Up, up and away … the International Balloon Festival is coming up.

Jason Schulke talks about the upcoming Kissimmee International Balloon Festival of Festivals with members of the Four Corners Area Council. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

FOUR CORNERS – Sometimes events start out small, but have the potential to soar to amazing heights.
This September, Jason Schulke is hoping to do both.
“This is definitely a community initiative,” he said. “There are a lot of efforts that are being put into this.”
Schulke is the director of business development and marketing at Orlando Balloon Rides, which specializes in offering private hot air balloon rides for couples and families.
Now he’s also one of the organizers of the upcoming Kissimmee International Balloon Festival of Festivals, which will be held on Sept. 21-23, at Formosa Gardens Village at 7836 U.S. 192 in Four Corners. It’s going to be an opportunity to take part in a three day event that Schulke hopes will not only offer something for everyone, but will be the start of an annual event that becomes a staple in the Four Corners area. Continue reading

On its way: the Aloft Orlando Downtown, a loft-inspired hotel.

The Aloft Orlando Downtown hotel will open next year at the former Orlando Utilities Commission building. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO – For a long time, Mayor Buddy Dyer didn’t think the building near City Hall that used to host the Orlando Utilities Commission would ever get filled, and would remain vacant.
“When OUC moved out of this building, I wasn’t certain it could be renovated for new use,” Dyer said. “I had a feeling it would be torn down.”
On Tuesday, Dyer was more than happy to be proven wrong on that count. He took part in a dedication ceremony in front of the building at 500 S. Orange Ave. in the heart of downtown, where he joined GDC Properties President William Ingraham to welcome in the property gearing up to make use of the building: the new Aloft Orlando Downtown Hotel. Continue reading

The Art of Sushi, or that’s entertainment.

Is there an "art" to making sushi? At Kokopelli's Sushi Restaurant in Reno, the chefs are able to put on quite a demonstration of their sushi-making abilities. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

RENO, NEVADA – Aureliano Raygoza held a clump of rice in his hand, then placed it down on a wooden table, on top of seaweed. Behind him, a massive screen just a few feet from a video camera provided a close-up of his hands, so everyone in the room could see exactly what he was doing.
“I call it the Cheviche Roll,” he said. “This is my creation.”
Raygoza was standing just a few inches from his fellow chef, Carlos Cazares, in a place that offered something a bit different: a two-in-one restaurant, offering guests the option of either being seated at Dos Geckos Cantina, billed as “a fiesta of Mexican flavors,” and offering a host of Mexican dishes; or, at the same time, getting seated in a section of the restaurant known as Kokopelli’s Sushi. Continue reading

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