Archive for the ‘Florida Cities’ Category

$20.00 for 1 Year of the Orlando Sentinel, Wen-Sunday

Groupon has a HUGE money saver today (1/17/12). Get a 1 year Wednesday – Sunday subscription to the Orlando Sentinel, for just $20.00! Newstand price for the Sunday paper alone is $1.79 PER COPY!

Go HERE for more info.

The Fine Print

  • Expires Jan 23, 2013
  • Limit 2 per person. Limit 1 per order. Shipping address and email address required at time of purchase. Valid only for new subscribers or those who haven’t received home delivery in the past 30 days. Valid only in select service areas.

5 Special Needs Girls Taking Pop Warner Cheerleading by STORM!

Please take a few minutes and watch 5 girls (one is my daughter Anna) compete during the 2011 Pop Warner Cheerleading competition at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. Even if you have seen it already, please watch it again, you will pick up on a couple of things that maybe you didn’t see the first time. They won their division (Challenger) and I am still a proud (becoming a “cheer Dad”) though clinging to Sammy’s flag football victories as well. Share this video with your friends. Thanks.

FREE Parking at Daytona Beach Hilton Ocean Walk.


Now that I have your attention, I have a morals question for you.

Q: You are staying at the Daytona Beach Hilton Ocean Walk and when you are checking in the oh so not even happy to have a job front desk employee, but one that really does a great job checking people in asks if you took a cab to the hotel or not. Not if you plan to valet or self park. I ask why does it matter if I took a cab or not. She replied that if I took a cab then she would not have to explain the various parking options. Made sense when you think about it. But, I happened to drive and then she asked if I was going to valet or self park? Self-park, I replied. Having been at the groundbreaking for this building over two decades ago, I knew there was a lot diagonally across the street. She said it costs $10.00 a night to park there. No problem, and she told me to swipe my room key to get the entrance gate to go up. Got my free meal vouchers and upgraded room because I am a member of HHonors, and off to park my car. Parked and then went to my room. Uneventful so far. Then I remembered that I left something in my car, and instead of taking the elevator down, I did what I usually do, I took the stairs down, 16 stories.

As I approached the parking gate, I noticed that the EXIT arm was in the UP position. Made a mental note and went back about my business, played on the beach for a while, had dinner, and walked past the parking lot, and noticed that the EXIT arm was still up. When I got back to the hotel I left the valet person know, and they replied that it is usually like that. “Well doesn’t that mean anyone can park there?” I asked. Looking at me like I was an idiot the girl behind the glass replied “ah, yeahhhh”. Decided to let someone else that might actually care. Found a security person who told me pretty much the same thing. I asked him then why is the hotel charging people to park there. Because they are trained to charge for parking was his reply. I asked to see the hotel manager on duty. There wasn’t one. I asked for the resident manager, “we don’t have one” was his reply. I decided it was a lost cause and figured I will wait until I check out to bring it up again.

Fast forward to the next morning. I did what I came to Daytona to do, and my job at the speedway was done before the sun rose. I came back to the hotel for brunch. Guess what I saw when I came back to the parking lot? If you said the EXIT gate was down, well you are wrong amigo.

I took a couple of photos, because you know you can never have enough photos of an EXIT gate to a hotel parking lot. They are at the bottom of this post, enjoy, it is some really nice urban landscape photography, Ansel Adams would be proud. If you have no idea who Ansel Adams is, ask your parents.

So, after I had brunch, went back to the room, gathered my things, I went to check out. GREAT! Guess who was at the front desk, does this person ever go home? Though I knew I did not have to go through the charade of actually checking out, I wanted her to ask if everything was OK or not. I asked her why I paid $10.00 to self park in a lot that has the EXIT arm in the UP position. “Because you self parked there and that costs $10.00 per night”. Yes, that is true, but what does the hotel do if someone just parks there and does not tell you? “That’s dishonest and no one does that.”, was her terse reply. “Are you sure” “Yes, this is a Hilton and we do not do business with dishonest people.” I was caught off guard by that statement. As if they know the actual business that every one of their guests is involved with.

I gathered my wits and when she asked me again if everything was ok or not with my stay I slid her my bill and said that it will be better when she refunds me my $10.00 for parking. “But that is dishonest sir.” I’m not lying about wanting my $10.00 back. You know the gate arm is broken and that you are pretty much letting anyone park there for free.” Now, I would like my money back. She refused, no manager was on duty, and the resident manager was at church. Hey, at least she admitted to what I already knew to be true, almost all Hilton Hotels have a resident manager that actually lives on the property.

I figured that instead of leaving a voice mail on the RM’s machine, I would instead make sure that everyone knows how to get FREE parking at the Daytona Beach Hilton Ocean Walk. BTW, they DO NOT issue parking passes, which means that they have no way of looking at a car and knowing if that car belongs to someone staying at the hotel or not.

Yes, in the photo is a booth, which from what I understand is only used when there is an event at the Ocean Center, Peabody Auditorium, Spring Break, Bike Weeks, and Speed Weeks.

During brunch I DID in fact encounter an employee that actually LIKED his job, even said so. His name is Joseph and works in Doc Bales’ Grill. His very professionalism made my entire stay and if I owned a hotel, Joseph would be the person who at that moment I would want my employees to be like. Maybe he was in a great mood, maybe he really is a great person, have no idea, but I do know, he appears to work hard and it showed.

Daytona Beach, FL Sunday, October 30, 2011. Pay the Daytona Beach Hilton their $10.00 for overnight parking OR go in through the exit? Which would you do. BTW, they know that the arm is stuck in the open position. Photo: Mark E. Lepow

So, the morals question is this, do you admit to parking and pay the $10.00 or jet park there knowing that the hotel doesn’t have a clue as to who should be parking there or not?

Leave your answer in the comments.

Osceola, Orange, Lake, Polk Readers: Help Raise Money for American Heart Association on 2/12/11

If you are looking for a VERY EASY way to help raise money for the American Heart Association, PLEASE enter the 3rd. Annual Kiss-im-mee 5K To Pound Out Heart Disease on February 12, 2011.

Enjoy running, walking, or just plain strolling through historic downtown Kissimmee, past the beautiful lakefront, and through historic neighborhoods in the third annual Kiss-im-mee 5K Run! The race is Chip Timed and awards will be presented to the top three overall male and female finishers.

To register for this event, click HERE.

I sincerely hope that you will help make this event a huge success.

Thanks, Mark

Blown tire = Mark vs Wal-Mart Auto Dept.

If you have been following my personal FB page you already know that I have been groveling, begging, hinting really big time, etc how tires for my car would be a great upcoming birthday gift.

Well, yesterday one of the tires finally gave out as I was pulling into a parking spot. I can change my own tires, as will both of our children know how to do before they get behind the wheel, even with a learner’s permit. But I went to get out the lug wrench, and I remembered exactly where it was, at home, in the garage. Say hello to my AAA card.

The mechanic came out and chuckled because it seems I am not the only guy that forgets to put back his lug wrench after using it for some other unintended use.

Hunting for tires. All of the quotes I was getting over the phone were in the mid $200s FOR TWO TIRES! MOUNTED & Out the door. Then I called Wal-Mart. They were just under $100 LESS. The real fun began when I took the car in to Wal-Mart. The mechanic could not figure out how I was quoted the price I was quoted. He tried to replicate the $163.17 several different was. He finally told me that “Sir, the cheapest tire we have in your size is 97 bucks”. Good, please have your manager meet me in the shop.

All I have to say is Thank God that the employee I had talked to was nearby. The manager started to tell me that there was no way I was quoted the price I was quoted. The employee spoke up and said mentioned that the tires are $57 something, I forget the exact figure at this point. The dept manager was confused. The employee took her notes out of the trash and thank God she had written the proper size, because she typed in the wrong size when she was quoting me. 1 digit saved me over $70.00 had she typed the proper size. It took a few minutes of being POLITE yet firm, and listening to “We can’t honor this” to asking for the store manager. They got a person claiming to be the store manager on the phone, explained what had happened, and then hung up. They are deciding how to handle this. Most likely they called Bentonville. Well, the phone rang a few minutes later and all I heard was, are you sure, and OK. Next works were, “Do it, at the price she gave him”. For whatever reason the employee had written everything down, stems, road warranty, balancing, etc. The manager could not believe how all of a sudden she was very thorough. We left to go eat dinner.

My car was in the lot waiting for me when we got back. The cashier rang me up and it came to just under $233 I told her that the price was wrong and that it should be $163 something. She was VERY confused. Called the dept manager, NOT the same person as earlier. Great. Explained over again after being told everyone, employee and manager were on break. Would not call the store manager. After 15 minutes or so, the employee who gave me the phone quote came back from dinner. She mentioned her notes and they were still confused. Eventually the original dept manager returned from her break, and settled the entire ordeal. The employees were stunned as to what had took place.

No, I am not defending Wal-Mart, because God knows they has some surly customer service people, but in this one incident, Wal-Mart DID make good on their quote. I just thank God that the employee owned up to the error.

5 Minute GMC/Buick Test Drive = $15.00 Lowe’s Gift Card


Kathy and I loaded up the kids this morning and after going to the Winter Garden Farmer’s Market for our weekly veggies. We then headed on over to the Lowe’s at the Winter Garden Village at Fowler’s Grove to pick up some supplies for our veggie garden.

We picked a great day to go to Lowe’s because it is annual test drive time again. Al you have to do is fill out a liability waiver, and show your Driver’s License and chose which vehicle you want to test drive. The kicker to the deal is this, A $15.00 LOWE’S GIFT CARD. Yes, I said that right, fill out a liability waiver, test drive a vehicle around the parking lot, and after that get your gift card. We did this last year and there was never a post test drive phone call. So no pressure. Since Kathy and I both did a test drive we got our pine bark mulch for FREE!

The test drives last until 4pm today, and then until 6PM on Sunday, October 31st. We will be buying top soil with the cards tomorrow. Limit one card per person per day.

Have fun taking your test day.

October 25th Groupon Deal Across America

Groupon is offering one national deal across America:
$20 for $40 Worth of Natural Skin Care, Bath and Beauty Products at The Body Shop

SAVE 5% at 3 Florida Winn-Dixie Stores on 10/16


If you live in Casselbery, Fernandina Beach or Green Cove Springs your local Winn-Dixie is having hosting a “Discover Winn-Dixie” day on Saturday, October 16th from either 11am – 3pm (Casselberry location only) OR 1pm – 5pm for the other two locations.

I quote from their flier, “Come and enjoy fresh fruit dipped in our chocolate fountain, face painting, a balloon artist, demonstrations throughout the store, music, raffles, and use your Customer Reward Card or sign up for one and get 5% off your entire grocery bill.*” The mice type then states, “* Offer valid during business hours on October 16th at this location only. 5% discount limit of $1,000 purchase per transaction.”

The addresses for the 3 locations are (click on link to view in google maps):
1750 Sunshadow Drive, Casselberry
947 Amelia Plaza, Fernandina Beach
3260 Highway 17, Green Cove Springs

October 15th Groupon Deals for Orlando (Sebastian), Tampa (Wesley Chapel), Miami, Jacksonville (Fernandina Beach), and Fort Lauderdale (Aventura)

Orlando (Sebastian): $120 for a Tandem Skydive Jump from Skydive Sebastian ($195 Value)

Tampa (Wesley Chapel): $99 for a Zoom! Teeth-Whitening Treatment at Wesley Chapel Dentistry ($599 Value)

Miami: $25 Paintball Outing at Bigshot Paintball Fields ($51 Value)

Jacksonville (Fernandina Beach): $125 for a Tandem Skydive at Skydive Amelia Island ($179 Value)

Fort Lauderdale (Aventura): $99 for Six Laser Hair-Removal Treatments at Pascual M.D. Med Spa (Up to $500 Value)

Even if you don’t live in these areas, you can still purchase them and send them as gifts to people that can take advantage of them. Just make sure that they use the Groupon before the expiration date (usually 6 months from the date that it was purchased).

2 Wonderful Events in Winter Garden on Saturday, October 9th.

There are two wonderful events happening really close to each other on Saturday, October 9th, at Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves (near the 429 and 535).

First event is a 5K Run at 7:30AM, with race day registration beginning at 6:30AM followed by a Fun Walk at 10AM. Please go HERE for more info.

Then, from 10AM – 2PM is an adoption drive by the group Floridalittledogrescue.com at PetSmart, which is also in the Village. In fact, if you are participating in either of the earlier events (which are being held to raise money for women’s health education), the course goes right in front of PetSmart. Visit their website tonight, so that you can get an idea of which rescued dog you would be interested in possibly adopting. Also, while on their website, you can apply so you can be pre-approved before tomorrow.

So, they you go, two events, both of which support wonderful causes. You can help fund women’s health education as you run, walk, stroll or roll through the village, or welcome a new furry friend into your home.

October 9th Groupon Deals for Orlando, Tampa (Safety Harbor), Miami (West Palm Beach), Jacksonville, and Fort Lauderdale

Orlando: $50 for a Four-Day VIP Pass to the Orlando Film Festival

Tampa (Safety Harbor): Day Passes or Suite with Spa Services at Safety Harbor Resort & Spa. Choose from Two Options.

Miami (West Palm Beach): $35 for Two Tickets from Live Nation to Sugarland at Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach on Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. ($70 Value)

Jacksonville (Ponte Vedra Beach): $20 for $40 Worth of French Cuisine and Drinks at JJ’s Liberty Bistro or JJ’s Bistro de Paris

Fort Lauderdale: $45 for One 16″x 20″ Gallery-Wrapped Canvas Work of Art Including Shipping and Handling from Canvas on Demand ($126.95 Value)

Even if you don’t live in these areas, you can still purchase them and send them as gifts to people that can take advantage of them. Just make sure that they use the Groupon before the expiration date (usually 6 months from the date that it was purchased).

5K and Fun Walk on October 9th. in Winter Garden.

UPDATE: Race Day Registration Begins at 6:30AM Saturday, October 9th at Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves.

If you have never been to the Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves, this is a wonderful way to get an overview as you help raise money to promote women’s health in our area. The very easy course goes through most of the Village, plus a portion winds through a neighborhood just North of the Village.

Advance registration for the Community in Pink 5K and Fun Walk in Winter Garden, FL ends at 12PM EDT TODAY. Race Day registration begins at 6:30AM at Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves. 5K starts at 7:30AM, followed by the Fun Walk at 10AM. More Info: http://bit.ly/cyZq70

October 1st Groupon Deals for Orlando (Ocoee), Tampa (St. Petersburg), Miami, Jacksonville, and Fort Lauderdale

Orlando (Ocoee): $20 for $40 Worth of Latin American Dinner Fare and Drinks at Tamboras Grill Café

Tampa (St. Petersburg): Admission and Craft Beer Tasting at St. Pete Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 9. Two Options Available (Up to $60 Value).

Miami: Boat or Jet-Ski Tour from American WaterSports. Choose from Three Options.

Jacksonville: $12 for $25 Worth of Dinner Fare or $7 for $15 Worth of Lunch Fare at Palm Valley Fish Camp

Fort Lauderdale: $75 for a Two-Hour Boat Rental for Up to 12 Passengers with Duffy Electric Boat Company

Even if you don’t live in these areas, you can still purchase them and send them as gifts to people that can take advantage of them. Just make sure that they use the Groupon before the expiration date (usually 6 months from the date that it was purchased).

September 30th Groupon Deals for Orlando (Altamonte Springs), Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, and Fort Lauderdale (Hollywood)

Orlando (Altamonte Springs): $35 for a Massage or Customized Facial at Eternal Youth Health Spa ($75 Value)

Tampa: $15 for $30 Worth of Bistro Cuisine and Drinks at The Toasted Pheasant

Miami: $29 for Three Fresh, Healthy Meals and Two Snacks from The Fresh Diet ($60 Value)

Jacksonville: $24 for a Standard All-Day Play Package Plus Field Fee and 500 Rounds of Ammo at Paintball Adventures

Fort Lauderdale (Hollywood): $7 for $15 Worth of Pub Fare and Drinks at Mickey Byrne’s Irish Pub and Restaurant

Even if you don’t live in these areas, you can still purchase them and send them as gifts to people that can take advantage of them. Just make sure that they use the Groupon before the expiration date (usually 6 months from the date that it was purchased).

September 29th Groupon Deals for Orlando (Mt. Dora), Tampa, Miami (Miami Beach), Jacksonville, and Fort Lauderdale

Orlando (Mt. Dora): $4 for One Youth Admission or $5 for One Adult Admission to the Corn Maze and Adventure Area at Long & Scott Farms

Tampa: One Ticket to a Tampa Bay Lightning Game. Choose Between Two Options.

Miami (Miami Beach): $15 for Three Visits to Russian & Turkish Baths ($90 Value)

Jacksonville (Hilliard): $12 for Two Tickets to Conner’s A-Maize-Ing Acres

Fort Lauderdale:$5 for a One-Year Subscription to “Florida Travel + Life” Magazine ($11.97 Value)

Even if you don’t live in these areas, you can still purchase them and send them as gifts to people that can take advantage of them. Just make sure that they use the Groupon before the expiration date (usually 6 months from the date that it was purchased).

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