The 26th annual Chocolate & Beyond celebration is coming to First Coast Technical College this Saturday, March 2, from 2 to 4 p.m. Visitors will be treated to samples of locally made chocolates, desserts and other sweets from some of our area’s finest restaurants and specialty shops.

Guests will have the chance to participate in a raffle, “Guess the Number of Chocolates” contest and silent auction. The auction will include hotel and restaurant gift certificates, sports memorabilia and admission tickets for local attractions and events.

Event proceeds benefit the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of St. Johns County. Its primary focus is on recruiting, training and placing senior volunteers, which number nearly 150, into St. Johns County schools to mentor and tutor students in reading and math. The volunteers also assist in the Head Start preschool reading program.

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A day of beauty, wellness, fashion and fun is coming to the Renaissance Resort World Golf Village on Sunday, February 24! The Fashion & Beauty Expo, hosted by Jacksonville Business Connections, will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and feature more than 50 vendors.

 

 

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Twenty-two years ago, in the Spring of 1997, I moved my family to North Florida. We started our family in Boca Raton, Florida, then moved to Laguna Beach, California. Prior to the Centennial Olympic Games, we relocated to the Buckhead community in Atlanta, Georgia. After the Games, we decamped Atlanta for Ponte Vedra Beach. Once our children were literally off-and-running with their careers, we down-sized into one of Jacksonville’s historic neighborhoods, first platted in 1921.

Before coming here, we did enjoy our lives in those very pretty, and often celebrated, places.  It is true – wherever you are – it is what you make of it. In that regard, it is extremely easy to make our place thoroughly enjoyable. Here are a few things that are extraordinary about this place:

10. Regionally, we are steeped in history, heritage and traditions – from the settlement of St. Augustine in 1565 to the friendly, southern hospitality of today.

9. Friends and family are eager to come for visits – knowing there are numerous local and/or near-by unique events to experience and interesting destinations to explore.

8. The citizenry is active and engaged with a business, manufacturing and military legacy creating a viable, strong economy and a safe and secure community.

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The history of Valentine’s Day is rich with lore, but one thing is indisputable: people all over the world are smitten with the sweetest of the holidays, Valentine’s Day!

About one billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year, making it the second largest card sending holiday of the year. In 2018, Americans spent nearly $20 billion on chocolates, jewelry, flowers and all things Valentine.

Traditions relating to Valentine’s Day date way back to Roman times. It’s difficult to credit a single person named “Valentine” with its origin (there are at least eight St. Valentines on record). And there are at least as many accounts of the holiday’s real origin. Despite that, it officially became a holiday in 1537 as declared by England’s King Henry VIII.

Here are some other interesting stories behind Valentine’s Day traditions:

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The World Golf Hall of Fame IMAX Theater is known for its breathtaking 3D nature documentaries, but plenty of action-adventure movies are headed to IMAX in the coming months!

IMAX Theaters are designed to deliver the world’s most immersive movie experience. The 275-seat theater includes the latest IMAX 3D digital projection system, state-of-the-art sound system and North Florida’s largest IMAX screen (50 ft. wide and 80 ft. high).

The theater also boasts large 2D screens with blockbuster movies and engaging documentaries. From super hero action films to family-friendly adventure movies, IMAX is the perfect place to take in a flick (without making the trek to Jacksonville or downtown St. Augustine).

Here are the current shows:

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The World Golf Hall of Fame is preparing for African American History Month by inviting everyone to see “Honoring the Legacy: A Tribute to African Americans in Golf”. The permanent exhibition contains rare photographs, audio, video and memorabilia to highlight the long, rich history of African Americans in golf from the game’s pioneers in the late 1800s to today’s superstars.

Visitors will see items that highlight the accomplishments of African Americans in the game despite facing steep challenges. This includes Hall of Fame member Charlie Sifford’s PGA Player Card from 1960, the document that officially broke golf’s color barrier. See other items marking the career of 1985 PLAYERS champion Calvin Peete and tennis great Althea Gibson, who was the first African American to join the LPGA Tour in 1964.

Interactive, touch-screen video displays make this one of the Hall of Fame’s most advanced exhibits. Screens show profiles of prominent African American players.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is an original sculpture designed by the renowned sculptor Mario Chiodo.  The piece represents a timeline of African Americans in golf, including 13 legendary players. Each step in the sculpture’s frame signifies a milestone of achievement, beginning with John Shippen in 1896, the first African American to play in the U.S. Open Championship. At the top, Tiger Woods is featured followed by an empty step, begging the question, “Who is next?”

The exhibit launched in 2014 and continues to provide insights into the many contributions of African American players to the game of golf.

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Come enjoy some ragtime and boogie-woogie music with Bob Milne on Sunday, January 27, at 3 p.m. at the historic Grace United Methodist Church. Bob is known for his electric performances as well as charismatic storytelling.

Never heard of Bob? These interesting facts explain why his concert is a must-see!

Bob is a scientific mystery.Bob is a completely self-taught pianist with the unusual ability to mentally “play” up to four symphonies in his head simultaneously. He has even been the subject of study by Penn State University neuroscientists for the last eight years as they try to figure out how he does this!

In fact, his fans often refer to Bob as a “one-man orchestra” and celebrate his ability to make his piano sound like several instruments at once!

Bob’s music genre has a fascinating history.First played in 1895, ragtime originates from jigs and march music played by African American bands. Throughout the 20thcentury, ragtime spread throughout the U.S. and became an American staple. The term is said to originate from the word “ragged,” in reference to ragtime’s syncopated melody (with unexpected and often off-beat rhythms).

Bob has been a “musical ambassador” for the U.S. State Department.Considered by many to be the best ragtime piano player in the world, Bob brings a contagious energy to his playing. The Library of Congress has even deemed Bob as a “national treasure” and he has served as a “musical ambassador” for the U.S. State Department in Japan and Switzerland.

You can learn from Bob himself.In addition to touring, Bob teaches music history at various universities including Florida Atlantic University. For more information about his classes, click here.
Don’t miss this exciting performance! The concert is free (although the church accepts donations) and will take place in its beautiful large sanctuary (first come, first seated).

Grace Methodist Church is located at 8 Carrera Street in historic downtown St. Augustine. If you have any questions, contact the church at 904-829-8272.

 
 
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We never really grow out of our fascination with pirates, and St. Augustine is the best place in the country to imagine the time when plundering buccaneers roamed the high seas. There’s no better time to live the pirate’s life than January 25-27 at the 3rd Annual Old City Pirate Fest!

 

The weekend celebration is full of pirate-themed fun for the entire family in the Old City’s Colonial Quarter. Enjoy lots of food and drink options, live entertainment on two stages, games and prizes for the kids, vendors row with tons of pirate merchandise, and black powder and sword demonstrations. Entertainment includes live music, puppet shows and magic shows each day.

 

Special performers include Dirty James and the Rusty Anchors, Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers, Keith Hill, the Forged in Fire Champions and Knife or Death Grand Champion.

 

Be sure to look for The Ancient City Sirens, who will host a Gypsy Encampment throughout Saturday and Sunday.

Getting There:The Colonial Quarter is located at 33 St. George Street. Ticket booths will be located at the main entrance to the Pirate Museum on Avenida Menéndez and the Bull & Crown Publick House at 53 St. George Street.

 

Getting In: A Fest Pass, good for both Saturday and Sunday, is $7 for adults (15-65), $5 for seniors (65+) and $5 for kids (14 & under). Children 3 and under are free. Tickets for the Friday night concert featuring Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers are an additional $10.

 

Here are the event hours for each day:

Friday, January 25: 7 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.

Saturday, January 26: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, January 27: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mark your calendar for next weekend to open your imagination and live the pirate’s life! As always, the Old City Pirate Fest is hosted by the St. Augustine Swashbucklers. For more information, visit here.

 
 
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While the PGA TOUR prepares for the 60th anniversary of its Desert Classic, the World Golf Hall of Fame is also gearing up for the big event. Played every winter in Coachella Valley, California, the Desert Classic features the sport’s top players vying for a tournament win, as well as a celebrity pro-am tournament.

 

The pro-am has included among its competitors Bing Crosby, Desi Arnez and Frank Sinatra, and more recently Jimmy Fallon, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson. Several U.S. presidents have even competed including Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

The most notable celebrity player, however, was Bob Hope. For years considered to be Hollywood’s greatest golfer, Bob first played in the tournament in 1965 when he stepped in as chairman of the board. The tournament bared his name from 1965 to 2011.

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Between shopping, wrapping, decorating and celebrating, the holidays are always a hectic time. Add to that the worry of what to cook for holiday meals. To help relieve some of that stress, the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort offers Christmas and New Year’s dinner options each year.

 

These are no run-of-the-mill ham dinners! Enjoy prime rib on Christmas Eve or seafood and steak on Christmas night, all served on an extensive buffet of tasty appetizers, gourmet sides and delectable desserts. Each dish is prepared and served with the unwavering quality and attention to detail for which the Renaissance is known.

 

Christmas Eve Prime Rib Dinner Buffet: On Monday, December 24, enjoy a delicious Christmas Eve prime rib buffet dinner. The buffet will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. The cost is $43 for adults and $39 for seniors.

 

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