August is Water Quality Month and it’s the perfect time to think about nearby Lake Griffin. The lake is adjacent to the Harbor Hills community, providing spectacular views as well as fishing from the neighborhood dock. The area is part of the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area known as the Jewel of Lake County. It’s one of the most scenic sites along the Great Florida Birding Trail. The 7,089-acre US wildlife area is maintained by the St. Johns Water Management District. In 1974, the conservation area was designated as a National Natural Landmark.
The state of Florida is home to one-fifth of the country’s wetlands. Protection of these fragile areas is critical. Half of all North American bird species and other endangered animals use wetlands for feeding and nesting. In winter, songbirds, marsh birds and ducks migrate to Emeralda Marsh. Flocks of snowy egrets and sandhill cranes stroll gracefully through the nearby neighborhoods of Harbor Hills. The sturdy branches of our fairway trees provide ample cover and a grand perspective for the occasional bald eagle.
Today, area visitors find an abundance of wetland wildlife as well as boating, hiking and fishing. Open waters are stocked with fish by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Neighbors Butch and Linda Carlson, Dr. Dan Wassell, Dan Kurka and Mark Rhodes are a few of our recreational anglers. Others include Barry Palmer, Tom Ingram, Mark Witkop and Mike Cofer. They enjoy fishing the many interconnected lakes of the scenic Harris Chain including Lake Griffin.
Much work has been done to improve our local water quality and restore a thriving habitat for our plant and animal life. For information, visit floridaswater.com.
Miss Lake County
Service. Scholarship. Determination. What connects these important attributes? Jackie Croft can tell you. She is the director of Miss Lake County Florida. The pageant organization promotes involvement in community service and encourages participants to develop meaningful goals and ambitions.
Under Jackie’s leadership, the pageant has grown in prestige and scope. “The most important benefit of the competition lies in community service, raising awareness and inspiring others,” Jackie said. The reigning Miss Lake County Florida, Lilly Parker, is attending Stetson University as a nursing student and is also a Stetson cheerleader. Lilly has held all the original titles for Miss Lake County: Pre-teen, Teen and now Miss. She has contributed hundreds of service hours to our community.
The girls of the Miss Lake County court were challenged to think outside the box this year. They had a clothing drive for a family of five who lost everything in a fire. They handed out teddy bears at Fruitland Park Movie Night and staffed the Sunrise rotary’s concession stand. One of the girls’ favorite events is throwing out the first pitch at the Leesburg Lightning baseball game. This week, the girls will be sorting clothing for a shelter.
On Saturday, August 7th, Harbor Hills Country Club is proud to host the Miss Lake County Scholarship Golf Tournament. The tournament is the pageant’s main fundraiser. All proceeds are designated for college scholarships. Registration opens at 7a.m. with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. The cost of $75 per golfer includes the tournament and lunch. Awards, prizes, chance drawings and a 50-50 drawing are included. Call the Pro Shop at 352-753-7711 to register or visit misslakecountrypageant.com. Please support our deserving Lake County girls!
Central Florida Classic Thunderbird Club
The Ford Thunderbird is a classic chapter in auto history and has a heritage all its own. The car, with its unique features and styling, made its first public appearance at Detroit’s 1954 auto show. This personal luxury car was the first Ford 2-seater since 1938 as well as the most expensive Ford available.
The signature name “Thunderbird” pays homage to the mythology of Native American tribes. The Thunderbird is a supernatural bird that rules the sky. The rich history of the Ford Thunderbird is one that Ralph Cowell, Past President of the Rotary Club of The Villages, knows well. He recently formed the Central Florida Classic Thunderbird Club. Last month, twenty-eight club members arrived at the Harbor Hills Country Club. The Retro Bird Club joined the Classic/Baby Birds Club for fun and a delicious brunch. Fourteen birds were parked under the portico in front of the clubhouse. It was a unique display and a great picture-taking opportunity.
Harbor Hills neighbors Steve and Eileen Gordon are proud owners of both a 1955 baby bird and a 2005, the 50th anniversary bird. Steve explained that it took almost two years for the couple to find the right match, but they did! Harbor Hills friends David and Annette Rystrom enjoy their 1956 T-bird. David said that although T-Birds are known as a luxury ride, “they are capable of reaching speeds from 173 mph to 241 mph as clocked by Knot Farrington’s street legal ’56 T-Bird.”
The Central Florida Classic Thunderbird Club meets at 5PM at Michelle’s Cuisine restaurant in the Belks Plaza on the last Monday of the month. For more information, contact Ralph Cowell at email@example.com.
The first Wimbledon championship took place in 1877, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world. The event is held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London and played on outdoor grass courts. The record for the most Wimbledon titles in Ladies’ Singles is held by Czech and American player Martina Navratilova with nine victories. William Renshaw was the first to win seven Men’s Singles championships followed by Pete Sampras. The all-time winner is Roger Federer, winning the event eight times.
As Saturday’s Ladies Final was played, Harbor Hills Racquet Association members were treated to a classic Wimbledon breakfast at the home of Publicity Chairman Ted Drzewiecki and his wife Joanne. Breakfast included strawberries, champagne and Ted’s famous crepes. Guests made the event even more fun by wearing all white, the traditional Wimbledon dress code.
The Harbor Hills Racquet Association was formed to give players a voice in how racquet sports are promoted and played. Association President Giac Modica is looking forward to events planned for the new season. The Tennis Club Championship starts in November with a round robin among the various divisions; Men’s Doubles, Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Teams are already forming and developing creative strategies to capture the win!
Members of the Harbor Hills Racquet Association include country club members and non-residents who hold social, golf, seasonal tennis or pickleball memberships. Annual dues are $10 per person and are used for courtside amenities, facility improvements and other expenses. Contact John Natolly, USPTA Elite Professional, at 352-753-9376 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Join us courtside and let’s get back in the swing of things!
Happy Fourth of July
In memory of many, in honor of all, thank you. Harbor Hills raised the flag and celebrated July 4 with a golf outing and cookout. Independence Day brings to mind something we seniors know all too well: freedom is not free. Today and every day, we are grateful for our veterans’ service and sacrifice.
Steve Hritz served in the Air Force for thirty years. During the Vietnam War, Steve flew C-130 Hercules transports out of Clark Air Base in the Philippines. He later flew tactical airlift C-130’s and was an exchange pilot for the RAF. Other assignments included command of the 375th Flying Training Squadron at Scott Airforce Base. He retired as a colonel. The thirty-year military career of retired Army Col. John E. Bircher III included intelligence officer and Middle East foreign area specialist assignments. John served in Vietnam with Special Forces and was awarded the Purple Heart.
No reference to Harbor Hills veterans is complete without mention of two who have passed away. The World War II service of Air Force Brig. Gen. Bill Wilcox included command positions in Europe, North Africa and China. Wilcox flew 75 combat missions, logging more than 4,400 flying hours. His Distinguished Flying Cross was one of many medals. Bill McKillop flew planes in Korea as a member of U.S. Marine Corps Aviation. As the Korean War ended, he served as both a squadron pilot and air controller. McKillop left active duty in 1955.
The Harbor Hills Garden & Women’s Club sells engraved bricks to pay tribute to our veterans. The bricks surround our Veterans’ Memorial Park. Contact Club President Shirle Mabie at email@example.com to honor your veteran.
Harbor Hills Topless Club
Summertime. Sunny days, cloudless skies, sea and sand provide a lot to love about this season. According to wellness experts, the season also offers significant benefits for our health and vitality. Higher levels of the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D, help maintain the health of our bones and teeth. Vitamin D supports our nervous and circulatory systems and improves our outlook on life. Eating more fruit and drinking more water have therapeutic effects that include boosting the immune system and lowering our caloric intake. Research shows that sunlight also plays a vital role in fighting many chronic illnesses.
In 2015, inspired by Florida’s blue skies, Harbor Hills residents Lee and Carol DiDomenico took their convertible for a drive to the town of Ozello for lunch. Several friends, also convertible owners, asked to join in for the next cruise. Since that first drive years ago, the club has grown to approximately 150 members and 75 convertibles.
The club, affectionately dubbed the “Topless Club,” has no meetings and no dues. A monthly cruise is hosted by a member who plans scenic routes to drive, sets up restaurant reservations and often includes sightseeing or boat rides. The past season was a quiet one but now members are gearing up for the new season with “off the beaten path” destinations. Unique Drive and Dine events are on the fall itinerary with a season-ending tailgate party at the Polo Grounds.
The Topless Club of Harbor Hills supports local charities such as the Treat The Troops project and other community events. Donations from the club’s Golf Cart Poker Rally benefitted a local family in need. So let’s put those tops down and enjoy the ride!
Happy Father’s Day
This year was a year like none other. Conforming to social distancing rules, we celebrated special events by phone, Facetime and Zoom. But our love of family never wavered. Today, we honor the fathers in our lives.
They are the coaches, chauffeurs, caretakers, providers, protectors and spiritual guides. They are our fathers and grandfathers and their influence is profound. To their sons, they set the example and start them on Life’s path. To their daughters, Dads are their first love and a frequent predictor of their future choices in life.
To the stepfathers who stepped up when no one else was around, to the dads who are raising kids alone, we appreciate you. To the grandfathers and father figures who set us on a positive, caring, productive path, we appreciate you. Harbor Hills Country Club celebrated Sunday with a special All You Care To Eat brunch.
For children in foster care, Guardians ad Litem perform a special service. Through the advocacy of these trained volunteers, the best interests of children are represented during dependency court proceedings. The program is state-mandated and prohibited from fundraising. To fill this gap, Voices For Children steps in. This organization creates special events such as the upcoming auction and dinner on August 7. All funds raised benefit more than 2,250 children in local counties including Lake, Marion and Sumter. The children have been removed by the state for their protection. Compassion and help are needed now more than ever. Visit www.voices4childrenfl.org. Contact Sue Carpenter, President at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-484-0319 for more information.
Miss you every day, Dad.
Head To Harbor Hills
Like the fireflies that fascinated us as children, summertime in Harbor Hills is buzzing with activity. “Head to the Hills” any Sunday to enjoy our always-popular Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dine on an array of brunch items while enjoying the spectacular view of our Signature 10th hole. The public is welcome. For reservations, call 352-753-7000.
Tomorrow is Martini Monday in the welcoming Griffinview lounge. It’s mix and mingle time. Meet friends old and new and enjoy $5 martinis any way you love them! Try a Cosmo, appletini or lemon drop, shaken, stirred, straight up or on the rocks. Reservations are required by 1 p.m. Monday.
No worries, Mate! Members, mark your calendars for Friday, June 18. From 5pm to 7pm., we are celebrating everything Aussie! Shrimp on the barbie and grilled veggie skewers are on the menu. Join us for a glass of Kangaroo punch. Vodka, lemon-lime juice and a splash of club soda are served in a salted rim glass.
Our championship golf course is picturesque and in great shape. The public is always welcome to enjoy a challenging round. Tom Leimberger, PGA Professional, offers clinics, video lessons and more. Racquet sports are in full swing on our soft Har-Tru courts. Enjoy easy and fun activities for beginners through advanced players. Call John Natolly, USPTA elite professional, at 352-753-9376 for more information.
Sundays in June are special for club members. It’s Family Funday with menu specials, games and summer fun. Low-impact and water aerobics, mah-jongg, Shanghai and many social group activities fill our summer days. Summer memberships are still available. For more information, contact Christy Rich, Membership Director, at 352-753-7000.
Heather Oaks Farm
It’s officially summer and breathing the fresh air never felt so good! The Year of the Coronavirus may well be in our rear window. Now let’s spend some time focusing on good health and fun. A visit to Heather Oaks Farm might be a great way to start.
In a short 10-minute drive from Harbor Hills, you will find Heather Oaks Farm. Located at 4240 Christmas Lane, this family farm harvests local produce just like the neighborhood farms we remember from childhood. Bob and Maria Tracy own and operate the farm which grows seasonal blueberries and grapes that you can pick yourself. Farm fresh eggs, both chicken and quail, are available daily at Heather Oaks. At this time, heirloom tomatoes and honey from local hives are in demand. Muscadine grapes will be ready in the July through August timeframe.
With a backdrop of sunflowers and sweet-smelling herbs, the pheasant leisurely meander around the farm. It’s a fun place to take the children or grandchildren to watch the grazing sheep up close and help pick the seasonal berries and grapes. Visit https://heatheroaksfarm.com for more information.
Ready for some fun in the sun? Harbor Hills Country Club is offering a special membership for the summer months. Through September 30, 2021, a family can enjoy our Junior Olympic size swimming pool, fitness center, tennis, indoor racquet ball court and special dining privileges. Have lunch on our outdoor patio overlooking scenic Lake Griffin. Sundays are fun days filled with special group activities. Ready for a round of golf on our championship course? Join in everything Harbor Hills membership has to offer. For more information, contact Christy Rich, Membership Director at 352-753-7000. See you poolside!
“In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”
From 1914 to 1918, Flanders Fields in Waregem, Belgium was a major battleground in the First World War. Millions of soldiers from more than 30 countries were wounded, missing or killed in action.
While serving as a brigade surgeon, Canadian Colonel John McCrae took note of a hardy little flower pushing through the war-torn battlefield. Clusters of these bright red poppies inspired McCrae to write a poem he entitled, “In Flanders Field.” It is told from the perspective of the fallen soldiers buried beneath the poppies. The first stanza of the poem is above.
That resilient flower became the national emblem of remembrance in 1920. As Memorial Day approaches, red poppies begin to appear. Often made of fabric or crepe paper, you see them pinned on lapels on the left side over the heart. Volunteers of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hand out red poppies in exchange for donations to support the country’s veterans and their families. This year, honor those we’ve lost in battle. Help veterans’ families by adding a poppy pinned to your Memorial Day attire.
Harbor Hills will celebrate Memorial Day with a member golf tournament and cookout. Festivities include an early dedication, an 8 a.m. shotgun start and a 12:30 p.m. barbeque. Villagers receive a special Memorial Day price that includes golf and lunch for $56.00. Sign up at 352-753-7711.