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Things to Do in and around MacDill AFB

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Thanksgiving Traditions

November 24, 2014 By: Laura Category: Military Life, Uncategorized No Comments →

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. For many of us this means a day of traditions that have been handed down from family for years. For us military families we have definitely learned to adjust our traditions to fit our military lifestyles.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims and lasted 3 days. Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November would be “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.

In these modern days we celebrate this tradition of giving thanks. For most of us this means Turkey, thankful prayers, family and for many football. Fro many military families it may mean celebrating in a foreign country or with out our service member at our dining table.  In a recent article written by Danielle Keech “What is Your Holiday Tradition?” she shares how she keeps traditions alive as a new military spouse. Danielle’s article got me to thinking of how the military has influenced some our traditions.

For many of us military families we adapt and learn new traditions. One tradition I love about being a military family is having the single service members over for dinner. For the first few years of our marriage we had several of our single marine friends over and it gave the day that family feeling. Sharing the holiday with other families also gave us a chance to see and taste other traditions. Because celebrating a holiday far from home was hard and I was thankful for this tradition of making sure no one spent Thanksgiving alone and that we were making new traditions with a new “family”. One tradition that has been constant at every Thanksgiving gathering I have been to do is the dinner prayer and asking for the safe return of all our of service members deployed.

Celebrating Thanksgiving overseas can also be a challenge. I can remember my Mom adapting her stuffing recipe because all the ingredients she needed were not available at the Yokata AFB commissary. During our year in Guam we had a dear friend host Thanksgiving for 30 of us. For this event my other friend wanted to bring her traditional buttermilk pie but their was not a carton of buttermilk to be found on the island. We all were on the look out at the commissary to grab a carton if it came in!! These wonderful memories will always be a part of us and some these friendships have lasted an entire military career and beyond. Oh and we did have buttermilk pie and it was delicious!!

How does your family keep traditions alive? Are you a military family that has adapted your traditions to fit your traveling lifestyle? I would love for you to share your answers here on the blog or on the MacDill Happenings Facebook page. I know for me setting out the good dishes and lighting candles in my cornucopia candle holder makes the day special no matter where we are living at the time.

As my children have grown up our family tradition has become a night at the movies. I am a little upset the new Hobbit movie is not coming out on Thanksgiving!! We have even done a little late night shopping after the movies. I can not remember the last time we were home in California for Thanksgiving and it has been years since all of my children were home for the holiday. This year we will fill up the chairs at the table with my sons roommates from USF and look forward to the phone calls we will make to our out of state family.

I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you will be able to celebrate with old and new traditions.

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Tampa Bay Veterans Day Parade

November 07, 2014 By: Laura Category: Events, Things to do Near MacDill AFB, Uncategorized No Comments →


More Events for Memorial Day 2014

Tampa Bay Veterans Day Parade

Every year since 1918 the United States has honored Veteran’s on the 11th day of the 11th month. The holiday was first name Armistice Day and celebrated the end of World War 1. In the year 1921  the first soldier to be buried in the Tomb Of the Unknown soldier was  buried on November 11. Armistice Day was not recognized as a national holiday until 1938. Raymond Weeks was the first to organize a “National Veterans Day” after the end of the World War II. Raymond held a parade and other festivities to honor all veterans and he held the event on Armistice Day. In 1954 Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill proclaiming November 11th as Veteran’s Day.  For 21 years Tampa has honored the cities veterans with the Tampa Bay Veterans Day Parade.

This year the parade will start at 10:00 a.m. and end around 12:30 p.m. The parade takes place in Town & Country on Hanley Rd.  The start of the parade will be at the intersection of Hanley Rd. and Barry Rd. ending at the intersection of Paula Drive.

Every year the parade honors a local veteran. This year USN (RET) Petty Officer Artricia James-Heard will be honored.  Col. Daniel H Tulley commander of the 6th Mobility Wing MacDill Air Force Base will be the grand marshal of the parade.

I would recommend getting your seats early over 25,000 people attended last years parade. The parade route will be shut down at 8:30 a.m. so check the website for the parade for parking information. Look for the Tampa Bay Veterans Toy Drive vehicle near the information booth to donate a new toy .

Happy Veterans Day from MacDill Happenings. I hope all of the Veterans will relax and enjoy this day that was created for them and know how much their efforts and sacrifices are appreciated. If you should happen to participate in the parade or go to watch please share your pictures and thoughts with me on the MacDill Facebook page. If you know of a Veterans day event that we should share please post it here in the comments or on the Facebook page.

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Tips To Help You Stay Sane On A Roadtrip With Kids

July 22, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Uncategorized No Comments →

road-trip courtesyof myclubs worldmarksp

Summer time bring many reasons for a road trip. Maybe you are just going on vacation or if you are a Military family maybe you are PCS’ing to your new duty station. What ever the reason traveling in the car with kids can make you lose  your mind! Here are some great ideas to keep everyone happy in the car.

  • Plan ahead! Plan your route. Look for interesting places to stop along the way. Take your kids personalities in to consideration. Are they “morning people”? Do they sleep well in the car?
  • Bring activities such as a felt activity board lots of ideas on Pinterest. For the little traveler, new interactive books are a great idea. Crayons, washable markers and coloring books are also a fun activity. You can even print out coloring pages at I think bubbles are a great bribe. Not for in the car, but to use at rest stops!!
  • Games are a must. How about license plate bingo or” I spy with my little eye”. Another great game to do with older children is ask a family member to Google a town or landmark you have passed and have them share some facts on that subject with you.
  • Make a map of your route. Make several copies and laminate the map, let everyone use a dry erase board to track your route. Use the map as a treasure map with a reward at every stop. Maybe bubbles!
  • Enjoy the family time. Sing songs, look at the scenery, share what you see in the clouds. How often do you have the chance to just talk with out all of those electronic distractions.
  • Speaking of electronic distractions bringing a portable DVD player or laptop along is also a great distraction. Hand held electronic games and tablets are also great sources for entertainment.  Maybe a game of pop the bubble?!
  • Snacks!! So important for everyone in the car. Have family members create their own trail mix before you leave. Let them decorate the zip-lock bag or container so they know it is theirs. Pretzels, goldfish, raisins, marshmallows and M&M’s make a great start. Another great snack would be those pureed fruits and vegetables that come in pouches. My teenagers even like those. Water and clear juices should also be included.
  • Must have items. A first aid kit that includes any medications that may be needed on the trip. Zip lock bags, paper towels and wet wipes. Another great item would be plastic cups these come in handy when distributing snacks , crayons etc… A box of garbage bags is also a must.

You planned your route, printed out your maps, picked your activities, packed your snacks and are ready to hit the road! Remember to drive safely and enjoy the moment. Blow some bubbles!

I am sure many of you have great kid friendly travel tips you would like to share. Please share them in our comments section or on our Facebook page.

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Tenant Screening- Should You Do It?

July 21, 2014 By: Laura Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Tenant Screening

Tenant Screening



As a Landlord should you screen all of your tenants? I think for most of us the answer would be yes. My spouse and I have rented homes from other Military families and they have waved the screening process because of our rank etc… But I have heard horror stories from landlords that took their tenants information on the application as truthful and ended up in some nasty legal situations. At times the tenant screening process can seem invasive and expensive. The process though is almost a must.

In a recent blog article posted by Karina writes about a great company that makes tenant screening easy and inexpensive. TransUnion Smartmove is a great resource for both the landlord and the renter. No personal information such as social security numbers is shared. And the best part is the cost. for $25.00 you get can screen your potential tenant . The screening includes a criminal background check and a credit score for $5.00 more you can get a full credit report.  You as the landlord would decide who would pay the fee. We used this process when PCSing from overseas and allowed us to be able to move into our home days after our arrival Stateside.

This is just one of the great resources you will find on the site. The site offers information on buying, selling  and renting a home. Their is also a great offering of articles on how to decorate, how to stage or how to improve the curb appeal of your home. Just recently the site shared an article on the pros and cons of  using an ARM when financing a new home.

If you are a landlord and you have information on screening tenants please share it here and on our Facebook page. Also if you have a home listed with here in the MacDill AFB area please leave me a comment I would love to feature your home in one of my blog posts. Send us a tweet if you enjoyed this post! @MacDillHappenin.

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5 Tips to Help Plan A Summer Vacation Adventure

June 10, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Self Improvement, Uncategorized No Comments →


vacation tips courtesyofcenyt

The days are getting longer, the kids are out of school and your vacation is just around the corner. Planning a Summer vacation for the family can be stressful but with some planning and organizing everyone will be enjoying some family time.

Try these great tips for less stress while planning that great Summer vacation adventure;

  • Probably the most important thing would be to find out what kind of vacation the family wants. Is it a trip to the beach or the mountains? This along with your budget will determine your next step.
  •  While researching hotel, air fare etc… use many options not just the usual Kayak etc… some airlines and hotels do not list with these sites. You may find better deals going directly to those sites.
  • Do you need a passport or visa? Check with the U.S. Department of State for information on what you may need to travel out of country and if the area you are visiting is safe to travel to.
  • If you are planning a cruise using a Travel Agent may help you get a better deal and they can also help you plan other excursions etc..
  • Make a list of all the items you will need for vacation, sunscreen, new bike tires, sleeping bags and purchase those things before you leave. Watch for sales on snacks, water and sunscreen.

If  you are a Military family their are some great resources for you to use in planning your vacation. First make sure you stop by the Information Tickets and Travel office at the MacDill AFB AAFES Exchange. They have a complete list of discount tickets that you can purchase. They can help you with all your travel plans including cruises, vacation packages and even renting a car. You may also want to look into becoming a member of the Armed Forces Vacation Club. is a great resource when searching for lodging near a Military installation.

If you are not Military, the AAA is also a great source on information on planning your vacation. Another great site to look at is they share tips on planning a vacation to specific areas such as Orlando.

Well with these great tips to get you started a great Summer vacation adventure is definitely in your future. Please share all of your vacation plans here or on our Facebook. 

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Bay Palms Golf Complex Specials for June

June 08, 2014 By: Laura Category: Self Improvement, Sports, Uncategorized No Comments →


Do you need a new hobby? Maybe you are already an avid Golfer. If so you will want to visit the Bay Palms Golf Complex on MacDill AFB. This is a beautiful course and one of the most affordable in the Tampa Bay area.

The June golf special at Bay Palms Golf Complex on MacDill AFB will allow one military member and three guests to play for $100.  This includes 18 holes and the carts.

There is also a Twilight Special for June and is based on rank and will include your cart fees. Twilight hours begin at 2:30 pm and fees are as follows:

  • E1-E4 will pay $18.00
  • E5-O3 will pay $20.00
  • O4 and up will pay $21.00
  • Guests will be charged $25.00

The Bay Palms Complex includes 2 18-hole par-72 courses. You can choose between the North or South course. If you are interested in a challenge with some amazing views of Tampa Bay then start with the South course. The North course offers a little less challenge and is great when you are on a limited time schedule.The complex also has a lighted practice putting green, a 24-hour-a-day lighted driving range, a practice chipping green and sand trap areas.

On Tuesdays and Thursday from noon to 1pm, active duty military members can receive free golf instruction at the driving range. The golf pros will be there to help you with your swing. Just show up and purchase a bucket of balls. A small bucket is only $2.

There is also a Get Golf Ready program of group instruction that only costs $99. The “Ladies Only” group instruction is $49.

The Pro Shop has everything a golfer could want from shoes to clubs and everything in between. Plus there is no sales tax!  If you need a snack or a meal to get you going or to celebrate your round, then stop by the Fairways Grill. The breakfast and lunch are not to be missed!

The Bay Palms Golf Complex is located at 1805 Golf Course Ave on MacDill AFB and is open daily 7am until sunset. See their calendar of events to see what other specials are happening at the Complex.

If you are looking for a home near one of the great off base golf courses in the area check out these listings Golf Course Homes.

Get out there and start swinging the clubs!

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Look What is Happening This Weekend In Tampa.

June 04, 2014 By: Laura Category: Concerts, Sports, Uncategorized No Comments →

Courtesy of City of Tampa

This weekend in Tampa Bay is full of more fun-filled events that offer everyone plenty of options to get out and enjoy the area!

If you are a Star Wars fan, then head over to Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando for Star Wars Weekends. You will want to stay late and catch the “Symphony in the Stars” firework spectacular. Be on the look out for celebrities such as Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams..

MOSI along with more than 2,000 other museums across the country will offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families through 1 Sept. This is a collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense.

The Rays take on the Mariners starting at 7:10pm on Friday and the series continues through the weekend. The Rays have run into a tough stretch but they need fan support to help turn it around! Saturday’s game includes a Weezer concert after the game.

All weekend long, the Largo Central Railroad in Largo is offering free train rides. Donations are appreciated.

On Saturday starting at 9am, the Patel Conservatory in downtown Tampa is having a free Open House. This a great opportunity to see everything this artistic gem has to offer!

On Sunday the historic Tampa Theatre is having a screening of the classic movie “To Kill a Mockingbird“. The show starts at 3pm and admission is $10.

Don’t forget if you are Military and are going to any of the major attractions you will want to check out the IT&T office at MacDill AFB to get your tickets. If you are not Military or have company in town check out Tamp Bay City Pass to get into some of the major attractions in the area.

There are so many more things to do in the Tampa Bay area. If you plan it right, you be busy all weekend long!

Enjoy yourself and let us know about what you fun things you are doing this weekend!

Make sure to like us on our MacDill Happenings Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @MacDill Happenin

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Newcomer Information for The MacDill AFB Area

June 02, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities, Pets, Schools, Self Improvement, Uncategorized No Comments →

newcomers to MacDill courtesyof airports worldwide

If you have recently moved to the MacDill area or will soon be moving to the area here is some valuable information.

MacDill AFB is located in the city of Tampa FL which is located on the Gulf side of the state. With its prime location and great weather you will find outdoor activities a plenty in the Tampa Bay area. MacDill’s 6th Force Support Squadron offers lots of events on base with such activities as Free Movie ThursdaysLunch and Learns and a great recreation program.

When you arrive at the base, your first priority will probably be housing both temporary and permanent. offers information on both the MacDill Inn located on base and lodging found off base. If you are planning to live on base, then you will want to visit the housing office at Harbor Bay at 8414 Fortress Drive. If you are planning to look for a home off base, will be a great resource for that house hunt. Along with a listing of housing to rent or buy, the site also offers a listing of local Realtors and other valuable businesses.

If you have children, your next worry may be finding the best school for your children. If you will be living on base and your children are going to be in grades K-5th, they will attend Tinker Elementary. Older children will attend schools off base. The area is serviced by the Hillsborough Country School District. A great feature of the school district is its school of choice program which allows you to find the right fit for your children’s education. If you will need childcare, the base offers three Child Development Centers  The Base also offer a great Youth Program.

The 6th Medical Group offers an outpatient clinic on the base. The facility does not offer emergency medical care. Emergency care is offered at local civilian. The Clinic is located at 3250 Zemke Ave.

Pets may also be a concern there is a great Veterinary Clinic located on base at 7804 Blackbird St. You will want to check on the hours of operation and you will need to make an appointment.

MacDill AFB offers all of the base amenities you typically find on a Military installation.  There is an AAFES Exchange and a Commissary located right next to each other. The Exchange mall also contains a salon, barber shop and the ITT office along with several shopping vendors and a food court. You will also find a branch of the Armed Forces National Bank in the Exchange. A Grow Financial Credit Union is located on base and a Navy Federal Credit Union is located a short drive from of MacDill AFB.

If you are arriving to the area between June 1st and November 1st, make a note that is Hurricane Season. You will want to make sure you have a Hurricane kit and plan in place. Florida offers a Tax Free Holiday for purchasing items for your survival kit.

Now that you are here and have a little knowledge of the area, get out there and enjoy all that this area has to offer!

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Mardi Gras in Ybor City Tonight

February 21, 2012 By: Laura Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Although not an official Ybor City wide party, two restaurants in Ybor City, Bernini’s and Green Iguana Ybor, are throwing a huge Fat Tuesday party inside the restaurants and on the sidewalk cafe areas. Both restaurants are located on the main avenue of Ybor City, 7th Avenue. The Green Iguana is housed in two historic red brick buildings on two levels w/ 5 full bars, 12 TV’s, Stage, Lighting and Audio visual system, 2 Full dance floors, a second level DJ booth and a full service kitchen every night until Midnight and numerous tables on the sidewalk cafe area. Bernini’s is an Italian bistro with fantastic food, drinks and a lot of room. There will be a free Creole buffet, king cakes, a Dixieland band and a cash bar. It’s probably a good idea to make reservations otherwise just be ready for a crowd or be ready to stand around and enjoy the fun. The partying starts around 6:30pm and it’s probably not a good idea to bring the kids along. But if you do want to bring the kids along then there Ybor City is wide open for the family to enjoy. Ybor City you can choose from a variety of cuisine – Spanish, Cuban, Italian, Greek and French – just by strolling down La Setima, the main street of the Historic District. Share authentic tapas and a pitcher of Spanish sangria in a café atmosphere reminiscent of a Mediterranean village. Founded by Vicente Martinez-Ybor as a cigar-manufacturing center, Ybor City today is one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida. Red brick buildings, wrought iron balconies and narrow brick streets give it an old-world charm. The Columbia Restaurant located in Ybor City is must place to eat at in Tampa. This Tampa classic is over 100 years old and food is fantastic! Even with all the vistors to Ybor City, there is always plenty of parking.

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5th Annual Tampa Bay Lucky Ducky Derby 17 December

December 16, 2011 By: Laura Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa is hosting the 5th Annual Tampa Bay Lucky Ducky Derby this Saturday. The fun starts at 10am. This year’s derby will take to the ice as a fund-raiser for Kid’s Cafe, a program of Feeding America Tampa Bay. Purchase a duck for $5, then watch as children skate around and pluck the ducks from the ice to award prizes. In 2010, there were almost 20,000 ducks released in Garrison Channel, creating a sea of yellow. Participants will have the opportunity to win great prizes to include; Tampa Bay Lightning Luxury Suite Tickets, Tampa Bay Rays Home Plate Club Tickets, a Sony TV, a Toshiba Laptop and restaurant gift certificates! Ending Hunger, Nourishing Hope is the mission of Feeding America Tampa Bay. Receiving surplus food donations from growers, manufacturers, supermarkets and organized community food drives, the food bank distributes it to the hungry through a network of over 600 charitable organizations across West Central Florida. The Tampa-based food bank provided 19 million pounds of food to its 10-county service area in 2010. Through Mobile Pantry neighborhood food distributions and child nutrition programs such as Kids Café and weekend Backpacks, Feeding America Tampa Bay provides food to more than 400,000 each year. The beautiful Curtis Hixon Park is located on the waterfront in downtown Tampa along Ashley St between the Tampa Museum of Art and the Sykes building. Food is available at nearby restaurants including Five Guys Hamburger across the street from the Park and a new nearby Mexican restaurant Urban Cantina located at the corner of Madison and South Tampa. Alcohol is not allowed but well behaved pets are! Curtis Hixon Park has a fenced animal park along the water. This park is one of nicest parks in Tampa. With an interactive playground, wide open flat grass play area, a view of the University of Tampa, and cooling water fountains, this is a great place to relax on during a Tampa evening. Parking is available at the Curtis Hixon parking garage or at nearby public parking lots. If you’re lucky, you can get a parking spot in front of Five Guys Hamburgers right across the street from the Park at the corner of Ashley and Polk.

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