Space at the table

Space at the table

Space at the table

By E. Adam Porter

Editor, News of SCC & South County

I love Christmas, the entire holiday season. From the moment the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving until we toast the new year, my spirits are up, and there’s a gleam in my eye.

I love it all: the shopping, the cooking, the friends and relatives coming and going, the gifts, the smiles on kids’ faces, cocoa and cookies, Christmas lights, trimming the tree, getting nowhere near enough sleep on Christmas Eve, and the opportunity to teach my boys about other customs, cultures, and traditions, as well as the chance to learn a bit more myself. I love stringing the lights, cruising to look at others, as well as the movies we watch every year, the books we read, and the music we listen to. Even the Muzak playing at all the stores that I complain about every year secretly puts a smile on my face.

This season, though, my light is dimmed. Earlier this year, we lost my father and my uncle, and each of them took a piece of me with them. As the holidays approach, I think back to the roller coaster of emotions created by disease and the fighting of it. Initially, before bad news became worse news, both men thought they had more time. I called my father on his birthday, and we talked about coming up for a visit. It had been far too many years since we made the trek up to Michigan, and it was way past time. “Wait a bit,” he said, “Come when the snow is on the ground. Your boys will love it, and I’ll feel better then…”

So, we waited… and “then” never came.

My uncle’s doctors thought they found a treatment protocol that would help him beat the cancer. Three days and a few tests later, that all changed. Practical to a fault, he accepted the news with grace, trying to comfort us as we all fell apart.

We held services, shared memories, commiserated best we could in the World of Covid. Talked about how unfair and capricious life can be and consoled each other with well-worn platitudes and ancient truth. Those words, those timeless ideas, are precious and priceless when you need them. But time passes, and another truth invades: those ideas do not replace an empty space at the table. This year, my family in Florida and Michigan will sit down together and try not to look at the empty chair, try not to picture the men who filled them with their laughter and insight and joy. We will walk through rooms in the homes where we always gather, catching shadows and glimpses of remembered moments, snatches of old conversations so real we can almost hear their voice.

This year, in this season of hope and joy and plenty, we will have an empty space at the table and in our hearts. And we are far from alone. Hundreds of thousands of American families will face their annual gatherings with an unexpected emptiness. Pandemic, depression, addiction, illness, accidents, and the inexorable passage of time will all make their presence felt as we gather, or, in some cases, choose not to gather.

In Ecclesiastes, the old wise king reminds us there is a time to weep and to laugh, to mourn and to dance. This year, for so many, our season of joy will be filled with sorrow, empty spaces at tables and in hearts, filled with loss and pain and bittersweet memories.

As I consider the weeks ahead, wondering what it will feel like to experience those dichotomous emotions during my favorite time of the year, I think about all the other people facing a similar emptiness, and I feel a little space open up inside me. A space for their stress and hurt and regret, for their struggles, questions, and concerns, as we all face an uncertain future. It’s not a big space, because I’m hurting too; but it’s there, and I hope it will be enough to bring comfort to friends and family and to share a smile with a stranger.

Grief is a lonely, isolating condition. But this year, I’m reminded more than ever, we’re all in this together.

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

For the Birds?

For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...

Thank you.

Thank you.

By E. Adam Porter, Editor

 

Out of an abundance of caution, in these challenging times, for the good of the community, we have all come together to read sentences that begin like this entirely too much over the past month or so. Let’s start over with what really needs to be said: THANK YOU.

Thank you to the phenomenal health care workers whose professional and personal lives have been turned upside down, who go to battle every day, fighting a war with, at least for now, no clear end in sight. You wield all the best weapons at your disposal: education, wisdom, wit, grace, patience, love, and an indomitable spirit. And you keep fighting even when you don’t have everything you need. We love you. All of you. 

Thank you to our law enforcement, who put their lives and health on the line to take care of us, to help the sick and the scared, those who have been victimized, while also dealing with the belligerent, the ignorant, the afflicted, and the evil. Thank you to all the first responders who show up as fast as they can when we are in the worst moments of our lives, who offer aid and comfort in our times of fear and pain. And a special “thank you” to our all-volunteer Emergency Squad and Security Patrol. Each of you is amazing.

Thank you to our military for showing all of us the meaning of duty, honor, and sacrifice. Later this month, we were scheduled to gather, as we do every year, to commemorate those who gave the last full measure of devotion in service to our country and her people. Like many things in this time, that service has been canceled. But nothing will rescind the respect and appreciation we have for those who faithfully served. 

Thank you to our teachers who routinely go far and above the call of duty to educate and protect our children. Teachers who, in these past weeks, have been asked to do even more and found a way to make it work. Parents are working, kids are confused, worried, and scared; and no one knows quite how to use the new technology. They all come to you, at all hours of the day and night. You are therapists as well as educators, and now you are web developers, video producers, and tech support. We see you, teachers. 

Thank you to the tireless volunteers who have poured their talent, time, and effort into meeting so many needs, closing so many gaps, and creating so many smiles. Making and delivering food, sewing and distributing masks, building PPE, picking up necessities, looking for opportunities and always going above and beyond. 

Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and correspondents, and readers who help build The News every month. Thank you to all the journalists out there taking risks to deliver the story. You rarely get mentioned as “essential workers,” but you’re always there. In the middle of the protests, at the hospitals, out in the community, anywhere there’s a story that needs to be told. 

Thank you to local, state, and federal decision-makers who are trying to do an impossible job, without precedent, working without a net. No matter what you do and when you do it, people will say it’s too much or too little. Right now, the big question is “when.” Like as not, it will be both “too late” and “too soon.” You know that, and you have to choose anyway. 

Thank you, business owners. When you started your business, investing all that money, blood, sweat, and tears, you probably didn’t have “Worldwide Pandemic” penciled in the margins of your business plan. And yet here we are. Some of you were forced to close. Others remained open. Nearly everyone has lost a catastrophic amount of business. Many of you have been forced to cut payroll, to lay off or furlough workers. I see you there, sitting up late, wondering how they’re doing, and how you’re going to get through this. 

This is a good spot to offer a huge THANK YOU to our advertisers. Some of you have been with The News since the beginning. Others came along later and stuck with us. Many of you have become our friends. You represent lifelong dreams, private practices, family businesses, and big corporations, the “backbone of America” and the “infrastructure we can’t live without.” To us here at The News, you represent the resources that allow us to do what we do: Deliver positive news, fun opportunities, and current events to the residents of Sun City Center & South Hillsborough County. Thank you for helping us make this happen. 

Thank You to our “essential workers.” I’m guessing, about six weeks ago, you did not realize just how “essential” you are. But we knew. We have food to eat because of you. Our family and our pets are safe and healthy thanks to the risks you are taking every day. Our homes are pest-free, our mail is in the box, our power is on, our trash is gone, and our A/C is working. It’s Florida. It’s May, and summer’s coming… There is no price that can be placed on working air conditioning. To all of you “essential” workers, listen, that word just doesn’t cover what you mean to us. 

Speaking of essential people, Thank You to our artists, musicians, writers, and entertainers who make life – especially life in quarantine – sweeter, brighter, and better. By sharing your talent and hard work, you have given us a priceless gift. Thank you for immersing us in beauty, awe, and transcendence. Thank you for entertainment, for laughs, for illustration, for understanding… for a story to share, a melody to sing, and the rhythm to dance.

Finally, thank you to everyone reading this. The opportunity to share good news is not something that comes along often in the media business. Being part of a positive community news publication is a unique blessing, and I’m grateful.

Be well. Stay safe. Thanks for reading.

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

For the Birds?

For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...

Saluting all who serve

Saluting all who serve

Saluting all who serve

By E. Adam Porter, Editor

 

The dogs started barking as he came up the walk. They are always excited to see him, as are his not-so-little-anymore brothers, who got to the door just seconds after the Golden Retrievers. My eldest son, Christian, was home for a visit. 

A year removed from finishing his six-year hitch in the United States Air Force, Chris had something on his mind to share with mom and dad. After a few compulsory minutes wrestling with his brothers, he sat down at the dinner table. I offered him a beer. 

So, I’m thinking about re-enlisting, he said. No preamble, just right into it. That’s Chris. Especially when he’s pretty close to a decision about something. Into the Army this time… he said. They have the job I want, and they’ll let me keep my rank. This was offered as tentative information, but I could tell his mind was, mostly, made up. More than mostly, it turned out. 

A few weeks later, I dropped Chris off at the recruiting office. He was scheduled to fly out for Basic Training early the next day. The first of many early days in his imminent future. And, now, we wait. It will be at least five weeks before we will hear from him. He’ll miss Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s. He graduates One Station Unit Training (OSUT) on Valentine’s Day. Where to next? Only the Army knows. 

As I sit here, recalling that dinner table revelation, my mind drifts back about twelve years, to the day a 14-year-old kid sat down across from me at a different dinner table in a different house with something similar on his mind. Dad, I think I might want to go into the military. He was tentative then, just feeling out the idea. At 14, four years until graduation seems like an eternity. I told him I would be proud of him, no matter what he chose, and that his mother and I loved him, and wanted him to do what was right for him. Do some research, we said. Talk with family members and friends who served. Take what the recruiters tell you with a grain of salt

As I write this, Chris has just begun his first day of OSUT, along with thousands of other recruit trainees. Unlike most of them, he enters training as a sergeant and a seasoned veteran. Which, I’m sure, the Army DIs will make sure he remembers. It’s their job to prepare these brave young men and women to join the approximately 1.4 million Americans serving in the United States Armed Forces. 

In addition to those currently serving in either active duty or the reserves, there are, depending on your source and the year, between 18 and 22 million military veterans in the U.S. population. Nearly half of these are over 65 years of age. Many volunteered, others were drafted. What every one of them has in common is that, when their country called, they raised their hand. 

On November 11, we come together as a nation to honor their commitment and their sacrifice. A service is planned in SCC at Community Hall. Many others will be held throughout the Tampa Bay area, across the country, and around the world. Like as not, my son will spend the day rucking through the woods with his platoon. 

Tens of thousands of deployed Americans will spend the day set aside to honor them aboard ships with no land in sight, or in tents far from home, or on dusty roads somewhere in the desert or in the mountains of some global hotspot. Others will spend the day in tanks stationed along the DMZ in Korea, or in administrative buildings in Kuwait, England, or Germany. Some will be on training missions in undisclosed areas or piloting aircraft to enforce no-fly zones. They live and work and play on bases set behind tall fences, a world removed from civilian life; or they live next door, sharing the same roads, shopping at the same supermarkets, and sending their kids to the same schools as you and me. 

Over the past decade or so, it’s become cliché to “Thank a Veteran,” almost as reflexive as saying, “Happy Holidays.” While the impulse is good, we should be careful not to allow the well-wishes to become mundane. Honoring veterans, no matter when, where, or why they served, is the duty of every American. Whether or not we agree with the reasons or the wars, all of us who live in the Land of the Free should appreciate everyone who swore to “support and defend the Constitution, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same…”

It’s the least we can do for those who put the most on the line. 

NOTE: Statistics taken from Pew Research, Department of Defense, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the US Census.

Photo Credit: Military TImes (David H. Lipp/Air National Guard)

 

 

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

For the Birds?

For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...

Building Characters

Building Characters

Building Characters

By E. Adam Porter

Editor, News of SCC & South County

 

Halloween is right around the corner, which means the Great Debate has commenced at the Porter house. Not, thankfully, ‘Who Gets My Vote,’ but ‘Who Wears What Costume?’ My younger boys are at that perfect age where the magic of Halloween is still very real, and they are big enough to carry their own candy sack. 

When they select a costume, their purpose is to become that character, at least for the evening. To assume what, in their kid brains, these characters would be like. Their imaginations have a lot of help in the form of their favorite books, movies, and TV shows. Not to mention Dad’s stories. Hence the ongoing debate, which ping-pongs between “I’m going to be something completely new and different” to “I’m going as the same character as last year.”

This is the continual tug and pull between the familiar and the risk of trying something new. Each kid manages this challenge in a different way. Growing up, my eldest, who inherited a fathomless well of creativity from his Mama, always had the best Halloween costumes, most of them homemade. If a character called for armor, he made it. Makeup? He learned how to perfect the look. Props? Gathered in advance or built on the fly. Sometimes this led to unexpected results. The year he went as the Incredible Hulk, all his green makeup washed off while bobbing for apples, so he finished the party as “Bruce Banner.” Another year, he won the costume contest at our neighborhood Halloween party dressed as a character from the movie, Hot Fuzz. Then there was the year he and a friend were such convincing “homeless people” that other trick-or-treaters offered them cash donations, even though they insisted that they were just in costume. This year, though, will be a bit different. Chris enlisted in the US Army, after a brief stint as a civilian, when his seven-year tour in the USAF ended. So, for Halloween this year, he will be back in BDUs, rucking through the woods somewhere in Missouri.

My middle kid has somewhat peculiar and entirely specific tastes. Last year, he wanted to go as a character from a cartoon that’s been off the air for years. No costume shop in the county had anything close to the look, so we turned to Google. Fortunately, someone on the other side of the planet did not let us down. We found a movie-specific replica, which he wore at least once a week until the costume was so torn and threadbare even duct tape failed him. This year, something similar. We ended up piecing together his costume from various parts. When someone recognized what he was, he kept smiling and hasn’t stopped since.

My youngest is more experience-driven. He’s cool with just about any costume, because most of the fun, for him, is riding through the neighborhood in the back of the pickup, shouting “trick or treat” and getting gobs of gobstoppers and other sweet treats. The key, though, is that his costume must also be something he will wear for play throughout the year. Over the years, he’s been a fireman, a cop, Iron Man, and a ninja. This year, he’s weighing astronaut, pirate, Captain America or To Be Determined. Kid likes to keep his options open, which leads us back around to the endless “Who will I be?” conversations. 

As I was listening to this lively debate for the umpteenth time, I got to thinking about how it’s not too much different than the decision we all face when we wake up every morning: “Will I be the same person I was, or will I look for some way to grow, to learn, to explore?”

For many reading this, life is about the pursuit, about learning and trying new things. It’s a lesson many of us should take to heart. Far too many people never really go anywhere or do anything. We put it off for a tomorrow that never comes. Life, as they say, gets in the way. Kids, work, bills, cutting the grass every week, and other perpetual chores seem to suck all the potential and adventure out of life. 

Thing is, no matter our age or place in life, apathy, distraction, and redundancy are choices. And, if we’re not careful, those choices become habits. That’s one of the reasons, in The News, we choose to focus on stories about people doing new, fun, and interesting things: people picking up a softball bat or a basketball for the first time in decades, dusting off a musical instrument, pursuing a new craft or hobby, or heading out on an adventure. No matter what that “new” choice is, the result is a mixture of learning new things and becoming a new person. Our habits, our priorities, even our brains, are reordered by embracing something unfamiliar.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, JRR Tolkien has his reluctant adventurer, Bilbo Baggins, tell his impetuous nephew, Frodo: “You step into the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” It’s a truism Bilbo experienced first-hand. He went There and Back Again and became a new person. A dynamic that World War I veteran, Tolkien, was intimately familiar with. And that’s the point. When we set out to experience something new, we’re not entirely sure who we will become along the way. 

Kids find it easy to wear and shed different costumes, because their young brains thrive on experimentation. We tend to have a harder time with it. Comfort and routine, and memories of past mistakes, keep us from stepping out onto the proverbial road. Sometimes, though, it helps if we dress the part, and there are plenty of opportunities to do just that this month.

 

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

For the Birds?

For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...

Celebrating Independence Together

Celebrating Independence Together

Celebrating Independence Together

By E. Adam Porter

 

The first week in July, every year, my extended family gathers at the beach in my hometown for a weeklong reunion. It’s a wonderful, relaxing time of sharing life together, filled with the familiar aromas of salt air, sunscreen, and delicious grilled meat; of days spent building sandcastles with the little ones and being buried in the sand; of shared jokes and singing, of snorkeling, fishing, spectacular skimboarding wipeouts, walks on the beach, and magnificent sunsets.

We catch up with each other, talk about days gone by, and pass our collective wisdom along to the young ones. The kids giggle as we demonstrate the stingray shuffle, do their best to listen to our lectures about the dangers of riptides, and experience temporary hearing loss when reminded they need another application of sunblock. We collect shells and sand dollars, spot pods of dolphin, and experience the patience-testing chore of untangling an open reel.

Talking with my brothers and our friends, we recall when we were kids with sandy shorts and pruny fingers, begging for Just Five More Minutes swimming in the water or playing in the sand. Those days really don’t seem so long ago… until my niece runs by, chasing her two-year-old daughter. I glance at my brother, thinking: “Wasn’t that us, just yesterday?”

Mom sits under the umbrella and shares stories about the island the way it used to be. We all chime in, reminiscing about fishing off the city pier and stores with shell parking lots. About coquina concrete and small, single-story homes with jalousie windows. The soda bottle vending machine at the bike shop. Building crab traps in the yard, smoked mullet and fried grouper back when the fishing was really good. Sunday afternoons trading stories with the liveaboards at the marina and weekdays cruising the bay after school.

The nostalgia is hypnotic and cathartic, a welcome port in the storms of life, and an oral history of The Way We Were. As kids, we never realized we were collecting memories, but now we’re passing that torch to our children and grandchildren… or would, if we could get them out of the water (five more minutes, pleeeeeeeeezzz!).

During this week, on July 4th, my family comes together with everyone on the island and across the country to commemorate our Founding Fathers’ Declaration of Independence from tyranny. It is, for the kids and for me, one of the best days of Family Beach Week, every year.

The celebration begins with the annual Independence Day Parade, watching the Privateers cruise their benevolent pirate ship down the main drag, tossing beads and firing their water cannons. Far below, on the sidewalk, the kids — armed to the teeth with Super Soakers — give as good as they get.

Later that evening, thousands of tourists and locals line the strand to enjoy one of the most impressive fireworks displays anywhere. Seven miles of sky flowers paint the twilight with booming radiance from horizon to horizon. Beneath that technicolor sky, the kids laugh and dance and sing, waving sparklers to write their names on the night.

Once again, watching them takes me back. When I lean forward to offer a few terse warnings about firework safety, I hear echoes of my parents. And that gets me thinking about how time and circumstance transforms accident-prone children gleefully waving flaming sticks into parents who repeat cautionary tales before lighting similar sticks for their own kids.

Further up the beach, close to the water line, the older teens and twenty-somethings have their own lighters, as well as much larger and more dynamic flaming sticks. The older adults toss them a few cursory safety tips, which they largely ignore. They’ve heard it all before. Soon, though, someone hollers and comes running for some ice from the cooler. We old guys glance at each other and grin. Sometimes, singed fingers are the best way to reinforce the correlation of responsibility and freedom.

And, that gets me thinking about the birthright our Founding Fathers have passed down to us. Defending our Independence is a shared responsibility, a commission handed down by that first generation of Americans. The Founders declared that freedom is every human’s indisputable right. Then they risked everything to prove it, because maintaining freedom requires personal responsibility. Something I remind my boys at every opportunity. Independence is the right of every person, and it’s worth celebrating. It’s also worth defending… I’m glad we’re able to do both together.

Happy Independence Day. 

 

 

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

For the Birds?

For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...

JUNE 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JUNE 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Celebrate Earth Day, enjoy local wildlife, get updates on the upcoming Entertainment Series, learn about a benefit event for local pets, go back in time to a wacky and wonderful rendition of the Renaissance, experience turning...

Elmer Mack Celebrates a Century

Elmer Mack Celebrates a Century

Elmer Mack Celebrates a CenturyBy Diane M. Loeffler Do you know a local resident who is one hundred or older? Twenty-two Sun City Center Community Association members have reached or surpassed that number with one born in 1914, one in 1915, two in 1917,...

Kings Point Garden Club Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

Kings Point Garden Club Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

Kings Point Garden Club Celebrates Cinco de Mayo By Paula Lickfeldt The residents of Kings Point have had space near the back entrance, for garden plots since 1990.  The garden club has many members and boasts a lot of diversity in their membership. Kings...

May 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

May 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… The Photo Club members wow us once again, the SCCCA announces a very important Town Hall meeting; a local Club donates thousands for lifesaving equipment; we visit the reopened Tampa Theatre; make some local Family Connections;...

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Visit the Arcadia Rodeo, laugh and learn with Phoney Baloney, marvel at the blue Angels, enjoy Gazebo concerts, celebrate local volunteers, appreciate Andy Ledoux, take a Nature Break, join a grief support group, explore the...

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Hear from the newly elected SCCCA Board Members, see who helped SCC residents get their COVID-19 vaccine, get away for the day at Apollo Beach Preserve, mark your calendars for a very special livestream theater event, enjoy a...

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

In this issue… Get to know the SCC Beautification Corporation, discover who won the SCC Photo Club’s Best of the Best contest, get up to date on local infrastructure projects, stay on your toes with the Ballet Club, explore art and nature at...

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Get to know the members of the Cygnet Yacht Club, meet the candidates in the SCCCA Board run-off election to be held February 3, explore the history of Old Town Hall, see how the Holiday Spirit is alive and well in SCC &...

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

For the Birds?

For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...