The Bells Are Ringing

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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.

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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.

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AARRRrrrr!

 

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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.

Forever Lighting The Way

Today’s blog is a repost taken from The Real Estate Reporter and ERA Grizzard Real Estate. Thanks for the history reminder.

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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.

Feeling A Little Blue, Berry?

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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.

Spring Fest is Here!

 

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Mount Dora is well deserving of its reputation of being a festival city. It can sometimes feel as if every weekend brings another opportunity to celebrate something of note.

During various times of the year we play host to an Arts Festival, a Crafts Fair, a Storytelling Festival, a Blueberry Festival, a Seafood Festival, a Bicycle Festival, a Plant Fair, and multiple Christmas events just to name a few.

Mount Dora’s Spring Fest kicks off this weekend.  I know because one of the exhibitors was in my studio yesterday with a rush order. He needed extra copies of his CD which he will be making available to attendees who stop by his booth. Turns out he is an interesting man who shared his story with me and permitted me to repeat it here.

His name is Colin MacLeod, a native Scot living most recently in Australia. A former accountant whose love of music and its properties has compelled him to pursue that passion as his new profession. Over the past years he has traveled the world, performing and teaching the celtic fiddle to appreciative audiences and students. Dubbing himself the Celtic Fiddle Guru, he has launched an International Executive MBA of Life Program (where the MBA stands for Music Business Adventure.)

And this weekend, he’ll be found right here on the streets of Mount Dora, delighting Spring Fest goers with his engaging style and music. If you happen to be coming to town for the festival, be sure to look him up. He’ll be the one in the kilt.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling…

 

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Here’s another video that takes a look at my home town of Mount Dora… this time it is taken from a different perspective. Many of us may never stop to consider the accessibility factors that can affect some of our visitors and neighbors. It is nice to know that our city planners recognize and act upon the little things that can make a big difference to those who roll into our town.

Thank you Sylvia Longmire for the nice shout out to Mount Dora.  Next time you’re in the area, stop by the studio for a visit. Be sure to come in via the rear parking lot for easy access to the entrance ramp for our front door.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Someplace Special

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Each year around this time, the interconnected areas of Mount Dora, Tavares, Eustis, Umatilla, and East Lake County come together for a time of unity, vision and togetherness. Mount Dora calls itself “Someplace Special” and, as you may have heard me say before, I certainly believe that it is. But, truth be told, the whole area is special and each individual community rightfully exhibits pride in what they have built and where they see themselves going.

A couple of years ago, I set up a green screen and asked participants to this annual event to try to explain on camera what it is about this area that makes it “Someplace Special.” Here is a look back at some of the responses:

 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit us at www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Time Flies

It has been almost 4 years since Home Video Studio of Mount Dora has opened. Time has flown by – for you maybe… But since we spend so much of our days looking at your past, time is a relative thing for us.

I thought I’d post the video we recorded during our grand opening back in 2014. We love doing what we do. And we hope you like the fact that we are here.

 

Give us a call or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you and find out how we can help you preserve your family memories.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in preserving family memories. For information, call 352-735-8550 or visit http://www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

Let It Snow

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Children of Mount Dora, prepare! Snow is in the forecast.

It may not be the same naturally occurring weather event seen up north, but thanks to a group of hard working individuals, there will be a blanket of snow arriving tonight on which to play. On Saturday, December 9th, Donnelly Park will be transformed into a sledding park. Bring a can of food or an unopened toy to receive a special pass for the slide.

I loved snow as a child and couldn’t wait for the first snowfall of the winter when I would haul my Flexible Flyer down to the neighborhood hill where every kid within blocks would converge – some with sleds, some with aluminum disks, some just with collapsed squares of cardboard. All were designed for the same purpose, to propel us down the snow-covered hill as far and as fast as gravity and inertia would take us.

In this day of electronic and computer entertainment, we forget sometimes that the most enjoyable pleasures we experienced as children were the simplest. Snow, a hill, and other kids were all that was needed for a full afternoon of fun. Tonight Mount Dora offers an opportunity to rediscover one of the joys of the season. Hope to see you there.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

History Tidbits

Kudos to WUCF-TV for this wonderful look at my adopted “home town.” Mount Dora does have a lot going for it – along with a rich history that only adds to its appeal. Enjoy this 20 minute video which puts the spotlight on this most charming little city in Florida.

 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and are centrally located on Donnelly St in Mount Dora, mere minutes from the historic downtown shopping district. If you plan to come to the studio, please give yourself time to explore and enjoy our sights and hospitality. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd