Help Needed As the Investigation Continues In the Murder Of Local Dolphin
By: Kelly Woodard
Local coastal communities are still reeling after the discovery of a dolphin with a hunting arrow in its side was found dead in Orange Beach this weekend. Federal officials are investigating the crime, which many residents are saying is “heartbreaking”.
In a press release from NOAA, preliminary results of a necropsy suggest the dolphin lived with the arrow in its side for at least five days before dying from a from a secondary infection caused by the wound. NOAA spokesperson Kim Amendola reports that this is the second human-related dolphin death in the past two weeks in the northern Gulf of Mexico coming shortly after the discovery of a pregnant dolphin was found dead after being shot with a firearm in Miramar Beach.
Published reports by NOAA state that at least 17 dolphins have stranded with gunshot wounds since 2002, with 70 percent of those occurring since 2010, a huge problem considering that all human interaction with the marine mammals is punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in jail per violation according to Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.
People should remember not to feed wild dolphins. It is illegal and it can encourage them to approach boats, putting them into conflict situations with fishermen, resulting in harm to the dolphins. Civil penalties up to $11,000 per count may also be assessed even if the animal is unharmed.
NOAA law enforcement has attributed many of these senseless dolphin killings to fishermen frustrated at having to fight dolphins for their catch, a fact that has left local residents furious. Perdido Key resident, Amber Thompson, said of the latest event, “I find it utterly disgusting that anyone could hurt an animal, especially a dolphin. People need to realize that when you fish in local waters, you are fishing in the animals’ environment. People need to respect the animals’ natural instincts and accept whatever that means for their catch.”
The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
In addition, NOAA officials seek information from anyone with details of this latest incident. Please call NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement in Niceville, Fla., at 850-729-8628 or the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 as soon as possible. Tips may be left anonymously.
Santa “Drops” In This Weekend To Help Provide Christmas Memories For Everyone
By: Kelly Woodard
Even though we don’t have snow for Christmas here on the Gulf Coast, that doesn’t mean Santa doesn’t stop in on our “snow” white sands for a meet and greet! Watch Santa fly in to the Flora-Bama to kick off the holiday season right at the Annual Flora-Bama Santa Drop, this Saturday, December 13th at noon.
Santa will parachute in from the North Pole and land right on the beach just in time to hear your Christmas wish list. Of course he will be bringing gifts in his magical bag to hand out to all the good boys and girls in attendance. Kids (and adults) of all ages will have the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap and take a special photo.
Other festivities for the event will include a tree trimming party, fantastic holiday inspired food and drinks, as well as a holiday sing along including all of the holiday classics, led by Flora-Bama favorite, Cathy Pace.
In addition to a fantastic fun holiday time for those in attendance, the Flora-Bama will also be taking donations for Toys For Tots and our local Manna food bank in hopes of giving less fortunate families in our area a special Christmas as well. Bring a new, unwrapped toy or non-perishable food item to the Santa Drop and receive a free drink. Everyone wins, and you’ll earn extra “nice” points with Santa!
For more information about the Santa Drop, or to donate to Manna food bank or Toys For Tots, call 850-492-0611or 251-980-5118.
Still Looking For the Perfect Gift? Tips For Last Minute Shoppers
By: Kelly Woodard
Did you wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping? Don’t panic….you’re not alone! The most important thing to do now is create a plan so you don’t end up with all the wrong gifts and head with a lot less hair! Here are some suggestions to get you through the last minute hustle and bustle of the holidays while pleasing all those on your seemingly never-ending list.
If you're in a hurry, save yourself some time and cash by purchasing online (using an online coupon code, of course) and picking it up in the store. You'll be in and out fast -no wandering the aisles in a state of indecision and, best of all, no shipping delays.
Don’t forget to score fast free shipping for little Timmy's gift when you take advantage of the 2-day shipping perk that comes with an Amazon Prime membership. Order Prime-eligible items by 12/22 for Christmas Eve delivery. Not interested in shelling out for Prime year round? Sign up for the free trial and cancel before your 30 days are up.
Tickets to an event like a concert or sporting event make great gifts, and the best deals are always found online from brokers like Razorgator and Vividseats. You may be handing the recipient a sheet of paper yanked from your printer just a few minutes ago, but when that sheet of paper says that they're going to a college football playoff game, the presentation won’t matter. Trust me.
Headed to a Dirty Santa party, but forgot to shop for a gift? Hit a liquor store on the way to your holiday party. If your local liquor store posts wine scores next to the bottles on the shelves, picking a budget-friendly winner is incredibly easy. Price is never a good proxy for quality when it comes to wine, but you can find some really great choices using the score system for under $20. And who doesn’t love to receive booze? Plus it will help someone get through those tough holiday family moments.
Maybe your headed out of town for the holidays and don’t want to haul all those gifts along. What good is free shipping when you're just going to turn around and ship it again, and pay for the privilege? Let the merchant do the wrapping and ship your online order directly to the recipient. Not only do you skip paying for a second round of shipping, but you'll shave several days off the total transit time. Not to mention, you won’t have to pay those extra fees for a bag full of gifts at the airport.
Websites such as Etsy.com offer an opportunity to purchase something that looks like you took the time to make it. However, if you have time in the last couple of weeks before Christmas to knit, glue, or even nail something together, then kudos to you, my hardworking little elf.
However, if you’re creatively inclined, avoid mall madness altogether and bake a batch of cookies or put together a fun cookie recipe jar that includes all of the dry ingredients for friends and family. In my opinion, as long as it comes from the heart, then it’s the perfect gift.
If all else fails, there’s always the trusty old gift card. While this option of gift giving may seem like a way out, it’s important to remember that some people just can’t be bought for, so gift cards keep both gift giver and receiver happy. Virtually every retailer offers gift cards now, so forget the idea that plastic is an impersonal gift.
To dress it up a little, add a personal touch, such as a mug with a gift card to a favorite coffee shop, or a gift card to a book store tucked into a classic novel. The key is to make sure that whatever you give, you include a little bit of yourself. If the recipient knows it was personally picked for them and given with love, you can’t go wrong.
Local Musician Helps Barbie to Make Girls Proud ‘To Be a Woman’
By: Kelly Woodard
Grammy nominated singer/songwriter and local resident Rhonda Hart once again turned her fabulousness into a magical Christmas for underprivileged kids along the Gulf Coast with her annual Birthday Barbie Bash.
Hart, who began her career in Nashville with an all-girls group called "Angels On The Range" consisting of herself, Deanna Carter, and Mila Mason, is best known for writing the Quadruple Platinum hit, "Did I Shave My Legs For This" for Deanna Carter’s multiplatinum album of the same name. The song received a Grammy Nomination in 1998 for Country Song of the Year. Her latest album, "To Be A Woman" is available now on iTunes.
Hart moved to the Perdido Key area several years ago, and has made quite an impression on the local music scene ever since. With her stunning good looks, raspy country voice, and incredible stage presence, Hart has become a crowd favorite among local music lovers. Always known for her giving nature, Hart now shares her generosity in a way that would make even the most sophisticated Barbie proud.
The Birthday Barbie Bash, now in its 6th year, gave party go-ers a chance to dress up like their favorite Barbie while enjoying good food, an appropriately themed Barbie cake, and live music from Hart herself. Instead of presents for the lady of the hour, guests were asked to bring a new Barbie for a needy child. This year, the dolls will be donated to the Pirates of the Lost Treasure Secret Santa program that will distribute toys to needy families throughout the area.
Hart started the event with two things in mind; fun and bringing smiles to the faces of kids around the Christmas tree. Hart said, “When I was young, we didn’t have a lot. My family was too poor to buy me a Barbie for my birthday or Christmas, but I always dreamed of having one. Now that I am an adult, I wanted to find a way to celebrate my birthday while ensuring that at least a few little girls would have a Barbie to open on Christmas morning.”
Thanks to Hart, there will be lots of smiles on Christmas morning as her Barbie Bash collected over a hundred dolls in just one night. “I hope that people will continue to bring toys in to be donated to the Pirates Secret Santa program. No kid should go without a toy on Christmas morning. And every little girl should have a Barbie. She’s part of becoming a woman.”
Although this year’s Barbie Bash is over, donations are still being accepted on behalf of Hart through the Pirates of the Lost Treasure by calling 850-324-3679. All donations can be dropped off at the Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce located at 15500 Perdido Key Drive.
The 2014 Cox Pensacola Christmas Parade Rolls Into Town With Santa In Tow
By: Kelly Woodard
Grab your coats and get ready to welcome the man in red as Santa Claus comes to town at the 2014 Cox Pensacola Christmas Parade this Saturday, December 13th at 5:15 pm. This annual holiday tradition draws over 50,000 people each year, including nearly 90 entries, and eight bands from Escambia County, New Orleans and Mississippi.
The first Downtown Christmas Parade occurred in December 1982 and was organized by the Pensacola Jaycees. This parade had eleven entries and no bands. Today the Pensacola Christmas Parade has grown to over 80 entries, including more than 50 floats. It is the only area parade to have all six local school bands, as well as marching/music groups from as far away as New Orleans and Houston.
The parade annually pays tribute to our military, and has become a family friendly holiday favorite of Gulf Coast residents.
The parade will proceed along Palafox St., in between Spring and Garden Streets, and will feature the nationally renowned Blue Angels flight team and a host of organizations from around the region.
This year, each float will have the chance to win numerous awards including Best of Parade. Parade winners will be named for best school division, church division, business division, dancing teams and open division. This year's judges will include Ms. Lois Benson, Dr. Ed Meadows, and CAPT Keith Hoskins. Check back after the parade to find out about the winners.
All profits of the Cox Pensacola Christmas Parade go to the local high school band booster organizations. Over $25,000 has been donated to the five area high schools.
Admission to watch the parade is free for all ages. For more information, visit www.coxpensacolachristmasparade.org.