MacDill Happenings

Things to do in and around MacDill AFB

Gasparilla in Tampa This Weekend!

January 30, 2015 By: Laura Category: Events, Things to do Near MacDill AFB

Courtesy of Pirates of Gasparilla

This weekend will be a busy, crowded and fun weekend full of Gasparilla events in downtown Tampa and along Bayshore Blvd in south Tampa! It will be busy with parades and concerts. It will be crowded with expectations of up to 300,000 people watching the invasion of the pirate flotilla and the pirate parade. Gasparilla events start tonight in downtown Tampa!

  • The Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival kicks off on Friday at 5:30pm at Curtis Hixon Park. The Commodores, the Atlanta Rhythm Section and opening act Daniel B. Marshall will be on stage starting at 6pm. The admission fee is $30. Proceeds will benefit the Gasparilla Community Fund and The Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
  • On Saturday, the Gasparilla Invasion runs from 11:30am to 1pm. The Jose Gasparilla sets sail at the south end of Hillsborough Bay at 11:30am and docks at the Tampa Convention Center at 1pm. Admission is free. The bay will be filled with boats!
  • The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates starts after the invasion at 2pm and should end around 5:30pm. The parade begins at Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. It continues along Bayshore Boulevard to Brorein Street, turns east on Brorein Street, then north on Ashley Drive. The parade ends at Cass Street & Ashley Drive. This is a free event.
  • MacDill Park, located along Ashley Drive and Whiting Street in Downtown Tampa, will host the Gasparilla Invasion Stage from noon to 6pm on Saturday and offer free live music the entire time.

Pay attention to parking rules. It might be better to plan on walking from a far parking spot than trying to get a close parking spot. Maybe take the trolley from Ybor City. This parade is geared for adults, but it is okay to bring children. It will be crowded so just keep an eye out for them!  Just enjoy the event and know that it will be crowded and you won’t be going anywhere fast. But the Gasparilla is the quintessential Tampa party!

If you have any hints or good ideas about preparing for the parade or parking, please share it with us!

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Things to do in the Tampa Bay Area

January 29, 2015 By: Laura Category: children, Events, Things to do Near MacDill AFB

YouTube Preview Image

It will be busy weekend in Tampa with the Gasparilla Parade. But if you don’t want to go to the Parade, then there are plenty of things to do in the Tampa Bay area! Just make sure you plan your travels in Tampa around the Bayshore parade route this weekend. The weather is supposed to get into the 70s so it should be nice outside!

  • Tonight you have a choice of a couple things to do in downtown Tampa. Hockey will be on the ice at Amalie Arena at 7:30pm when the Lightning take on the Detroit Red Wings. At 8pm, the Jack Black comedy “The School of Rock” will playing at the historic Tampa Theatre.
  • If you are free on Friday morning, then stop by the Dunedin Downtown Market which opens at 9am and has local food, crafts and live music.
  • On Friday starting at 4pm, it is Art on the House at the Tampa Museum of Art. You get to pay what you want for an admission fee.
  • It’s Blast Friday in downtown Clearwater starting at 5:30pm. Check out the free music from The Family Stone! There will be food vendors and arts and crafts on the 400 block of Cleveland St which will be closed off to vehicle traffic.
  • The FishHawk Road Runners will host a run on Saturday at FishHawk Ranck with the 5k starting at 8am.
  • On Saturday at 9am, Largo host Pinellas Folk Festival which features dozens of local musicians.
  • In Bradenton on Saturday at 9am, it’s the Guy Expo at the Convention Center that focuses on health, wellness and everything that you could want for your Guy Cave!
  • The St. Pete Spring Fine Arts Festival will take place in North Straub Park starting at 11am on Sunday.
  • For you sci-fi fans, the classic sci-fi movie “Blade Runner” will be playing at the Tampa Theatre at 3pm.

If you have any recommendations for something fun this weekend, please share it with us.

Enjoy the weekend!

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Homestead Tax Information for Military Families

January 28, 2015 By: Laura Category: Military Life

 Courtesy of Wikimedia

With the end of January around the corner it is time to start thinking about doing your taxes. If you are a new homeowner in the MacDill AFB area you may not know about the Homestead Tax Credit. I asked local Realtor and Military Spouse Manuela Woodrum if she could share some information on this for our military families in the area.

On the Homestead Tax Credit, Manuela has found out that ” If you purchased a home in 2014 please REMEMBER to file for your Homestead exemption if you have not done so yet immediately. The deadline is 1 March 2015! Having Homestead on your property will ultimately save you money on your property taxes because the Save our Homes Cap keeps your assessed value (not the taxes) of your home from increasing more than 3 % per year as long as you maintain your Homestead Exemption.”

If you are active duty military, you may qualify by providing proof of Florida residency such as a Florida driver license or a LES (Leave and Earnings Statement). Once you have established homestead exemption and you are transferred on orders while maintaining Florida residency, you can retain the homestead exemption providing us a copy of your orders and correct mailing address.  The Florida Department of Revenue puts out a great pamphlet on Property Tax Benefits for Active Duty military and Veterans.

If you have any questions about this information go to the Property Appraiser Office site. I would also recommend talking with the legal office on MacDill AFB if you need more information. The Retiree Activities Office on MacDill AFB offers year-round Federal income tax assistance to military retirees, active duty members and their families. The RAO is located between the MacDill Commissary and Base Exchange.

If you’re looking for a new home this year, then take a look at and see what Manuela can help you with!

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Brass in Blue at the Tampa Theatre Tonight!

January 27, 2015 By: Laura Category: Concerts, Military Life, Things to do Near MacDill AFB

Courtesy of US Air Force Band of the West Brass in Blue

The U.S. Air Force Band of the West-Brass in Blue will have a free concert tonight at the Tampa Theatre.  The performance starts at 7:30pm and admission is free!

The Band of the West is a musical organization with an outstanding record of achievement. The Airmen assigned to the band are highly-trained professional musicians who have dedicated themselves to serving their country through music. The Band of the West has performed for presidents, heads of state, and dignitaries from around the world earning an outstanding reputation among America’s military bands.The newest performing ensemble in the Band of the West, Brass in Blue combines the sounds of brass, percussion and vocals in a flexible group presenting a variety of music including traditional military marches, symphonic masterpieces, Jazz and Broadway show tunes. Each performance is guaranteed to have something for every listener.

If you haven’t had the chance to see the inside of the historic Tampa Theatre, then this is a perfect opportunity! Built in 1926, the Tampa Theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Inside the theatre, you will see a lavish Mediterranean courtyard with old-world statuary, flowers and gargoyles. The ceiling of the theatre is filled with a realistic night sky filled with twinkling stars.

Let us know what you think of the concert and the theatre. Enjoy the concert!

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Time To Update Your Decorating Style

January 26, 2015 By: Laura Category: Military Life, Military Spouse, Self Improvement

Time to Update Your Decorating Style

Time to Update Your Decorating Style

It is 2015 but does your home look like it is 1999? Well then it may be time to update your decorating style! As a military spouse and before that a military brat our decorating style was usually dictated by where we were stationed at the time. Most military families use their decorating style to spruce up military housing or a rental on more than one occasion. We tend to have that go to item that we always display to make our home a home!! I have my wooden sign with almost all of the bases we have lived at as my anchor! Here are some ways you can find the inspiration to update your decorating style.

  • Pinterest. My new go to for ideas on decorating. I used to read all the decorating magazines but found a lot of what i saw was out of my price range. Pinterest has so many DIY ideas that I can use on my budget.
  • Spending an hour or so in the Tampa IKEA is always a great way to get some inspiration. What I love about IKEA besides being reasonably priced the items can be easily updated.
  • Take a look at the resource page for decorating articles and ideas.
  • Read Dawn Smith’s article “Make 2015 Design Trends Work on a Military Family Budget” for a look at what is in and what is out. Hmm might be time to retire my chevron purse!!
  • Reach out to other military spouses. Post a question on your social media networks and you are sure to find a military spouse with expertise in decorating. You can also use a search site like the Rosie Network .
  • Share your “updating your decorating style” here on the blog in the comment section.

After reading Dawn’s article I am going to update my style with a few pops of all those new blues. I love adding color with pillows and throws. I will be leaving up my wooden sign in style or not!! I would love to hear how you keep your decorating style updated as a military spouse so please share your ideas here in the comment section or leave a post on our Facebook page. You can also send me a tweet at @macdillhappenin. I look forward to hearing from you.

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photo credit: Amanda Krueger via photopin cc

Gasparilla Events in Tampa

January 23, 2015 By: Laura Category: Events, Things to do Near MacDill AFB

Courtesy of Pirates of Gasparilla

Gasparilla is the premier event in Tampa! There are so many fun Gasparilla events in Tampa that I wanted to highlight them in one post that you could use as a quick reference.   But a little background on Gasparilla.  It’s named for the pirate Jose Gasparilla who sailed the coastal waters of west Florida during the late 18th and early 19th century.  Tampa began its Gasparilla festivals in 1904.  Today, the festival is carried on by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and it supported by other Krewes as well. The Gasparilla Festival runs the gamut from parades to flotillas to races with almost everything happening along or near Bayshore Blvd in Tampa. If you’ve never been to an event, make sure you are prepared for crowds so plan your time accordingly! The estimated number of people for the parades will be around 300,000!

  • The Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza featuring the Children’s Gasparilla Parade and Piratechnic Extravaganza on Saturday starting at 11am along Bayshore Blvd. Piratechnic Extravaganza starts at 7pm. The”Piratechnic” display re-creates the imaginary sea battle between the pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and the City of Tampa.
  • Next Saturday is the Gasparilla Pirate Fest starting at 11:30am.  This event features the Gasparilla Invasion where a huge flotilla of boats lead by the ship Jose Gasparilla lands at the Tampa Convention Center to takeover Tampa.  The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates starts at 2pm along Bayshore Blvd. The Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival takes place at Curtis Hixon Park starting at 5:30pm with a $30 general admission fee.  The Gasparilla Invasion Stage will be open from noon to 6pm at MacDill Park located along Ashley Drive and Whiting Street in Downtown Tampa with free admission and free music and entertainment
  • Later in February on the 21st and 22nd are the Gasparilla road races include a half-marathon, 15k, 8k, and 5k.  There’s a military division that active duty and retired military personnel can participate in.

Make sure you plan for parking!  Food and drink as well as port-a-potties will be located throughout the parade routes.  Enjoy the parades and if you have any insider tips for the parades, please share them with us!
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Things to do in the Tampa Bay Area

January 22, 2015 By: Laura Category: children, Communities, Events, Health, Things to do Near MacDill AFB

vacation tips courtesyofcenyt

It’s a busy weekend with a lot of things to do in the Tampa Bay area! This is the first weekend of the Gasparilla season! But besides Gasparilla, there a lot of things to do if you want stay away from the crowds. So let’s take a look of things to do other than Gasparilla events.

  • On Friday from 4pm to 8pm “Art on the House” takes place at the Tampa Museum of Art in downtown Tampa. You get to pay what you want for an admission fee.
  • The Tampa Bay Home Show will be at the Trop in St. Pete starting on Friday. You can get some ideas for those Spring home improvement projects!
  • SeaScapes Beach Club on MacDill AFB has seafood specials for dinner on Friday evening!
  • On Saturday morning in downtown St. Pete check out the Saturday Morning Market! With fresh produce including locally grown organic products, baked goods and unique arts and crafts, you will find something that piques your interest.
  • Touch a Truck in Largo on Saturday gives the kids the opportunity to climb and play on vehicles like fire trucks, dump truck, buses and military vehicles. It’s free to attend!
  • The Harbour Island Art Walk takes place near the Channelside district of Tampa on Sunday starting at noon. Take a look at the works of local artists and enjoy a stroll near the water.
  • On 3pm on Sunday, the Tampa Theatre presents Better Off Dead with John Cusack as part of their Totally Classic Movie Series.
  • End your weekend with Yoga at the Park at Curtis Hixon Park on Sunday at 5pm. Bring your yoga mat and couple friends and enjoy the great outdoors while you workout!

I hope that you enjoy the weekend.  If you know of something else to do, please share with us!

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Planning Your Next PCS Move

January 21, 2015 By: Laura Category: Military Life, Military Spouse, PCS Move

Planning Your PCS Move

Planning Your PCS Move

It is that time of year when a lot of the military families in the MacDill AFB area will receive orders to their next duty station. If you are receiving orders you should start planning your next PCS move now. It is recommended that you start planning your move 6 months out if you can. Here are some suggestions to start you planning now.

  • Start a binder or folder with all the documentation you will need to get the move started and any items you will need at the final destination.
  • Take a look at the “It’s Your Move” brochure found on You may want to print it our and keep it in your binder.
  • To include in your binder download a moving check list. You can find quite a few out there including one by UPack and
  • Start an account with Here you can look for homes to buy or rent at your new duty station and also find information about base housing.
  • Besides looking for a new home you need to include what to do with your present home. Are you renting? When should you give notice on your lease or when should you put you home up for sale or rent? The resource pages of can help you with these questions.
  • Start organizing. Make a plan on what is going and what is not.
  • Include your furry family members in your plan.
  • Plan a house hunting trip if possible. If not check out information on your new base at such resources as MilitaryHomeTownAdvsor, ArmyWifeNetwork,,, MilitaryOneSource and the base page of
  • Read Mary Ann Ecberg’s article “Cardboard Boxes or Plastic Totes? PCS Packing tips from the Experts!

After reading this list you should be inspired to start planning your PCS move. If you have any tips to share with this planning process please share in the comments section of the blog.

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Tips on Cleaning Green

January 20, 2015 By: Laura Category: Health, Military Life, Military Spouse, PCS Move, Self Improvement

Tips for Cleaning Green

Tips for Cleaning Green

Having a “green” home is quite the trend these days and cleaning green is a great way to get started. according to Wikipedia “green cleaning refers to using cleaning methods and products with environmentally friendly ingredients designed to preserve human health and environmental quality”. For many of us cleaning green is actually beneficial to family members with breathing or allergy issues.

Health, environment and less product are all benefits that make cleaning green beneficial. Take a look at Karina Gafford’s article on “Green Cleaning Creates Less Waste for Your Next PCS ” on how having less cleaning supplies on hand can help during your next military PCS move.

Use these great tips on cleaning green:

  • Purchase green cleaning products such as Simple Green All-Purpose cleaner that can be used to clean almost everything from your bathroom to your outdoor grill.
  • Use reusable cloths instead of paper towels.
  • Make your own cleaning products. Baking soda, lemon and vinegar can are some basic ingredients needed to clean green. Coarse salt is a great way to clean your glass coffee pot.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide is a great alternative to bleach in the laundry.
  • Keep your bottle of vinegar close. Not only can you use vinegar as a cleaning product you can use it to unclog your drains and soften your clothes.
  • Use baking soda to sprinkle on your carpets to absorbs odors not only does the house smell better but so does your vacuum cleaner.
  • If you use a cleaning service employ one that uses green products or have them use your home-made products.

Now that you have all of these great tips on cleaning green you have no excuses to get started. Cleaning green has so many health benefits and the idea of having less clutter under my sink and less to throw out during that next military move makes me happy. What tips can you share with me? Please leave them here in the comments section below and do not forget to like this page on Facebook.

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MacDill AFB EventsThis Week!

January 17, 2015 By: Laura Category: Communities, Dining, Events, Military Life, Things to do Near MacDill AFB

MacDill AFB beach

MacDill AFB Events

When looking for something to do in the MacDill area do not forget about all of the great events that actually take place on the base.  As long as you have access to the base you can enjoy them! Those of us who don’t live on the base sometimes forget everything that goes on MacDill. Remember Monday is a Federal holiday honoring the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, so some venues on the base will be closed or have limited operating hours. Check out the MacDill AFB events for this week.

  • On Tuesday 20 January, NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson will be on SeaScapes Beach House for a meet and greet.  Starting time is 3pm and it’s open to anyone who has access to MacDill AFB. So bring the camera and some gear to get signed for souvenirs!
  • Get the resume ready for a Career Fair at Surf’s Edge Club on Thursday 22 January.  From noon to 3pm, your prospective employer will be there to talk to you about their company and what you need to do!  If you’re transitioning or looking for a new job, this is perfect place to go.  But do your prep work, so that you are ready to promote yourself!
  • All that working out you’ve done can be put to use on Friday 23 January at the Gladiator Assault Challenge at Lewis Lake.  It’s a unit challenge so grab a group and come out at 8am for 9.6 miles of challenging obstacles and combined maneuvers.
  • The Short Fitness Center is looking for volunteers to teach yoga, Zumba and spin.  Stop by the front desk or call if you are interested in helping out.
  • If you need an ID or CAC, remember it’s all done by appointment now!

If you have an event to share on MacDill AFB or in the community, please let us know! Enjoy the week!
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