Behind The Scenes of Orlando’s Soon-To-Be-Open Gods & Monsters Megastore

What do you call 20,000 square feet of space filled with new comics, old comics, graphic novels, trade paperbacks, action figures, collectables, toys, statues, tabletop and roleplaying games and gaming products, a healthy mixture of sci-fi and fantasy books, original art, and events featuring industry professionals, as well as a themed-lounge serving artisan drinks?

Gods & Monsters storefront at Artegon Mall

If you keep up with such things, you call it the largest comic book and related interests retail outlet in the world.

If you’re co-owners Anna Young and Todd Fisher, you call it Central Florida’s soon-to-open comics, sci-fi, and fantasy megastore: Gods & Monsters.

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Edgewood Farmers Market – A Gathering Place For The Community

As you drive south on Orange Avenue and approach the cross streets of Holden on the west and Gatlin on the east, you enter the two-square mile City of Edgewood, population 2,670. Most drivers don’t even notice that they’ve passed through an area where the roots go back to 1881, and which officially became a town on April 24, 1924 and then a city in 1973.

Edgewood Farmer’s Market - photo by J.M. Wetherington

On a recent Thursday evening I visited the Edgewood Farmer’s Market, a weekly event that takes place from 5pm to 8pm in a park next to the City Hall. Mayor Ray Bagshaw and his wife Bonnie were kind enough to sit down with me and talk about the history and planned future of the Edgewood Farmer’s Market.

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Out and About: The Very Best of Celtic Thunder Tour 2015 at Hard Rock Live Orlando

Celtic Thunder Tour 2015 at Hard Rock Live Orlando. Photo by J.M. Wetherington.

This past Sunday evening, Hard Rock Live Orlando was THE place to be for the kickoff of The Very Best of Celtic Thunder Tour 2015 in North America. The 3,000-seat venue was sold out with “Thunderheads” (as their fans are called) who were more than ready to hear “the boys”, Ryan Kelly, Neil Byrne, Emmett O’Hanlon, Colm Keegan, Keith Harkin and Special Guest Artist (and former founding member) Damian McGinty do what they do best.

Celtic Thunder Tour 2015 at Hard Rock Live Orlando. Photo by J.M. Wetherington.
Celtic Thunder at Hard Rock Live Orlando. Left to right: Keith Harkin and Colm Keegan.

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A Chat with Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder; Group To Kick Off Tour at Hard Rock Live Orlando Feb 8, 2015

Celtic Thunder

Orlando’s Hard Rock Live venue at Universal Orlando will be the first stop of Irish singing and performance group Celtic Thunder as they kick off their “Very Best Of Celtic Thunder Tour 2015” on Sunday, February 8th, with a 7pm concert. The tour will visit 45 cities across the United States and Canada through the month of April.

Celtic Thunder first formed in 2007 and has since performed coast to coast tours of the U.S. and Canada eight times and Australia three times, performing at more than 800 shows, as well as releasing 11 albums. The current group, composed of Colm Keegan, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, Emmett O’Hanlon and Neil Byrne, will be joined by Guest Artist Damian McGinty (former Glee star), who is a past member of Celtic Thunder.

Via CitySurfing Orlando, I had the opportunity to interview Ryan Kelly, one of the original members of Celtic Thunder, as the group prepares to open their tour in The City beautiful.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

CSO: Good morning Ryan and thank you for your time today. I know you’re busy preparing for your arrival in Orlando as the first stop of your “Very Best Of Celtic Thunder Tour 2015” on February 8th. Can you tell me what the “Very Best Of Celtic Thunder Tour 2015” is? How would you describe it? Is it a collection of all your best songs and performances?

Ryan Kelly: Yeah, pretty much that is exactly it. We’ve been on the road now, I think it’s 7 years touring, and this really is a combination of the best songs. There are a lot of songs from back in our first shows of 2008, plus a lot of the songs we’ve done over the last 2 years and it all comes together in this best of Celtic Thunder.

One of the things we’re excited about that makes this a “Best Of” tour as well is that we’re bringing back Damian McGinty, which is a massive thing for us to have Damian back. I’m sure most people know about his involvement with the Glee Project and how great that was and it’s just a big thing for us to have Damian back and give him a chance to sing these songs again with us.

CSO: That sounds great! Have you been to Orlando before?

Ryan Kelly: Yeah, we’ve been to Orlando a few times, actually, over the years. Orlando has been part of our tours from the very beginning, but this is our first time playing the Hard Rock so that’s new and exciting for us. We’ve played all over Florida over the years, it’s always been a big state for us and starting off in Orlando can’t be a bad thing for us at all. <chuckling>

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Out and About: F-4 Phantom II Dedication at Colonel Joe Kittinger Park in Orlando on December 14, 2014

Colonel Joe Kittinger Park

On Sunday December 14th, Colonel Joe Kittinger (USAF Retired) held a dedication ceremony for an F-4 Phantom II fighter jet at the park named for him in Orlando at the Orlando Executive Airport.

The F-4 is the same aircraft Colonel Kittinger flew in many missions as an Air Force pilot and is the plane he was shot down in over Vietnam. Kittinger was a POW in the prison camp known as the “Hanoi Hilton” and nowadays at the age of 86 still stays actively involved in the Orlando community.

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Out and About: WWE Smackdown at the Amway Center in Orlando July 22, 2014

WWE Smackdown at the Amway Center July 22 - photo J.M. Wetherington

[Editor’s Note: This article was supposed to post prior to Friday, so the author wrote a spoiler-free recap of the Smackdown portion. However due to my cancer surgery on Tuesday, the posting schedule is a little behind. We thank J.M. for covering this event for us, and hope you enjoy his experience and photos!]

I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling since the time when the WWE was known as the WWWF (yes, three “W’s”, the World Wide Wrestling Federation), so when WWE came to the Amway Center this past Tuesday night, and I had a chance to attend on behalf of CitySurfing Orlando, I was more than happy to go enjoy the show.

The audience was treated to two shows in one because the WWE was using the first part of the program to live broadcast their regular Tuesday night show “WWE Main Event” on the WWE Network, followed by a television taping of their Friday night show “WWE SmackDown” on the Syfy channel.

WWE Smackdown at the Amway Center July 22 - photo J.M. Wetherington
Seth Rollins takes on Fandango at the Amway Center

We start off with a “dark” (non-televised) match between Adam Rose (accompanied by his entourage of rosebuds) and Damien Sandow. Sandow, whose latest gimmick is to imitate his opponents, entered the arena dressed as and acting like Adam Rose, which drew raucous boo’s from the crowd. This was a short match with Rose scoring a pin after 4 or 5 minutes of in-ring action. Rose left the ring to cheers with his rosebuds surrounding him as he walked up the ramp to the back.

We’re then joined by the Main Event announce team of Byron Saxton and Tom Phillips as they make their way to the ringside announcer’s table and the crowd is asked to make a lot of noise as we’re about to go live on the WWE Network to kick off the show.
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