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Stress Relief in Stressful Times

Stress Relief in Stressful Times

By Elizabeth Curl

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of additional stress in everyday life. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 8 in 10 adults say that the pandemic is a significant source of stress. Stress may also strain your personal relationships, especially now if you are an essential worker, working from home with children, or going to school online. When stress becomes a constant issue, it can lead to physical or mental health issues. In order to better cope with stress, it is important to understand what it is. Though everyone’s personal definition of stress may be different, stress is generally considered to be the body’s response to situations that cause emotional or physical tension.

Symptoms of stress may include: 

  • Physical pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension


Here are some stress-relief techniques to try on your own!


Otherwise known as EFT (emotional freedom technique), tapping is an alternative treatment used for relieving physical pain and emotional distress. It is a treatment that is still being researched. EFT is based on traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture. Instead of applying pressure with needles, fingertips are used to put pressure onto specific areas of the body.


Box Breathing

According to Medical News Today, box breathing is a simple relaxation technique that helps bring the body back to a regular breathing pattern. 

First of all, make sure to prepare by sitting in a chair where your back is supported and your feet are on the floor. 

To start, close your eyes, breathe in through your nose, and count to four. Make sure to focus on feeling your lungs fill with air. Then, hold your breath while counting to four and make sure to avoid inhaling or exhaling. Begin to exhale for four seconds. 

Make sure to repeat this process at least three times or until you begin to feel calm again.


Positive Affirmations

Saying positive things about yourself can help to change a negative mindset into a more positive one. It can also help you gain more confidence, and focus less on insecurities and perceived flaws. Positive affirmations are pretty simple.

Instead of saying something negative such as, “I can’t get this assignment done, I’m going to fail,” use a positive affirmation such as “I will do what I am able to complete this assignment, but my grades do not define me as a person.” 

Repeating positive affirmations a few times daily can help shift your mindset so that you are better prepared to take on stressful situations.



Counseling is a mental health tool that has grown in popularity during the pandemic in order to cope with stress. It is not just for people with severe mental health issues, either. Speaking with a professional regularly can give you advice and guidance in order to deal with everyday stressors, in addition to addressing mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. Though counseling is becoming more accessible with the rise of telehealth services, it must be acknowledged that not everyone has equal access to a counselor, especially with the increase in demand during the pandemic. According to the American Institute of Stress, there are some smartphone applications that may be able to help with stress management and relief if counseling is not accessible or available.

  • Headspace
    • A meditation application. Users can complete a free trial and purchase a subscription to gain wider access to more meditation sessions and programs.
      • Free and available on both the iOS and Google Play stores.
  • Sanvello
    • Sanvello, formerly known as Pacifica, is an application that is based on principles used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Users are able to track how they feel, set personal goals, and practice relaxation techniques. 
      • Free and available on both the iOS and Google Play stores.
  • ReachOut Breathe
    • This application helps users control their breathing. It has a unique feature that can detect the user’s heart rate through the device’s camera.
      • Free and available on the iOS App Store.
  • WoeBot
    • WoeBot is a messaging-style application that utilizes artificial intelligence in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help users deal with distressing emotions and thoughts. 
      • Free and available on both the iOS and Google Play stores.
  • Virtual Hope Box
    • For people who have PTSD, Virtual Hope Box provides a variety of tools to help reduce stress and has been one of the few phone applications empirically tested to support users at risk for suicide.
      • Free and available on both the iOS and Google Play stores.


If you or a loved one is dealing with a mental health crisis, there is support available. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Visit for more information.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline chat:

If you or someone else is in danger, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

How to Help End Homelessness in Pensacola

How to Help End Homelessness in Pensacola


Pensacola’s homeless population surged to the forefront of city conversation recently when it was announced that the city would be moving a well-populated encampment of people experiencing homelessness near Hollace. T. Williams Park under I-10. The city says that the reported move is necessary to clean up the park but some local activists see it as a thinly veiled attempt to evict the encampment.  The mass unemployment rates due to Covid-19 are only making matters worse for people experiencing housing insecurity. Opening Doors Northwest Florida, a local nonprofit that provides assistance and resources for the homeless populations of Santa Rosa and Escambia counties, reported in their annual Pensacola headcount, an additional 200 people added to the population of unsheltered homeless people. This number is a 34 percent increase from last year before the pandemic largely hit the United States. This number could easily rise when the CDC lifts the eviction moratorium and landlords are able to legally evict residents. The moratorium is currently extended through March, but with the increased rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, its days could be numbered.


Pensacola’s Citywide Response

The response from the city seems to be indicative of a tipping point in the fight to end homelessness in Pensacola. Though the underpass eviction seems like a step back, recently Mayor Grover Robinson asked the City Council to approve the spending of 200,000 dollars for homeless initiatives. Robinson seeks to follow the plan already being enacted in Tallahassee, a multiple-phase plan that starts with building a day center with resources for the homeless. However, Robinson is reluctant to follow the plan to its final phase, the building of a tiny home village to house the homeless. Robinson encouraged private sector individuals to take charge in the building of a tiny home village.


Big Plans for Tiny Homes

This dream of a tiny home village is already taking shape through the actions of Jim Reeves and the affordable housing nonprofit AMR. Reeves is building a pilot tiny home on East La Rua St, in order to encourage and normalize the concept of tiny homes used as starters for affordable housing. The eventual goal for Reeves is a small village of tiny homes, similar to The Dwellings in Tallahassee, that would be used to provide reasonably priced housing in order to get homeless and low-income individuals on their feet.  The project hasn’t been without setbacks though, Reeves is currently working with the county and city in order to make it easier and more affordable to obtain permits to build this type of housing.


Activists stepping up

The massive increase in unemployment rates, caused by Covid-19, has brought the long problem of housing insecurity to the light in many cities across the country. In Los Angeles, a city with huge populations of unhoused folks, activist and urban planner Nithya Raman ran for city council and unseated incumbent David Ryu in a runoff upset. Her strategy for winning? Providing a comprehensive, common sense, and humanity-focused plan to provide people experiencing homelessness with legal assistance, community resources, and affordable housing. These kinds of plans, formerly seen as radical, are gaining popularity in cities all across America. As Covid-19 forces us to slow down and take a look at the world around us, many activists like Caleb Houston are taking action to make that world a better place. After experiencing homelessness himself for a decade, Houston is working to not only provide housing, in the form of a village of 50 hut-like structures, but also mental health, addiction, and job assistance. Houston is building the first of his structures this weekend with a community build event called Huts 4 our Friends. The structure will be built in Brent Athletic Complex and will be able to house two people comfortably. Activists like Nithya, Jim Reeves, and Caleb Houston are just a few of the many individuals taking on this problem and working to benefit the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community, and all across the country.


5 Easy things you can do to help


  1. Shop at a thrift store run by a homeless shelter. Thrifting is already an awesome way to score affordable, one-of-a-kind, usually vintage clothes, accessories, and furniture. By shopping second-hand, you’re not only helping the environment by reducing clothing waste, but you’re also helping to fund homeless shelters. Check out Waterfront Rescue Mission Thrift Store, Heavenly Blessings Thrift Store, Loaves and Fishes Thrift Store, and Helping Hands Thrift Store the next time you need a unique piece or are looking to refresh your wardrobe and help out a good cause.


  1. Make blessing bags and give them out. Blessing bags are small, gift types, bags full of essentials that people experiencing homelessness may not have access to. Items like toothpaste, soap, toothbrushes, deodorant, gift cards, hand sanitizer, gloves, face masks, tampons, and clean socks are all basic essentials that go into these small drawstring bags. There are plenty of resources online that provide full checklists of the most in-demand items. Get together with some friends and head to a big box store like Costco or Sam’s Club to stock up on the most amount of items. Don’t forget to include small notes of inspiration to help make someone’s day a little bit brighter.


  1. Volunteer if you can. There’s no better way to help than to directly spend your time and energy assisting charities like Opening Doors Northwest Florida, Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen, and Waterfront Rescue Mission. Even if you aren’t able to help in person contacting these organizations to see what areas they are in need of assistance in may help you connect them with volunteers in those fields who can help. Everyone has a network of unique and talented people whose resources can be used in order to help.


  1. Work with a local business franchise to donate resources. Many grocery stores like Publix, Winn Dixie, and Target simply throw away perfectly good food that doesn’t sell. Contact the manager of a local store and see if you can set up an agreement to pick up food that doesn’t sell to be donated to a local charitable organization or food pantry.


  1. Call or email your city council representative. The more noise that people make the more things will get done. Call for repealing the Camping Law that criminalizes homelessness, call for city funds to be directed to programs for homeless populations. Call for mental health professionals and social workers, not just police, to be present when handling concerns related to the homeless population. Call for access to affordable housing, especially in the rapidly rising downtown neighborhood that many unhoused people call their home. The handling of this situation shouldn’t rest solely on the hands of charitable organizations. By reframing the conversation around homelessness from a criminal one to one of providing help and humanity, the city of Pensacola can ensure safe housing for its most vulnerable residents.


Layers and Layers: The Ephemeral Beauty of the Graffiti Bridge

Layers and Layers:
The Ephemeral Beauty of the Graffiti Bridge
By Mitch Wisniewski



Arguably Pensacola’s most instantly recognizable landmark, the small railroad bridge, constructed in 1881 to connect Pensacola to Louisville and Nashville, has over time become covered in countless layers of paint. It’s hard to say how the Graffiti Bridge became the Graffiti Bridge that we know and love today. Much like the bridge itself, there are innumerable layers to its history. Pensacola historian John Appleyard puts 1956 as a possible date on which the bridge was first painted. That date is as likely as any other in the storied past of the bridge. Over time the bridge has adapted, now complete with its own website, Facebook, and Twitter account, all providing daily snapshots of the ever-changing face of the bridge.

This changing face has changed with the nature of our country in recent and has become a more explicitly political one. This past summer the bridge served as a meeting place for protesters expressing their outrage at racial injustice, painted stark black and grey with a Thomas Jefferson quote about the value of human life. The bridge is, in its very nature, a canvas for citizens of all political ideologies to express their beliefs, in bold and bright spray paint. I’m tempted to call the bridge bipartisan in that way, given that it featured both a Trump and Biden-themed mural around the time of the election, both painted over after the election had come and gone in its painfully extended way. But the bridge represents something deeper than simply reaching across the aisle. It’s about humanity. It’s about the proposal spray-painted on its concrete surface just a few days ago, whizzing by and hoping Pamela said yes. It’s about the quotes of positivity, the fabric of memes, caricatures, and artistic expression.

The very nature of the Graffiti Bridge is that nothing lasts forever. It holds a mirror to the world and sends back a reflection in a million colorful strokes. It is the ultimate equalizer, anyone can walk up to it with a can of spray paint and put whatever they want on it. Given that nature, there is the occasional offensive word or symbol painted but these instances are always covered up with other layers of paint. Beauty being sprayed atop of hate. Ultimately, the bridge itself is a canvas, it requires artists and everyday people alike. Teams of people from charities or schools, supporting causes, expressing grief, raising awareness with a can of paint. The bridge serves to bring people together, it unlocks a kind of freedom and abandonment of the rules. A can of spray paint on a concrete wall anywhere else is a crime, but at the bridge, it’s a tool of beauty. Take a drive down 17th avenue and slow down when you get to that curve. Take in whatever you see at the bridge, it won’t be there for long.

Five of the Best Walks in Pensacola to Help You Beat Online School Fatigue

Five of the Best Walks in Pensacola to Help You Beat Online School Fatigue

Spring semester is just getting started and, as I learned last semester, in these very strange times that means a lot of time spent hunched over a laptop, trying to look presentable for Zoom classes, and longing for the feeling of going to a physical classroom. With very few students actually on campus this semester, and the majority experiencing the endless torture of Zoom University it can feel really frustrating. I personally feel like school never ends. When scheduling your assignments rests solely on the hands of the student, it becomes difficult to not feel like you should be doing something at all times. However, I’ve found a simple way to combat this Zoom/Canvas fatigue.

I’ve been getting out of my apartment every day and taking a long walk. I started for around a half hour, then an hour, and now I’m averaging around two hours. I’ve found that it’s the best way to collect my thoughts, unplug from my phone and my laptop and enjoy everyday nature here in Pensacola. Plus if you go for a walk at sunset and listen to indie pop you get to feel like the main character in a coming-of-age movie and honestly who doesn’t want to feel like that. In an effort to help elevate us all out of our desks and onto the streets  I’ve gathered five of my favorite relaxing and beautiful walks in Pensacola. Enjoy!

The Downtowner

Downtown Pensacola is probably my favorite place to walk around at sunset, the historic homes and buildings look so beautiful at golden hour and there’s nothing like standing on the Palafox Pier and watching the colors change in the sky.


The Route: Start on the corner of Palafox and Garden St. Head east on Garden street until you hit S De Villiers St, take S De Villiers down to the Blue Wahoos stadium and loop around the stadium back to Main St, walk on Main until you get to the Palafox pier and head down there as well OR just continue on Main until you get to Veterans Memorial Park by the Gulf Power Building, loop around the park and walk on Romana back to where you started.


The Scenery: Old brick, historic houses, water views, and spanish moss.


The East Hill Explorer

After moving off campus this year, I recently discovered East Hill when I went for a haircut (Shoutout to Steve DuPont at East Hill Barbershop). I was shocked that after almost four years in Pensacola I hadn’t fully explored this amazing historic neighborhood. So here’s


The Route: Start at the East Hill Publix on the corner of Cervantes and 12th ave. While you’re there grab a little walking treat, you deserve it. Walk up 12th Ave until you get to Blount Street. Take a right on Blount and head east until you hit Bayview Park, do a few laps around Bayview or enjoy the sights of the Bayview dog beach or some of their free outdoor workout equipment if you’re feeling really fit and then head back the way you came.


The Scenery:  Seriously historic mansions, the cutest little shops you’ve ever seen, and swimming dogs.


The Campus Crawl

On the UWF campus the nature trails are great but sometimes you just don’t feel like wandering around in the woods and getting your shoes dirty.


The Route: Start on the Edward Ball Nature Trail loop, once finished with that little forest adventure, continue on to Campus Drive heading away from the Commons and towards the University Parkway main entrance. Take a left on Campus Lane and reconnect back with Campus Drive. From there walk past Martin and Heritage Hall ending near Lot X, you’ll find some benches with a wonderful view of the Escambia River.


The Scenery: Lakes, Rivers, and lots of tired college students.


The Beach Bum

Listen, ever since the barges decided to play pinball with the General Chappie James Memorial Bridge which connects Pensacola to Gulf Breeze during Hurricane Sally, it’s felt like the biggest schlep in the world to get to Pensacola Beach. But, provided there’s minimal traffic, it’s actually only a 25-30 minute drive from Campus. A little long sure but put a few more songs on your driving playlist and make the trip, the walk is worth it.


The Route: Simplest one yet, park at the big parking lot near the Beach Ball water tower and pier and walk down the convenient walking trail along Fort Pickens Road.


The Scenery: Sun, sand, and those signature Pensacola clear blue waters.


The Country Clubber

This one has such a cool aesthetic but unfortunately no sidewalks. It goes through a residential neighborhood though so it’s fairly quiet and safe.


The Route: Start at the Scenic Hills Country club, walk the loop north until you get to Tam O’Shanter Road, take a left and walk until you hit Greenbrier Boulevard, walk on Greenbrier until you get to the bridge with the creek, enjoy the natural creeklife and then double back to Burning Tree Road, follow the Burning Tree Loop until you end up back at the country club.


The Scenery: Rolling hills, manicured greens, and a lazy creek full of turtles.


So there you go! I hope you try out any or all five of the best walks in Pensacola. We all feel better with some sunshine on our faces and endorphins in our veins. So close your laptop and go for a walk. I’ll see you on the sidewalks.

Non-Profit Organizations In Pensacola You Can Help

Non-profit organizations and businesses reflect the selflessness that has been lost in America.

Our capitalist culture has created a “me first” attitude for many of us, making it hard to find someone willing to give of their time freely … or has it?

If you are reading this, you probably disagree with the previous statement.

You are someone who gives of their time, resources, money consistently, and you know many others who also do the same.


Thank you!


Because of people like you, non-profit organizations are able to help individuals get back on their feet. With programs for food, shelter, and even healthcare, non-profit organizations are able to give back to those who are less fortunate.

Too many people see non-profits as welfare centers, helping to feed the problem in America, but that is simply not true.

We have all had bad days, weeks, months, years … if not, be thankful.


There are more than 1.3 million charitable non-profit organizations in America that help feed, shelter, teach, nurture, and restore individuals of all ages, race, and economic status.

If you are interested in helping out, here are a list of non-profit organizations that we support and we would love if you would too.


[insert list]


If you know of a non-profit organization that we should add to this list, please let us know. Tell us why they would be a great candidate to be added to our list and we will look into it.

Unique Ideas For Valentines Day In Pensacola

Valentine’s Day can be one of the most romantic times of the year. Everyone in a relationship has aspirations of professing their love to their significant other in a way that will never be matched. Men and women think long and hard to figure out the best place to eat, the best place to take a stroll, or even find the perfect gift.

If you’re still trying to plan out the perfect event, here are a few traditional (and non-traditional) ideas that you can consider.


We’ve Heard Women Like Chocolate and Wine!

If your significant other likes the finer things in life, then they’ll love a night out at Wandering Oaks Winery. And while it might not be hosted on Valentine’s Day itself, it’s a great lead-in to a romantic love-fest that’ll definitely leave a good impression.


We are excited to present our next Wine and Chocolate Pairing.

We will be featuring wines from around the globe made here at Wandering Oaks, paired with artisan crafted chocolates from Cloud Nine Chocolates of Pensacola. Each pairing will come with 4 wines  wines as well as 4 chocolates hand selected to bring out the flavors in each!

You can purchase tickets at, stop by the store @ 3403 Gulf Beach Hwy, or call our store to reserve your spot at (850) 723-2739 option 3. 

Seating is limited. Pairing times will be  6:30pm & 8pm. Each seating is approximately for 1 hour.


More Information:


If Wine And Chocolate Isn’t Your Thing, Maybe Shrimp Is

Maybe wine and chocolate don’t tickle your significant other’s fancy, but maybe a Cajun Shrimp Boil will. If so, you should definitely reserve a spot at the Casa de Playa de Robeen. It’s a private beach house that is nestled away on a private beach across from the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Enjoy a night of spice before your night of spice! Dinner will be a delicious shrimp boil paired with dessert and champagne.


Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and we’re celebrating early!

Avoid the crowds on the 14th and come celebrate with us Saturday, February 8th @ 3pm at our Beach house, locally known as Casa de Playa de Robeen. The beach house sits on its own private beach on Bayou Grande across the water from the Pensacola Naval Air Station. It is our private paradise and we want to share it with you as you enjoy a delicious shrimp boil, a glass of champagne and a dessert tray for you and that special someone! It doesn’t get more romantic than waterfront dining!

We will be outside the entire time and you will enjoy your meal on our two story dock overlooking the bayou. Cost: $99 per couple. Spots are limited so contact me to make your reservations today!!

PS: We also offer group discounts and private events like bachelorette celebrations, private birthday parties, anniversary dinners, corporate gatherings, etc. Let us help you celebrate your special occasion!


More Information:


Don’t Forget Their Other Love

Family is family, and you can’t be a part of their life if you forget who they loved before you were in the picture. If they have a canine, this is a good time to show your affection for them by treating the canine to their own personal Valentine’s Day.

The West Florida Public Libraries – WFPL is hosting a Canines and Valentines Day treat for their canine and you could really make an IMPRESSION if you took them and their forever friend out for a special treat. Hosted on Feb. 13th at 4:30 p.m. at the Southwest Branch Library, this is a  great lead-in to an awesome Feb. 14th (hint, hint).


Enjoy a visit with our Read to Dogs furry friends for photos and fun! Sponsored by Friends of the Southwest Branch Library.


More Information:


Take The Kids Out For A Special Treat

Whether you’ve been married for some time and have children of your own or your significant other has children from a past relationship, this is a great experience that will make them fall in love with you too!

Children are a special part of our lives and we need to let them know that we are thinking of them too – even on Valentine’s Day. So, take them to the Ella Marie Davis Community Center on February 8th at 3:00 p.m. and let them learn how to make a creamy, delicious, sugar-filled cake that everyone will love.


Kids will learn to decorate a Valentine’s themed cake using various techniques. All supplies and light refreshments provided. $25 per child.


More Information:


Take A Long Walk

Of course, this is Pensacola and we have the finest beaches in all of the world. As such, you should take advantage of what’s available to you.

It’s a time-honored tradition that works great after a wonderful meal. Maybe you can carry a small satchel with a blanket in it and a love note or two, along with a few pictures of you when you first started dating. Don’t just stick to a long walk hand-in-hand; go a step further and make an impression.

Show them you REALLY care and remember!


Surprise Them With A Long Weekend Away

Even if you’ve lived in Pensacola (or nearby), you haven’t experienced everything Pensacola has to offer!

Take them on a short retreat away from life at some of the finest hotels we have to offer. For starters, we have the Pensacola Grand Hotel which has a “Romance Package” specifically tailored to liven up your love life (wink). Next, take them to the Margaritaville Beach Hotel where you can rest and relax while enjoying a few margaritas or see views similar to a cruise line without the cost. And if you want something more intimate, take them on a trip to Lee House & Cottages where they can relax in a low-key environment that is reminiscent of the southern lifestyle.


Murder Mystery Anyone?

Yes, this does seem a little odd, but not everyone is the traditional lover. If you’re significant other is not into chocolates, wines, bonfires, and long walks, then this next option is sure to catch them up – especially if they are into mysteries!

Hosted on Valentine’s Day at 7:00 p.m. at the Improbable Cause Mystery Theatre, immerse yourself in a murder mystery to die for. Titled “Kiss of Death”, it’s the only kiss of death you’ll be seeing as your love uniquely connects with you.


Improbable Cause Mystery Theatre proudly presents it’s NEW Valentines Special show… “Kiss of Death”. A tale of  “Two Gentlemen from Pensacola”.

Treat your sweetheart to dinner and a show all rolled into one! Your Valentine will love our specially themed show and meal, and you’ll reap the benefits of planning such an amazing Valentines date! 


Kiss Of Death 

Before he heads off to a new job marketing “Mulan” cookies, Valentino says heartfelt goodbyes. But after the sudden death of one of the party goers – controversy starts in this story of love and betrayal and it becomes YOUR job to help Detective Gunn solve the case in this interactive murder mystery, where you interrogate suspects, analyze evidence and use your powers of observation to solve the case! Come join the fun in modern parody of the characters from Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona – “Kiss of Death”

Doors open for show at 6:30pm show starts at 7:00pm. (Will run approximately 2 hours)

LIMITED seating available (Dinner will be served during the show performed by: Improbable Cause Mystery Theatre). Tickets are $40.00.

Call: Nicole Dickson (owner) at (850) 207-7115 for any questions regarding this show. 


More Information:


The Old Standby

Of course, you could go the traditional route of a night out to dinner and a movie. If so, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from.


Reservations are being made as we speak so you may not be able to go to your preferred restaurant if you wait too long (don’t be that guy).


As you can see, there are plenty of Valentine’s Day options to work with in Pensacola. From traditional venues to more unique offerings, we have plenty to offer. Whether you live here or far away, it’s time to explore Pensacola a little more!

Did we miss something? If so, let us know so that we can add it!

2019 Festival of Lights in Pensacola

The Festival of Lights in Pensacola is an experience like no other. Enjoy the celebration of Christmas with your family and friends while enjoying more than 400,000 lights from November 25th, 2019 until January 31, 2020. Visit all the historic buildings, shops, and outdoor vendors while walking Palafox Street – name one of America’s “Ten Great Streets”.

The Festival of Lights in Pensacola kicks off on November 25th during the Inaugural First City Lights Festival. Created by the Pensacola Downtown Improvement Board, the festival is built to create an unforgettable experience. The lighting experience has grown over the years, drawing in many vendors and specialized shops that have only helped to improve the atmosphere.

During the Festival of Lights, you’ll enjoy live performances from street carolers and actors, pictures with Santa, trolley tours, horse and carriage rides, and so much more! Now in its twelfth year, the festival has become a part of the Pensacola Christmas festivities. Visitors from all over the country make special trips just to be a part of the experience…

And now you can too!

Don’t miss out on this once-a-year experience like no other. Remember, you only have until January 31, 2020 before it’s gone for another year.

For more events like this, check out our Upcoming Events Calendar for Pensacola and the surrounding areas.

Haunted Pensacola

Pensacola…the richness of its history is unbounded, and, thus, the topics on which one could write are seemingly endless. In the spirit of the time of the year, I turn my attention to the holiday that helps to keep many a candy company in business—Halloween. As jack-o’-lanterns, witches, and black cats begin making their yearly appearances, the spooky occasion brings with it gangs of excited, costume-clad children roaming the neighborhoods in a sugar-fueled search for their candy loot. (Eh, please, no Tootsie Rolls. Thanks.) And, in historic Pensacola, these ghoulish escapades are accompanied by countless ghost stories! Admittedly, I have never really considered myself to be a part of the ghost-believing crowd; nevertheless, I find the ghost stories with historical roots to be quite fascinating. I’d like to share with you one of my favorites…

Historic Sacred Heart Hospital – Opened in 1915, this large Gothic Revival building served as the first Catholic hospital in Florida. Although hospital operations ceased many years ago, today, historic Sacred Heart Hospital (now called “Tower East”) houses a theater company and several restaurants, including O’Zone Pizza. However, Tower East is not your typical place of business; some believe that theater goers and restaurant patrons are not alone. Indeed, several witnesses attest to seeing ghostly figures adorned in old nurse’s uniforms sauntering down the halls of the massive, history-laden building. And here’s a fun fact—if you’re ever out and about and decide to have a slice and a beer at O’Zone, there are rumors that suggest the old Sacred Heart Hospital morgue was, at one time, located right where you’re dining. Yikes! But, hey, who am I kidding? Have you had a slice of O’Zone pizza? It’s delicious! …I’m cool with dining in a morgue…

This is but one of countless spooky tales of ghostly apparitions or paranormal activity in a Pensacola historical site. As Halloween rapidly approaches, consider taking part in one of the many Haunted House Walking and Trolley Tours in historic Downtown Pensacola.

Here’s an excerpt from the Historic Pensacola Haunted House Walking and Trolley Tours web page:

Join us as we haunt Historic Pensacola on Friday and Saturday, October 19, 25, and 26. There are three walking tour routes to choose from at 7, 7:30, 8, and 8:30 each night including the Adults Only Redlight Walking Tour, the Murder and Mayhem Walking Tour and the Seville Spirits Walking Tour. The Trolley of the Doomed tour explores the ghost stories of North Hill. The trolley tour is at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 each night.  Costumed guides lead you through the ghost stories of downtown Pensacola on an hour tour of over 450 years of Pensacola’s haunted history.

To learn more or to purchase your tickets, visit that web page —

Happy Halloween!

A Workshop in Color: Pastels with Doug Dawson

An internationally-known pastel artist is coming to Pensacola to give a workshop in July!

Doug Dawson will teach a three-day class hosted by Quayside Art Gallery. Dates for the workshop are July 15–17, 2019. The Quayside website has more information about how to sign up:

I became acquainted with Doug’s work from visiting Ventana Art Gallery in Santa Fe. His pastel paintings caught my attention because of his use of color, which makes them seem to glow. I even bought one of his pieces a few years ago and have it hanging in my living room. Doug and many of the old masters like Edgar Degas, Childe Hassam, and Mary Cassatt have inspired me to try using pastels for my own art.

Moored Study, pastel, 11×14, Doug Dawson

I started painting in pastels last summer when I took a class with Pensacola artist Fred Meyers, who has about thirty years of experience and is currently teaching a weekly drawing class, also hosted by Quayside Art Gallery. Although pastels have their challenges, I’m enjoying them for a number of reasons. For one, drawings can be done much faster than they can be rendered in colored pencil, a medium that I typically use for drawings. They can also be layered in a way that colored pencil can’t because of the pastel’s opacity. Top layers can cover layers underneath, whereas colored pencils give transparent layers and a different effect. And, like colored pencils, the color does not have to be mixed, so there are no paints to dry out. They are also color-fast and should retain vibrant colors. For all these reasons, and probably others, they are a popular medium among plein air artists, who work on location outdoors. Yet, pastels are not without some issues to consider.

Like any medium, they have characteristics that could be considered disadvantages. In particular, they are messier than pencils because they’re chalk, and unless I use gloves, my fingers contact the pigment. I keep a damp paper towel close by to wipe my fingers, especially when I’m painting with them during one of my Friday shifts at Quayside Art Gallery. If I compare the mess to oil or acrylic painting, however, it’s not so bad because I don’t have to use solvents, mediums, or thinners, and pastels don’t require drying time. But like oil paints and their solvents, pastels have inhalation issues. Since the dust contains pigments, it can’t be healthy, so I’m careful about not stirring it up and breathing it. And the advantage of not having to mix colors creates a disadvantage in that I have to buy a lot of colors. But, they’re not as expensive as tubes of good-quality oil or acrylic paint. Any medium has its pros and cons, so I choose a medium based on what I want to create and where I’ll be working. And one of those places this summer will be at Framing by Design, where the Quayside workshops are held.

I am really looking forward to Doug’s workshop, and in the meantime, I’m producing a few small pieces, like these peonies entitled Flowers, My Love. It is currently on display at Quayside Art Gallery on the third floor. If you’re interested in learning the techniques of using pastels from an internationally-known artist, consider signing up for Doug’s workshop.

See you there?!


Controversy Looms

public beach rightsAs Pensacolians, we have a lot to be proud of. We have a fascinating, rich, and long-lasting history. The 1559 settlement attempts of Don Tristan de Luna y Arrellano put Pensacola on the map as the oldest attempted settlement in what is now the United States. We are the City of Five Flags. We are the Cradle of Naval Aviation. In addition to our history, we have some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. Indeed, the beaches of Pensacola and surrounding areas are awe-inspiring to locals and tourists alike. But controversy looms…

A 1946 law called for the portion of Santa Rosa Island under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior to be transferred to Escambia County. A deed was issued on January 15, 1947 in which the Santa Rosa National Monument was removed from the jurisdiction of the National Park Service; the land located on Santa Rosa Island was deeded to Escambia County. The deed stipulated that Escambia County would be given the authority to transfer property on Santa Rosa Island, but only in the form of leases. In other words, Escambia County was prohibited from issuing titles of ownership on the property. Over 70 years later, this legislation—which is still in effect—has caused a bit of controversy.

Having been given all rights to this land, Escambia County was required to ensure that the land would be used “for such purposes as it shall deem to be in the public interest” or be leased “to such persons and for such purposes as it shall deem to be in the public interest.” The agreement also stipulated that Escambia County could not convey the land back to the federal government, the State of Florida, or any other agency. Essentially, Pensacola Beach was given to the citizens of Escambia County.

In the 1950s, in an effort to promote revenue from tourism, Escambia County decided to develop Pensacola Beach. Since the land could not be sold, the county established the Santa Rosa Island Authority to oversee a series of 99-year lease agreements. Advertisements encouraging people to populate Pensacola Beach appeared in newspapers. The sales pitch? No property taxes! Since the property was not privately owned—rather, it was leased by the county—people could build on the beach tax-free.

As a result, heavy development ensued for decades, but in the 1980s, Escambia County began levying property taxes on the leased beach properties as a source of tax revenue. As one could imagine, people were not happy. Arguing that they should not have to pay property taxes on leased land, leaseholders filed lawsuit after lawsuit, many of which are still in contention today. Escambia County justifies its actions by maintaining that 99-year lease agreements are tantamount to land ownership deeds.

Since Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach are public-owned—Escambia County remains the sole landowner—unlike other beaches in Florida, waterfront access is largely unrestricted. Beach patrons are not thwarted from their sunny weekend ventures by gated beach entrances or “No Trespassing” signs.

In 2017, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach proposed a bill that would effectively undo the land lease stipulations of the 1946 agreement. The bill, which would allow Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach leaseholders to take ownership of their land, was endorsed by the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Gaetz’s bill has bipartisan support of Florida senators, including Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson. If the Senate approves the bill, leaseholders would be permitted to exchange their 99-year leases for property deeds, reflecting ownership of the land. It would also effectively give local county governments control of development on these beach lands.

The Santa Rosa Island Authority fears that such legislation would primarily benefit big land developers and lead to high-rise condos inundating beach properties. Supporters of the legislation, conversely, argue that preservation land will be protected from such large-scale development. The most recent court decision indicates that taxes could be levied on certain beach properties, depending on the wording of their lease agreements. The right to tax, the court maintains, hinges on whether the lease renews automatically at the end of its term or if negotiations would be in order.

So, what lies in store for our beaches? Will the status quo be maintained? Will leaseholders become landowners? Will local citizens and tourists continue enjoying easy access to our beaches, or will we begin seeing the dreaded “No Trespassing” signs? Only time will tell. In the meantime, summer is right around the corner, so get out there and enjoy it! But remember, do yourself a favor—leave early. The traffic can be a nightmare!