MacDill Happenings

Things to do in and around MacDill AFB

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Things to do Near MacDill AFB

January 15, 2015 By: Laura Category: Concerts, Events, Military Spouse, News, Things to do Near MacDill AFB No Comments →

MacDill AFB gate-courtesy of de. wilkipedia

The weekend is almost here and you may be looking for some things to do near MacDill AFB. There is a lot to do this three-day weekend from celebrating Martin Luther King Jr to taking in an art festival. If your plans include enjoying the cooler weather at one the area’s many amusement parks do not forget to stop by the IT&T office located at the AAFES exchange on board MacDill. Here is a look at the great things to do this weekend:

  • Drum Major for Justice Parade in St Petersburg on Monday January 19th. Parade will begin at Third Ave. South and MLK St. finishing at Vinoy Park. Parade begins at 11:00AM Check out the link for  information on more festivities celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.
  • The Black Heritage Festival will be held from January 15th thru the 25th.
  • The Tampa Bay 26th annual Martin Luther King parade will be held on Monday and is part of the above Black Heritage Festival. The parade begins 21st Ave and 15th Street ending at Osborne Avenue. Parade will begin at noon.
  • Florida RV Super Show 2015. Need a new RV then check this event out at the Florida State Fair Grounds. A replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall will be on display at this event.
  • Hops for Heroes-Craft Beer Festival. The creators of this event encourage everyone to come out and support and celebrate wounded veterans. The event includes craft beer from many local breweries and all proceeds will go to Join the fun from 2-5PM.
  • Sunshine Music & Blues Festival. This event takes place Saturday January 17th in Vinoy Park and starts at noon.
  • Looking for some more college football then you will want to take in the East West Shrine Game taking place Saturday January 17th in Tropicana Field. Kick off is at 4PM.
  • 10th Annual Suncoast Arts Festival being held in Wesley Chapel. Enjoy this great art festival on January 17th and January 18th.
  • Sarasota Fine Arts Festival is being held January 17th and 18th being held on South Gulfstream Ave.
  • 2015 Treasure Island Sport Kite Festival Championship. The event is located on Treasure Island Beach behind Thunderbird Beach Resort. You can catch the kites flying Saturday and Sunday.

So many great things to do in the MacDill AFB area this weekend. If you have an event  you would like to share please do so in the comments section below. Enjoy this weekend!

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New Year’s Celebrations, Events and Resolutions

December 31, 2014 By: Laura Category: Events, News, Self Improvement, Things to do Near MacDill AFB No Comments →

Happy New Year 2015

Happy New Year 2015

Happy New Year to all of you. New Year’s Celebrations, Events and Resolutions will all be apart of the New Year. How will you celebrate the New Year here in the MacDill AFB area? Will you celebrate at one of the local events ? Will you be making New Year’s resolutions?

Did you know the first recorded New Year’s celebration can be traced back to the ancient Babylonians? It was the Romans who first celebrated on January 1st when Julius Cesar introduced the Julian calendar. With the addition of the Julian calendar Cesar proclaimed the January 1st would be the first day of the New Year. This began the tradition of parties to ring in the New Year!

New Years celebrations brings more traditions and for many of us they come from our heritage. For example our family always has some kind of noodle usually lo mein to symbolize a long life. I have friends who always have black eyed peas on New Years day to herald financial success. Many people serve ham or some sort of pork to represent progress. My grandparents would serve rice pudding with a hidden almond I believe it was to symbolize good fortune.

Here in the MacDill AFB area we celebrate with fireworks, parties and many of us ring in the New Year with a list of resolutions. The area will host many celebrations including First Night in St Petersburg and Light Up Clearwater. Will you be making a New Years resolution? staff writer wrote a great article on resolutions. In “Should you Make a New Year’s Resolution?” Jen points out several ways you can actually achieve your resolutions. I will be using her ideas especially about keeping it small and making one change at a time.

How ever you choose to celebrate this New Year’s Eve enjoy and be responsible. Please share some of the ways you will using you family traditions to celebrate here in the comments section of the blog or share on the MacDill Happenings Facebook page.

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How to Give This Holiday Season

December 15, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Events, News, Self Improvement, Things to do Near MacDill AFB No Comments →

Christmas Gifts in Cardboard Box and Packing Peanuts

The holiday season is a time of giving and for most of us we want to share what we have with those not as fortunate as us. Here in the MacDill AFB we can find lots of ways to help those in need including our own veterans and service members.

Sometimes the question comes up as to who should we donate to and is this charity actually a reliable charity. In a recent article “A Quick Guide for Choosing a Charity” written by Dawn Smith she shares information on how you can research a charity that you are interested in. This resource is especially helpful for us transient military families. A new base means new charities that are asking for donations. Use  sites such as Charity Navigator to check on a charity your would like to donate to.

Here are a few of my favorite charities to donate to in the MacDill AFB area.

  • Toys For Tots. Nothing to be said about this amazing operation!
  • Rough Riders 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. this group is constantly taking care of the children of Tampa and at Christmas their teddy bear drive tries to give a stuffed animal to every needy child in the area.
  • The Central Florida USO. Another great organization giving back to our service members and their families.
  • The Salvation Army. I can not resist putting a few dollars in the red kettle. My children learned at a young age to donate to the kettle.
  • Metropolitan Ministries. Not only does this charity feed the homeless on a daily basis the organization also tries to make sure struggling families in the area have gifts for the holidays.
  • Food For All Holiday Campaign at Publix. This is an easy way to donate you can just add a few dollars to your total and the donation will go to this great cause.
  • The Fisher House at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. Another great charity to help our veterans and their families.
  • If you would like to find out to help military families in need you can contact the Airman & Family Readiness Center for information.

These are just some of the charities I give to during the holiday season I am sure you can share a few with me as well. I would love to hear of any other charities here in the Tampa area that are in need of donations. You can share here in the comments section or on our Facebook page. Remember as you shop to check for programs such as Amazonsmile that make giving very easy and convenient.

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“The Theory of Everything” at Tampa Theatre

November 22, 2014 By: Laura Category: News No Comments →

YouTube Preview Image

If you’ve seen the previews on TV and heard about the great reviews about “The Theory of Everything” and want to see it, then you will have to go to downtown Tampa to watch it!  The Tampa Theatre is showing “The Theory of Everything” with the next screening at 1:30pm today.

The film was inspired by the memoir Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking, which deals with her relationship with her ex-husband Stephen Hawking, his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis(ALS), and his success in physics.

Built in 1926 as one of America’s most elaborate “movie palaces”, the Tampa Theatre today is a historical treasure of Tampa. Located in downtown Tampa, the Theatre is easily accessible from I-275 and I-4. Designed by famed theatre architect John Eberson, the Tampa is a superior example of the “atmospheric” style of theatre design. Inside the Tampa, audiences are transported to a lavish, romantic Mediterranean courtyard replete with old world statuary, flowers, and gargoyles. Over it all is a night time sky replete with twinkling stars and floating clouds. Tampa Theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is a member of the League of Historic American Theatres. There is on-street parking nearby and parking lots within walking distance. Tampa Theatre is about 30 minutes away no matter if you live in Brandon, FishHawk Ranch, New Tampa, St. Pete or Westchase!

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Flood Insurance: Why We Need it in The MacDill AFB Area

November 19, 2014 By: Laura Category: News No Comments →

why you need flood insurance courtesyof concrobium

I recently made a trip to the New Orleans area and saw areas that were still being rebuilt 9 years after the Katrina Hurricane. It made me think back to 2004 when Hurricane Charlie made a path of destruction across Florida and how unprepared so many of us were. I remember reading in the weeks after Charlie about  many homeowners who thought they had flood coverage only to find out they did not.

Homeowners find it difficult to find private companies that will even write a flood insurance policy and customers must rely on the federal programs for coverage. I am not an expert on this side of the issue so I suggest you take a look at the FEMA site for the National Flood Insurance Program or talk to your policy holder to check what you can and or covered for.

I know that after reading staff writer Karina Gafford’s article “Military Families: My Flood Insurance Wake Up Call” I will be checking on my policy.

Why do we need flood insurance in the MacDill AFB area? Well if you have lived here for any length of time you can see how just a down pour can flood the streets of Tampa and the outlying suburbs. So just imagine a tropical storm or Hurricane. According to Karina’s article 1 in 4 home owners will need flood insurance during the lifetime of their mortgage. According to the Florida Flood their are many misconceptions on owning a flood insurance policy. This is what they had to say about the misconceptions:

  • The Number One Misconception is that homeowners insurance covers flood risk. The fact is that homeowners insurance policies typically DO NOT cover flood damage, a point usually highlighted in bold letters on the first page of your homeowners policy.
  • The Second Misconception is that flood insurance policies are expensive. Actually, if your home or business is located in a Preferred Risk Zone as determined by FEMA, you can purchase flood insurance for as little as $129 per year.
  • The Third Misconception is that many homeowners think they don’t live in a flood zone. In reality, FEMA has designated the entire state of Florida as a flood zone with varying levels of risk.

Great reasons to have a flood insurance policy whether you are renting, own a rental property or own your home. This information is especially important for our military families in the area who may not be aware of the flood risk here in the MacDill AFB area. I am not sure how it works with base housing but I would make sure my rental insurance has flood insurance if you are living on MacDill Base housing.

That being said even if your home is not located in Florida you should know that all 50 states have experienced flooding in the last 5 years.  If you own a home in another state and or renting it out you probably need to check your policy for flood coverage.

With this information I would suggest making a call to your insurer and checking what coverage you have or may not have.  With the information in Karina’s article, FEMA and you should be very educated in why you need flood insurance here in the Tampa bay area.

I hope none of us will ever need to use our flood insurance policies but now that we all know the facts being covered will ease the burden if we do have a flood. Another great tip if you are searching for a home to rent or buy check out the FEMA maps for what flood zone the home falls under.

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Make Your Holiday Shopping Easier with Amazon

November 17, 2014 By: Laura Category: News, Self Improvement No Comments →

 Christmas Gifts in Cardboard Box and Packing Peanuts

 When it comes to holiday shopping  the internet seems to be a favorite choice for military families . One of the reasons they may be so popular especially with military spouses is the fact that Amazon ships to most APO and FPO addresses. Another reason my family likes to use their services is the fact they have committed to and have employed many veterans. Recently Amazon opened two new distribution centers right here near MacDill AFB, one  in Lakeland and the other  in Ruskin. I saw on the MacDill Wives Facebook page and other spouse social media sites that Amazon was encouraging military spouses to apply for their holiday customer service positions.

One of the best reasons to shop with Amazon is the AmazonSmile program. Our staff writer Dawn Smith shared in a recent article “5 Helpful Holiday Orders from Amazon” how Amazon is using this program to help charities all across the world including those that are helping our veterans. In fact you can designate to have .5% of your purchase go to the Central  Florida USO.

As a family we have used Amazon mostly when we were stationed overseas but now that I have read Dawn’s article I may use the site to buy wine! Who knew Amazon Wine existed!! Another benefit that Dawn mentioned was being able to order items that may be nostalgic or unique to your hometown. Such a plus for service members who may have a special brand of candy, food or drink that that they miss during the holidays. I know many a mom who uses the Prime Pantry feature to order wipes and diapers.

How do you use Amazon? Do you use AmazonSmiles and help  your favorite charity? Have you or someone you know applied to work for Amazon? I would love to hear you stories! Please share them with me below in the comments section and do not forget to use the like buttons to follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I would love to get a tweet from someone new today!!!

Don’t forget if you are shopping for a home to rent or buy to check out the listings on Also check out our gift giving ideas on Pinterest.

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Take a Visit or Make Move to Jacksonville!

November 15, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities, News No Comments →


If you are looking for something different to do over the holidays or maybe you are looking for a mini vacation idea then a drive up to Jacksonville might be the answer. Or maybe you have orders to PCS to the Jacksonville area. Our family has spent Thanksgiving in Jacksonville numerous times with our daughter when she was attending Jacksonville University. The drive up and over to Jacksonville will take you about 3 hours and 22 minutes from Tampa. I recommend the I-4 to I-95 route.  MapQuest at times will take you up I75 and across 301 via Gainesville. On a few of our trips we planned lunch in either Orlando or St Augustine.

Jacksonville has a different feel and look than Tampa. Since Jacksonville sits on the Atlantic the beaches are a little different. The water is a little cooler and a deep blue but very beautiful. One of the best reasons to take your mini vacation is the accessibility to two Navy bases. If you’re a golfer, then both bases, NAS Jacksonville and NS Mayport, have great golf courses.  Both bases have plenty of nearby housing off base.

Downtown Jacksonville boasts 5.6 miles of beautiful riverfront, including almost 3 miles of riverwalk. The Jacksonville Landing
located on the river in downtown is a shopping and entertainment center that hosts over 350 events annually, including live music every weekend. The Riverside Arts Market is prefect place to spend a Saturday afternoon in the downtown area.

The Jacksonville Zoo is must see! Spread out on more than 93 acres, you can see more than 1,800 animals and a 1,000 exotic plants.

A visit the Jacksonville area could include a relaxing visit to Amelia Island and stop at the historic St.Augustine.

Whether it’s short visit or a PCS move, Jacksonville will have something new for you to explore and enjoy almost everyday!

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Veteran’s Benefits That You Need to Know About

November 11, 2014 By: Laura Category: News, Self Improvement No Comments →

Fun things to do This Memorial Day Weekend

Now that you have finished your service to your country, there are some benefits that you have earned that you can take advantage of whether you stayed into until you received a military retirement and pension or just served one tour and left active duty.

The largest and most well-known provider of veterans benefits is the Veterans Benefit Administration which is a part of the Veterans Administration, better known as the VA.  The mission of the VA is to administer the services and benefits provided by the Federal government.  Remember, most employees of the VA are also former military members, just like you.

  • You can received Compensation benefits for disabilities that you are connected to your military service.
  • The Post 9/11 GI Bill is a huge educational and financial benefit that must be used within 10 years of leaving active duty.
  • A VA home loan is a perfect way to buy a home with very little money out of your pocket!
  • It’s a little pricey, but if you need it you can sign up for life insurance.
  • They also provide you help in looking for a job.  They will help you write up a resume and figure how to find a job.

The VA has an office in Tampa that you can contact for assistance.

The state of Florida has a Department of Veterans Affairs that can help you with your Federal claims and also offers housing and employment assistance.

If you’re looking for Federal job employment on USAJobs, you are eligible for a veterans preference!

Enjoy your Veterans Day, you deserve it!

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MacDill AFB What’s Happening!

November 05, 2014 By: Laura Category: News, Things to do Near MacDill AFB No Comments →


Looking for something fun to do on MacDill AFB? Well it looks like you are in luck. Check out these fun events to keep you and your family busy this weekend and beyond. If you are a military family that has just PCS’d to the area these events might be a great way to get acquainted with the base. If you have an event coming up that you would like to share please let me know by leaving a comment at the end of this post or sending me a note via Facebook or Twitter.

Here is some of what is going is happening on MacDill AFB.

  • Turkey Trot 2014. The run begins at 7:00am on Friday November 7th. for all the details give the Fitness Center a call at 813-828-4496.
  • Friday Family Fun Night at Seascapes Beach House. Grab your cowboy hat and boots because the theme this month is the Wild West. Along with many family activities, a western buffet, Mike the Magician, train rides you will have the opportunity to ride the mechanical bull. For more information call 813-840-1451.
  • On Saturday November 8th you can take an air boat tour of Lake Panasoffkee. You must sign up by today November 5th at the Outdoor Recreation Office. For an additional charge, you will be able to lunch at Catfish Johnny’s Restaurant. For more information call 813-840-6919.
  • Dinner Theater Event Thursday November 13. Enjoy this fun event starting at 5:30pm in the Golf Course Tournament room. After your Italian style dinner buffet, enjoy the show put on by the East Coast Golden Age theater group.
  • Don’t forget the free movie shown every Thursday at the base theater. For more information on upcoming movie titles call 813-840-6919.
  • If you love football then you will want to check out the FootBall Frenzy taking place every Sunday at the MacDill AFB bowling lanes. Kick off is at 1:00pm.

So many great choices for our military families to take advantage of in the next few weeks!

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Free and Discounted Admission for the Military

October 29, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, News No Comments →

Legoland Florida

Active duty military members will receive one free admission to Legoland in Winter Haven throughout the year.  From 1 to 23 November,  military veterans will also receive free admission to Legoland.  Up to 6 accompanying guests will receive 50% off the cost of admission. Active duty, reservists and veterans will have to present a military ID card to receive the free and discounted admission.

If you have already used the ticket discounts provided by Legoland, you can still get discount tickets at the MacDill AFB ITT office.  The ITT office also has discount tickets for all the amusement parks around the Tampa Bay area.

Universal Studios also has a military ticket special that runs until the end of November.  You can purchase a one day park-to-park ticket and receive two days for free.  This ticket is good for active duty, reservists and military retirees.  A military ID card is required to receive this discount.

If you are in Orlando, Shades of Green, an Army MWR resort on the grounds of Walt Disney World, has an ITT office that active duty, reservists and retirees can use as long as they have a military ID card.

Seaworld in Orlando and Busch Gardens are offering discount tickets to active duty, reservists and military retirees with  a military ID card.

Remember to take advantage of these discounts before they expire!

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