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Featuring Postcards and Perceptions: Seminole Culture and Tourism

LAKE WALES, Florida – Now on display at the Lake Wales Museum is the traveling exhibit, “Postcards and Perceptions: Florida Seminoles and Tourism,” on display through June 1, 2019, from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum which is owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. 


Postcards serve as guidepost to the changes of early 20th century Florida history. Their simple, yet evocative imagery reveals the adaptive nature of the Seminole people and attest to the complex pressures and adjustments Seminoles endured to assert their identity.


“The Seminole Tribe is alive and well in Florida, and this exhibit shows us the modern side of the Seminole people today,” states Jennifer D’hollander, director of the museum.  “We imagine native people as they were in our childhood history books, but they are a thriving part of Florida’s tourist economy, cattle industry and stewards of the environment.”


The Seminoles, like many Native American groups, became integral to the tourist trade in the early 1900s. As their traditional lifestyle of hunting and canoeing faded away under Florida land development, tourism offered an alternate source of income. Many traditions, like patchwork and alligator wrestling, blossomed under the tourist trade. Over time, important Seminole leaders and entrepreneurs learned vital skills as shop owners. These skills remain relevant today as the modern Seminole Tribe of Florida navigates its ever increasing role in international business and as key voice in Indian Country. 


This exhibition features pop up banners about the history, crafts, and significant figures of Seminole tourism, dating from the 1900s to the 1950s. There is an interactive true/false station and an oral history station that shares stories from seven tribal members.


The exhibit is made possible by the City of Lake Wales and sponsored by Visit Central Florida.  It will be on display now through Saturday, June 1, 2019.  The Lake Wales Museum is free and open to the public Tuesday – Saturday from 9 AM – 5 PM.

About the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Situated in the Everglades on a 66-acre cypress dome on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, the Museum offers more than 5,000 square feet of gallery space. Exhibits feature rare artifacts and lifelike dioramas that depict Seminole life at the turn of the century. In 2009, the Museum became the first tribally governed museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. Open seven days a week from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., the museum is located 18 miles north of Interstate 75 at Exit 49. For more information, visit or call 877-902-1113.


About the Lake Wales Museum

The Lake Wales Museum features historical exhibits, train cars, educational programs and group tours, and is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free.  Parking is free and the first floor is accessible for persons with disabilities, wheelchairs and strollers.  For more information contact the Lake Wales Museum, 325 S Scenic Highway, Lake Wales, Florida 33853; 863-676-1759 or

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Lakeland Magic Become Lakeland Swans
In a tribute to the community and to celebrate what the city embodies, the Lakeland Magic will change their name, logo and jersey to the Lakeland Swans for one night only on Friday, March 22.
Upon the team’s arrival in Lakeland, the organization reached out to the community to help name the team that would soon call Lakeland home. Many locals voted for the team to be the Lakeland Swans. “We wanted to give a nod to those that voted so that they could see the name come to life.” Wilkes said.
The Magic introduced the new name at a tip-off event held at Lake Morton. Lakeland Magic President Shelly Wilkes, General Manager Anthony Parker, and Head Coach Stan Health were joined by the entire Lakeland Magic team. Lakeland Mayor, Bill Mutz was also in attendance for the announcement. “The Lakeland Magic have embraced the local community from day one and to see the team become the Swans just emphasizes their dedication to our city.” Mayor, Bill Mutz said.
The team will wear specialty jerseys representing a swan that will be auctioned off during the game with all proceeds benefiting Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, the organization that serves as host to Lakeland’s annual Swan Derby. “The community has been so supportive and we wanted to do something to show our commitment to the city.” Lakeland Magic President, Shelly Wilkes said. “It’s about Lakeland’s history and bringing that to life.”
The Lakeland Swans will take on the Raptors 905 on March 22 at 7:00PM at the RP Funding Center. All Lakeland Electric customers will receive four complimentary tickets when they present their statement at the Box Office on the night of the game. Fans will also have the opportunity to take pictures in Lakeland’s historic Swan Derby boats. The game will include special theme music, in-game performances and more.
To purchase tickets with part of proceeds going to Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine:

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LAKE WALES, Florida –  The Lake Wales Museum will celebrate Black History Month with three programs throughout February 2019.  Join us for a unique exhibit, non-fiction book discussion and stirring speaker series. 

Featured Exhibit - “Freedom Riders”

February 20 thru March 20

This exhibition was created in partnership with WGBH Boston / The American Experience. The self-proclaimed "Freedom Riders" challenged the habits of a racially segregated society by performing a disarmingly simple act—traveling together in small interracial groups, and sitting where they pleased on buses and trains. Demanding unrestricted access to terminal restaurants and waiting rooms, they were met with bitter racism, mob violence, and imprisonment along the way. But their courage and sacrifice over eight months in 1961 changed America forever.

(Freedom Riders Exhibit)


Featured Humanities Speaker

Dr. Tameka Hobbs - “Strange Fruit In Florida”

February 21 @ 6 pm

Despite its reputation as the “Sunshine State” and a tourist destination, Florida harbors a lengthy and painful history of racial violence. Dr. Tameka Hobbs examines the history of lynching and racial violence in Florida, outlining the overall arc of the “lynching era” in the United States, normal dated between 1882 and 1930, as these instances of extralegal violence became more sporadic in the 1940s. She also highlights to role of Harry T. Moore’s advocacy against lynching and in favor of civil rights for African Americans in Florida.  Tameka Bradley Hobbs is an Assistant Professor of History and University Historian for Florida Memorial University. Dr. Hobbs is founding president of the South Florida Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. (ASALH).

(Dr. Tameka Hobbs)


Featured Book Club Book - Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

February 27 @ 12 pm

Dedicated to non-fiction, you'll discover the truth can be much stranger than fiction. Join us every month to discuss new book! Read the book and come ready to discuss the best non-fiction books. Free to the public and all the books are available to check out free of charge at the Museum while supplies last.

“We are pleased to include the history of African Americans in the museum and with special programming.  The museum strives to practice the inclusion of all Lake Waleans in our programs and history – to fill in important gaps were we are lacking ethnic history – we can continue to infuse diversity in our collective history,” said Jennifer D’hollander, director for the Lake Wales Museum.  “We hope this presentation will help our community and visitors gain a deeper understanding of the African-American experience in the U.S.  Lake Wales has a diverse population including 35% African-American residents.  Many events from the past century’s civil rights experience were playing out right here in Lake Wales.  It’s important to discuss these events, even though the talk by Dr. Hobbs will include some unsettling topics, we must remember how far we’ve come.” 

(First African American Schoolhouse in Lake Wales)


These programs are made possible through the City of Lake Wales, Visit Central Florida, and the Florida Humanities Council with funds from the Florida Department State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.  These programs are free to the public.  To RSVP, please visit the museum website at


About the Florida’s Humanities Council

The Florida Humanities Council sponsors community based projects, facilitates important conversations among Floridians, and shines a spotlight on Florida’s history, art, and culture.  Established in 1973, we are an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For over forty years we have developed and funded public programs that tell the stories of both Florida and those unique individuals that call this state their home.  For more information, visit


About the Lake Wales Museum

The Lake Wales Museum features historical exhibits, train cars, educational programs and group tours, and is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free.  Parking is free and the first floor is accessible for persons with disabilities, wheelchairs and strollers.  For more information contact the Lake Wales Museum, 325 S Scenic Highway, Lake Wales, Florida 33853; 863-676-1759 or visit

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No Man is An Island, the new single by the Rusty Wright Band, was inspired, in part, by an autistic child but was written for everyone who has ever felt set apart from others - physically or mentally marooned. Shipwrecked, if you will.

"It's not a three-minute pop song. It's a powerful piece of music and I felt it important to follow where the music was taking me, rather than me trying to compress the song into a cookie cutter format," said Rusty Wright, front man and primary songwriter for the group.  "That being said, it's longer than most radio hits but only because it has so much to say. The lyrics speak of sadness, of feeling apart, and longing for a place where you feel like you belong, like a castaway on an island who through no act or fault of their own has been placed apart from the rest of the world. From that description you'd think it would be a depressing song but the music builds to a soaring organ and guitar crescendo as the song progresses and at every show people have leapt to their feet at the end. That's what prompted us to make this the first single."

"We knew we had something special when we performed it at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago in June. We had just started performing it live. We hit the last note and heard this wave of sound roll at us from the audience as the entire place stood and roared their approval. You always dream of moments like that. Buddy was in the audience that night and later, as we got a photo with him he told me "You're great, man. Don't you take **** from anybody." At that moment I felt my life was complete," laughs Wright.

The second single, slated for release in late October, is a rendition of the rock classic Mississippi Queen. The song was originally included in the band's 2013 This, That & the Other Thing album but was originally recorded with an extended spoken delta blues intro, rendering the song too lengthy for airplay at most radio stations.

"Laurie actually suggested that we re-release the song in a shorter format," said Wright. "I revisited the raw tracks, cut off the intro and the fade-out ending, and took that mix into Clear Track Studios in Clearwater, Florida where we are recording the rest of the album, and we remixed and re-mastered it".

The song stays mostly faithful to the original Mountain tune except for the insertion of a bridge section with additional lyrics. 

"I always loved the song but I always heard something additional in my head so I added it. I'm very happy with the remix and think it will do quite well," said Wright.

The Rusty Wright Band is a Billboard Top 10 recording/touring act formed in 2004 by Rusty and Laurie Wright. Originally hailing from Michigan, the Wrights relocated to Florida three years ago and reconfigured their band, enlisting bassist Nic Allen of Winter Haven, drummer Chris America of Clearwater, and B3 organ player Dennis Toerpe of New Port Richey.

Band leader Rusty Wright describes the group's sound as aggressive, progressive, electric roots rock with a blues edge.

"We're doing things a little differently this time," explains Laurie Wright. "In the past, our releases have been full albums but the industry is moving back toward a focus on singles so this time around we're going to experiment with releasing a string of singles every six or eight weeks, culminating with the full album release just in time for the start of our spring and summer tours."

Currently, the group has five albums to their credit, with album number six slated for release in early 2019. The band's most recent release, "Wonder Man" [Sadson Music 2015] reached #8 on the Billboard Blues Chart, #4 on the Billboard Heatseeker chart, #3 on the Hit Tracks Top 100, #5 on Relix Magazine's Jam Bands chart and was nominated for Album of the Year in the Vintage Guitar Magazine Reader's Choice Awards. In 2014 the group was inducted into the Michigan Blues Hall of Fame® as a Master Blues Band.

The Rusty Wright Band performs at Lkld Live 8 pm Friday, November 9, 2018. Admission is $5/advance, $7/door for row seating, or $15/VIP table seating.  Buy Tickets:

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LAKELAND, FL – Young women from across the state will compete for the right to wear the Miss Florida tiara during the Miss Florida Pageant and Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen Pageant.

The 83rd Annual Miss Florida Pageant and Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place from Tuesday, June 25 to Saturday, June 30 at the RP Funding Center's Youkey Theater, formerly known as the Lakeland Center, 701 Lime St. The event is open to the public. 

A unique spin on this year’s event is the participation of Miss Lakeland and Miss Winter Haven. The title of Miss Lakeland was revived by local entrepreneur Christine Boring, the nonprofit organization held their first pageant March 18 at the Lake Mirror Theater. The Miss Winter Haven title was added this year as well.

In total, five titles from the Polk County area will be represented, including Miss Polk County, Aaliyah Manning; Miss Swan City, Madison Zavitz; and Miss Lakeland, Isabel Skormin; as well as Miss Florida Citrus, Megan Price and Miss Winter Haven, Megan Boykin. 

Titleholders from around the state will gather in Lakeland to compete for the title of Miss Florida. The Miss Florida titleholder will then take part in the Miss America Pageant, the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women and one of the nation's largest achievement programs.

Miss Florida Sara Zeng won the title in July 2017 when she competed with 46 other young women for the opportunity to represent the Sunshine State.

And while getting a shot to win the title of Miss America is the ultimate goal of Miss Florida, if, for some reason she isn’t chosen, she’s still busy. Zeng, for example, has represented the pageant at various events around the state, from opening days and first pitches to pageants and ribbon cuttings. Additionally, she’s used her skills as a talented musician to connect to students in classrooms from Tampa to Tallahassee and beyond.

Besides the title of Miss Florida, there is also the Miss Florida Outstanding Teen competition. Held during the same timespan as the Miss Florida Contest – June 27-30 – the winners of the teen competition are more than just forerunners for Miss Florida. They also appear at various events around the state. Locally, Miss Lakeland’s Outstanding Teen, Jaiden Lagarino, as well as Miss Swan City's Outstanding Teen, Grace Craichy, will be competing. 

The Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen Pageant and the Miss Florida Pageant will take place on June 30 at 4 p.m. and 7: 30 p.m. respectively. Preliminary competition is from June 26 to 28. The Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen Preliminary will be held June 29 at 6 p.m. The Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen Finals are June 30 at 4 p.m. The Miss Florida Finals and the crowning of the next Miss Florida start June 30 at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit

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The Symetra Tour brings tomorrows LPGA stars to Polk County

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Once again, the Country Club of Winter Haven serves as the starting point on the “Road to the LPGA” in 2018, hosting the 10th annual Florida’s Natural Charity Classic to open the Symetra Tour season.

A field of 132 players is set and they will compete for a purse size of $125,000 from Friday, March 16 to Sunday, March 18. Of the individuals comprising the field, a total of 27 countries will be represented. In addition, 20 total states boast at least one competitor. 

First and second round action at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic gets underway at 8:15 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Following 36 holes of play, the field will be cut to the top 60 players and ties. Then on Sunday, the final round tees off at 8:30 a.m., with a trophy presentation to follow on No. 18 green. 

The tournament also marks the first of 21 events in the season-long Race for the Card, where the top-10 players on the money list at the end of the year will earn a LPGA Tour card for 2019. 

The Symetra Tour is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour and enters its 38th competitive season in 2018. With the support of its umbrella partner Symetra, the Tour’s mission is to prepare the world’s best young women professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. Since Symetra’s inaugural sponsorship year in 2012, the Symetra Tour has grown from 16 tournaments and $1.7M in prize money to $3M in prize money awarded over the course of 22 tournaments. With more than 600 alumnae moving on to the LPGA, former Symetra Tour players have won a total of 427 LPGA titles.


When play gets underway on Friday for the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, 12 total players that call the Sunshine State home will be part of the competition, a group that also features three from Tampa, including AJ Newell and Sierra Sims. 

While many of their counterparts will be flying then driving to get to Winter Haven, it’s essentially a home match for these individuals, nearly in their backyard.

“I certainly love the travel that comes with playing golf as a professional, but it generally means no family or friends can come watch you play,” said Newell. “Having this event so close to home means my parents will be able to come watch, and that means the world to me. Golf has given me a very tight knit family.”

Newell was homeschooled in high school before attending the University of Tennessee. Born and raised in Tampa, her parents still live in the same house she grew up in.

Reflecting on 24 years of memories from across the state, Newell points out just how much golf has given her.

“To think back to all the clinics, lessons, practices, and tournaments that my parents sat through to get me to this point really amazes me,” said Newell, a former Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Honorable Mention performer. “I remember all the tough practices and swing changes my dad and I worked through together, the workouts my sister motivated me to get through, and the pep talks my mom would give me when I was away from home. Playing so close to home makes me proud to be able to compete in front of them.”

Sims, on the other hand, attended Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, but her family moved to Tampa when she started at Wake Forest University in 2013. No matter the path, Sims still finds comfort in the Tampa area, where she now lives and trains. 

“Growing up, we moved around a lot. Since I've been in college, I've called Tampa my home,” said Sims. “I will be able to sleep in my own bed during the practice round days and on a day where I have a late tee time. It will also mean that my family will be able to come watch me play and cheer me on.”

Representing their home state is important to both players, as well as each individual from Florida playing in the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. There’s a sense of pride that comes with the territory of a tournament being contested where you’re from. 

Just as the path to how they got where they are today is unique, so is how they will approach the first event of the 2018 Symetra Tour season.

“My game plan for Florida's Natural is to go out there and have a great time competing,” Sims said. “My plan is to leave everything out on the course and walk away on Sunday saying I gave it my all, while staying true to my game.”

On the other hand, Newell looks to simply ease into the flow. 

“My first and main goal for this entire year, and especially Florida’s Natural, is to stay positive. I want to make it a priority to stay positive and be my own best friend,” said Newell. “For Florida’s Natural, my goal is to get back into competing as smoothly as possible. You can't truly know what you need to work on until you play under the pressure of a tournament.”

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Jacci Rizzo’s Can-Do Attitude Sees Her Through A Lifetime of Obstacles

By Lisa Fellows-Coffey

WINTER HAVEN - Through all of her adventures, no one ever said to Wonder Woman, “You have cancer.” 

But Jacci Rizzo, a real-life version of the superhero lass, has heard those words in her adventuresome lifetime. 

Rizzo, a Polk State College professor, has not only battled cancer and won, she’s used her nothing’s-going-to-stop-me attitude to survive two life-or-death instances that would rival an Indiana Jones action film. 

Rizzo, 61, of Winter Haven, is the honorary chair and guest speaker at Polk State College’s annual Relay for Life event, to be held Thursday, March 8, on the Winter Haven campus. 

The Relay is an American Cancer Society, volunteer-driven, annual event and fundraiser meant to bring awareness to all forms of cancer. The event raises money for research and wellness programs while celebrating survivors and remembering those that have lost their cancer battles. 

The Polk State Relay for Life, which begins at 5:30 p.m., is the first of many relays in the county across the next two months, which are all open to the public. 

A high heels race for men and a lip sync battle are the highlights of the Polk State event. 

In addition, the Polk State College Over-55 Show Band and Polk State College music students are performing. The luminaria ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m.

“Administrators, faculty, staff and students are all joining together for one thing in mind, helping to raise money to save more lives,’’ said organizer Melissa LaRock. 

Rizzo will serve as the Relay’s guest speaker. She has quite a story to tell and many interesting instances to draw from.

She has traveled the world, met Mother Theresa and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

That’s not all. 

Her husband, Tony, a doctor, surgeon and Polk State professor, has seen his wife of 38 years work hard and achieve things others might think once impossible. 

He was with her in Tanzania when they were chased by men with machine guns, and in Nairobi, when the two were held hostage in a hotel by gun-toting rebels .

He was looking through the scope with the doctor who saw her coral-like tumors that were her bladder cancer. 

“She handled it better than I did,” said Rizzo, an Air Force Colonel. 

Anthony was not surprised at all when Jacci decided to continue to earn her college degree while she received chemotherapy treatments.

“She’s really remarkable, incredibly self-effacing and humble,” said Tony. “Getting her degree was an amazing challenge and she just rose to that challenge. I can’t say enough good about her.”

Cancer did stop Jacci, but only for a moment. “I was shocked,” she said when she heard the reason for her pain. “Especially when the diagnosis came through. People with bladder cancer have generally smoked or worked with textiles – neither of which I’ve ever done. Both my parents were heavy smokers. Who knows about second-hand smoke?”

But then in true Jacci form, she assessed her situation and decided to tackle the dreaded disease head-on. 

“We were fortunate to have excellent care with the Air Force, and my husband and children were incredible,” she said about facing cancer. “I had access to good care and my teachers were understanding.”

Her superhuman attitude and outlook on life has carried her through times the rest of us could only imagine, or could only be imagined by Hollywood screen writers. 

 “I really don’t like to say I can’t do something,” said Rizzo, matter-of-factly. She sits at her family’s large dining table at her Winter Haven home. 

With keen eyes, a blonde bob and a sweet smile, the first-time grandmother-to-be methodically ticks off fascinating stories of her life. Her home is a monument of neatly-placed memorabilia from places all over the world. Her right arm bears scars and a permanent bump from an adventure gone awry. Rizzo is someone who rarely sits still and jokingly calls herself an excitement junkie. And sometimes the events leading to the excitement are more than expected. 

But Rizzo doesn’t see barriers or fear.

Her mental fortitude is that of an Olympic athlete with a bible by her side. She takes on a project and goes forward. 

She credits her faith, her love of reading and learning and her lifetime experiences, to not only survive, but thrive in adverse circumstances. “I try,” she replied when asked about her positive thinking. “A lot of it I guess comes down to my faith,” she said. “When I was little, I loved to read biographies – how people who are successful and overcame things.”

Her iron will-power was tested in high school--her family became homeless for a time. “I found a copy of The Grapes of Wrath,” she said. “I thought, what would Ma Joad have done?” she said. Her parents were also alcoholics.

“It was negative,” she said about their circumstances. “It did motivate me to work harder and be an achiever.”

Her situation was much the same years ago when a Jeep full of armed men followed the couple in Tanzania.The Rizzos were taking photos, against cultural norms. 

The men in the Jeep started shooting. As the Rizzo’s dodged gunfire in their own vehicle, the couple collided head on into another truck. Jacci was ejected. Anthony and their vehicle tumbled into a potentially-fatal roll. Anthony managed to break free from their vehicle and found Jacci submerged in a mud puddle. “It was very obvious she was critically injured,” he said. 

Thanks to Anthony’s medical knowledge, his insistence and a combination of diplomats, crafty nurses, and group of pilots, Jacci survived a precarious journey to a room at the George Washington Medical Center where she spent three months in bed. Her prognosis wasn’t pretty. She would probably spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.  

Someone with less mettle than a real-life Wonder Woman might have allowed themselves to fall into a trap of depression, but not Jacci. 

“They actually sent a psychiatry resident to talk to me, because people were surprised I wasn’t more devastated,” Jacci said. “Why should I be above others? It’s just - this is happening and luckily I have resources and choices and not everyone has that. The real tragedy would be to not have someone supportive in your life. It just didn’t seem logical to me. It’s not who I am.” Her positivity is logical to Tony. 

“That’s how the immune system responds,” said Tony. “Your endocrine system is directed to respond to your brain. You can have an immune response, or you can not. She’s just someone who keeps going.”  Rizzo defied doctors by learning to walk again, although her once-broken right arm was never the same, and is limited in both turning and grasping. 

She also kept going when the pair were held hostage in a hotel in Nairobi after the Kenyan Air Force attempted to overthrow the government around 1982. They were shooting in the streets. Those caught in their way were shot dead or were injured.  

As medical professionals, the Rizzo’s simply did their duty as caring humanitarians and helped those in need. 

“We had multiple patients who were shot,” Tony said. “Several were raped. It was terrible. We were hostages for several days.”

Jacci was unfazed by it all.  “She never blinked,” said Tony. Jacci’s mental fortitude was the same during her cancer battle in her late 40’s. She endured multiple surgeries over two years to remove cancerous tumors, but she never stopped aiming for her goal of earning her degree.

During the time of chemo treatments, she remained positive and kept life as normal as possible, which included taking her daughters, Catherine and Joanna, to dance classes and recitals. 

“Her attitude was one of a fighter,” Joanna said. “She’s always had this great we-can attitude. She just lives it.”

Like a superhero will do anything to save the world, Rizzo’s special ability is the belief that healing and taking on challenges is mind over matter. 

“I think our emotions and our attitude play a very important role in everything we do,” she said.  “I do feel that it has a huge impact on your health and recovery no matter what you are facing.”

Sheer determination is also motivating. Take Rizzo’s approach to continuing her college classes while receiving chemotherapy. “I wanted to set an example for my children,” she said. It wasn’t a crazy idea to Tony, Jacci’s top supporter.  “I know her,” he said. “You don’t roll over and let life take care of you. You’ve got to take care of yourself. I didn’t see any other option and Jacci didn’t either.” She couldn’t wait for a catheter to be removed to take a physics final. She went anyway.  “I was kind of getting some sympathy points,” she joked. Since her two-year cancer battle, Rizzo has received annual medical check-ups. A true academic, she has a list of do’s and don’ts for those fighting the battle. 

“Anytime you go to doctor, don’t go by yourself,” she said. “Take notes because you’re not going to remember everything later. You are going to be in an overwhelming condition. Go for care with a list of questions. Listen to the doctor. It’s so tempting to go on the internet these days and try to research everything. Go to a reliable source and go to a doctor you can trust.”

She proudly speaks of her Bachelor of Arts degree, which she earned at age 50. Decorated like an academic superhero, she graduated from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Summa cum laude and was given the Distinguished English Scholar award from the college staff.

Her eyes light up when she speaks of her students. 

She loves using her degree and Masters in Education to teach, and humbly inspire. It’s the same passion that’s heard in her voice when she talks about volunteering at Meals on Wheels, or donating her time to read to grade-school children. 

“We’re here to do things, enjoy life and help each other,” she concludes after looking back at her life. “Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Relays in Polk County:


Date: March 8

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Place: Polk State College, Winter Haven campus


Date: April 6

Time: 5 p.m.

Place: Downtown Central Park


Date: April 13

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Place: Munn Park


Date: April 20

Time: 6 p.m.

Place: Mulberry High School


Date: April 27

Time: 4 p.m.

Place: Mosiac Park

For more information, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit


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By Amy Sumerlin 

Photos By Chris Douglas

It was a happy mistake.

I had lunch at Posto 9 a couple months ago with my lovely friend Linda, but I wanted to try out the dinner menu before I wrote this article. My husband, my mother, and I met there on a Thursday night. I went straight from work, so it was an early meal – beat the crowds, you know. 

Not so much. 

The mistake, you see, was not making reservations. We had arrived about 5:45; the lovely lady at the front counter told us she would be able to seat us at “about 8:00”.

“Or you could try our rooftop dining,” she said.

So, without hesitation, off we went to the third floor, a rooftop lounge that draws its inspiration – and its name – from the Rio de Janeiro beach Ipanema.

In fact, that beach is very much tied to the vision for the entire restaurant: One long stretch of sun-drenched sand, Ipanema Beach is divided by postos (posts), which mark off subcultures as diverse as the city itself. Posto 9, right off Rua Vinícius de Moraes, is where Rio’s most beautiful and tanned bodies migrate. 

“Rio de Janeiro means ‘The Beautiful City’, explained restaurateur Marco Franca. “And we thought the name Posto 9 reflected exactly what we wanted the restaurant to be – a beautiful area where all aspects of society come together for a great culinary experience.”  

The “we” to whom Franca refers includes himself and his wife, Grace, partners in the business, and often, Posto 9’s Executive Chef, Michel Revy.

It All Comes Together

Marco and Grace Franca moved from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Lakeland in early 2014. They left Brazil due to political, economic and social uncertainties. Lakeland was selected due to proximity of Marco’s Mother; and because it was close to two large international airports. 

During the first year, Grace was living full time in Lakeland while Marco, a busy executive who ran PR Newswire throughout Latin America, commuted to Sao Paulo on a bi-weekly basis. 

And while the Francas quickly came to love their new town, “we also knew that whenever we were looking for a great culinary experience, we were travelling to Tampa or Orlando.”

So the pair decided to combine their love for fine dining experiences and their entrepreneurial spirit, and open an outstanding restaurant here. 

The concept of a Brazilian restaurant was confirmed based upon the positive reception their recipes received when their new friends dined in their home.

“Just by coincidence,” Franca continued, “I heard about Michel Revy.”

Revy comes to Posto 9 with 20 years of experience. He too was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and most recently worked as Lead Sous Chef at Publix Apron’s Cooking School in Lakeland. 

Prior to joining Publix, Revy was Corporate Chef to Marius Churrascaria (a Brazilian steakhouse) in Rio de Janeiro and managed the successful entry of Outback Steakhouse into Brazil.

The Building

“We had fallen in love with downtown,” he said.

One day, while walking in the area, he came upon the building that housed the former Preservation Hall. The historic building on East Main Street, right across from Munn Park, was built originally in 1908. It had housed everything from a bank to a residence to a real estate office to a music store and most recently an entertainment venue. 

Much of the building was in bad shape, and to make it beautiful again, required a great amount of deconstruction and reconstruction.

Franca is particularly proud of the fact that everything that could be saved, was. 

In fact, the table at which we dined that night was made from wood salvaged during deconstruction.

Franca was pleased to find that the second floor, which had been sealed since the 1940’s, was still in relatively good shape, and now houses event space.

Our Dinner

I was happy the minute the elevators opened. It’s a beautiful space, and the wind made the temperature perfect.

Our server, Kelly, was awesome: Friendly and efficient at the same time, she manages to make dining on that third floor feel as if you have been invited to an exclusive party.

Keep in mind the menu on the rooftop is different than downstairs – so several trips to the restaurant to get the full culinary experience, what Franca describes as “Brazilian Southern Fusion”.

We started out with the Po sto 9 Cheese Board ($18), a delightful beginning. I later found out that all the cheese is house made. 

‘We use the freshest ingredients possible, and make everything we can in-house,” Franca remarked. “We filet the fish, cut the meat, and make the bread, butter and cheese ourselves.”

My husband then chose the X-Burger Pastel ($13): think perfectly spiced short ribs, aged cheddar, and poblano aioli in an empanada-type shell. He was served three, and two was enough for one evening.

My mother chose the Chicken Passarinho ($14): think boneless chicken pieces in Brazilian spices. Mom is the least adventurous, culinary-wise, and even she was tickled with the blend of spices that made it tasty but not too hot. She too had enough left over for the next day’s lunch.

I chose the Fried Grouper Sliders ($15), and will definitely order them again.

The Future

Is definitely bright for Posto 9: A fabulous venue, an adventurous menu that combines the best of Brazilian cuisine with Southern flair—try their Chicken and Waffles (with guava ketchup) or Shrimp and Grits (with roasted tomato sofrito), for example – and the result is a fabulous place to enjoy alone or with friends.

The 19,000 guests who have been served there in the first four months… well, that’s just the beginning.  

FMI: 215 E Main St., (863) 499-0099;

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Folk tradition says October 12 may be the day for northern gardeners to plant garlic as well as early October is a good time to plant garlic in The state of michigan. In the mild weather of a Michigan fall, the roots will start growing and the garlic may even send up a go. When the ground freezes garlic might go dormant, be prepared to start growing again typically the early spring. By the second fall you end up being able to dig up some nice garlic cloves.

Avoid Feeding. Especially when the temperatures are soaring, it is better to avoid fertilizing your lawn. The chemical in the fertilizer can burn your lawn, causing soiling. If possible, try using an What is Organic Farming. It contains fewer chemicals and is less required to burn because it's slow production. Again, try to avoid this during the summer months. Any fresh growth that acquire will struggle in the intense heat.

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Let every you travel with know your objectives. You are determined to be weight conscious, don't feel sick about it or let people side track you have to. If you are traveling with normal folks who are constantly eating and snacking, you will have a slightly challenge. Build your plan and stick to barefoot running.

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Test the soil for differences. If the soil is rich and healthy you can easily add natural fertilizer such as compost perhaps a slow release organic plant food. The use of synthetic fertilizer is alright once the plants start to show new maturity. and complete the landscape by adding a stunning garden feature.

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Do you wonder why some people promote organic foods over non-organic ? Or, why should considering "natural" and environmentally friendly products? I used to, however the message finally got through. Now I'm one of the people "people".

(2) Green Peppers- Green pepper plants, as well as other pepper varieties, grow well in containers and are attractive plants, too. The next thing sown your green pepper seeds, place pot in the place where it get at least 6 hours of sunlight an afternoon. Green peppers also appreciate a dose of Organic Food, regarding ProtoGrow, the particular plant has reached 6 inches tall.

You can grow a number of of produce. The vegetables you'll grow can even be narrowed in order to the ones that will grow with your region for the world, but even some can be grown indoors if needed something assorted. For example, for live your past northeast, exact same grow a banana tree outside, nevertheless, you can grow a dwarf banana tree inside. If grow ones vegetables, may refine grow a person want and however much you really want.

So a person you are performing? For starters, shop local. Support your local farmers and groceries. Family-owned or co-operative groceries possess a more direct connection not only with the farmers, however with their customers as good. They stock that the homogenized supermarkets won't carry - specialty meats, artisan cheeses, local wine bottles. Some will even offer tasting events or cooking instructions.

First I read tons of books on nutrition and have become convinced when i needed to exchange to Organic Food s. That was quite an issue in 1959! There was one coop nutrition store that I'd to follow around New jersey because it kept moving locations. Around the was worth it! My guideline thumb might be - when they didn't eat it a century ago, i then won't eat it at this moment. This cuts out most packaged and processed foods and leaves natural, How To Make Organic Fertilizer.

Some hardneck-rocambole varieties to attempt in Michigan include; Amish Rocambole, Chesnok Red, German Extra Hardy, Legacy, Ontario Giant, Spanish Roja, and Russian Pink. If you desire to try soft neck varieties try Italian Late, New york White, Silver White or Simonetti.

With the prior tips input into mind, people be for you to start growing your own organic meals. It does to safeguard research, working hard outside, and patience, but if you keep at it, it certainly possible to require a successful organic outside. So, get out there and bloom!

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Ron Seggi Live at the Ritz

The Ritz Theatre is proud to present the RON SEGGI Show on January 9th as part of The Ritz Theatre’s

“This is Your Life” Music Series brought to you in part by Visit Central Florida and the Ritz Theatre

Beginning his career at the age of fourteen in radio, his “love” for radio began when his father took
him to visit a station when he was seven. With that as his inspiration, he built his own studio (which could be
heard for several blocks) in the basement of his home when he was eleven. Three years later, he got his first
deejay’s job at a commercial station and was eventually named its music director.
In the 70’s he launched his career, put together a nightclub act, and performed warm-ups for several
nationally-known entertainers. The Erie, PA native opened his own advertising agency, bought his first radio
station, at the age of twenty-nine.
In the 1990’s, The Ron Seggi Show, referred to as the “Tonight Show” of radio is broadcast live via
satellite from Universal Studios in Orlando. In 2000, Ron Seggi was been tapped as the announcer for Ed
McMahon’s “The Next Big Star” syndicated TV talent show.
Ron sold his radio stations and today continues do live entertainment as well as host his radio show
each weekend over the USA Radio Network, Armed Forces Radio, and Cable Radio Network.
The Gannon University graduate holds a BA in business administration he spends much of his time
aiding causes like the American Heart Association, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, United Way, American
Cancer Society, March of Dimes, and Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs.
The Ritz Theatre is proud to welcome the RON SEGGI SHOW to our stage along with its orchestra and
lovely singers to perform great sounds of the BIG BAND ERA with rendentions from Dean Martin, Ray
Charles, Bobby Darin, and Frank Sinatra.
For tickets visit us at or Call 863-295-9900
ADVANCE TICKET PRICES Balcony $15, Tier A, B, C - $20 Increase Day of Show
Give the Gift of Music for the Holidays - Gift Certificates Available
Group Rates Available

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Team Blacksheep

Team Blacksheep is a fitness team that works with all ages and fitness levels.  Our youngest member is 5 and oldest is 78.  We are not an elite / competitive team, although some of our members do compete competitively in their events. Members participate in fitness events such as road races, marathons, triathlons, obstacle course racing, mud runs, martial arts, rucking, adventure races, trail running, mountain biking, gymnastics, recreational sports, basically anything fitness related.  We have members mostly in Florida, but stem to many states in the US and into Canada. 

We offer workouts in Winter Haven and Orlando.  All of our workouts are suitable for all ages and fitness levels.  The exercises can be modified to suit your needs.  To find out more information about Team Blacksheep, please contact Josh Andrews at

Also, check us out on Facebook

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Hi Polk Folks,

Last summer we posted an article that we were coming to Polk County to film the pilot version of our half-hour comedy titled, "WELCOME TO OUR MANSION."  Most of the lead actors are from Polk County and you may recognize some of the local flavor of Polk County in the scenes we filmed.  We've split the pilot into three webisodes now showing completely FREE on our website and on YouTube at

We are now back in Los Angeles and we are actively pitching the series with the intention of getting picked up for a full season.  While getting picked up by a network is never a guarantee, what we are sure of is that we had top rate talent and one heckuva' good time in Polk County, FL.  We were greatly helped by Carol at the Florida Film Commission while there in Polk.  Also, Lakeland Community Theater and Theater Winter Haven got behind us in so many great ways.  We are extremely thankful and we hope that you will enjoy watching what we have taken to calling our "ultra high-budget, home movie-esque Southern comedy."

We're hoping you'll subscribe to the YouTube channel that supports the show, take the survey to let us know what you think, and spread the word that Polk County is the backdrop for the new crazy, country family comedy, "WELCOME TO OUR MANSION."

Three episodes, all FREE at

With your help, we hope to be back to film many more episodes.

With appreciation,

Jillian Boyd & Mark E. Stephens

Executive Producers and Creators

Houses On Wheels Productions

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International Market World Announces Festival for Toys Fundraiser to Benefit Toys for Tots on November 8th and 9th

Auburndale, Fla  October 31, 2014 - International Market World will host the Festival for Toys fundraiser November 8th and 9th  from 10 am to 5 pm for Polk County Toys for Tots to assist the organization in it’s mission of providing new, unwrapped toys for the needy children of Polk County during the holidays. In addition to food vendors, the Festival for Toys fundraiser will offer three stages of entertainment featuring bluegrass bands, country bands, and cloggers.  Gold Wing Express, Bits of Grass and the Larry Gillis Band will be performing at this year's event.  Additional attractions include wildlife displays, safety displays and more. Festival attendants are invited to bring an unwrapped toy to the event. Admission to the event and parking is free. 

The fundraiser is aimed at assisting the shortfall suffered by Toys for Tots over the past several years. According to the organization, the annual number of toys collected has fallen from 12,000 to under 3,000 for 2013. In that year, Toys for Tots provided toys under the tree for over 10,000 children in Polk County. Many of those toys were purchased with reserves, an expense that cannot be continually supported.

Vendors are encouraged to participate. November is a busy time at International Market World, with foot traffic numbering in the thousands on the weekends. Many more attendants are expected due to the special event.


For further information contact:


Vince To
International Marketworld Flea and Farmers Market

George Overstreet
Commander, U.S. Navy
Polk County Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots
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Davenport native Mark Stephens has lived in Los Angeles, California for over 20 years, but when it came time to film his pet project he could think of no better place to do so than home.  This September Mark and his writing/producing partner Jillian Boyd will be filming a TV pilot/webseries in Davenport, Winter Haven, and Lakeland.  
“Welcome to Our Mansion” is the story of Paul Jones, a 35-year-old, New York City behavior therapist who is forced to return to the craziness of his Southern, country roots in Central Florida to be the executor of his recently deceased father’s will, while living with his dysfunctional family on their mobile home “estate.”
So far, this project has cast Central Florida natives for five of the main character roles with more casting announcements on the way.  As well as employing numerous local talent for the production, they are also in talks with a local film crew about heading up cinematography, lighting, and sound.  Mark is utilizing the locale, the talent, and the characters inspired by his beloved Polk County.
Though the film shoot is a definite “Go,” the producers have started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to help offset expenses.  They’d like to move from a “thin thread budget to a fat shoelace budget.”  In four short weeks the campaign has raised almost $15,000 of the $30,000 they had hoped for.  They have secured the support of one local business and hope to add a few more.  These businesses will get product placement in the pilot shoot.  To donate go to:
Mark and Jillian’s ultimate goal is to market this pilot to major studios as well as Netflix and Amazon.  That aside, the pilot will be edited into mini-episodes that will air as a free webseries on the internet.  “The dream is to film an entire season of WELCOME TO OUR MANSION here in Polk County,” says Mark, “But the first step is securing all of the funds for post production and marketing.  With Polk County’s help, this dream could happen!”
Collectively, this producing team of Mark and Jillian has worked both in front of and behind the camera with major Hollywood studios and independent filmmakers.  They are eager to bring the excitement of Hollywood to Polk County with WELCOME TO OUR MANSION.
Twitter @WTOMansion
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The Polk Museum of Art enhances the lives of our varied communities by bringing people and art together. 

We gratefully acknowledge exhibition sponsors Visit Central Florida, the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, the City of Lakeland and Bankers South for making this exhibition possible.
Museum admission is FREE on Thursdays, thanks to the Chao Foundation; on Fridays, thanks to our corporate partner, BB&T; and on Saturdays, thanks to our corporate partner, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union!


Sandra Dimsdale Horan, APR

Public Relations & Marketing Manager

863.688.7743,  ext. 235


June 9, 2014


LAKELAND – Polk Museum of Art proudly welcomes an exhibition of black-and-white photography by nationally recognized photographer and author Richard Sexton. The exhibition, “Terra Incognita: Photographs of America’s Third Coast,” is on loan from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, La. The photographs will be on view from June 21 through September 13.


Latin for “unknown land,” “Terra Incognita” comprises 57 photos taken over a 15-year span along the Gulf Coast. Photographs depict marsh, scrub lands, dunes, beaches, swamps and forests from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Florida Panhandle.


R.C. Baker of the Village Voice wrote: “Nothing in these extremely fine-grained prints resembles a ‘snapshot.’ … Sexton’s spare compositions coalesce into a portrait of nature as the ultimate abstractionist.”


Sexton was born in Colquitt, Georgia, and was introduced to the Gulf Coast on family vacations to the Florida panhandle during the 1950s and 1960s. After graduating from Emory University, he moved to California to pursue a career as a professional photographer. He moved to New Orleans in 1991, intending to photograph the city’s architecture. Not long after relocating, he toured the home of Roger Ogden and found himself drawn to 19th century landscape paintings of the South’s swamps and coastal areas in Ogden’s collection, which later was donated to the University of New Orleans Foundation to establish the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.


“It was an epiphany that a significant… school of painting had coalesced around the low-lying, watery landscapes of the region,” Sexton wrote in the foreword to his book, “Terra Incognita.” The artists portrayed “the swamp as a place of mystery and melancholy, using it in a symbolic way, to convey a certain mood.” Thus began Sexton’s work to document the changing environment along the Gulf Coast in “Terra Incognita.”


The exhibition will be celebrated at a reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, August 22. The artist will lecture about his work beginning at 6 p.m., followed by a reception featuring light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The reception is open to the public. The event is free for members and $10 for guests.

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Polk Museum of Art








800 East Palmetto Street


T  863.688.7743




Lakeland, Florida 33801-5529


F  863.688.2611







Sandra Dimsdale Horan, APR

Public Relations & Marketing Manager

863.688.7743,  ext. 235


June 16, 2014



July Exhibitions & Events 

at Polk Museum of Art





Terra Incognita: Photographs of America’s Third Coast

Through September 13


On loan from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, La., this exhibition is a photographic project of 15 years’ duration (1991-2006) by nationally recognized photographer and author Richard Sexton. Latin for “unknown land,” “Terra Incognita” consists of 57 black-and-white photographs of marsh, scrub lands, dunes, beaches, swamps and forests along the Gulf Coast from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Florida Panhandle. According to R.C. Baker of the Village Voice, “Nothing in these extremely fine-grained prints remotely resembles a ‘snapshot.’ … Sexton’s spare compositions coalesce into a portrait of nature as the ultimate abstractionist.” This exhibition is sponsored by Visit Central Florida, Eaglebrooke, Fleetwing, Rodda Construction Inc., Robert & Malena Puterbaugh, the City of Lakeland and the State of Florida.

Photos available.

Reception: 6 p.m. Friday, August 22, with a lecture by Richard Sexton, followed by light hors d’oeuvres and cash bar.


Collected Color

Through September 13


Color is an important part of our world. It allows us to visually recognize, relate, and interact with our surroundings. Because of its enormous impact on how we interpret what we see, color has always been an important attribute of art. But, color is not important for art only because it affects what we see; it also affects how we reproduce what we see so that others may share our creative experiences. It was not until the late 19th century that artists began separating color from naturalism, using it in more expressive ways to emphasize emotion or creative formalism. How has the use of color in art changed? Is color still an important creative component? This exhibition examines how color is represented within the Permanent Collection at Polk Museum of Art.

Photos available.


All Decked Out

Through July 20


As part of Innoskate 2014, the exhibition All Decked Out! will celebrate the artistic and innovative spirit of skateboarding. Polk Museum of Art is proud to host an exhibition of contemporary artworks that smack of the edgy aesthetic so often associated with skating. Co-organized by Chad and Suzie Cardoza, two Tampa-based artists and independent curators of all things skate, this exhibition includes a diverse checklist of works by artists from around the country. Painted skate decks, skateboard photography, skate-related sketches, and assembled sculptures will coalesce to provide audiences a renewed glimpse into the unique and creative state of contemporary skateboard culture.

Photos available.



Through August 2


Ekphrasis is a rhetorical exercise first practiced by the ancient Greeks. Essentially, it is a method of creating a new artwork as directly related to or inspired by an already existing work of art. Ekphrasis often takes the form of prose or poetry. The written piece is not necessarily a mere description of the artwork at hand (although it can be), but is a beautifully written account about the subject of the artwork. It is as if an illustration precedes and inspires the written story. For this exhibition, Polk Museum of Art worked with students at the Lakeland Montessori Middle School. Artworks from the Museum’s Permanent Collection were chosen and assigned to students as inspiration for their own explorations into the ancient art of ekphrasis.

Photos available.




Create-a-Skate Exhibition
Through August 9

Polk Museum of Art is partnering with for a special exhibition of skateboard decks. These decks, designed by middle school students from Hillsborough, Orange, Pinellas and Polk counties, will be on display as part of Innoskate Lakeland. This exhibition is sponsored by MIDFLORIDA.

Award Ceremony: 1 p.m. Saturday, June 21




Please note the Museum will observe summer hours beginning June 1 through Labor Day. During that time, PMoA will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and closed Sunday and Monday.


The Museum will be closed to celebrate Independence Day on July 4.





Summer Art Camp

Through August 1 (2-week sessions); no class on July 4

Ages: 7-14 years old
COST: Fee per class, per student, per session. Discounts given for multiple classes.


Bonus Session: July 14-25 in Winter Haven

Ages: 7-14 years old

COST: $285 for PMoA members; $345 for non-members


The Museum strives to give your child a fun, creative and open atmosphere to develop their love and appreciation for the arts. Summer Art Camp introduces children to unique, creative processes where they will gain inspiration from contemporary artists, artists displayed in the museum galleries and emerging art trends. Classes provide the freedom of exploration through creativity, process, medium and technique to produce unique artwork. For more information or to register, please visit or call 863.688.5423.



Family Fun Workshops 

Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.-Noon
COST: FREE for everyone


THEME: Watercolor (with Tara Campbell)

July 5: Polk Museum of Art

July 19: Bartow Public Library

Family Fun Workshops provide a safe, fun environment for families to participate together in hands-on activities led by an art educator. Workshops are held at the Museum and at facilities in Polk County as a part of our ongoing community outreach efforts.


# # #


Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida, is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts in Central Florida. The Museum is one of the Top 10 art museums in the State of Florida, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the only art museum accredited by the American Association of Museums serving the 561,000 residents of Polk County. Museum hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesdays – Saturdays; 1 – 5 p.m. Sundays; and closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is free for Museum members. General admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors (62 and older). Children and students with student IDs are admitted for free. Special exhibition fees may apply. Admission is free to all on Thursdays, thanks to our partnership with the Chao Foundation; Fridays, thanks to our BB&T; and Saturdays, thanks to MIDFLORIDA. The Museum is fully accessible.


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LAKELAND, FL Nov, 15, 2013 – The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales, the symbol of quality and tradition for Anheuser-Busch since 1933, are scheduled to make an appearances in the area on Thursday, December 5, 2013, in the Lakeland Christmas Parade. Their appearance in the parade coincides with a special presentation to Bernie Little Distributors for winning Anheuser-Busch’s Ambassadors of Excellence award. 


The eight-horse hitch will be harnessed and hitched to the famous red beer wagon at The Lakeland Center on parade day from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. Then the “Gentle Giants,” as they are often referred to, will participate in the Lakeland Christmas Parade which begins at 7:00 PM.


The Clydesdales’ appearance in Lakeland is one of hundreds made annually by the traveling hitches.  Canadians of Scottish descent brought the first Clydesdales to America in the mid-1800’s.  Today, the giant draft horses are used primarily for breeding and show.


Horses chosen for the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch must be at least three years of age, stand approximately 18 hands – or six feet – at the shoulder, weigh an average of 2,000 pounds, must be bay in color, have four white legs, and a blaze of white on the face and black mane and tail.  A gentle temperament is very important as hitch horses meet millions of people each year.


A single Clydesdale hitch horse will consume as much as 20-25 quarts of feed, 40-50 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day.


Each hitch travels with a Dalmatian.  In the early days of brewing, Dalmatians were bred and trained to protect the horses and guard the wagon when the driver went inside to make deliveries.


The Budweiser Clydesdales can be viewed at the Anheuser-Busch breweries in St. Louis, Mo.; Merrimack, N.H.; and Ft. Collins, Colo.  They also may be viewed at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis and at Warm Springs Ranch, the 300-plus acre Clydesdale breeding farm located near Boonville, Mo.

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Polk Museum of Art















Sandra Dimsdale Horan

Public Relations & Marketing Manager

863.688.7743,  ext. 235


November 13, 2013




Thanks to Chao Foundation’s Partnership, 

Thursdays Will Be Free at PMoA

Philanthropic Organization Is Museum’s Exhibition Sponsor


LAKELAND – Polk Museum of Art is proud to announce an agreement with the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation that will enable the Museum to offer free admission to everyone on Thursdays year-round. Admission will be waived for all visitors to the Museum on Thursdays beginning November 14.


“We are grateful to the Chao Foundation for selecting the Polk Museum of Art as one of the many cultural organizations in the country to receive their support,” said Claire Orologas, executive director of Polk Museum of Art. “There is a deep understanding on their part regarding the role the arts play in enriching the lives of all citizens.”


As part of the foundation’s new agreement with the Museum, the foundation will be supporting about a dozen exhibitions over the coming year, including permanent collection shows, exhibitions featuring works by Florida artists, and exhibitions on loan from institutions such as the Ogden Museum in New Orleans and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


In recent months, the Museum has announced two similar corporate partnership agreements. MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, the presenting sponsor of Mayfaire by-the-Lake, is underwriting the cost of admission on Saturdays, and BB&T, presenting sponsor of the Smithsonian exhibition this fall, is underwriting the cost of admission on Fridays. The Museum anticipates establishing six to eight such partnerships over the next five years, and each of the corporate partners will be able to specify which day of the week they want to sponsor.




Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida, is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts in Central Florida. The Museum is one of the Top 10 art museums in the State of Florida, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the only art museum accredited by the American Association of Museums serving the 561,000 residents of Polk County. Museum hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesdays – Saturdays; 1 – 5 p.m. Sundays; and closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is free for Museum members. General admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors (62 and older). Children and students with student IDs are admitted for free. Special exhibition fees may apply. Admission is free to all on Thursdays, thanks to our partnership with the Chao Foundation; Fridays, thanks to our BB&T; and Saturdays,thanks to MIDFLORIDA. The Museum is fully accessible. 800 East Palmetto Street, Lakeland, Florida. Phone (863) 688-7743 Fax (863) 688-2611



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In light of recent tragic events involving bullying in Central Florida, the Low Payment Kings Family of Dealerships are proud to sponsor motivational speaker, Ronnie Bachman.  Bachman has personally experienced bullying and tours North America working to end bullying in our schools.  He will visit Central Florida area middle schools February 4-8, 2014. 


“We wish to express our condolences to the family and friends of Rebecca Sedwick,” says Ralph Mahalak, Jr.  “The Mahalak Family and everyone that is a part of the Low Payment King Automotive Group are committed to serving our communities. For years, we have been determined to do all we can to stop bullying.”


“Since 1999, we have sponsored Ronnie to come to schools and help students. We are currently accepting applications from Central Florida schools for his visit in February,” says J.P. Mahalak.


Bachman knows how it feels to be bullied. Born with a severe birth defect, the speaker’s legs were amputated at four-years-old.  His message is one of tolerance, diversity and self-love.  Bachman asks students to “Walk This Way” through a high-energy show.  To Ronnie, not only is “Walk This Way” the name of his foundation, it is also his state of mind.  To “Walk This Way” means to accept ourselves and others for who they are, without making anyone’s life harder.  He aims to stop bullying and school violence before it happens.


Bachman creates his presentations with middle school and 9th grade students in mind.  His methods of reaching out are relevant and aim to teach the young people in our community to be more tolerant and kind to the people around them, regardless of background or outward appearances. 


One student wrote this to Bachman after his appearance at their school, “You totally changed us!  I’ve never seen the people in my school stand up, applaud, stay quiet, and learn something in an assembly.  Ever!  Your story was so inspiring.  I learned to love myself for what I have, not hate myself for what I don’t.  You truly are my hero.”


“We’ve seen first-hand the positive impact Ron has on those he speaks to,” says Mike Mahalak. “His message is vital to our community’s youth right now, and we look forward to working with the schools in our community to get Ron in front of as many of our students as we can.”


The Low Payment King Automotive Group Dealerships (Lake Wales Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram of Winter Haven, FIAT of Winter Haven, and Posner Park Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram) are currently accepting applications to have Ronnie Bachman come speak at local schools. 


“Bullying can happen to anyone, from grade school all the way to the NFL; and we want to prevent it no matter what age the person is,” says Alex Mahalak. “We are covering all Ronnie Bachman’s costs.  All we ask is the parents and teachers in the community help us get him and his message in front of your students.”


Ronnie Bachman will be in Central Florida February 4-8, 2014.  Please contact Katrina Hill at 863-837-3110 or to schedule Ronnie Bachman for your school.



 Ronnie Bachman with Ralph Mahalak, Jr.jpg

Ralph Mahalak, Jr. with Ronnie Bachman

Above: Ronnie Bachman, Anti-bullying Speaker

For More Information, Contact:

Katrina Hill


Lake Wales Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

21529 US Hwy 27

Lake Wales, FL 33859



Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram of Winter Haven

299 Cypress Gardens Blvd.

Winter Haven, FL 33880



Posner Park Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

42650 U.S. Hwy 27

Davenport, FL 33837



FIAT of Winter Haven                                

190 Ave K S.W.

Winter Haven, FL 33880



Monroe Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram Superstore

15160 S. Dixie Hwy

Monroe, MI 48161



Buckeye Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Superstore

278 Mansfield Avenue

Shelby, OH 44875



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