Enough already with news of the frustrating. There's a lot to love about this place we call home.
So for Thanksgiving week, I wanted to share with you 100 things about Central Florida that I'm thankful for.
Finding 100 was easy. In fact, after asking for suggestions from my Sentinel friends on Facebook, there were 200. Some great ones missed the cut. So if you want to add to the list, join the conversation at OrlandoSentinel.com/takingnames.
Let's get started. And if you're not familiar with some things or names, good. Take a minute to look them up.
I am thankful for …
The weather in February, the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge, Park Avenue in Winter Park, the Headdress Ball, Orlando International Airport and a plethora of urban trails.
The Apopka nuns, random peacock sightings and the community's welcoming attitude toward newcomers.
The Fringe Festival, the Shakespeare Festival and Fiesta Medina.
Hanging moss and Moss Park.
October on International Drive, boat parades at Christmas and the sweet smell of orange blossoms in the spring.
Downtown Windermere, downtown Mount Dora and downtown Winter Garden.
The high-end blue-cheese burger at the Ravenous Pig and the extra-greasy bacon-cheeseburger at Johnny's Fillin' Station.
Manatees at Blue Spring, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and the Sanford Riverwalk.
Watching spacecraft blast off from our backyards.
Shepherd's Hope medical ministry, Second Harvest Food Bank, CourtWatch and CountyWatch.
Otters, sandhill cranes and Ocala National Forest.
Staycations and locals-only deals.
The Winter Park Art Festival, the Maitland Rotary Art Festival and Ivanhoe Row.
A diverse population.
The fact that we, more than most, get to decide who becomes president of the United States.
An abundance of local theater companies and the actors who fill them. A new performing-arts center.
The teachers at Cherokee School who help kids with behavior problems. Teachers at other special-needs schools, such as UCP. Our teachers in general.
The way General Hutchison Parkway in Longwood feels as if it's deep in a forest … even though it's not far from FleaWorld.
Lake Toho, Canaveral National Seashore and the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland.
That the University of Central Florida now has a med school, that Stetson had the state's very first music school and that Rollins is the only place in the world with a "Tar" for a mascot.
That we have our very own coffee chain (Barnie's). That we have places such as Stardust and the Drunken Monkey that have absolutely nothing chainlike about them.
Year-round road races. Lots of triathlons. Beaches in both directions.
The entire cultural cluster at Loch Haven Park.
Miss Sammy and Darcel Stevens. The Orlando Weekly and Central Florida News 13. Hontoon Island and Red Hot & Boom.
The staffs at WDBO, WPRK and WMFE.
Pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill at De Leon Springs.
Working at a newspaper that, while smaller than it used to be, is still full of talented and dedicated people who believe in this community.
That I work for editors who never — never — tell me what to say. Or what I can't.
The philharmonic, opera and ballet.
Farmers markets, food trucks and the comeback of froyo.
The pork chops at Queen Bee's and the plantains at Rolando's.
The Florida Music Festival (and Sean and Rick, the guys who dreamed it).
Give Kids the World, Lake Eola and the Festival of Trees.
A great YMCA, strong community colleges and our new and needed Veterans Affairs hospital.
That you can see 10 different kinds of architecture on a cul-de-sac with nine houses.
No ice storms.
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