11/19/15 Human Interest
On the love seat in their Hudson living room, Bessie and Bob Bianchi tell their story.
She is 92; he is 95.
They met as neighbors in a Washington Heights apartment building in Manhattan. He was 15 and played jacks and hopscotch with her. She was 12 and didn't like him.
But "I told my mother, 'I'm going to marry that girl,'" Bob said.
And he did — 73 years ago Sunday....
11/11/15 The Feed
Bobby Marinelli stopped short en route to the underwater theater. He turned toward the actor who walked beside him.
"Where's your tail?" he asked.
She grabbed it and carried it to the dock between Buccaneer Bay and the theater, where she would play the role of a Weeki Wachee mermaid in an effort to help Marinelli pursue his dream.
Marinelli is a filmmaker who, with a volunteer cast and crew, took three days at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park last month to shoot a four-minute sizzle reel — a trailer for a movie he hasn't made yet....
11/05/15 Human Interest
At the Lutz Cemetery, Andrew Lumish kneeled in the grass over a World War II veteran's grave. Under a gray sky, he used a soft bristle brush to scrub the headstone.
It had been darkened by "mold, mildew and 40 plus years of weather," Lumish said.
He wanted to fix that, to honor a veteran whose stone had been forgotten. Doing that, he said, is his hobby.
A few years ago, Lumish, 45, of Land O'Lakes, whose other hobby is photography, carried a camera into the Oaklawn Cemetery, an aged Tampa burial ground. ...
10/28/15 Human Interest
ZEPHYRHILLS — In 2009, Jennifer Taylor paid $250 to a kickboxing gym — the entry fee for its body transformation contest.
"I was unhappy with the way I looked," Taylor said.
Taylor, 42, thought if she paid to be part of a contest, the results she wanted would follow.
They did — and then some. She won, and found a passion for the sport in which she competed last month at Mr. Olympia 2015 in Las Vegas: bodybuilding....
Tim Moore knelt in front of the counter at the back of Bonita Flower Shop. • He pointed his camera at the fruit of a floral designer's labor: an arrangement for a custom order — one of several scenes Moore's team from Diamond View Studios shot last week for a film project initiated by Dade City resident Jennifer Frazier. • The final product will be a four- to five-minute film designed to depict what Frazier says too few know about Dade City: that "it's actually pretty hip."...
SAN ANTONIO — On Sunday morning, the Rev. Garry Welsh took a 10-minute walk along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from a Philadelphia hotel to a security checkpoint.
There, the Secret Service stopped him.
Welsh, 48, a Catholic priest and the pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church in San Antonio, presented his credentials: a press pass and a ticket.
Then, he was on his way — to concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis....
NEW PORT RICHEY — When Darlene Cahill's husband asked her to take a firearms training course with him, she was hesitant.
She didn't like guns. She had never even touched one. But the class inspired the business that Cahill, 57, and her business partner, Doug Erickson, 49, co-own: Can Can Concealment.
The business manufactures hand-sewn concealed carry compression holsters so women can achieve what Cahill sought when she bought a gun....
Jennifer Spicer dodged puddles and mud in the mulch as she stepped into a harness. Sunday's rain had passed, which meant she would get to do what she had hoped: spend time in the trees with her family — a feat made possible by TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park.
The attraction, which features zip lines and obstacles up to 50 feet in the air, had its grand opening Tuesday. Last weekend, Spicer, 38, got a sneak peek of the park, which is owned by Benjamin Nagengast....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Her bakery is small. But behind the counter, Jess Glass bakes big batches of sweet treats.
At That Little Bakery on Grand, there are lemon bars. And triple-layer cakes. And cinnamon rolls so big that Glass, 35, calls them cinnamonsters.
But better than what she bakes is with whom she gets to bake it: her family — a result of her decision to chase a dream....
09/03/15 Human Interest
NEW PORT RICHEY
Eric Stewart walked out of the sun and into the shade on a path between vegetable patches.
He had dirt on his shirt and sweat in his eyes. But his work as part-time manager of West Pasco Habitat for Humanity's Kinship Urban Farm is worth getting dirty for.
"This used to be a parking lot," Stewart, 30, said of the half-acre farm. "Now we're growing thousands of pounds of food."...
Mark Barry, executive director of the Arc Nature Coast in Hernando County, had discussed a merger with the Center for Independence in Pasco multiple times.
Both organizations are chapters of the Arc of the United States, which provides services for adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc Nature Coast serves more than 200 people; the Center for Independence serves about 30....
LAND O'LAKES — Many mornings, Jessica Warren stands beside the basket beneath a hot air balloon that will rise with the sun.
From inside the basket, "the sunrise is spectacular," Warren said.
The first time she saw one from a balloon is why she and her husband turned what started as a hobby into a business: American Balloons.
After their wedding in 1996, Warren, 37, and husband Tom, 39, moved to a house in Town 'N Country, where the woman across the street was a hot air balloonist....
LAND O'LAKES — With a carving knife and a commercial kitchen spoon, Steve Stallone perfects his craft, which probably could be the highlight of almost any party: a watermelon keg.
Stallone and his wife, Chelsea, both 27, co-own a business called Wikid Watermelon.
Stallone started his culinary career at a couple of chain restaurants, Red Lobster and Cody's Original Roadhouse, in 2003, when he lived in Spring Hill. He later worked at Salishan, a retirement community in Hernando County, where colleagues noticed his knack for decorating buffets with fruit....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Where fast food usually reigns, fresh food has taken root: inside a Pasco County gas station.
It's "handcrafted barbecue," to be exact, said Dave Weisser, 52, who owns Dave's Pit and Pig.
The restaurant, which has four tables and 14 chairs inside a Mobil station on Little Road, is the result of a passion that Weisser shares with his wife, Cheri, who manages the restaurant....
TRINITY — When Clara Vanderhoof moved from Olympia, Wash., to Florida, she immediately had a question for Floridians.
"Where are all the coffee shops?"
Vanderhoof, 50, came from a coffee culture an hour south of Seattle, where coffeehouses are social hubs.
"Not like the greasy spoon restaurant, not grab your coffee and go," she said. At an authentic coffeehouse, where "people create community."...