United Way Needs You To ‘Cram the Van’ To Help Kids Start the School Year Off Right
By: Kelly Woodard
There are many kids here in Escambia county that start school each year without the supplies they need. Having the right supplies helps keep kids focused and learning at school. With the new school year just around the corner, the United Way of Escambia County is kicking off their 16th Annual Cram the Van fundraiser, a school supply drive uniting family, friends, and our whole community to help low-income youth get the school supplies they need to succeed in the new school year.
Sponsored by Sandy Sansing Dealerships, WEAR ABC 3, WFGX My35, Papa John’s Pizza, and United Way. JET 100.7, Magic 106.1, NASH 102.7, News Talk 1370, Today’s Soft Rock 94.1, Cat Country 98.7, and NewsRadio 1620, the United Way will be collecting supplies on Thursday, July 30th at Wal-Mart locations at Mobile Highway, Creighton Rd, Tiger Point, and Pace from 10 am to 7 pm.
Each year, the program greatly benefits local teachers and students by supplementing the school supplies that parents purchase. In 2014, over $58,000 in school supplies were distributed to 55 area schools.
Items needed include backpacks, pencils, paper, glue, crayons, notebooks and calculators. There are several public Cram the Van collection boxes located across the community where individuals can drop off school supplies. Please visit the United Way of Escambia County website at www.unitedwayescambia.org/cramthevan for all locations and a full list of requested supplies.
Do you need help with school supplies? Parents in Escambia County should dial 2-1-1 to receive further instructions on how to request school supplies for their children. Parents in Santa Rosa County need to fill out an application and should call First Call for Help at (850) 983-7260 for information on how to apply. The application can be found at www.unitedwayscr.org.
For more information about Cram the Van, call (850) 434-3157 or email email@example.com.
Help make this the best school year ever for our local children!
Gulf Island Seashore Ranger Programs Offer Exciting Outdoor Experiences For All
By: Kelly Woodard
There’s no reason to be bored or indoors this summer! Join in on the fun in the sun and get to know a little more about your own backyard as the Gulf Islands National Seashore presents these fascinating Ranger Programs this July and August.
Advanced Redoubt: Legacy in Brick & Mortar
The group meets daily at 11am. Participants are asked to meet at the entrance to Advanced Redoubt. The 30 minute program involves walking on uneven surfaces, sandy walkways, and steps. Designed solely for resisting a land-based assault, the Advanced Redoubt is a monument to war, peace, and architectural ingenuity. Explore the brick arches and white washed casemates of this engineering marvel.
The group meets daily 3:30pm at the Fort Pickens Museum. This 30 minute talk addresses Gulf Islands National Seashore’s wide variety of habitats for a myriad of species. Take a break from the sun and learn about some of the plants and animals that call the seashore home.
Fort Barrancas: Guardian of the Gulf
Meets daily at 2pm at the Fort Barrancas Visitor Center. This 30 minute program involves walking on uneven surfaces, sandy walkways, and steps. High on a bluff overlooking the entrance to Pensacola Bay, Fort Barrancas stands today as a monument of military engineering and a marvel of human ingenuity. Learn more about the endurance of this imposing brick structure.
Fort Pickens: Garrison for Freedom
Meets daily at 11am & 2pm at the entrance to Fort Pickens. This 30 minute program discusses Fort Pickens where for over a century, it has protected the coastline from foreign invasion and withstood the actions of war, time, and the elements. Discover the importance of this coastal fortification in our nation’s history.
Gulf Islands’ Sites & Sounds
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 9:30am and 2pm at the Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center. This 30 minute walking tour discusses all things Gulf Coast, from its sandy beaches to its maritime forests, Gulf Islands National Seashore is a place like no other. Take a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk and see some of the plants and animals that call Gulf Islands’ home.
Seagrass Safari: An Interactive Exploration of Our Coastal Nurseries
Held Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 11am at Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center, and Tuesdays at 2pm at Perdido Key; meet at the Johnson Beach Ranger Station. This 1 hour program explores the emerald green waters that surround Gulf Islands National Seashore are delicate, dynamic habitats teaming with life. Wade into the water and learn more about the creatures that call this area home.
Secrets of the Sand
Daily at 9:30am; meet at the Battery Worth Picnic Area. A 30 minute program discussing how our islands became what they are today. Shaped by the forces of water, wind, and storms, barrier islands are ever changing, requiring the plants and wildlife to adapt continually. Learn more about what makes barrier islands special places.
Held Friday, July 17 and Friday, August 14, 7:30pm – 9:30pm; meet at the Battery Worth Picnic Area. Join park staff and volunteers from the Escambia Amateur Astronomer’s Association (EAAA) for a fun night out under the stars. Get an up close view of some celestial objects and learn more about the night sky. Telescopes will be available for use.
Held Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 7pm; meet at the Fort Pickens Museum. A 1 hour program that gets you up close and personal to the breath taking sunsets that dazzle the evening waters of the national seashore.
Underwater Snorkel Adventure
Held on Wednesdays and Sundays at 10am; meet at the Battery Worth Picnic Area, and Fridays at 10am; meet at Opal Beach Picnic Pavilion F. This special 90 minute program allows you to get up close and personal with the wonders under our water. Snorkel gear is provided first-come, first served. The seagrass habitats are fascinating places to explore.
All programs are free, but are subject to change. There is an entrance fee to the Fort Pickens Area, Perdido Key Area, and Opal Beach.
For updated information, please call 850-934-2600 or visit the National Seashore website at www.nps.gov/guis and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GulfIslandsNPS.
Local Thrill Seekers Are Ready To Mess With the Bull and Get the Horns
By: Kelly Woodard
A little piece of Spain comes to downtown Pensacola as the 5th Annual Fiesta de San Fermin en Pensacola hits the streets on Saturday, July 18th at 8:30 am. The Fiesta de San Fermin en Pensacola mixes Pensacola’s rich Spanish history and culture with the excitement and danger of a traditional Encierro (Bull Run).
Inspired by the Fiesta de San Fermin, best known for the “Running of the Bulls” held yearly in Pamplona, Spain which was made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s novel "The Sun Also Rises”, Pensacola’s version of the festival has also been heavily influenced by the Fiesta de San Fermin en Nueva Orleans held in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This exciting and unique event was featured on the Travel Channel as part of their “Edge of America” series in 2013.
The three-day event will combine classic Ernest Hemingway, Spain, music, food & drink all leading up to the excitement in the streets. The weekend will start on Thursday, July 16th with a Spanish inspired Wine Pairing Dinner at Apple Annie’s with wines selected by Executive Chef, Brandon Melton. The cost for the event is $60.00 per person (tax and gratuity not included). Reservations are required as this event is limited to just 80 seats.
A “Chupinazo,” or opening celebration, is scheduled for the evening of Friday, July 17th at 6 pm and will feature a procession honoring San Fermin, the Patron Saint of Pamplona, Spain with members of the Krewe of Andres de Pez. A local “Padre” will make the traditional opening remarks and local dignitaries will dedicate the weekend to St. Fermin. There will also be a wide array of food, specialty drinks, and live entertainment for everyone to enjoy.
On Saturday morning, July 18th at 8:30 am, an “Encierro” (Bull Run), honoring the perilous running of the bulls in Spain, will run through the streets of Pensacola. Runners will be notified with rockets throughout the race as to the whereabouts of the bulls. Runners will hear the first rocket at 9:00 am to alert the runners that the corral gate is open. A second rocket signals that all bulls have been released. The third and fourth rockets are signals that all of the herds have entered the bullring, marking the end of the event. Live music, food & drink will be available for participants & spectators following the “Bull Run”.
The “bulls” are members of the Pensacola Roller Gurlz roller derby team and select participants from other roller-derby leagues across the country. In keeping in tradition of the New Orleans version, in place of angry bulls, the roller derby enthusiasts will be wielding whiffle bats to chase the runners through the streets of Historic Downtown Pensacola.
Runners are required to wear (any kind) of white shirt, white pants or shorts and wear a red bandana or piece of red cloth around the waste and neck. There are only five rules each runner must follow:
1. Run at your own risk
2. Do not touch the “bulls”
3. If you go down, stay down
4. Do not stand still
5. Children under 10 (or those who don’t want to be hit) use the sidewalk
Registration is going on now, and the Saturday Running of the Bulls event is $45. The first 300 registered participants will receive a St. Fermin bandana. Registered participants will also receive a St. Fermin commemorative t-shirt and a wristband for complimentary beer/soft drinks.
Weekend VIP Passes are available for all the weekend’s festivities for just $100. There are a total of 50 packages available. Call Seville Quarter at 850-434-6211 for reservations.
You can register for the 2015 Running of the Bulls in the Seville Quarter Wine Shoppe or on-line at www.runsignup.com. Late registration and t-shirt pick-up will be on Friday, July 17th from 4- 7 pm. Day of registration will be Saturday, July 18th from 7 - 8 am.
This event is free for spectators and all ages are welcome. For more information or for a list of all the festival events, visit www.sevillequarter.com or call 850-434-6211.
The Night Sky Lights Up In Celebration All Over the Coast This 4th of July
By: Kelly Woodard
This week, we celebrate America and her independence with fireworks displays all across the Gulf Coast. With so many great options to choose from, you can’t go wrong. Here are some of the most popular and most highly anticipated shows around the area.
The 26th Annual Sertoma’s Fourth of July Celebration in Old Seville, hosted by area Sertoma organizations, boasts the largest Fireworks display in the city over Pensacola Bay on Saturday, July 4th, 2015, at 9 pm. There will be activities throughout the day from at 11 am to 6:30 pm, in Seville Square including a children’s area with inflatables and pony rides, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and live entertainment on the gazebo stage.
Think you’ve got what it takes to be a competitive eater? Join in on the 4th of July tradition with a Hot Dog Eating Contest at noon sponsored by ATI Napa and Iron Plan Solutions Group. At 4:00 pm, live entertainment will take to the stage beginning with the Triple Lindies, followed by Banana Republic at 6:30 pm.
The festivities will peak with the fireworks show over Pensacola Bay, synchronized with music broadcast on Cat Country 98.7. The Pensacola Sertoma July 4th show will be the most sophisticated fireworks production available today. The show is computer choreographed to a digitally recorded soundtrack, and then it is computer fired using the Pyro-Digital firing system. The best views of the show can be seen along Bayfront Parkway.
Admission is free. For more information about this event, call 850-434-1234.
The 4th of July kicks off the Red, White, & Blues week on Pensacola Beach with a Fireworks Extravaganza beginning at 8:30 PM over the Santa Rosa Sound. Patrons can bring lawn chairs, blankets, and coolers to this free show, and can see the beautiful fireworks from both the gulf and sound sides. This week long celebration is a family friendly, action packed beach event usually wraps up with the beloved annual Pensacola Beach Blue Angel’s Air Show, which will be bigger and better than ever this year.
For a complete schedule of Red, White & Blues Week activities, contact the Pensacola Beach Visitors Information Center at (850) 932-1500 or (800) 635-4803 or go to VisitPensacolaBeach.com. All events are subject to weather conditions and can change without prior notice.
Just a hop, skip and a jump to the west, Orange Beach will also feature tributes to America on her birthday.
Celebrate Independence Day with an All-American family outing to The Wharf in Orange Beach. This 4th of July, The Wharf will have a number of plans designed to provide a safe fun environment for the whole family, including live music, street performances, the SPECTRA Sound and Light Spectacular with shows starting at 8:30p.m., 9:00p.m., 9:30p.m., and 10:00p.m., and fireworks over Main Street starting promptly at 8:45p.m.
For more information, please visit www.alwharf.com
Then, head over to the Perdido Beach Resort, located at 27200 Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach, Alabama on Saturday, July 4th for their annual 4th of July Weekend Celebration. Come celebrate the biggest outdoor event of the year at the hotel with this family friendly 4th of July celebration that promises to be the best and biggest ever!
The Tip Tops will be celebrating our nation's independence with all of our guests on the main beach deck July 4th before the big Fireworks show.
In addition to the fantastic entertainment, Executive Chef John Hamme will be preparing a southern barbeque buffet to be held Saturday, July 4th. Menu items will include Grilled BBQ Spareribs, Bourbon BBQ Glazed Beef Brisket, Tender Pulled Pork, Char-Grilled Hamburgers, All-American Hot Dogs, Southern Fried Chicken and all the fixing’s.
The fireworks show will take to the beach at 9 PM, courtesy of the Perdido Beach Resort.
Advanced tickets are on sale now for $26.95 per adult $12.50 per child (5-12). Tax and gratuity is included, however, alcoholic beverages are not included. Day of the event tickets will be available for $30.00 per adult $15.00 per child (5-12).
Reservations are required. To purchase your tickets in advance, please contact our Guest Services department at 251-981-9811 extension 103.
Where ever you decide to celebrate, do so safely. Happy 4th of July from Escambia Sun Press!
Community Outraged After Commissioner May’s Behavior During Traffic Stop
By: Kelly Woodard
Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May was caught in a swirl of backlash after his involvement in a controversial traffic stop by the Pensacola Police Department last Friday. The stop occurred around 7:30 am on Gregory Street when May was pulled over by a female officer for tag and tint violations.
The incident which was caught on the officer’s dash camera, quickly turned heated when, before the officer could reach the vehicle, May stepped out to confront the officer. When instructed to get back into his car, May did so, but proceeded to argue with the officer.
The officer informed May several times why she pulled him over, but May refused to give any information, including his license, registration, or insurance card, to the officer. May then asked for a supervisor to be called to the scene. Two more officers arrived on the scene, and May then began to cooperate with the male officers.
May claims that he was the victim of racial profiling, and said that he had been pulled over a hundred times in his vehicle. The female officer claimed that one of the reasons she pulled May over was the dark tint on his windows that didn’t allow her to see the driver inside, causing many to call the allegations of racial profiling ridiculous.
“The officer couldn’t even see in the truck, so how would she have known May was African American,” said Jimmy Jessops of Pensacola. “This is just another example of someone using the sensitive issue of race as a ‘get out of jail free’ card. It’s disgusting.”
Jessops went on to say, “It’s funny to me that the second the male officers arrived on the scene, he decided to comply. He thought he could intimidate the female officer. Don’t racism and sexism go hand in hand? Discrimination is discrimination, any way you slice it Mr. May.”
Kassandra Fowler of Pensacola said, “You can take race out of the equation altogether. I don’t care what ethnicity you are; if you behave like that to an officer of the law, you should be arrested. Period. The fact that he wasn’t, raises some red flags to me as to how PPD handles things in general.”
Pensacola resident, Amy Davidson, agreed saying, “For a person to react that way to law enforcement is shocking and despicable, especially when that person is in a position of leadership within our community. Commissioner May is supposed to be leading by example. He should be ashamed of himself.”
May said he didn’t realize that the traffic stop was going to gain such media attention, and claimed that although he agrees that he overreacted, he had moved on from the situation.
The video has reached the popular website, Law Enforcement Today, and has now been shared via social media nearly 1000 times. Within hours of the release of the PPD video, a Facebook page was created to petition for the removal of Commissioner May from office, and currently has 1,200 followers.
But County attorney Alison Rogers said in a press release Monday, that although the public may be outraged, Escambia is a non-charter county which means “the only methods by which a commissioner would leave office before the end of his elected term would be resignation or action of the Governor of the State of Florida”. Governor Scott has not commented on the event.
May’s attorney Eric Stevenson said in a statement Monday that his client did not choose to comply with the officer because he believed that it was “an illegal stop”. Stevenson went on to say that although he did not give the officer his registration, he did have it in the vehicle at the time of the stop.
Stevenson went on to call the traffic stop “bogus” and completely unwarranted. “When someone feels they are being wronged by the authorities, it is totally appropriate to ask for a supervisor. At that time, the officer should stand down and wait for that supervisor to arrive rather than continue the traffic stop,” Stevenson added.
Jeff Brown, president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, has asked that May be publicly censured at the next commission meeting, set to be held July 7th. Brown said in a letter to commission Chairman Steven Barry, “May was extremely disrespectful toward law enforcement,” and added that he felt May was a bad example for the community as a whole.
Fowler said, “I hope at the very least that Commissioner May publicly apologizes for his out of control behavior, and vows to be a better role model for those in the community who look up to him.”