Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bumper year on the cards for Bracknell's Giving Tree Appeal

<antique christmas cardsp>The generosity of people in Bracknell means this year's Giving Tree Appeal could be the best yet with hundreds of disadvantaged children unwrapping a special gift on Christmas Day

Amanda Eversden, left, Sophia Neal, Jodie Anderson and Sandra Ward, right, with presents for the Giving Tree at Tesco, in County Lane, Warfield

A popular Christmas appeal run by The Bracknell Times has proved recession-proof with organisers celebrating a "bumper" year of giving.

The generosity of people in Bracknell means this year's Giving Tree Appeal could be the best yet with hundreds of disadvantaged children unwrapping a special gift on Christmas Day.

Gill Mckernan, who coordinates the appeal, said: "It really is a bumper year.

"All the tags are now out on the trees and the deadline for presents to be returned is Thursday, December 19.

"It has gone so well that I have no more tags to put out."

The appeal is designed to make sure children supported by participating charities enjoy a Christmas Day to remember.

Every tag placed on Giving Trees at shops and businesses around Bracknell has the details of a gift selected by a child in need.

Generous shoppers can select a tag, buy the gift and return it unwrapped to the tree.

Mrs Mckernan, who works at Barnardo's High Close School, and her team collect the presents and take them to the charities where they are given to the children to open on Christmas Day or at parties organised by each charity.

This year, children who are supported by Barnardo's/ Young Carers and Barnardo's Fostering and Adoption, Dingley Play Group, Transform Housing, Home Start, ASD Family Help and Berkshire County Blind Society, Wokingham Children's Services will receive Giving Tree gifts.

Helen Sharkey, an early years' practitioner at Dingley Play Centre in Wokingham, said the support of strangers was wonderful.

The centre helps children with additional needs from the Bracknell area from birth to their fifth birthday through specialised play.

She said: "The appeal brings excitement and joy. We have our Christmas party next week and Santa will come and hand out the presents.

"Often the people who have bought the gift will write a tag, and sometimes their own children write it so the present is from a child to a child.

"We have 25 children here who will get a gift but sometimes we are given extra so their siblings can have one too. It is wonderful to think a stranger has taken the time to think of our children."

Shoppers can pick up a tag at Tesco at Martins Heron and at Warfield and also at Zappas in Crowthorne.

All presents must be returned to the stores by Thursday, December 19.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Panthers score late to beat Saints; Cowboys' win sets up Eagles showdown


Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton scrambles from New Orleans Saints defensive linemen Cameron Jordan (94) and Tyrunn Walker (75) in the first half Sunday. (Mike McCarn / Associated Press / )

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds left Sunday to lift the Carolina Panthers to a 17-13 win over the New Orleans Saints and clinch the team's first playoff berth since 2008.

Carolina (11-4) can wrap up the NFC South and a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win next Sunday at Atlanta.

The Panthers intercepted Drew Brees twice and sacked him six times to avenge a 31-13 loss two weeks ago.

Still, the Panthers needed some last-minute big plays from Newton to seal the win. After being held to 116 yards passing for the game's first 59 minutes, Newton led the Panthers 65 yards in 32 seconds for the go-ahead score.

The Saints (10-5) can still clinch a playoff berth if Arizona loses to Seattle.

New Orleans' road woes persist. The Saints have dropped five of their last six games away from the Superdome.

Cowboys 24, Redskins 23

LANDOVER, Md. -- Tony Romo threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray on fourth down with 1:08 remaining, giving the Dallas Cowboys a 24-23 win over the Washington Redskins and setting up a winner-take-all regular season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles next week for the NFC East title.

After a one-point, meltdown loss to the Green Bay Packers the previous week, the Cowboys nearly pulled a repeat - blowing a second-half lead after committing turnovers on back-to-back drives.

But Romo recovered and rallied the Cowboys from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit. He hit Murray after a long scramble as Dallas snapped a two-game skid - as well as a four-game losing streak in the month of December.

The Cowboys (8-7) host the Eagles next week for the division crown. The Redskins (3-12) have lost seven straight.

Bengals 42, Vikings 14

CINCINNATI -- Linebacker Vincent Rey returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown as Cincinnati's defense set up another fast start, and Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes as the Bengals pulled away to a 42-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The Bengals (10-5) remained perfect at home and could clinch an unprecedented third straight playoff appearance if Miami lost to Buffalo. They could clinch the AFC North title if Baltimore lost at home to New England later Sunday.

Something about Paul Brown Stadium brings out the best in Dalton. In his past four home games, Dalton has thrown for five, three, three and four touchdowns. The Bengals have topped 40 points in each of their past four home games, a club record.

The Vikings (4-10-1) had knocked off playoff contenders Chicago and Philadelphia in the past three weeks. Even with Adrian Peterson back from a foot injury, they couldn't keep up.

Bills 19, Dolphins 0

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Kyle Williams had two sacks as the Buffalo Bills set a single-season record and put a dent into the Miami Dolphins' playoff chances with a 19-0 win.

Fred Jackson had 111 yards rushing and scored on a 9-yard run, while the Bills limited the Dolphins to a season-low 103 yards offense and six first downs. The Bills (6-9) closed their home schedule with seven sacks for 56 this season, breaking their previous high of 50 during a 14-game season in 1964.

Dan Carpenter sealed the win by hitting four field goals, including a 45-yarder.

The Dolphins (8-7) had a three-game winning streak snapped and are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. Miami needs help from other teams to have a shot, and closes the season hosting the New York Jets next weekend.

Jets 24, Browns 13

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes to David Nelson and ran for another score as the New York Jets topped the Cleveland Browns 24-13 on Sunday in their home finale.

With Rex Ryan's job status uncertain, it could have been the coach's last game in front of the home fans, and Smith helped make it a good one with a solid performance. The rookie quarterback had his first game with at least two TD passes since October and committed no turnovers.

Smith finished 20 of 36 for 214 yards and ran for 48 more. Chris Ivory had 109 yards on 20 carries for the Jets (7-8), who were eliminated from playoff contention last week.

Jason Campbell was intercepted twice as the Browns (4-11) lost their sixth straight. The offense was sluggish with star tight end Jordan Cameron sidelined with a concussion.

Rams 23, Buccaneers 13

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Zac Stacy rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown, and two other rookies also had big games for the St. Louis Rams in their 23-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Stedman Bailey scored on a 27-yard reverse, and Alec Ogletree forced two fumbles.

Robert Quinn had three of the seven sacks of Mike Glennon to give him an NFC-high 18, breaking Kevin Carter's franchise record of 17 sacks in 1999. The Rams (7-8) wore throwback jerseys from the '99 Super Bowl title season.

Ogletree stripped Bobby Rainey early in the second quarter, and Bailey scored his first career touchdown on the next snap on the reverse to put the Rams up for good at 14-7.

The Buccaneers (4-11) managed just 170 total yards, setting a season low for the second straight week. Vincent Jackson had five catches for 98 yards.

Titans 20, Jaguars 16

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Nate Washington scored on a 30-yard reception in the fourth quarter, Tennessee got a much-needed defensive stop late and the Titans ended a three-game losing streak with a 20-16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Titans (6-9) overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and won for just the third time since September.

Washington made several key plays, none bigger than when he slipped behind Alan Ball for the go-ahead score. He finished with six catches for 117 yards.

The Jaguars (4-11) were in position to take the lead after that, but Ropati Pitoitua stuffed Maurice Jones-Drew on a fourth-and-1 play at the Tennessee 20 with 5:21 remaining.

It was the seventh fourth-down attempt in a fairly entertaining game, one of three on this weekend's NFL schedule with no playoff implications. The highlight of the game came when Jacksonville got retiring center Brad Meester his first career reception.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Happenings


Holiday on the River Concert and DanceSeries, through Sunday, The Jacksonville Landing. Features live performances by area schools, churches and dance groups during lunch and in the evenings. Free. (904) 353-1188 or

■ Friday - Students of Nashville Vocal Coach, 6:15 p.m.; Scott Jones School of Dancer, 7:15 p.m.; Sophisticated Gents, 8:15 p.m.

■ Saturday - Ballet Arts Center, noon; Linda Nelson Voices of Victory, 1 p.m.; Dulce Anaya School of Ballet, 2 p.m.; I AM International, 3 p.m.; Fabulous Footwork Dance Studio, 4 p.m.; First Coast Christian Center Music, 5 p.m.; Switzerland Dance School, 6:15 p.m.; Dynamics Dance, 7:15 p.m.; Sierra Hodge, 8:15 p.m.

■ Sunday - First Coast Kids, 3 p.m.; River City All Stars Dance Team, 4 p.m.; North Florida Twirling Academy. 5 p.m.; Changing Hearts Ministry, 6:15 p.m.; Essence Sherrise Wimes, 7:15 p.m.; Dazzling Diamonds, 8:15 p.m.

The Christmas Holiday House, presented by the Palatka Art League, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, The Tilghman House, 324 River St., Palatka. "Cooking As An Art" cookbook, $12, buy one get one free, to benefit the Art Scholarship Fund. Raffle tickets, $1 each or six for $5. (386) 325-8750 or

Christmas on the Square, 6-10 p.m. through Tuesday, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, 3076 95th Drive, Live Oak. Includes a drive-through lights extravaganza, a Crafts Village, a walking tour, Santa and his elves, puppets and live entertainment. (386) 364-1683 or

"Christmas Carole," meal 6:30 p.m., show 8 p.m. Friday; meal 11:15 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., show 1:15 and 8 p.m. Saturday; meal 12:15 and 6:30 p.m., show 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday; meal 6:30 p.m., show 8 p.m. Tuesday; Alhambra Theatre & Dining, 12000 anna griffin christmas cards Blvd. Collecting toys for the Daniel Home for Children, Wolfson's Children's Hospital and several shelters. Tickets start at $46 for adults, $35 children. Reservations, (904) 641-1212 or

Sawgrass Tour of Trees, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. through Jan. 1, TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse, 103 Championship Way, Ponte Vedra Beach. Free admission. (904) 273-3235 or

Synchronized Nightly Tree Light Shows, on the hour 6-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 6 p.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays, through Jan. 1, The Jacksonville Landing. Features holiday songs during a 10-minute synchronized light show. (904) 353-1188 or

Festival of Lights, evenings to 9 p.m. through Jan. 3, drive-through only Tuesday, closed Christmas Day, Stephen Foster State Park, U.S. 41 N., White Springs. Includes Santa, snow, a gingerbread village, a candy cane forest, an antebellum museum and decorated oak trees. $3 a person. (386) 397-2733

"Deck the Chairs" Exhibit as part of the Beaches Winter Lights Festival, evenings through Jan. 4, Latham Plaza, downtown Jacksonville Beach. Light display features the iconic red chairs of The American Red Cross Life Saving Corps.

Ripley's Holiday Happenings, 6-8 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 6-9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, through Jan. 5, Ripley's Believe It or Not, 254 San Marco Ave., St. Augustine. Friday and Saturday nights include Santa, a free gift for kids, holiday movies on the big screen, family-friendly activities and a free pair of Santa's magic viewing glasses. $7 adults, $4 children.

Jax Illuminations drive-through holiday lights display to benefit area charities, 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 5, Morocco Shrine Center, 3800 St. Johns Bluff Road S. Tune car radio Jax Illuminations station for music to go with the lights. Includes "Name Next Year's Light Show" and "Design a Display" contests for children. $20 per carload during the week, $25 on the weekend. (904) 316-5673 or

"The Game's Afoot or Holmes for the Holidays," 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Limelight Theatre, 11 Old Mission Ave., St. Augustine. Show continues 7:30 p.m. Dec. 27-28, 2 p.m. Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31 and Jan. 2-4, 2 p.m. Jan. 5. $25 adults, $22 seniors 62 and older, $20 students and active military. (904) 829-5807 or

WinterFest, various times through Jan. 12, Adventure Landing, 1944 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach. Includes an ice rink, ice shows, snow, an ice slide, light display, train rides, Santa's Workshop and pictures with Santa. Free admission; ice skating and skate rental $13. (904) 246-4386 or

Night of Lights, through Jan. 31, Plaza de la Constitucion, 10 Cathedral Place, across from the Bridge of Lions, downtown St. Augustine.


Historic Weapon Demonstration, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Castillo de San Marcos, 1 S. Castillo Drive, across from St. George Street, St. Augustine. National Parks Service volunteers and personnel demonstrate the weapons and relate the experiences of the Colonial Spanish soldier stationed in St. Augustine in the 1740s. Fort is open 8:45 a.m.-5:15 p.m. $7 adults, children 15 and younger get in free. (904) 829-6506, ext. 233.

The Gingerbread House Extravaganza, presented by the Jacksonville Historical Society, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Old St. Andrew's, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., across from Veterans Memorial Arena. Includes themed holiday trees by Junior League of Jacksonville. $5 adults, $3 children; parking free. (904) 665-0064.

Teen Holiday Party, 2-6 p.m., Ponte Vedra branch library, 101 Library Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach. Includes video gaming, a white elephant exchange (bring a wrapped gift $5 or less), making holiday cards for senior citizens and pizza. (904) 827-6950 or

"The Santa Clause," for children 6-12, 3-5 p.m., West Regional branch library, 1425 Chaffee Road S. Includes holiday crafts - an origami Santa and a reindeer ornament.(904) 693-1448.

Christmas Trail Hayride, 6:30-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Son Rise Baptist Church, 14652 Normandy Blvd. (904) 289-9940.

Cosmic Concerts, Laser Holiday, 7 and 8 p.m.; U2, 9 p.m.; Queen, 10 p.m.; Bryan-Gooding Planetarium, Museum of Science & History, 1025 Museum Circle. $5 per person per show, laser glasses $1. (904) 396-6674 or

"Eb Scrooge: A Southern Fried Carol," 7:30 p.m. Friday (with sign language interpreter), 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Florida State College at Jacksonville's South Campus, Wilson Center, 11901 Beach Blvd. $22 adults; $17.50 children, seniors and military; $12.50 FSCJ students/staff with valid ID. (904) 646-2222 or

"A Christmas Carol," 8 p.m., Times-Union Center, 300 Water St. $26.50-$46.50 adults, $12.75-$22.75 children 12 and younger. (904) 442-2929 or

"The Santaland Diaries," 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Riverside House, 2623 Herschel St. $20.

Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Orange Park Community Theatre, 2900 Moody Ave. $20. (904) 276-2599 or

"Songs For a New World," 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre performing at the Adele Grage Cultural Center, 716 Ocean Blvd., Atlantic Beach. $20. (904) 249-7177 or


J.P. Hall Children's Charities Christmas Party to benefit underprivileged children in Clay County, for children from newborn to 14 years, 8 a.m.-noon, Clay County Fairgrounds, 2497 Florida 16 W., Green Cove Springs. Children receive a bag of new toys, based on age and gender, and can also select one gently-used toy. Must have proof of residency. (904) 860-8739 or

Art Fest, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Waldo Farmers and Flea Market, 17805 U.S. 301, Waldo. Includes arts and crafts, pictures with Santa, raffles, exhibits, demonstrations, face painting and live music. Bring a donation for Toys For Tots. (352) 468-2255 or

Nocatee Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Nocatee Farmers Market Field, 245 Nocatee Center Way, Ponte Vedra Beach. Features a

Christmas Festival, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Nocatee Farmers Market, 245 Nocatee Center Way, Ponte Vedra Beach. Includes Santa and Mrs. Claus, train rides, bounce houses, crafts and vendors. Free admission. (904) 924-6858 or

"The Polar Express," 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Beaches Museum and History Park, 381 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Baech. Free.

Riverside Arts Market, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., 715 Riverside Ave. Includes arts and crafts, fresh fruits and vegetables and live entertainment. Features the fifth anniversary Season Closing Day.

Kids Christmas Party, presented by the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Turner Ace Hardware, 784 Marsh Landing Parkway. Includes a free picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus, free hots dogs, drinks, crafts, games, music, face painting, fingerprinting and emergency vehicles on display. (904) 247-6193.

Santa's Storybook Tea, noon, Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, 4750 Amelia Island Parkway. Features a fireside holiday storybook read by Santa, an afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, pastries, candy, cakes and a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus. $49 adults, $10 children 6 and older. (904) 277-1100 or

"An Angel's Point of View, Part II," Wayman Ministries Community Christmas Fellowship, noon-3 p.m., Wayman Academy of the Arts gymnasium, 1176 Labelle St. Includes music, food and a toy giveaway. (904) 739-7500, 693-1503 or

Musket Firing Demonstration, 12:30-3:30 p.m., Fort Matanzas, 8635 Florida A1A, 15 miles south of St. Augustine. Re-enactors fire flintlock muskets. Admission free, includes ferry ride to and from the island. (904) 471-0116 or

Handel's "Messiah," rehearsal, 1 p.m. Saturday, program 4 p.m. Sunday, Woodlawn Presbyterian Church, 3026 Woodlawn Road. Bring a copy of "The Messiah" if you own one or have access to one. (904) 768-5905.

"A Christmas Carol," as Part of Movie Madness for teens and tweens, 2 p.m., Main Library, 303 N. Laura St. (904) 630-2665.

"The Nutcracker," performed by the St. Augustine Ballet, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Flagler College's Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada St., St. Augustine. $25, $30. (904) 824-1746 or

"Holiday in the Woods," 4-6 p.m., Faver-Dykes State Park, 1000 Faver Dykes Road, St. Augustine. Includes arts and crafts, music, hot cocoa and s'mores. $5 per vehicle, up to eight people; $4 for individuals.(386) 446-6783 or

Candlelight display, presented by Salvia Garden Circle, dusk, entrances into the neighborhood at Mount Vernon Drive and Hyde Grove Avenue and Old Middleburg Road and Hanson Drive South.

Christmas in Old St. Augustine (Navidad En El Viejo San Augustin), 6-9 p.m., Mission Nombre de Dios, 27 Ocean Ave., St. Augustine. Includes living historians, a procession for children re-enactment of Mary and Joseph searching for lodgings in Bethlehem, a performance of "The Play of the Three Wise Kings," refreshments treats, live entertainment and a traditional nativity scene. (877) 352-4478, or

"It's a Wonderful Life" Dinner and a Movie, as part of "A December to Remember" 7 p.m., St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 1340 Florida A1A S. (904) 471-1965 or

"The Gift," 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Greater Love Ministries, 555 Florida 16, St. Augustine. Free. (904) 217-0648.

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra with Handel's "Messiah," 8 p.m., Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, 300 W. Water St. Features soprano Mary Wilson, soprano, mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala, tenor Jason Ferrante, bass Matt Boehler and the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus. $25-$72. (904) 354.5547 or


Celtic Carols and French Noels: A Christmas Concert, 2 p.m., St. Anastasia Catholic Church, 5205 Florida A1A S., St. Augustine. Features choirs and ensembles of the church with guest instrumentalists and soloists, the select children's choir and sing-a-long carols. $10 donation requested. (904) 471-5364.

Celtic Christmas Sing-along with the Community Chorus, as part of "A December to Remember," 5 p.m., St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 1340 Florida A1A S. (904) 471-1965 or

Live Nativity, 6-8 p.m., Christ United Methodist Church, 400 Penman Road, Neptune Beach. Features a drive-through Nativity of the front lawn of the church. Includes live animals and music. Donations to benefit the church's various ministries. (904) 249-5370 or


"How the Grinch Stole Christmas," as part of Christmas Movie and Craft library program, 2 p.m., Main Library, 303 N. Laura St. Film followed by making a Grinchy craft. (904) 630-2665.

DEC. 27

Winter Wonderland for children 6-12, 2-4 p.m., FEatures a life-sized board game and other activities. Webb Wesconnett branch, 6887 103rd St. (904) 778-7305.

"New Year's Eve," as part of Teen Movie Night, 3 p.m., South Mandarin branch library, 12125 San Jose Blvd. Includes refreshments. (904) 288-6385.

Live music by Cupid's Alley, 8 p.m.-1 a.m., The Jacksonville Landing. (904) 353-1188 or

DEC. 28

Markland House Tour, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Flagler College's Markland House, 74 King St., St. Augustine. $12. Reservations, (904) 823-3378 or

Library holiday fun: "The Nightmare Before Christmas," as Part of Movie Madness for teens and tweens, 2 p.m.; "Let it Snow" puppet play which explains why Jacksonville doesn't get snow, 2 and 3 p.m.; Main Library, 303 N. Laura St. (904) 630-2665.

"The Soulful Nutcracker" to benefit scholarship and community programs, presented by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Gamma Rho Omega Chapter, 2 and 7:30 p.m., Times-Union Center for Performing Arts, 300 W. Water St. Incorporates African dance, ballet, hip-hop and jazz. Matinee, $25-$50; evening, $30-$75. (904) 768-2255 or

Live music by Spanky the Band, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., The Jacksonville Landing. (904) 353-1188 or

DEC. 29

Live music by Steve and Ken Duo, 4-8 p.m., The Jacksonville Landing. (904) 353-1188 or

DEC. 30

St. Augustine Beach Blast-off 2014, 2-10 p.m. Dec. 30-31, St. Augustine Beach Pier Park. Includes a chili cook-off, live music, a kid's zone, vendors, dancing and music headliner Seven Nations. The fireworks display to music is at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 31. Florida A1A Beach Boulevard will be closed from Pope Road to 16th Street, 3-11 p.m. Dec. 31. (904) 501-4556 or

Live music by Boogie Freaks, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., The Jacksonville Landing. (904) 353-1188 or


Noon Year's Eve Party, 11 a.m., Main Library, 303 N. Laura St. Includes games and crafts for all ages. (904) 630-2665.

New Year's Eve Balloon Drop, 11 a.m.-noon, The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach, 50 Executive Way. Includes pizza, a bubble-wrap room, holiday music and crafts. Balloon drop is at noon. No pets or strollers. $5 nonmembers, $15 family of four; members get in free. (904) 280-0614, ext. 204, or

Crafts for Kids, 2 p.m., Beaches branch library, 600 Third St., Neptune Beach. Includes making New Year's Eve noise makers. (904) 241-1141.

Music and fireworks, live music by Radio 80, 6-10 p.m. and live music by Sun Jammer, 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m., The Jacksonville Landing; fireworks, midnight, over the St. Johns River, seen from The Landing, the Northbank and Southbank Riverwalks and Metropolitan Park. (904) 353-1188 or

Denim and Diamonds New Year's Eve, featuring "Pump Boys and Dinettes - a Musical Comedy," meal 6:30 p.m., show 8 p.m., Alhambra Theatre & Dining, 12000 Beach Blvd. Includes music by The Traveling River Band, dancing, champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight, all followed by an "After Midnight Breakfast Buffet." $125 a person. Reservations, (904) 641-1212 or

Celebration, 7:30 p.m.-2 a.m., dinner 8 p.m., Casa Marina Hotel, 691 First St. N., Jacksonville Beach. $100 a person, age 21 and older only. (904) 270-0025.

Masquerade Ball, doors open 5 p.m., party 8 p.m., The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, 3076 95th Drive, 4.5 miles north of Live Oak. Includes music by the Justin Case Band, a buffet of finger foods, a masquerade costume contest with prizes, party favors and a midnight champagne toast. Reservations, (386) 364-1683.

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra with Toast to the New Year, 8:30 p.m., Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, 300 W. Water St. Features vocalist Mike Eldred, and live dance music following the concert. $75-$150. (904) 354.5547 or

New Years Eve with Gregg Allman and JJ Grey with Mofro, 9 p.m., Florida Theatre, 128 E. Forsyth St. $53, $83, $103; raffle tickets, $20, for two tickets to every show at the Florida Theatre in 2014. (904) 355-2787 or

The Golf Ball New Year's Eve Celebration to benefit 26.2 with Donna, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, 1000 PGA Tour Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach. Includes live entertainment by ProBono and a champagne toast at midnight. Attire is resort casual. $25 a person., search golf ball.

Black and White Masquerade Ball, 9 p.m.-2 a.m., The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, 4750 Amelia Island Parkway. Includes food, live music, dancing and fireworks. Masks provided or bring your own. $195 a person, adults only. (904) 277-1100 or

JAN. 1

First Day Hike "Take a Walk on the Wild Side," 9-11 a.m., Anastasia State Park, 300 Anastasia Park Road, St. Augustine. Walk is 2.5 miles round trip; partial walk possible. Bring binoculars, comfortable walking shoes, a camera, drinking water, bug spray and sunscreen. (904) 461-2033 or

Fax to (904) 359-4478 or email Complete listing at To put your event in the free online calendar, go to

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Near-record lows, more snow coming for weather-beaten Midwest, Northeast

Parts of the Midwest and the Northeast can't catch a break from wintry weather - even though winter hasn't officially started - as a fast-moving low-pressure system moving in Monday from Canada brought more dangerously low temperatures and new snow on the tail of the weekend's major winter storm.

"It's just one after another. It's kind of a parade of snow marching across the country," said Jonathan Erdman, a senior meteorologist at the weather channel.

The "Alberta Clipper" system, named for its origins out of the Canadian province, is accompanied by light snow, strong winds and extremely colder temperatures. Manitowish Waters in northern Wisconsin dropped to 26 degrees below zero early Monday, and similarly bone-chilling conditions were recorded across Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Lows are expected to stay stuck in that zone at least through Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

A Wisconsin man was being treated for hypothermia after he was stranded when he rammed his snowmobile into a lakefront ice shelf in Calumet County, NBC station WGBA of Green Bay reported.

A state plane had to be called out to help find the 33-year-old man as ground-based rescue crews were nearly blinded by white-out snow Sunday afternoon.

The icebox that is the Upper Midwest is turned down to its lowest setting in more than 40 years, the National Weather Service said. The average high for the week of Dec. 6 in many parts of Minnesota was 6 degrees - the lowest since 1972, when gas cost 36 cents a gallon.

Steven Senne / AP

Overnight lows dropped well below zero, to temperatures that can freeze exposed skin in as little as five minutes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Parts of Ohio were shivering in high temperatures 15 degrees below normal, in the lower 20s. The Weather Channel forecast light to moderate snow Monday in the Lower Midwest and Tuesday in the Northeast, with accumulations of less than 5 inches in most highly populated areas affected by the Clipper.

Milwaukee and Chicago were forecast to receive "pretty minor" bands of snow Monday, within the 1- to 3-inch range.

New York City, fresh off 5 inches of snow Saturday, was predicted to see another couple of inches Tuesday, with up to 5 inches in parts of Boston. Coastal and eastern Maine were expected to see the heaviest snowfall.

Get the latest weather news and your local forecast

Erdman said the additional snow would continue to affect roads and commutes. In most of the areas hit by the weekend snowstorm, temperatures Monday were expected to remain below freezing but still high enough for salt to diminish icy conditions on roads before the new system moved in.

But in hard-hit areas like Upstate New York and northern New England, temperatures Monday were in the teens or the single digits.

"There's not much salt can do there," Erdman said.

"The impact in the Northeast will be felt during tomorrow morning's rush hour," he said, adding that parts of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and most of New York's five boroughs would see falling snow and slick travel conditions Tuesday morning.

Temperatures were expected to keep dropping through the afternoon into the night in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, with coastal areas dipping below well zero overnight.

The bigger problem is strong winds that will create dangerously low wind-chill conditions, said Jim Brown of the National Weather Service office in Gray, Maine. For the second straight night, winds will make it feel like 30 to 40 degrees below zero in the mountains after wind chills that plummeted as low as minus-57 Sunday night in Mount Washington, N.H.

The latest storm comes on the heels of a weekend bout that dumped on the Northeast, leaving more than a foot of snow in some places.

Not everyone was complaining. Sixteen inches of snow fell on Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vt., allowing the ski resort to open 91 trails. Most New England resorts are open for skiing and riding 10 days before Christmas.

"We have been watching [the forecast] since people first started talking about it on Monday or Tuesday," said Ethan Austin, a spokesman for the Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. "We're pretty psyched."


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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Harper Card Posted To Awkward Family Photos Site

The Harper family's official Christmas card has been posted on a website mocking hilariously awkward family photos.

The PM's annual holiday card began arriving in mailboxes late last month. The image on the front shows the smiling faces of Harper, his two kids and his wife Laureen, who is holding their pet chinchilla, Charlie.

And it's apparently the cute, furry animal that makes this awkward. At least to one person.

Someone uploaded the image to on November 20, where readers are encouraged to poke fun at those mortifying family photos from the past we all try our antique christmas cards to forget.

"Yes, that is the Prime Minister of Canada and yes, his wife is holding a chinchilla," reads the description.

But it seems not everyone agrees that the shot meets the criteria of truly awkward, especially when you take a gander at some of the shots in the site's "hall of fame."

"I don't find this at all awkward. Canadians of all political stripes know that the Harpers have fostered animals for years (and the chinchilla is rescued). This Christmas card made all of our Canadian newspapers, and it's certainly far less awkward than those repulsive Kardashians," wrote one viewer.

"This is the most NOT AWKWARD picture I've seen on here," wrote another. "Nothing awkward with holding a family pet."

Another expressed disappointment that, thanks to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, "all of our loser politicians are getting global press now."

Of course, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also sent out cards wishing Canadians the best for the holiday season.

Trudeau's featured a collage of his family on the front, and a shot of a snowball fight with his kids inside.

Mulcair has got some work to do to catch up with Justin Trudeau's christmas card.

- MG (@WorkingCollar) December 11, 2013

Just received my Holiday card from @JustinTrudeau & his lovely wife Sophie! #liberal #support #cdnpoli

- alexis kleiman (@alexiskleiman) December 9, 2013

While Mulcair went a more traditional route with a photo of the NDP leader and his wife.

Here's #NDP @ThomasMulcair's christmas card, photographed in his Parliament Hill office #cdnpoli

- Richard Madan (@RichardMadan) December 11, 2013

Also on HuffPost:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New And Exclusive Micro-Site Content

ePHOTOzine's Micro-Site Roundup - Find out what's been happening on our five Micro-Sites.


Here's a roundup of the exclusive content we've got for you to have a read of on our five micro-sites this week:

On PENTAXPORTAL this week, you can take a look at some top tips for photographing seals with your Pentax camera, and check out some top Pentax sunset photos. Plus, the brand new K-3 DSLR has been reviewed on site this week, and there's news of new images from Ricoh Imaging brand ambassadors.

Over On EIZO ColorZone, you can learn how to perform a monitor viewing angle check and find out why ColorNavigator software is a great tool for aiding calibration. Plus, there's news of a new 3D CG colour management handbook that's now available.

Meanwhile, on Olympus Image Space this week, there are techniques on how to use blur creatively, and there's news on Olympus workshops taking place over the coming months with Damian McGillicuddy and Steve Gosling. Plus, news on the Olympus Impressions 'Fall' competition, and £100 accessory cashback when you buy an Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera have also gone live.

On Totally Tamron this week, you can learn some top tips for taking better photos of ice with your Tamron lens, plus there are some top Tamron portrait photos for you to take a look at. Don't forget to take a look at David Pritchard's blog the days zoom past, too, as he's been out-and-about with his newly acquired Tamron 24-70mm lens.

Last but not least, on Nikon Nation this week, you can check out some ideas and tips for on location portrait shoots, get creative with colour balance and lots more. Plus, don't miss the Nikon D5300 Cheap DSLR review and news of ono-to one training with Nikon School in December.

Make sure you check back to the Micro-Sites regularly, as new and exclusive content is posted weekly!

Source: Ephotozine