For busy mom Erin Phelan, owning a children’s play center blends personal and professional pursuits. Because she believes that storytelling and imaginary play develops essential skills, she has made both core foundations of her space. When the Play Plus for Kids owner comes to work, her youngster often tags along with her, zigzagging through the facilities during open-play time and exploring the indoor treehouse or bounce house alongside other inquisitive tots. Phelan's facility, which brims with opportunities for imaginative play, helps parents encourage their little ones to step away from the video-game controllers or tax audit forms in favor of hands-on recreation and classes such as family yoga and baby sign language.
+Storytelling and imaginary play are core to her business
For the past century, a dragon has haunted the town of Melbourne, soaring over it by night and lighting the sky with bursts of flame. Locals have tried to slay him, but none of them have succeeded?hence this year's Dragon Festival, a two-day celebration with an ulterior motive. The fighter who proves best in the games will have to face down the dragon once and for all.
At least, so the legend goes. But even if Gedeon turns out to be a myth, the festival is real, blending elements of Renaissance Faires with pieces of Highland Games. As Celtic tunes and live performances fill the air with music, revelers try their hand at games from classic cornhole to "vegetable justice," in which they pelt a stockade-bound wretch with tomatoes and cabbages. Artisans showcase their wares at a variety tables, meanwhile, displays of old-timey crafts, such as blacksmithing and welding, give visitors glimpses of another era. As though that weren't enough excitement, acrobats, stilt-walkers, sword battles, jousting knights, and fire breathers stroll through the crowd, adding a surreal touch to the proceedings?which benefit the Save Dragon Point Foundation.
Injuries from combat are often more visible than the emotional trauma of war, yet those traumas can be just as deadly. Fortunately, though days may be dark, the compassionate professionals at Hope4Heroes spend their days lighting the beacons that line the path toward mental health. The non-profit organization actively supports military personnel suffering from depression, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts through counseling programs and community outreach. Their most celebrated work comes though their rehabilitative sports programs. The idea behind these programs is simple: the teamwork, camaraderie, and physical activity of sports helps to directly tackle the major symptoms and triggers of depression. In addition to building pride in their on-field performance, players also have the opportunity to play alongside retired MLB and NFL greats during events such baseball tournaments and golf tours. These matches aren't just fun, though; through them, Hope4Heroes also joins forces with local charities to raise funds for wounded vets and their families.
Strolling the marble floors of Premiere Theaters Oaks Stadium 10, moviegoers in July 2012 saw something odd beyond the entryway’s stone columns: Batman’s motorcycle from The Dark Knight. Displayed to raise even more anticipation for the trilogy’s conclusion, the prop was the most obvious example of film coming alive at Premiere Theaters, though not the only one. 3D images pop from select Oaks Stadium screens, while the latest digital picture and sound coalesce during immersive Hollywood films. Relax during every feature in tiered rocking seats with retractable armrests and ample room to stretch out.
• June 26 vs. Tampa Yankees (5:05 p.m.) • July 8 vs. Fort Myers Miracle (7:05 p.m.) • July 30 vs. Bradenton Marauders (7:05 p.m.) • August 5 vs. Dunedin Blue Jays (7:05 p.m.) • August 14 vs. Lakeland Flying Tigers (5:05 p.m.) • August 20 vs. Tampa Yankees (7:05 p.m.)
Racers fly over the European-style road course, whipping past red-and-black boundaries as they maneuver in and out of the turns and straightaways. While they jockey for position and widen the gap between them and the competition, they listen to the race coverage on their radio helmets, striving to improve on their last lap time by cracking a whip over their engines until they gallop up to 40 miles per hour. This is the Andretti Challenge, one of five go-kart tracks within the six-acre Andretti Thrill Park.
The park?s attractions span amusements for nearly every age, from tyke-friendly fun on Rookie Row to single and double karts on the Super Speedway. The park also encompasses nonmotorized fun, such as the Andretti Edge climbing wall, mini bowling, and a tokenless, card-based arcade. And as expected at any family amusement park, Andretti's staff includes a team dedicated to handling parties so that parents don't have to sneak into the park at midnight and power the arcade with their car battery. This scope and quality of entertainment earned Andretti Thrill Park the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Best of Melbourne Award: Amusement Parks from the US Commerce Association.