Monday, January 31, 2011

Deals and 'Steals' Highlight Upper Keys Gigantic Flea Market

Bargain hunters can discover gems -- either new, used, unusual or necessary -- at the Gigantic Nautical Flea Market, a one-of-a-kind market set for Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 26-27, at Founders Park, mile marker (MM) 87 bayside on Plantation Key.

Snoop out deals on boats, boat parts, electronics, marine products, scuba and snorkel gear, dock equipment, nautical arts and crafts, fishing gear and clothing for use in, on or under the water.

Admission to the open-air event is free, and thousands of boaters and anglers typically drop in to poke through boxes of loose parts to turn up an oddball fitting, or pry out deep discounts on rods, reels, line and lures.

Water lovers of all ages come to find tools and toys, while art lovers and hobbyists can discover a variety of arts and crafts.

Flea market hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27. An all-you-can-eat breakfast is to be served for $5.

Complimentary parking and free shuttle transportation are to be available both days from Coral Shores High School at MM 90.

Money raised benefits the Upper Keys Rotary Foundation scholarship fund that helps local students pay for college.

Event information:

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Taking A Count: Census Offers Opportunity for Perfect Job on Sanibel!

People are accustomed to counting things on Sanibel Island.

We count seashells, even when our names are not Sally.

We count birds by number and variety.

We count the number of miles we walk, the number of miles we bike, the number of miles we run.

Counting is a way of life on the Island.
But we don't usually get paid for what we least that was the case until recently when the US Census announced that it needs Census takers on Sanibel Island.

I couldn't think of a nicer way to spend some time working!

OK, I admit the pay is not fabulous. At $12 to $15 an hour, no one is going to get rich doing this. But look at the perks. You get to walk around one of the prettiest Islands in America, get to see the insides of charming and often quite awesome homes, meet nice people, engage in a few interesting conversations and do the government a favor.

Being a census taker on Sanibel is a cushy gig comparing it to the task of census taking most other places in America. There's no snow, no ice, no bad dogs roaming the streets. There are no apartment buildings at all for long term living and few people who live year round in the condo complexes that cater to vacationers. So you don't climb many stairs to get to the apartments where you do the census and there is no danger of getting stuck in an elevator with a hostile or dangerous passenger.

The sun shines most days of the year, even on cooler days you don't have to wear a heavy coat, hats, mittens or boots and there is nothing like an urban traffic jam if you do end up having to drive from point to point.

Other than being on vacation on Sanibel, or living there year round, being a census taker is one of the best deals around!

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Kelly McGillis Classic Flag Football Championship to Draw U.S. and World Contenders

Women and girls from around the United States and the world are to gather in Key West for hard-fought sporting action during the 20th annual Kelly McGillis Classic International Women's & Girls' Flag Football Championship and Hyatt World Challenge Game, scheduled Sunday, Feb. 6, through Monday, Feb. 14.

According to Diane Beruldsen, president and founder of the International Women's Flag Football Association, more than 60 teams from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, India and Europe have been invited to participate. The championship is named for and endorsed by actress McGillis, a former Key West resident who starred in "Top Gun" and "Witness," among other films.

Sanctioned teams compete in divisions based on age and skill level -- three for women 18 and over, one for girls ages 8-12 and one for girls ages 13-17.

After three days of introductory Key West activities, the tournament's opening ceremonies are set for 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, at the Rum Barrel, 528 Front St. Scheduled guests include Key West city officials, comedian and professional women's football player Jennie McNulty and indie music group Mama's Black Sheep.

At 5 p.m., McNulty is to lead participating teams, VIPs and revelers in the ceremonial Hyatt Players' Parade along Key West's renowned Duval Street.

Games are to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, and continue through Sunday's final Hyatt World Challenge Game that pits an all-star U.S. team against an all-star international team. All games take place at Wicker Field Sports Complex on Kennedy Drive.

Spectators can participate in daily half-time games and nightly parties. Highlights include a comedy performance by McNulty, a competition to crown Ms. IWFFA Key West and an awards presentation following the final game.

Event information:

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Florida's Turnpike Enterprise

Officials with Florida's Turnpike Enterprise plan to introduce an all-electronic system Feb. 19 to collect tolls from motorists who travel Florida's Turnpike between Exit 1 and Exit 47.

That segment of the turnpike, known as the Homestead Extension, is a primary route to the Florida Keys.
The new system affects four toll plazas between mile posts 0 in Florida City and 47 at the Miami-Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale line. It eliminates driver stops at booths to pay tolls and officials say electronic toll collection is safer, more efficient and seamless.

Tolls are to be collected only with SunPass, a prepaid toll program, or with TOLL-BY-PLATE, a system that photographs each vehicle's license plate and mails a monthly bill for tolls to the vehicle's registered owner.

For complete details about the new electronic tolling system, visit

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Mexican Beaded Lizard Hatched at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

A baby Mexican beaded lizard, one of only two species of venomous lizards in North America, hatched on January 16, 2011 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Beaded lizards have venom glands in their lower jaws that allow them to chew venom directly into their prey. There is no anti-venom to counteract a beaded lizard bite.

Zoo staff named the new beaded lizard "Gaspar" to honor Tampa?s annual pirate festival Gasparilla, during which beads are tossed out from parade floats. The hatchling can be viewed at Jambo Junction until it reaches adult maturity, and then it will join the adventure park?s four other beaded lizards in Curiosity Caverns.

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