I enjoy where I live. It’s a modest but inviting home situated atop an elevated plain overlooking the rolling hills of a conservation area (unusual to find in the normally flat landscape of Florida). The rolling hills are to my east which give me some spectacular sunrises. There’s a wooded area to the north so it gives the illusion of solitude within the confines of a middle class community. It could be darn near perfect… if it wasn’t for the howitzers and machine gun fire.
I should explain. On the other side of that wooded area is a large plot of land owned by an antique center. On their property, along with the antiques and flea markets they operate, they feature various events of interest to a select crowd. This weekend it was the WWII arms and ammunition show. At eight this morning we were greeting by a barrage of incoming fire that would put Patton to shame.
And that isn’t the only event that features assault weapons. They hold an annual Civil War reenactment of the fictitious battle of Townsend’s Plantation. And I learned something… 19th century cannon fire is every bit as loud as the 20th century guns of WWII.
But just when I have gotten used to the firepower, from those rolling hills comes the unmistakable war chants of an Indian tribe. That would mean it’s time for the Thundering Spirit Family Pow Wow. Those chants last all day for three days. Or so it would seem.
Most of the other events that are scattered throughout the years aren’t as audibly invasive – The Steampunk Show, the Cars and Guitars Swap meet, the RV and Antique Cars Show. There’s a certain charm to these events and it is nice to see people share their interests. I only wish they could do it a few dozen decibels lower.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550, visit our website, or stop by our studio now located at 930 N Donnelly St Mount Dora FL 32757.
Church bells ring for all sorts of reasons: Call to worship; special celebrations; or alarms to alert citizens of impending storms or attacks. Church bells have been rung both to commemorate a marital union as well as to ward off devilish attacks. The first record of a church bell used in such fashion took place in AD 400 (some 1620 years ago) and it has grown in popularity ever since.
Suffice it to say that residents of any small town with a church possessing a bell tower have become accustomed to hearing the regular chime of its tones. So whenever a small town’s bells become silent, people take notice.
When the First Congregational Church in Mount Dora (which is the oldest structure in our downtown area, having been built in 1883) discovered its bell tower was in such a state of disrepair that it required the discontinuation of its ringing, the church leaders immediately put out a call to action. Setting up a GoFundMe site, it requested the help of the community it served to try to raise the funds needed to repair the bell tower.
Our small town community responded in spades. Aided by a matching grant from our local Community Trust, we were able to quickly raise the funds needed to effect the repairs and get our bell ringing again.
There are small stories and there are big stories. But small stories can often make a big impact. The chiming of a neighborhood church bell is no small matter. We sometimes don’t realize how important it is until we no longer hear it. Because it can and does serve as a unifying force. It reminds us that we are all part of the same community. This may sound corny but it is a message we would all do well to heed. We need to keep the bells ringing… not only in Mount Dora… but also in our own hearts.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.
It’s Pirate Week in Mount Dora. This is a relatively new thing – a town promotion attaching itself to the success of our popular Seafood Festival, now entering its 3rd year.
I’m finding that one of the unwritten laws of being a merchant in a small town, you kinda have to go with the flow. It’s Pirate week… so guess who’s dressing up as a pirate? Hint: It’s not my wife.
I have been wracking my brain searching for pirate memories that I might use for this blog but I keep coming up empty. Is it possible that I’ve never, in my life, had a pirate experience that was strong enough to create a recallable memory?
I don’t remember ever dressing up as a pirate for Halloween. Cowboys, yes. Hobos… done that. But I’ve never been a pirate.
I’ve acted in over 50 different theatrical productions and have played various characters originating from many different cultures: a Chinese grandfather, an Indian warrior, Frankenstein’s monster, a WWII fighter pilot, even a Star Fleet captain… but never a pirate.
But merchant responsibilities being what they are, I begrudgingly agreed to put on the eye patch.
I have to tell you… I can feel the pirate swagger. Maybe it’s the clip on earring… or perhaps it’s the Seinfeld puffy shirt… but whatever the cause… there’s definitely a vibe happening.
If you happen to be in the Mount Dora area this weekend, I hope you’ll enjoy all the activities at our Seafood Festival and please drop by the studio for a quick selfie with Captain Mike.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.
Today’s blog is a repost taken from The Real Estate Reporter and ERA Grizzard Real Estate. Thanks for the history reminder.
Set against the backdrop of the Harris Chain of Lakes, Mount Dora is a historical city that dates back to 1846. Nestled along the shores of its namesake lake is arguably the city’s most iconic landmark, the Mount Dora Lighthouse.
The Mount Dora Lighthouse was built to serve as a navigational aid for boaters and water enthusiasts. Sitting along the edge of Lake Dora on Grantham Point, the lighthouse guides boaters along the shoreline to local boat ramps at Gilbert Park and Simpson’s Cove as well as the Mount Dora Marina.
Those who call Mount Dora home have grown to know the lighthouse as one the most recognizable and beloved landmarks in the city.
The Story Behind the Lighthouse
Boasting some of the largest lakes in Florida, the Harris Chain of Lakes is an area treasured for its natural beauty as well as the ideal destination for boating and fishing. This chain includes Lake Dora – the lighthouse’s home.
These interconnected lakes were an important draw for the area’s first settlers and remain a fisherman and boater’s paradise today. Encompassing 4,475 acres, Lake Dora is one of the largest bodies of water in the area and therefore has become a prime location for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year.
Its origins stem from local fisherman and boaters who were finding it difficult to travel from nearby Tavares to Mount Dora in the dark. Civic leaders and members of the community took this need to heart and began researching ways to alleviate this issue.
With an appeal to members of the community, over $3,000 was raised to erect this 35-foot lighthouse that stands watch over the Port of Mount Dora. Open since March 25, 1988, the Mount Dora Lighthouse was built using a brick base and a stucco outer surface.
Powered by a 750-watt photocell, the lighthouse utilizes a blue pulsator to help guide boaters around Lake Dora after dusk and stands as the only inland freshwater lighthouse in Florida today. Its trademark look was created using alternating stripes of red and white paint as well as a white hexagonal lantern.
Today’s Beloved Icon
Visitors are encouraged to walk along Grantham Point and enjoy its spectacular views. Referred by locals as “Lighthouse Park,” this area is a short walk from the quaint streets of downtown Mount Dora and is ideally situated next to Gilbert Park and Simpson’s Cove.
Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the point and follow a pathway to the nearby Palm Island Park Boardwalk. This stretch of boardwalk offers picturesque views back to the lighthouse, particularly when the sun is setting.
Residents of Mount Dora treasure their beloved lighthouse and celebrate its history and beauty with events held during the year. A boat parade kicks off the holiday season with local boat owners displaying an array of lights and decor as they cruise along Grantham Point and the Mount Dora Lighthouse.
On New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July, the Mount Dora Lighthouse comes alive as fireworks light up the sky along Grantham Point. Regattas and boat races are also a regular event along the waters of Grantham Point, offering scenic vistas of the sailboats as they pass this iconic lighthouse.
From reminding us of the city’s historic past to holding a special place in our hearts today, the Mount Dora lighthouse is just one piece of what makes calling this city home so special.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.
If you’re experiencing what I am, you are now being inundated with electioneering stuff… phone calls, flyers, door to door canvassers… all of which are signs that it’s time to prepare to cast our votes. While I do appreciate the freedom we have to elect our political leaders I must admit that I, along with what I suspect is most of America, really have grown to hate the process. Not the voting… I’m referring to the campaigning. I’ve always hated it… even when I fell into the middle of it.
When I was in ninth grade and my best friend decided to run for student council president, I figured I would toss my hat in the ring and run for vice-president. Unfortunately, my opponent was one of the cool kids – Mr. Popularity. I had to figure out a way to elevate myself above Joe Cool so, after much deliberation, I settled on a variation of a popular campaign slogan. “I Like Ike” worked for Eisenhower… how could “I Like Mike” possibly fail?
I made buttons, printed posters, passed out flyers – all with the clever “I Like Mike” slogan. And how did it go you might ask? Not well. Not well at all. How was I supposed to know that ninth graders in 1970 didn’t know all that much about Eisenhower and to them “I Like Mike” was an inappropriate admission of affection? None of the guys would wear the button and the girls were afraid it would be misunderstood.
I lost in a landslide. My first humiliating defeat. Turns out few people would publicly confess to liking Mike.
Fortunately, my best friend won and, as president, selected me to be his sergeant-at-arms – a position I was woefully ill-equipped to serve. I was given a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order. Can’t say that I ever bothered to read it. But at least I got to hold and bang the gavel during council meetings. That was cool. So, all in all, everything turned out ok.
Speaking of voting, the Best of Mount Dora survey is currently running and while Home Video Studio is strangely missing from the candidates printed on the ballots, there are some categories where a write-in vote for us would be fitting. Best place to buy a gift because the memories we bring to life make the best gifts ever. Best vintage find because we constantly discover and resurrect images and sounds of yesteryear that have long been forgotten. And best kept secret because people constantly come in with questions and eventually get around to saying, “I didn’t even know you could do all that.”
If you are so inclined to take a minute to write in a vote or two for our studio, here’s the link: http://www.mountdorabuzz.com/2018bestofmountdora.html
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.
As our followers know, we reside in the beautifully tranquil town of Mount Dora, Florida. It is a place so wonderful it has been given the nickname “Someplace Special.” But that is not to say it is without its share of controversy or problems.
For the past year, most Mount Dorians have been following a story that started locally but quickly escalated to make national news. A couple has painted their home in the style of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The city authorities advised them to remove it or face financial penalties. And the escalation began.
The facts of the situation must be explained. The home is not under any HOA regulations. There is no city ordinance that prohibits them from painting their house in any manner they choose. And the reason they did this in the first place was not from an aesthetic preference but rather as a means to help their autistic son identify where he lived.
Add this to the fact that Mount Dora positions itself as a strong supporter of the arts and markets itself in that way to the tourism industry… well, it doesn’t take much to recognize that the optics on this does not favor the city.
So most of us are relieved to learn that a settlement has finally been reached between the homeowners and the city that will allow them to keep their Van Gogh inspired house. May they build many fond memories there in the years to come.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.
Mount Dora is about to get a new Epic Movie Theater! Opening date is just around the corner and it is exciting news for our little town. We haven’t had a movie theater in our local environs since 1996. And to say our citizens are excited would be an understatement.
Even before the theater has officially opened, news has arrived that the Central Florida Film Festival has chosen our new theater as its official venue. Our cup runneth over. And it prompts a memory which has become something of a family favorite.
Back in the day, when I was running my Christian film review website, I was invited to review the entries of the Florida Film Festival hosted by the Enzian Theater in Maitland Florida. As I waited for the festival date, I continued to review the mainstream movies that were being released weekly.
My reviews, which I called “movie parables,” were designed to explore spiritual truths to be found in the secular entertainment of our day. It was a new concept and I received a lot of hate mail because of it. Non-Christians resented my bringing my faith into their entertainment world and religious Christians didn’t much care for my bringing secular entertainment into their faith.
It was an interesting time but one that led to a ten year career in the film review business.
One day, I stopped at the post office to pick up any correspondence that may have arrived to my film website’s PO Box address. Among the bills, there was a small package wrapped in brown paper addressed to me in a crayon scrawl. I didn’t recognize the return address and I wasn’t expecting anything. I thought it odd but I took it and put it in the back of my car and drove home.
When I arrived home, I told my wife about this package. She, knowing about the hate mail I had received, freaked. She made me promise to call the police to find out how I could x-ray the package before I opened it.
I, being a dutiful husband, did as she asked. It was a brief call. I was told to stay put and not touch anything. Within minutes, two firetrucks, three police cars and a few unmarked cars blocked off the street where I lived. I normally would have sent my wife out to deal with this since calling the police was her idea but she somehow decided this would be a perfect time to take a shower.
I walked out the door and the man in charge came over to me. He asked me where the package was so I went to my car, took it out and started walking back to him. He sternly instructed me to stop where I was and put the package gently on the ground. I obeyed.
He studied it for about five minutes then took a penknife out, slit the bottom of the package and withdrew its contents. As he handed it to me, he could not disguise the smirk on his face.
It contained a videotape of a film that had been entered in the film festival and sent to me for review purposes. It was a documentary of the life of porn star John Holmes AKA Johnny Wadd.
I am pretty sure I was the butt of many a joke that night at the station house.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.
I love Mount Dora. Not only is it where I live and work, there is always something fun going on. This weekend, it is the 4th annual Blueberry Festival! Woo Hoo! I know, I was skeptical at first myself. But this little “festival that could” has burst all expectations throughout the last four years as it has grown exponentially in its popularity.
You’d be surprised at how many products or events can be developed that feature this delicious little berry. Or maybe you wouldn’t. I was.
I remember picking blueberries with my granddaughters once on one of those “how can we entertain the kids for an hour” moments. It was fun watching their excitement as they filled their buckets. You can have that same experience at the festival as a blueberry picking excursion has been announced at a local farm using the Mount Dora Fun Bus for transportation to and fro.
Within the festival itself, you’ll find booth after booth filled with examples of what you can do with the blueberries after you have picked them. Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Jam, Blueberry Muffins, Blueberry Craft Beer, Blueberry Wine, Blueberry scented soap, and the list goes on.
My problem is that I was born in the 50s and grew up in the 60s and 70s. There is only one blueberry reference that I will ever remember. And it is associated with one of the most obnoxious movie characters of all time.
The Blueberry Festival continues through today, April 29th. I urge you to stop by with the family. And take pictures or videos because… #MemoriesMatter.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.
Our kids pulled out all the stops this year. First, they gifted us with a wonderful theatrical experience by giving us tickets to WAITRESS. And then they provided us with a gift card to try out Norman Van Aiken’s new Mount Dora restaurant, 1921. This restaurant prides itself on using fresh items found in and around Florida.
OMG. What a special meal. We were greeted with specially printed menus that had an anniversary greeting at the top. We opted for the chef’s tasting menu that gave us a sampling of all of this talented chef’s favorite creations. It is something I would recommend to anyone going to this restaurant (and I will be recommending this restaurant to everyone.)
First up, an Italian country salad with pomelo and pistachio pesto. I’m not much of a salad guy but it was easy to clean this plate.
Next, roasted octopus with artichokes. Our server, Mason, explained that the octopus found in a particular section off the Florida coast dine primarily on crab which gives them a kind of sweeter taste. I dreaded this plate before it came as it would normally be something I would turn my nose up at but I have to say it was my second favorite course. Meaty and flavorful. Quite a surprise.
Up next, a substitution. Instead of the red snapper that was on the menu, we were treated with a special catch of the day: Pumpkin swordfish. Pumpkin because its flesh, when raw, has a distinctively orange hue. It is because it eats nothing but shrimp and the keratin buildup causes its skin to change color. Served in a lemon-caper butter sauce, I would have gladly accepted seconds were it available. By far, my favorite course.
Rounding up the entree sampling was a beef shoulder tender served with white asparagus. A little on the heavy side (we aren’t big red meat eaters) but certainly can’t argue with the taste or presentation.
Finally with our decaf coffee we accepted a banana panna cotta for dessert drizzled with bourbon caramel.
It was not just a dinner. It was a full-on culinary experience. Our server took the time to explain what made each course unique and educated us on the process that goes into developing the menu that can change daily based upon what their vendors bring them that day.
A big thank you goes to our kids for such extraordinary (and extravagant) gifts. You made this anniversary so special for us and gave us a break from giving gifts to each other. We just decided to enjoy the ones you gave us. Believe me, it was more than enough. You helped us make a memory today.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories by taking old home movies, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos or slides and converting them to digital forms. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.