Friday, February 23, 2018

St. Patrick's and St. Augustine, Florida history

Overview of St. Augustine, FL
The 2018 Romanza St. Augustine Festival is set for March 9-11 in downtown St. Augustine, featuring 9 of the top Celtic bands in the world, a pre-festival Whiskey Tasting, The St. Augustine Highland games, Celtic artisans and food, live music, two stages, and a variety of entertainment.  The oldest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the World (started here in 1601), begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 10, 2018.

A Little History About St. Patrick and St. Augustine: It's been proven in written records that the first event commemorating Saint Patrick in the U.S. was held in St. Augustine, Florida in 1600, and the first St. Patrick's parade/procession took place in 1601.  This pre-dates Boston's claim to the first St. Patrick's Day celebration in 1737, and New York City's first St. Patrick's Day parade in 1762.
Found in Spanish archives on December 20, 2017 by historian Dr. J. Michael Francis, documents reveal that spring festivities included a feast day of San Patricio (St. Patrick) in the year 1600 in St. Augustine, Florida.

"While artillery pieces often were fired to help guide ships safely across St. Augustine's protective sandbar, they were also fired during times of public celebrations and religious festivals,"  Francis wrote in his
blog for PBS  Also, in Francis' PBS blog: “In March of 1601, St. Augustine's residents gathered together and processed through the city's streets in honor of an Irish saint, who appears to have assumed a privileged place in the Spanish garrison town.  Indeed, during these same years, St. Patrick was identified as the official 'protector' of the city's maize fields.”

Rare finds: For Francis, this is one of two extremely rare finds. His previous discovery was the oldest documented marriage in St. Augustine in 1565, which was between a free black woman and a Spanish soldier.  “I've been working in those Spanish archives going on almost 30 years ... and it's rare that you read through and there's this one magical document that changes everything “... like this one St. Patrick’s Day commemoration” Francis said.

According to, Saint Patrick is thought to have been born in the late fourth century, and is known for driving the snakes from Ireland (probably an analogy of putting an end to pagan practices). Saint Patrick wasn't the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, but it is believed he encountered the Druids and abolished their pagan rites. He died in March 17, 460 A.D.

Irish Residents: Francis also found written archive records about two Irish residents in St. Augustine - David Glavid, a soldier and a merchant who moved to St. Augustine in June 1597, and Ricardo Arthur (Richard Arthur) who served as St. Augustine's parish priest from 1597 to 1604, when he disappears from the record.  Francis believes the St. Patrick celebrations in 1600 and 1601 were influenced by the Irish priest, Richard Arthur.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Monster Jam 2018 coming to JAX

They’re big! They’re tough! And they’ll be in Jacksonville, Florida very soon!  You’ll want to get your tickets pronto.  It’s time for MONSTER JAM!  Did you ever wonder how the world's premier football and sports fields become Monster Jam® performance tracks?  There is a lot more to the transformation than only dumping dirt over the surface.  350 truckloads of dirt will begin their conversion on top of one of the NFL's natural grass surfaces of EverBank Field, on Thurs., Feb.22nd.

A stadium track construction conversion by the numbers:
   1,100 sheets of plastic product to protect the natural grass surface
   500-man hours to install the field protection covering and build the track
   350 dump truck loads or around 6,000 tons, 12 million pounds
   Entire field will be converted to “Monster Jam” track by Thurs. night / Fri. morning and finalized Fri. afternoon to be ready for the Sat. 7 p.m. event.
   20 pieces of heavy machinery
   1,200 sq. feet of banners
   45 gallons of paint needed to paint obstacles and track
   10 “crush cars”

Monster Trucks will be on public display this Thursday.  Fans will have a chance to see and take photos with some of the show's enormous trucks, and meet the race teams before these beasts roar into EverBank Field for the Jam.  The best part, it's all free to the public at the following times and locations:

Thursday, February 22, 2018
2 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Walmart, 7075 Collins Rd., JAX, FL 32244

“Bad News Travels Fast”
MetroPCS, 9770 Atlantic Blvd., JAX, FL 32218

Circle K, 11869 Pulaski Road. JAX FL 32218

Thursday, February 22
3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
“Fs1 Cleatus”
America's Best, 6001 Argyle Forest Blvd.
Ste. 18b-19; JAX, FL 32244

“Bounty Hunter”
ToysRUs, 4875 Town Center Parkway
JAX, FL 32246

Friday, February 23                                                
3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
“BKT Tires Monster Jam Experience Trailer”
Tijuana Flats, 13280 Old St. Augustine Rd
Suite 125, Jacksonville, FL 32258

DATE: Sat. Feb. 24, 2018
TIMES: Pit Party - 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.
    Gates open: 5 p.m.
    Show Time: 7 p.m.

For Tickets and Show times click HERE.  New this year, the Pit Party Early Access Pass is available to every fan who purchases a ticket to the event.  The pass provides early entry into the Pit Party from 1:30pm-2:30pm and serves as the regular Pit Party pass from 2:30pm-5:30pm.  The Monster Jam drivers will depart from the Pit Party at 5pm.  The Pit Party Early Access Pass must be accompanied by an event ticket and quantities are limited.

LOCATION:  EverBank Field
1 EverBank Field Dr.
     Jacksonville, FL 32202

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Was that George Benson in Jacksonville, Florida?

What can I say?  George Benson had people dancing in and out of their seats.  This writer has interviewed and reviewed many a singer and actor, in different venues, during the time that I have been doing this blog post; nevertheless, George Benson has withstood the tests of time.  The man can sill sing, play and sway as he has done in years past; and the years have been kind to his visible statue.  If you get an opportunity to be entertained for an hour and a half (with No intermission in JAX), you may want to check out his itinerary and make plans to attend.

In the meantime, the Thrasher-Horne Center has some dynamic musical and acting engagements that you don’t want to miss.  Stay tuned to
“Around Town With Ms. “V”, and don’t be left out in the cold.
LOCATION: The Thasher-Horne Ctr.
      St. Johns River State College
283 College Drive

      Orange Park, FL 32065

      (904) 276-6815

Monday, February 19, 2018

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ has believably surprising props at the Alhambra

Even if you haven’t seen the movie or the play, Little Shop of Horrors is a show that will entertain you from beginning to the end.  The cast is fabulous.  The food is fantastic and the service can’t be beat.  It just started and you have time to get your tickets while prime seating is still available.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ exhibits great puppetry at the Alhambra Theatre and Dining and the acting is top notched.  Technical Director/Designer, David Dionne, did a wonderful job in creating “Audrey II”.  It almost would remind you of the one-eyed monster on the new Ellen Degeneres “Game of Games” show.  Kudos also go out to “Puppeteer” Luke Holt who gives life to a matured Audrey II.

If you haven’t been a Royalty Partner of the Alhambra’s, then you may not know who Jessica Booth* is t the Alhambra.  Well, Jessica stars as “Audrey” in this month’s show that will continue into March, but what many people don’t know is that she is the talented daughter of Director/Producer Tod Booth* and seasoned actress Lisa Valdini (Booth)*.  Jessica has matured right in front of our eyes and is her own star.  She has perfected the mannerisms and voice of her character Audrey to mimic that of the original movie actress
Ellen Greene.

Talk about a multi-talented actor, Daniel Robert Sullivan* plays four separate characters (Orin, Bernstein, Snip and Luce), and how he changes costumes is amazing.  Watch how much of that nitrous oxide you inhale between changes.

Suddenly Seymour, Benjamin Smith* is no stranger to the Alhambra; in fact, you might remember his singing and acting in previous shows (Big River & Seussical).

You won’t see him, but you will hear his dynamic voice.  Rendell Anthony DeBose*, as Audrey II, sings and speaks his part off stage.

Chef DeJuan Roy did not disappoint.  If you like lamb, then you should order the Ossobuco.  The Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya will also satisfy your pallet as a choice for your main course.

Wait for it, wait for it!  The end of the show will be a total surprise, so don’t leave early.  This musical may be a little scary to very small children and you may want to contact the theatre before ordering children tickets.
*denotes Actors’ Equity Association*

Little Shop of Horrors
DATES: February 14 — March 25, 2018

SHOW TIMES: Evening shows Tuesday through Sunday start at 7:50 p.m.  Doors open at 6 p.m., and dinner is served until 7:30 p.m.  Saturday Matinees begin at 1:15 p.m.  Doors open at 11 a.m. and the brunch served until 12:50 p.m.  Sunday Matinees are at 1:50 p.m.  Doors open at 12 p.m. and the meal is server until 1:30 p.m.

DRESS: “Business Casual” or “Sunday Best”.

TICKETS: Prices range from $38 – $64.  Ticket prices include: a plated dinner served to your table, an incredible show and prime parking.  Group sales of 20 + are available upon request.
    **Price does NOT include gratuity, professional photos, or orders from the bar**

Alhambra Theater & Dining
       12000 Beach Blvd.
       Jacksonville, Florida 32246
       (904) 641-1212