Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lake Baldwin Lights up for the Holidays

Three white horses strolled around the city center on the shore of Lake Baldwin Saturday night - the procession led this year’s Festival of Lights.

Families and friends huddled for warmth along the brick-laden road for a chance to ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

Joey Mangano, founder of Downtown Horse & Carriage II, Inc. said it was his fourth year working with Baldwin Park during the holidays.

Face-painters, jugglers, and plate balancing acts dotted the streets, interacting with the crowd throughout the shopping center.

“It’s hard to stop a show and start again. It’s our job to keep the momentum,” said performer Billy Damon.

Damon showed children how to balance spinning plates on a single stick while his son, Liam, juggled beside him. Damon said he’d traveled the world over and has recently been to Shanghai. Through all of his shows, he leans more toward the “mainly interactive” side of performing.

“During the holiday season, everyone is in a good mood,” Rose Barnett, a sociology major at Valencia said, as she watched as a Christmas tree, complete with ornaments and snow, was painted onto the face of her son.

“The more things keeping the people here after the parade, the longer they’ll stay,” Mangano, of the horse-drawn carriage company, said.

The festivities went well into the night while the Amish-built carriages brought awaiting passengers on a tour of the town.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

All It Takes is a Little Research to Win the Lottery

Photo by Elisanett Martinez

Richard Lustig has won the grand prize of the Florida Lottery, seven times, since he began playing 22 years ago. Now he’s selling a guide of tips and tricks for winning the jackpot that anyone, even college students, can cash in on.

“Scratch tickets are the hardest to win, because you have no way of knowing one of the printed winning tickets will end up in Orlando,” he said.

The Florida Lottery website lists information for the different scratch-offs and how many winners are left to be chosen for each game. By developing his method and understanding his chances of winning individual games, he says he wins every day now.

Jason in Kansas City, Mo. won $10,000 with Lustig’s advice and his own daughter and her husband have even won this way. Lustig himself has won seven grand prizes, totaling over $1 million.

Lustig started playing the lottery two weeks after the birth of his son, Nick, in 1988. “I know it was a relief from the medical bills,” Nick said.

He used to consider playing the lotto his part-time job. On the side he played the drums in 60s and 70s rocks acts, traveling around the country while he and his wife ran the national booking agency, Lustig Talent. Now he does what he loves for a living - and that is to play the game.

At a signing for his new book at the Public Libary, downtown, he gave advice newcomers and seasoned veterans of the Florida Lottery. He said to “pick which games you want to play and stick with them,” when you’re just starting out. Lustig also suggested reinvesting ⅓ of the winnings into playing the lottery again, after you’ve played around with the rest of the money, of course.

“What’s the point in having money, if you can’t enjoy it?” he said.

He only recently found out that his friend George, owner of the liquor store Knightly Spirits, sold lottery tickets. Now he goes nowhere else for his morning buy.

“He [George] said, ‘we were getting ready to get rid of the lotto, because it wasn’t doing very good,’ now I’m practically paying his rent, because with the tickets I buy and the winnings I cash in, and now there’s more and more people who have started buying their tickets there.”

“People like success, they want to get on board,” he said.

Special to our readers, the first 10 people to go to the website, and purchase his book will get a free gift - if you mention “Valencia Voice.”

Lustig: “I don’t care if it’s a broke college kid or a senior citizen on social security, don’t spend money you can’t afford. Don’t spend grocery money. Because what happens is people get carried away with this, too and put themselves in debt.”

“But you win at it, if you play smartly.”

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

UCF and SMU Look to the Future after USA Conference game

Photos by Russel Griner

The University of Central Florida (UCF) gained a 17-7 win for the Knights during the 2010 USA Conference title game against the South Methodist University Mustangs (SMU), Saturday. Whether a win or a loss, each team can expect opportunities for advancement in their futures.

The Mustangs didn’t expect an easy win, with the track record of UCF’s players on the line. Coach June Jones of SMU said, “We knew we were going to have a real challenge with our offense against their defense.”

UCF’s Latavius Murray (28) scored a touchdown in the first drive of the game - his first career touchdown. This made for 12 out of 13 games of the season where UCF earned the first points in a game.

Undeterred by the loss, the Mustangs are looking for ways to improve their strategy. For the next game, Chris Banjo, defensive back for SMU, said he planned on “gain[ing] more possessions for offense and making more plays to raise our chances of winning next year.”

While SMU constructed plans for the upcoming season, UCF’s team reflected upon their most recent achievement, winning the USA Conference championship.

Coach George O’Leary gave all credit for the win to his players and their ability to commit to the sport. He said there were no hidden tricks up his sleeve. The Knights “got ahead by Goddfrey,” who is a freshman and was the star quarterback of the game.

“That was the secret,” O’Leary said. “Players make plays, it’s not the trick of the trade, but learning the trade that counts.”

Next on the agenda, UCF will be going to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. to play against the Georgia Bulldogs on Dec. 31. This would be Georgia’s third time at the Liberty Bowl, since 1987, and UCF’s first invitation to the arena.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice