentic, wacky, unique, the kind of vibe you could only find in Miami Beach. For some reason, it didn’t show up that day. Maybe we remembered things wrong or maybe we were in all the wrong places.

But we haven’t given up trying to find it again.

Marie Speed is group editor of all JES publications, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Worth Avenue, Mizner’s Dream and the annual publication for the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. She also oversees editorial operations of the company’s Salt Lake City magazines.

Her community involvement has ranged from work with the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce to a longtime board member position at Caridad Center. She is also on the George Snow Scholarship Fund review committee. She is a past officer of the Florida Magazine Association and a member of Class XVII of Leadership Florida. In her spare time, Marie enjoys South Florida’s natural world through hiking and kayaking, and she is an avid reader and an enthusiastic cook.

Sous chef Juan Galdamez and staff serve tiramisu from Maggiano's Little Italy at Wine and All That Jazz, the signature event for the Boca Chamber Festival Days, last year. Photo provided by the Boca Chamber.

Our Favorite Foodie Events at Boca Chamber Festival Days 2017

Sous chef Juan Galdamez and staff serve tiramisu from Maggiano's Little Italy at Wine and All That Jazz, the signature event for the Boca Chamber Festival Days, last year. Photo provided by the Boca Chamber.

Sous chef Juan Galdamez and staff serve tiramisu from Maggiano’s Little Italy at Wine and All That Jazz, the signature event for the Boca Chamber Festival Days, last year. Photo provided by the Boca Chamber.

August is a month of fun for Boca Raton, with the Boca Chamber Festival Days starting next week. There are plenty of events, and all are planned and run by nonprofits and supported by for-profit companies. The Chamber’s goal is to raise awareness about the nonprofits, and there’s no better way to do that than by eating and drinking your way to help a charity. Here are some highlights, from the Boca Chamber’s official calendar of events, to help you plan your month!

Find all the events and links to register here.

Aug. 3 – 6th Annual FondueRaiser

The Melting Pot Restaurant, 5455 N Federal Highway; 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Dip in for fondue appetizers, dinner or drinks. You can try the Ribbon-tini, the Melting Pot’s signature drink, and support the Lynn Cancer Institute’s League of Ribbons. Partners: Boca Raton Regional Hospital League of Ribbons, Alliance Association Bank and Plastridge Insurance.

Aug. 10 – Summertime BBQ Bash

Twin Palms Center, 306 NW 35th St.; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Twin Palms and 5 Spice Asian Street Market will partner to bring you a hearty BBQ meal of pulled pork, brisket, chicken, baked beans and cole slaw. All proceeds benefit Twin Palms. Cost: $20 for adults and $10 for children in advance, or $25 at the door.

Aug. 19 – Brunch, Bubbles & Blooms

BRIO Tuscan Grille, 5050 Town Center Circle; noon to 2 p.m. 

For $29 you get a glass of bubbly, a brunch entrée and a complimentary bloom from the HabCenter. A portion of proceeds go directly to support the HabCenter. Partners: HabCenter Boca Raton and Boca Center.

Aug. 21 – Margarita Monday

Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, 5250 Town Center Circle; 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Happy hour includes two signature drinks plus a bunch of appetizers. Proceeds go toward the KidSafe Foundation, helping to prevent child sexual abuse, bullying and internet exploitation. Partners: KidSafe Foundation and Minuteman Press of Boca Raton. Cost: $25 in advance or $35 at the door.

Aug. 22 – Taco Tuesday

Blue Moon Mexican Cafe, 6897 SW 18th St.; 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

This is Taco Tuesday with a charity twist. Enjoy appetizers and reduced-price drinks with the purchase of a ticket. All funds raised will benefit the foster children and youth who call Place of Hope home. Partners: Place of Hope and Blue Moon Mexican Café. Cost: $25 in advance or $30 at the door.

Aug. 25 – Battle of the Bartenders

Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel, 2000 NW 19th St.; 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Watch local “celebrity” bartenders battle it out, with all tips and a portion of ticket sales benefitting Best Foot Forward. Partners: Best Foot Forward, FL-Accounting & Advisers, Allegiance Home Health, United Capital and Ben Zimmerman. Cost: $25 in advance or $30 at the door.

Aug. 26 – Wine and All That Jazz

Boca Raton Resort & Club’s Mizner Center, 501 E. Camino Real; 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

This is the signature event for Boca Chamber Festival Days. There will be more than 100 fine wines, food from Boca’s top restaurants, and dancing and live music all night long. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Golden Bell Education Foundation. Partners: The Boca Chamber and JM Lexus. Cost: $75 for general admission or $120 for VIP admission.


Hungry for more food news? Visit our food page, and subscribe to the magazine for the most delicious coverage of Boca and beyond. 

Lynn Kalber wasn’t born in Boca Raton, but she attended elementary through high school there, so she might as well have been. She’s a graduate of the University of Florida and has been in journalism most of her life, including 26 years at The Palm Beach Post. She’s written feature and food stories, and edited food copy among other jobs, including blogging about wine (The Swirl Girls). Her husband is writer and author Scott Eyman. They live in West Palm Beach with an assortment of cats and dogs.
Me dancing at the 2013 Boca Ballroom Battle. Photo by Lacey Lin Photography.

Dancing Again! Making a Comeback at the Boca Ballroom Battle

Me dancing at the 2013 Boca Ballroom Battle. Photo by Lacey Lin Photography.

Me dancing at the 2013 Boca Ballroom Battle. Photo by Lacey Lin Photography.

The countdown is on! It is now 23 days until Boca’s Ballroom Battle and the contestants are stepping up their dance lessons, passing on the carbs, dreaming up costumes and wondering if they will ever, ever, learn the d*!# routine.

I remember that summer like it was yesterday when I was one of the eight dancers and absolutely sure I was going to make a fool of myself in front of all of Boca Raton. Read more

Marie Speed is group editor of all JES publications, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Worth Avenue, Mizner’s Dream and the annual publication for the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. She also oversees editorial operations of the company’s Salt Lake City magazines.

Her community involvement has ranged from work with the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce to a longtime board member position at Caridad Center. She is also on the George Snow Scholarship Fund review committee. She is a past officer of the Florida Magazine Association and a member of Class XVII of Leadership Florida. In her spare time, Marie enjoys South Florida’s natural world through hiking and kayaking, and she is an avid reader and an enthusiastic cook.

mizner 200

Mizner 200 Decision, Boca Raton’s Money Trail and More

mizner 200

Concept view of the entrance of Mizner 200.

No surprises with Mizner 200

There will be nothing much new Monday when the Boca Raton Community Redevelopment Agency—the mayor and city council—considers Mizner 200.

City staff recommends approval, as the staff did before the luxury condo project got favorable votes from the community appearance board and the planning and zoning board. Opposition again will come most strongly from some residents of Townsend Place, to the south along Mizner Boulevard, and possibly from the owners of Royal Palm Place, on the west side of Mizner Boulevard. Read more

Randy Schultz has lived in Boca Raton since 1985 and has worked as a journalist in South Florida since 1974. He spent 37 years at The Palm Beach Post, the last 23 as editorial page editor. He has written the City Watch blog for Boca Raton Magazine since February 2014. He also writes a weekly oped column for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
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Nova Student Breaks Hand Walking World Record for Charity

 

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Ashwin Kalyandurg breakdancing on his hands in front of a crowd at Nova Southeastern University. Photo provided by Ashwin Kalyandurg.

A Boca Raton resident plans to compete in November’s New York City Marathon and next year’s Boston Marathon—challenges that are difficult enough on two feet. But Ashwin Kalyandurg, a fourth-year medical student at Nova Southeastern University, plans to navigate the 26.2-mile course on his hands, to raise money for charity. Read more

Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on wordscomealive.com.
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Summer in the City

 

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Miami’s glittering skyline provides a worthy summer escape without renewing your passport.

My editor’s letter in this month’s magazine is all about wanderlust—that summer itch to hit the road, book a flight, shoot over to Europe—go anywhere. But I am still working and travel is not in the budget, so I’ve been staying close to home this summer.

And loving every minute.

I have become part of a posse of people who like to dip into South Florida’s more interesting corners—places we always say we want to go but never do—followed by lunch, a Happy Hour somewhere. These field trips are daylong wonders.  There is often bacon involved (the classic breakfast car picnic) and a robust discussion on where to eat lunch, why we love the big bowl of sky that arcs over I-95 en route to Miami. Or stories about our families, our growing up, whether we believe in ghosts (we do), great binge-watching tales and recollections of other trips, other times. Brian always drives and we get anywhere in record time. Carla keeps reminding him to actually look at the road and Mary is good at remembering every good bar/café at every exit between here and points South. Kelly is up for anything and a superlative shopper; Joyce is hilarious. In fact, every one of them is pretty funny, maybe because they are all smart and alive and engaged and irreverent.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I could go anywhere with these guys (and there are more here) and have a great time—but we’ve already started knocking destinations off our list: The Perez Art Museum and lunch at The Standard. The Homestead International Orchid Festival. The new Frost Science Museum, The Hollywood Yellow-Green Market.

There are more places to come, more kicking around in the heat that bothers everyone else (we don’t mind it), more cocktails on the water, more odd discoveries only an hour from home.

This is how I am dealing with my summer wanderlust—and tapping into the South Florida I fell in love with 26 years ago. It’s still here, the Miami skyline shimmering by the bay, Royal Poincianas in full bloom, wood storks wheeling across the interstate, piles of mangos for sale. The dark wall of an afternoon storm coming in, smoked fish dip and crackers, the sound of my friends telling stories, ice clinking in their glasses, as the afternoon light changes.

This is my summer now, and I am happy to be home.

Marie Speed is group editor of all JES publications, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Worth Avenue, Mizner’s Dream and the annual publication for the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. She also oversees editorial operations of the company’s Salt Lake City magazines.

Her community involvement has ranged from work with the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce to a longtime board member position at Caridad Center. She is also on the George Snow Scholarship Fund review committee. She is a past officer of the Florida Magazine Association and a member of Class XVII of Leadership Florida. In her spare time, Marie enjoys South Florida’s natural world through hiking and kayaking, and she is an avid reader and an enthusiastic cook.