The holidays in South Florida call for prior planning to take advantage of all that our community has to offer. Top on that list should be the Junior Orange Bowl Caroling Competition, always a great way to get in the holiday spirit. The 550 Biltmore Building, with the beautiful giant poinsettia tree as a backdrop, will be the site once again for this caroling competition that will run Dec. 3-7 with an awards show on Tuesday, Dec. 9. Not only is this event free to the public, it also is the best show in town showcasing 1,500 students from public, private, and parochial school choirs around Miami-Dade County. The groups will compete for some $20,000 in prize money.
Coral Gables resident Sally Baumgartner continues to chair this annual event, one of so many in the Gables this time of year. In fact, celebrating its 60th year, the Junior Orange Bowl Parade is scheduled for Dec. 30. Parade chair Don Slesnick III reports that the deadline for float entry has been extended. The amateur floats participating in the JOB Parade always are crowd favorites and this year the parade already has received confirmations from four out-of-state bands as well as several local units, so, look for another great parade in downtown Coral Gables.
For information on how you can enter a float or purchase parade tickets, call the JOBC office at 305-662-1210. Gables Rotarians continued their outreach on Oct. 18, walking dogs at the Humane Society. Judy Pantoja, who organizes these volunteer outings, reported that 18 Rotarians with their families came out to help. Among the many in attendance were Dan Scipione and family, Todd Wheeler and family, Alex and Abby Vicencio, Hernan Varas- Julio, Terry Long, Vivian Miller, Bob Schreiber, and Rotaract member Tatiana Zyne, Frank Sexton, Sally Baumgartner, Deena Bell and Abe Horowitz.
In other Rotary activity, on Oct. 10 members of Rotaract from Florida and the Caribbean gathered for the first international Rotaract conference in Coral Gables. Participants included 35 students and young professionals from the Rotaract clubs of Coral Gables, Freeport (Bahamas), University of Miami, Broward, Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University. The three-day conference concluded with two significant outcomes that will have a lasting impact on local and global communities.
Sunday morning, the clubs planted 40 trees with Citizens for a Better South Florida in Miami. Rotaract District 6990 also pledged to raise funds by World Rotaract Week in March to donate one “ShelterBox” — a large green plastic container that holds a 10-person tent and other material designed to help an extended family survive following a disaster. Each Rotaract Club pledged funds at the closing dinner Sunday night, with Coral Gables Rotaract pledging $400. Coral Gables Citizen’s Crime Watch recently installed a new slate of officers during a breakfast meeting at the Police Department’s Community Room.
Serving for the coming year will be FOPA representative Aaron Glasser as president and University of Miami’s Crime Prevention Officer John Pepper as vice president.
To organize a Crime Watch meeting in your neighborhood, call 305-441- 5760.
Gulliver Schools Engineering Department promises to help many after receiving a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams grant for this year’s Haitian water purification project. While filtration exists in Haiti, Gulliver’s students propose to use the UV filtration system which is less time consuming and can filter greater volumes of water against potentially fatal diseases like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, typhoid fever, leptospirosis, as well as bacterial and protozoal diarrhea. Their system is intended to purify and store water while operating on solar energy to ultimately improve the quality of life in multiple Haitian communities.
One outstanding holiday event will be the Coral Gables Chamber’s Annual Holiday Party at The Biltmore on Dec. 4. Some of South Florida’s best restaurants and caterers participate in this affair that typically attracts 400-500 guests. Event co-chair Claire Lardner advises that sponsorship opportunities still are available. In addition, a silent auction and raffle will help raise funds for local charities that also will benefit for the toy drive associated with this celebration.
For more information, call the Chamber at 305 446-1657. The Junior Orange Bowl Sports Ability Games on Dec. 4, includes a day of sailing for the disabled athletes at Shake-A-Leg in Coconut Grove. This JOBC event attracts physically challenged young athletes from around the country to compete in three days of events running from Dec. 4 through Dec. 6.
After a day of sailing on Thursday, athletes will compete in swimming at the Miami Springs Aquatic Center on Friday. Saturday is the longest day with Track & Field at Tropical Park Stadium.
Lots of volunteers and sponsors are needed to produce this annual event that showcases some amazing children pushing themselves to their full potential. For more information on how you can become involved or help support this event, call the JOBC office at 305- 662-1210 or go online to <www.jrorangebowl.com >.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist recently made appointments to the Board of Professional Engineers and one of his four appointments was a very active community leader, Mary Young, of Coral Gables. Young, a senior location executive for IBM, succeeds Daniel J. Rivera. Pending Senate approval, Young’s term began Oct. 14 and ends Oct. 31, 2011. Congratulations, Mary. Until next time, keep making each day count.