Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Florida EcoSafaris

Photo by Donna Hailson.
In Episode 8, we visit St. Cloud’s 4,700-acre eco-ranch and wildlife conservation area Forever Florida, home of Florida EcoSafaris, where – in two and half hours and via seven ziplines and nine towers -- folks soar through the treetops and sky-bridge over Pine Flatwoods and forested wetlands. This site boasts nine distinct Florida eco-systems and is home to alligators, black bears, nearly two hundred species of birds and the endangered Florida panther.

Photo by Donna Hailson.
Joining us in this episode is Florida EcoSafari’s Matt Duda, whose background in marketing, tourism, ecotourism, and conservation makes him just the right person to introduce us to the history of the property, the flora and fauna one finds here and the adventures (along with ziplining, coach safaris, horseback safaris and rawhide round-ups) in which one can engage here. From him, we learn about the efforts being made to preserve the natural beauty and natural ecological balance at Forever Florida. The property is located at 4755 N. Kenansville Road, which is about an hour southeast of Orlando. Reservations are required. Phone 407.957.9794. extension 1, or 1.866.85.4EVER. extension 1. Or check them out online at www.FloridaEcoSafaris.com.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sparky the Fire Dog’s 60th Birthday and the Fire Museum of Texas, Home of the World’s Largest Working Fire Hydrant

Sparky the Fire Dog Today

This year marks the 60th birthday of Sparky the Fire Dog, the cartoon Dalmatian mascot of the National Fire Protection Association. Celebrations have been and will be held this year not only in the United States but also in at least one location on the other side of the world.

Sparky in the 1950s
In the first half of Episode 7, we’ll hear about some of these events and we’ll learn more about Sparky. Like many of the advertising icons that were introduced in the 1950s (from Tony the Tiger to Speedy Alka Seltzer) Sparky’s looks have changed considerably over the years. In recent days, he’s bulked up a bit and he’s become much more colorful. 

Today, he hosts his own website, has a Facebook page, and makes personal appearances. His likeness is seen in Sparky costumes, Sparky Valentines Day cards, Sparky birthday kits and Sparky robots. Sparky is also finding himself the recipient of some pretty remarkable honors. One great example: a few months back -- on Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japan -- Sparky was named a non-commissioned officer, a staff sergeant. This recognition was given to celebrate Sparky’s 23 years of service to the air base.

Filling us in on Sparky’s life and the work of the organization he represents will be Massachusetts-based Lorraine Carli, Vice President of Communications for the NFPA. 
The Fire Museum of Texas in Beaumont.
Photo by Donna Hailson.
The world's largest working
fire hydrant. Photo by
Donna Hailson.
In the second half of the program, we’ll visit the city of Beaumont, site of the Fire Museum of Texas. In the plaza, adjacent to the museum, sits the world’s largest working fire hydrant. From Carol Gary, the museum’s Executive Director, we’ll hear how that multi-story fire hydrant came to sit where it does. A hint: Disney, Dalmatians and Cruella de Vil had something to do with it.

From Carol we’ll also hear about what’s on offer especially for children at the museum and we’ll learn how dogs have worked side by side with firefighters pretty much since fire companies were formed.

Sparky images provided by the National Fire Protection Association.