SOS Children's Villages - Florida nurtures youth in foster care through a neighborhood built exclusively for them. The street's 12 houses buzz with the activity of the 75 resident boys and girls, who were removed from their homes due to abandonment, abuse, and neglect. They spend their childhood with foster families selected by a caseworker and have access to an array of social and mental-health services. Most children stay at the Village for about two years until they are found a permanent adoptive home or reunited with their biological families. The Village places a high priority on maintaining family connections among siblings, generally placing them in the same house.
SOS Children’s Villages sustains a connection with all its youth after they turn 18 through the After Care program, which helps them transition into adulthood and self-sufficiency. SOS boasts incredible success with this program: 83% of its alumni have graduated high school—33% higher than the national average for foster children—and 47% have gone on to pursue higher education.
The humor ambassadors of Fort Lauderdale Comedy Club stock their Oakland Park stage with snickers and snorts as audiences savor the jokes of headlining local and national comedians. Shirking the detached feel of stuffy theaters, smoky halls, and abandoned wells, Fort Lauderdale Comedy Club grants audiences an intimate standup comedy experience as fans catch every punch line and smell every punch breath. The ever-changing calendar features a solid crew of human antidepressants, such as lanky LA funnyman Eric Grady (March 23–24), who cooks up buffets of hee-haws with observational humor about marriage, stepchildren, and the perils of being 6 feet, 9 inches tall. Funny bones flee their ligaments as veteran standup comedian, television actor, and host at Tampa Bay Newstalk 820 AM Artie Fletcher (March 30–31) deposits hefty loads of jokes accrued from 25 years on the road. Groups of two or four can chase down meaty laughs with wine and beer (a $5 value each) or a refreshing, alcohol-free soda (a $3 value). Dress codes are comfortable and casual, and all hecklers will be shunned and turned into chum.
More than 130 cast members pirouette across a wintry stage to recreate the classic, fantastical children's ballet tale that has drawn sold-out crowds for the last 12 years to the Coral Springs Arts Center. From enclosed balcony seats inside the 1,471-seat theater, audiences follow Clara, a young girl who shrinks into a dreamscape beneath her family's tree on Christmas Eve. The enchanting score by Tchaikovsky whisks ears through flakes that flutter and zambonis that drive Clara and the Nutcracker Prince across the Land of Snow. Eyes chase the elaborate choreography as dancers leap over the stage during famed scenes such as the battle between the toy soldiers and evil Mouse King. When the Sugar Plum Fairy escorts Clara and her prince through her own kingdom in the second act, hearts will swoon and tongues will mimic doormats before the pixie monarch's sugar-encrusted slippers.
In a one-level, 9-lane shooting range, 75-foot galleries with backstops capable of waylaying up to 50-caliber rifle ammo stare back at marksmen as they take aim. National Armory's well-thought-out facility creates a practicing environment that helps ammo find its way to the center of its targets while keeping visitors' well-being in mind. Year round, the facility's air conditioning keeps shooters comfortable, and an environmentally friendly air-filtration system quickly extracts gun smoke and discharged lead particles.
In addition to overseeing the shooting range, the staff leads classes that cover topics such as obtaining concealed-weapon permits and meeting the requirements to become an armed security guard. Marksmen looking for new firearms or for to upgrade often find their match in National Armory's store, where in-house weapon experts advise buyers on new and used guns and dispense ammunition and police supplies.
• For $29, you get a ten-class pass good for spinning, yoga, or Pilates classes (a $100 value). • For $49, you get a one-month membership, including a fitness assessment and unlimited yoga classes (a $49 value), the orientation fee (a $29 value), and two personal training sessions (a $51.80 value; a $129.80 total value).
While Mugs' main room welcomes spirited sports lovers with 14 plasma TVs and a 102" projection screen, its fiery flavorsmiths busily intensify the menu with fine cookery to save fans from mid-game famine. Prepare palates for kick off with Mugs' spicy tuna tataki, pan-seared sushi-grade tuna ensconced in cajun spices ($12). Spinach-stuffed ravioli ($11) appeases mouth mafias with payments of mozzarella, roasted garlic, and a choice of vodka, marinara, alfredo, or pesto sauce, and chicken marsala ($12) paints brilliant, wine-infused portraits of sautéed mushrooms onto waiting tongues. A lineup of 12 draft beers, including Newcastle, Stella Artois, Guinness, Blue Moon, and Coors Light ($3), ensure a mug-filled match to fit every ale-appetite, and frosty bottles of Heineken, Red Stripe, Coors, and Dos Equis wait to be emptied and re-purposed as purely decorative kazoos.