For anyone who had family or friends living in Florida this was a very stressful weekend.
We are all watching the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean these days as it appears we are in the midst of a very active hurricane season. After Hurricane Harvey blasted Texas in the past two weeks, Hurricane Irma appeared ready to become the most powerful storm ever as it came up through the tropics, glanced off Cuba and turned towards the southern tip of Florida.
My mother lives on the western coast about an hour south of Tampa and as the forecast changed to indicate Irma was going a bit more west, and then heading up the western side of the state my family got very worried, wondering if my mother’s very old trailer in Englewood was going to survive.
My brother Larry lives with her since she is now 86 years of age. He got her to a safe, concrete home in Sarasota, but we were all watching the news quite closely this weekend to see whether she would have a home left after Irma finished her run north.
Then the amazing thing happened. She was spared, as were thousands more in Florida, as Hurricane Irma did exactly what hurricanes do—the unexpected. Instead of blasting up the state with winds nearing 200 miles per hour, atmospheric conditions began to sap her strength and she quickly diminished as the storm moved onto land.
I know there was a lot of prayer going on this weekend—and hardly just from my family. But it is times like these that re-enforce my belief in the power of prayer. There were few forecasters who suggested Irma would do what she did. Yet, the multi-billion dollars of damage that everyone was expecting just never happened.
My mother is back in her home now that the electricity is back on, but incredibly, many large, tall trees all around her trailer never did any real damage. It was a fortunate weekend for her and thousands of others. Thank the Lord.
There is a pretty neat new business getting close to opening in Olde Towne where the former Slidell Cleaners, owned by Eric and Mary Dubuisson, is undergoing a transformation to become The Wine Garden, owned and operated by John Hodges.
I talked with John, who has years of experience in the food service and lounge business, who said he is creating what he believes will be an excellent place for locals to meet at the end of the day for live music, a full bar that will be highlighted with wines of all kinds, and light hors d’oeuvres. In the longer term he will have a full kitchen with lunch and dinner foods, and expects to offer comedy and trivia nights, fresh baked goods and coffee in the morning, and other entertainment with what he calls “a smooth, relaxing atmosphere.”
Last I heard he hopes to open sometime in October so keep your eyes out for more news.
Get ready for the always busy early fall schedule of benefits, non-profit fundraisers, and ultimately, a lot of good times with many events on the coming weekend schedules.
The annual Community Christian Concern Wild Game Cookoff, now hosted by Chief of Police Randy Fandal and Mayor Freddy Drennan, will return to Fritchie Park on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Teams are still signing up and tickets are for sale by going online to CCCcookoff.org.
Then on Sunday, Oct. 8 at the American Legion Hall out West Hall Avenue will be the Warrior Wing Cookoff, sponsored by Bring It Home Northshore, a great group that was created by Leadership Northshore. Funds go to helping children of deployed soldiers and I have seen the great work they do so it deserves your support.
The cookoff will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and you can still sign up a team at bringithomens.org.
And make sure you have the first annual Camellia City Smooth Jazz Festival on your schedule, set for the Northshore Harbor Center the weekend of Oct. 6-8.
The main event is all day Saturday on the outside grounds of the Harbor Center, where organizers Will and Diane Bias have lined up top, national entertainers. This is truly going to be a superb inaugural event and I hope to see many of you there.
VIP seating is available, plus up-close reserved seating, plus there is a celebrity golf tournament on Friday with some of the biggest names in NFL football history. Get more info and purchase tickets for any of it all by going online to camcityjazzfest.com.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.