Unicycles, gospel singing, and Stuff: That’s Amway entertainment.

Entertainment at the Amway Center during an Orlando Magic game is about more than just basketball. Just ask the comedic antics of Stuff the Magic mascot. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO – As the colors of the American flag were shining brightly on the videos screens inside the Amway Center arena, Charles Haugabrooks brought a massive audience to a moment of complete and total silence. He had the crowd entirely spellbound.
He took a brief second to pause. Then Haugabrooks sang out the words “For the land of the free,” and that was all it took for the audience to burst into rapturous applause.
Haugabrooks had been invited to sing the National Anthem at the start of Wednesday night’s Game Day between the Orlando Magic and the New Orleans Hornets. And while the crowd turned out for a sports match — in a very close game that found the Hornets pulling out a narrow 97-94 win — the rousing applause given to Haugabrooks as he sang the National Anthem demonstrated that music and visual entertainment play as much a part of the Amway experience as the basketball players do.
Haugabrooks is a gospel singer well known for his distinctive tenor voice that interprets familiar songs with a great degree of intensity and passion, and he’s released albums that include “God’s Touch Through You” and “One Step Closer.”
His performance, and the strong reaction it drew from the audience, was a clear indication of just how diverse the entertainment is during a Magic game. If a passionate gospel singer opens the show, what follows often goes in very different directions. Continue reading

Soccer fans pack into Orlando bar to celebrate the Lions.

On Tuesday, Orlando City Soccer Club held its second annual fan forum to update fans on Major League Soccer and discuss new ventures for the 2013 season. (Photo by Micael Freeman).

ORLANDO – There was a hearty crowd at Harry Buffalo’s bar on Church Street on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t just the beer and wings that brought people out.
It was actually time to celebrate the growing popularity of a particular sport in Orlando, that being soccer — and to demonstrate there are plenty of soccer fans in the City Beautiful.
“This is really a fan-focused event,” said Chris Jones. “It’s a good chance for everyone to get together in the off season and for everyone to get involved and see what’s going on.”
On Tuesday, Orlando City Soccer Club held its second annual fan forum, as a way of updating fans on Major League Soccer and to discuss new ventures for the 2013 season — including a highly anticipated match in 2013.
OCSC is a premier professional soccer sports franchise, and a member of the USL PRO. A growing number of Central Floridians have been watching this year as Orlando City Soccer entered the playoff series as the top team in the league and as the defending USL Pro Champions.
“We keep on continuing to grow as a club, and this is about continuing to educate everyone about soccer,” said Jones, the media relations director for the OCSC. “It’s a major league franchise.” Continue reading

Florida Classic becomes an economic cash register for Orlando.

Saturday’s Florida Classic football game at the Cirtus Bowl had an estimated $30 million impact on the city and Central Florida.

ORLANDO – Even as early at 10:30 in the morning, it felt like the calm before the storm – literally, in a sense, since meteorologists had predicted rains for Saturday, and grey clouds hovered steadily and ominously above the Citrus Bowl most of the day.
As it turns out, it never did rain on the Citrus Bowl, happy news for the game’s fans — and for those in the streets right around the Citrus Bowl, where vendors were busy setting up booths selling everything from home-made crafts and jewelry to food and President Obama pins and t-shirts, hours before the game even started.
The hours before the 2 p.m. kickoff to the Florida Classic pitting the Wildcats against the Rattlers inside the Citrus Bowl were the quietest. By noon, when the Citrus Bowl opened its gates to let in the crowd, and then well into the night, the celebrations, street parties and revelry continued – providing a strong economic boost to the city through this popular sports event.
A massive crowd flocked into the Citrus Bowl on Church Street in downtown Orlando, for the game that the guest team, the Wildcats, would eventually win by a score of 21 to 16. Throughout the day, food and merchandise vendors inside the Citrus Bowl Stadium — and lining many of the streets around it — were ready to take full advantage of the massive crowds that had arrived for the game.
That crowd, not surprisingly, included some of the city and region’s top political leaders. Congresswoman Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, Orlando City Commissioner Samuel Ings and Orange County Commissioner Tiffany Moore were on hand for the 2012 Florida Blue Florida Classic Football Game, and so was Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, wearing his blue “Florida Classic” t-shirt.
Dyer was there for the ceremonial coin toss to kick-off the 33rd annual Florida Classic football game between the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Rattlers. Continue reading

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