by Ali Lindenfeld
Since 1992, The Community Nutcracker has been delighting audiences of all ages with its annual holiday production of the Nutcracker Ballet. Performed by more than 4,300 local and 36 professionals in 95 live, full-length performances, the Community Nutcracker brings out the whimsical culture of Christmas through childlike imagination and artistry, but it is the impact to the community that many may be unfamiliar with.
In the past 25 years, more than $600,000 has been donated to various nonprofits in Northeast Florida, including its main beneficiary for the past twelve years, Dreams Come True of Jacksonville. Through their partnership, more than 50 local children have seen their dreams fulfilled from the proceeds raised during the annual production. Dreams have ranged from week-long trips to Walt Disney World to tropical getaways to shopping adventures and even sailing the high seas.
“For more than 33 years we have been able to bring hope and joy to local children and their families because of our community partners,” stated Andrea Siracusa, Senior Manager for Dreams Come True. “It is through the generosity and talents of volunteers with the Community Nutcracker that Jacksonville is given the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful, artistic production, while knowing that an investment is being made back into the community.”
As part of their dedication to Northeast Florida, over 2,000 free tickets are issued city-wide each year through the Community Nutcracker. More than 4,000 school children from area schools are also provided the opportunity to see the performance during one of two school productions.
Together with its main sponsors, Community First Credit Union as the 2017 Principal Sponsor and Nimnicht Family of Dealerships as the Community Service Night Sponsor as well as many other amazing donors, the Community Nutcracker continues to produce a performance using over 250 local and talented dancers ranging in age from 9 years old to 85.
The Community Nutcracker and Dreams Come True are such important efforts” said John Hirabayashi, CEO and president of Community First. “We’re proud to help continue the tradition of this treasured local performance that supports the dreams of performers as well as those in need.”
Joining the production this year for the principal roles, is Yinet Fernandez and Jorge Villirani from the acclaimed Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Directed by the talents of three artistic directors Dulce Anaya (Dulce Anaya School of Ballet), Debbie Rankin (Baggs Studio) and Mark Spivak (Mark Spivak Dance Extension & Institute), plus two new choreographers Heather Loveland (Heather Loveland Dance Academy) and Suzanne Saltmarsh (Saltmarsh Dance), the Community Nutcracker is scheduled for Friday, December 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. as well as Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at the Florida Theatre. For more information and tickets, visit www.jaxnutcracker.org.
by Jennifer Yarbrough
On April 1, 2017 local Cancer Survivors, Caregivers, and citizens will come together at the American Cancer Society Bartram Trail Relay for Life to remind the community that “There’s No Place Like Hope.” The Relay for Life is a “grassroots, community-based team event,” which happens all over the United States every Spring. The day starts with a “Survivor’s Lap,” and then a “Caregiver’s Lap,” to recognize those directly affected by Cancer. Teams set up “camps,” around the track selling items to raise funds for the event and team members take turns walking around the track. A member of each team must be walking at all times to symbolize how those battling cancer never rest. In the evening, Luminarias will be placed around the track in honor of loved ones lost to Cancer and Cancer Survivors. The lit luminarias against the night sky are a powerful reminder of just how many people in our community have been affected.
One of those Survivors is Danielle Rodriguez. Danielle is like so many of us, a 40-something mom of two small children, she leads a busy life. Last February, she noticed a small pimple on her breast, but thought she might wait until her scheduled exam in April to get it checked out. Her mother intervened and as mother’s often do, encouraged her to make an appointment right away. Thankfully, she did. She was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer and had to undergo two surgeries and six weeks of daily radiation treatments. Throughout her experience her family, her mom especially, gave her strength. Her mom, her “rock,” who was already a “medical buff,” researched everything that she was going through and helped her gain peace of mind. Danielle describes herself as a person with a “get it done,” mentality and credits that with getting her through. She also found strength in prayer and keeping a positive outlook. Since her diagnosis and treatment, she has worked hard to change her lifestyle and that of her family. She encourages eating organic and being mindful of the food you eat and the chemicals you bring into your home and body. Her advice for people who receive a Cancer diagnosis: it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Get all your facts from all sources—traditional and non-traditional. Work to change your lifestyle, focus on your spirituality, eliminate stress and make your health a priority. By finding strength in the people around her and her faith, Danielle Rodriguez beat Cancer and is living her life with a new focus and passion.
Another Cancer Survivor is Bjorn Huysmans. Bjorn didn’t know when he got involved with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life that one day he would be walking the “Survivor Lap,” himself. In 2014, the 30-something, Small Business Owner decided to get involved with Relay for Life, making his signature “Belgian Waffles,” from his homeland to raise funds for the cause. When he shares his experiences with Relay for Life, one cannot help, but see his dedication and love for the event and what it represents. Last year, he walked the “Survivor Lap,” after being diagnosed with Sarcoma, but before the start of his treatment. During that lap, he walked and talked with someone he describes as his angel, Philip White. That was the first time he had met White who had been fighting his own 7-year battle with Cancer.
Throughout Huysman’s surgery, Radiation, and Chemotherapy, White was there to answer his questions and give him support. Their shared experiences and White's strength in his fight, gave Bjorn strength. Another friend, Trish, a Breast Cancer Survivor, also stepped up and supported Bjorn during his experience. Perhaps the greatest support and strength came from his partner, Petra, a former nursing teacher, who helped with emotional support and the day-to-day routine of recovering from surgery, treatments, and with his wound-care. Her simple statement of, “I’m loving you through this,” made a tremendous impact on his recovery and gave him strength to continue.
Dana Wolf, BT Relay for Life Community Manager had this to say about Bjorn and Petra, both RFL volunteers, “Together they are battling cancer and helping create a memorable Relay For Life experience for North St. Johns County. I am inspired every day by the volunteers that give so much of themselves to Relay so that others might never have to hear the words: "You have cancer."
By finding strength in the support of those around him, Bjorn Huysmans has beat Cancer and is a Survivor.
by Rachel Lord
Mom Look! The Pumpkin Patch! If this sounds familiar then you already know what time of year it is. The time of year where families come together and fun is made, at Tommy’s Pumpkin Patch and Fun Zone. Being the sixth year of Tommy’s Pumpkin Patch, we have gone bigger and better than ever. We are back, and 2016 is going to be the best thus far!
Not only is Tommy’s Pumpkin Patch and Fun Zone a great place to bring the family, but it has also become a family tradition to many. With a hay ride, a petting zoo (equipped with all of our favorite furry friends such as goats, sheep, chickens, and so many more), a minion train, a city corn maze, 2 bounce houses, 2 mega slides, a leaf room, a toddler zone, duck races, concessions & new pavilion area, and so much more, Tommy’s Pumpkin Patch is a place you will want to visit year after year.
Oh and let’s not forget about all of the pumpkins to choose from! From the perfect jack-O lantern to carve, to white Cinderella pumpkins, to miniature pumpkins for the children, you will be sure to find your family’s perfect pumpkin. And while we are talking about pumpkins, have you ever had Tommy’s Pumpkin Patch’s homemade pumpkin pie? I myself was not a big pumpkin pie eater, but let me be the first to tell you that our pie has changed me to the biggest pumpkin pie eater ever!
Some people come to Tommy’s Pumpkin Patch every year just for the pumpkin pie. So, when you come, make sure you grab a slice or a pie.
As a family run business, owners Tommy & Carmen Outley and Greg & Rachel Lord, along with our staff, strive in making sure that your family has a blast! That is why we are there, working and giving families that “personal touch”. Many local families grew up somewhere where they had the pumpkin patches and the fall festivities when they were younger. So, where can you go in our Sunshine state that has that? That is why the entire staff of Tommy’s Pumpkin Patch and Fun Zone try our best to bring the fall atmosphere to the St. John’s area.
In conclusion, even though it is still warm here in October, Tommy’s Pumpkin Patch and Fun Zone helps us pretend the weather is cool, the wind is blowing, and the leaves are falling, so be sure to bring the entire family!
"A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SWAMP" JULY 16TH, LEWIS AUDITORIUM
St. Augustine, FL- Swamp Radio, Northeast Florida's culture and arts variety live radio experience, will take its annual summer road trip to St. Augustine to celebrate all things summer, St. Augustine and Shakespeare. The live radio performance will take place at Lewis Auditorium on Saturday, July 16th at 7:30 p.m. to be recorded for broadcast in late summer on WJCT 89.9. Tickets are available at www.swampradiojax.com.
"So much of what we treasure about a visit to the ancient city has to do with a richness of character, spectacle and poetry. These same qualities are what has made William Shakespeare the most striking dramatist in the English language," stated host and producer and Ian Mairs. "Swamp Radio is all about telling a story, so we it made sense that we explore the ultimate storyteller of the past four hundred years," Mairs added.
The show will also feature St. Augustine novelist Laura Lee Smith's humorous instructions for the proper way to walk on the beach. Times -Union columnist Mark Woods will do a reading from his latest book, Lassoing The Sun, an account of his year long trek in the national park system. Comic writer Kate Norton has rendered a hilarious profile of a fictional ancient city trolley driver with her own bizarre tour narrative.
The Retreads, Swamp Radio's resident sketch comedy group, will be on hand to provide their own rifts on some of the Bard's sonnets and audience favorite, Swamp Lady, will address the nagging questions of classic Shakespearean kings and queens. Special musical guests will include hometown favorites The Willowacks and Shea Birney.
General admission tickets are $25.00 and are available at www.swampradiojax.com and at the box office one hour before the show.
Contact Ian Mairs (904) 476 5582
Are you afraid of the mysterious forces that lurk in the night? Beware the dark side is all around us: day and night.
Now the scene is set and you are beckoned to attend a theatrical performance of Bram Stoker’s Dracula adapted by John Mattera , Dramatic Publishing,
The novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, was first published in 1897 and since then the character of Count Dracula has lived on in the imagination. In this adaptation, the mysterious Count Dracula has gone to England where he is living on a large estate next to an insane asylum run by the incredibly naive Dr. Seward. The others that make up the cast of this thriller include Professor Van Helsing who must convince Dr. Seward that Count Dracula is a vampire; Renfield, a fly-eating lunatic who serves the Count (once too often); beautiful Lucy Westenra, who has an uncanny resemblance to a girl Count Dracula loved over a hundred years ago; Charles, the Westenra family butler whose poor eyesight saves him from being hypnotized; as well as three female vampires! Dracula is an ancient monster who has come upon the modern world, and those who encounter him must somehow find the courage to fight against him. But victory is not assured…
The Bartram Trail Drama Club will perform the show on October 22-24 (Thursday-Saturday), 2015 at Bartram Trail High School just in time for Halloween. Guests are invited to have fun with it and dress in Dracula theme and enjoy a Haunted Dracula Corridor, which will open an hour before the show begins.
Count Dracula demands punctuality, so don’t be late. Beware this performance is PG. Please feel free to dress in Dracula theme.
The Haunted Dracula Corridor will open its doors at 6pm. Dracula will
Tickets are $10/person and are on sale now.
St. Johns Magazine
St. Johns Magazine is a fun and friendly resource guide connecting the growing communities of northern St. Johns. We focus on the positive aspects of life with entertaining features and articles promoting local businesses, people, places and events!
St. Johns Magazine is published monthly and distributed free of charge to select homes in northern St. Johns, Florida
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