Witchcraft Suspected As Motive For 3 Pensacola Murders During Blue Moon
By: Kelly Woodard
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said in a press conference on Tuesday that the three bodies found in a Pensacola home are suspected to be the victims of a ritualistic witchcraft killing. The three victims, Voncile Smith, 77, John William Smith, 49, and Richard Thomas Smith, 47, were found in their home Friday during a welfare check.
As of Tuesday afternoon, investigators had spoken to a person of interest who Morgan said is a white male who was known to practice witchcraft. The murders coincided with a blue moon, which occurs when a fourth moon appears during a three-month-long season and are seen as a time for ritualistic practice in witchcraft.
Morgan said the three individuals died of blunt force trauma as all three were hit with a claw hammer and were found with their throats slit. One victim had a gunshot to the back of the neck as well. There appeared to be no forced entry to the home, and details of the scene remain private as the investigation continues.
Morgan said that investigators think the person of interest was familiar with the family, and have ruled out robbery as a motive for the murders after a safe with “a substantial amount of money” was found in the home untouched.
No one has been formally charged in the murders as of yet, but Morgan says investigators are working diligently to get to the bottom of this horrific crime.
Anyone with any information is asked to please contact Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers. Text “GCCS”+ your tip to CRIMES or Toll Free 1-877-433-TIPS or 1-850-433-STOP.
Craft Beer Enthusiast Come Together For An Evening of Hops and Homemade Cuisine
By: Kelly Woodard
There is a revolution brewing in the beer business. They call it “craft beer”. It comes from small, independent, traditional breweries, and its popularity is undeniably on the rise. Breweries have continued to pop up across the country, and the public's taste for beer is getting more refined — thanks to the trend and increased exposure local breweries get when establishments feature their taps.
Now, the Fish House wants to add to the trend by featuring beers from the gulf coast at the ‘Hops and Harvest Festival’, a handcrafted beer and food event, next Thursday, August 13th at 5:30 pm.
The event will feature brews from the Oyster City Brewing Company, which is part of the Lewis Bear Company's portfolio of craft beers. Located in the heart of Apalachicola, Oyster City Brewing Company makes beer under the example shown by the local, determined, dedicated and hardworking watermen that have truly inspired Oyster City.
Chef Matthew Brown has created a menu in the spirit of local seafood flavors to pair perfectly with three specially selected brews from the Oyster City Brewing Company. The menu will begin with fresh mussels, oysters, and grouper lightly steeped in a golden saffron broth and served with candied fennel and tomatoes paired with Mill Pond Dirty Blonde Almost Easy Ale.
The second course will feature baby spinach salad tossed with a vinaigrette made from our house-cured bacon, shallots, and brown sugar topped with torched goat cheese, paired with Hooter Brown Tupelo Honey Ale.
Then, guests will enjoy seared quail, roasted to perfection, with a sweet, creamy-soft polenta and a buttery demi-glace paired with First Light of Day Golden Ale, followed by tender breast of chicken brined in buttermilk and roasted slow. Served over a warm farro salad of arugula, chickpea and toasted walnut drizzled with a light lemon beurre blanc and paired with Apalach IPA.
The meal will finish with a ginger-poached persimmon with a vanilla bean cream resting in a flaky tart.
Lindsey Engel, Craft Specialty Manager for the Lewis Bear Company (and home brewer herself) along with Bo Walker, partner and brewer of Oyster City Brewing Company, will be on hand to discuss each beer and how they are made.
The event is $55 per person plus tax and gratuity. Seating is extremely limited, so make your reservations today!
For more information or to reserve your seats now, visit www.jacksons.goodgrits.com or call 850-469-9898.
United Way Needs You To ‘Cram the Van’ To Help Kids Start the School Year Off Right
By: Kelly Woodard
There are many kids here in Escambia county that start school each year without the supplies they need. Having the right supplies helps keep kids focused and learning at school. With the new school year just around the corner, the United Way of Escambia County is kicking off their 16th Annual Cram the Van fundraiser, a school supply drive uniting family, friends, and our whole community to help low-income youth get the school supplies they need to succeed in the new school year.
Sponsored by Sandy Sansing Dealerships, WEAR ABC 3, WFGX My35, Papa John’s Pizza, and United Way. JET 100.7, Magic 106.1, NASH 102.7, News Talk 1370, Today’s Soft Rock 94.1, Cat Country 98.7, and NewsRadio 1620, the United Way will be collecting supplies on Thursday, July 30th at Wal-Mart locations at Mobile Highway, Creighton Rd, Tiger Point, and Pace from 10 am to 7 pm.
Each year, the program greatly benefits local teachers and students by supplementing the school supplies that parents purchase. In 2014, over $58,000 in school supplies were distributed to 55 area schools.
Items needed include backpacks, pencils, paper, glue, crayons, notebooks and calculators. There are several public Cram the Van collection boxes located across the community where individuals can drop off school supplies. Please visit the United Way of Escambia County website at www.unitedwayescambia.org/cramthevan for all locations and a full list of requested supplies.
Do you need help with school supplies? Parents in Escambia County should dial 2-1-1 to receive further instructions on how to request school supplies for their children. Parents in Santa Rosa County need to fill out an application and should call First Call for Help at (850) 983-7260 for information on how to apply. The application can be found at www.unitedwayscr.org.
For more information about Cram the Van, call (850) 434-3157 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help make this the best school year ever for our local children!
Gulf Island Seashore Ranger Programs Offer Exciting Outdoor Experiences For All
By: Kelly Woodard
There’s no reason to be bored or indoors this summer! Join in on the fun in the sun and get to know a little more about your own backyard as the Gulf Islands National Seashore presents these fascinating Ranger Programs this July and August.
Advanced Redoubt: Legacy in Brick & Mortar
The group meets daily at 11am. Participants are asked to meet at the entrance to Advanced Redoubt. The 30 minute program involves walking on uneven surfaces, sandy walkways, and steps. Designed solely for resisting a land-based assault, the Advanced Redoubt is a monument to war, peace, and architectural ingenuity. Explore the brick arches and white washed casemates of this engineering marvel.
The group meets daily 3:30pm at the Fort Pickens Museum. This 30 minute talk addresses Gulf Islands National Seashore’s wide variety of habitats for a myriad of species. Take a break from the sun and learn about some of the plants and animals that call the seashore home.
Fort Barrancas: Guardian of the Gulf
Meets daily at 2pm at the Fort Barrancas Visitor Center. This 30 minute program involves walking on uneven surfaces, sandy walkways, and steps. High on a bluff overlooking the entrance to Pensacola Bay, Fort Barrancas stands today as a monument of military engineering and a marvel of human ingenuity. Learn more about the endurance of this imposing brick structure.
Fort Pickens: Garrison for Freedom
Meets daily at 11am & 2pm at the entrance to Fort Pickens. This 30 minute program discusses Fort Pickens where for over a century, it has protected the coastline from foreign invasion and withstood the actions of war, time, and the elements. Discover the importance of this coastal fortification in our nation’s history.
Gulf Islands’ Sites & Sounds
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 9:30am and 2pm at the Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center. This 30 minute walking tour discusses all things Gulf Coast, from its sandy beaches to its maritime forests, Gulf Islands National Seashore is a place like no other. Take a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk and see some of the plants and animals that call Gulf Islands’ home.
Seagrass Safari: An Interactive Exploration of Our Coastal Nurseries
Held Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 11am at Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center, and Tuesdays at 2pm at Perdido Key; meet at the Johnson Beach Ranger Station. This 1 hour program explores the emerald green waters that surround Gulf Islands National Seashore are delicate, dynamic habitats teaming with life. Wade into the water and learn more about the creatures that call this area home.
Secrets of the Sand
Daily at 9:30am; meet at the Battery Worth Picnic Area. A 30 minute program discussing how our islands became what they are today. Shaped by the forces of water, wind, and storms, barrier islands are ever changing, requiring the plants and wildlife to adapt continually. Learn more about what makes barrier islands special places.
Held Friday, July 17 and Friday, August 14, 7:30pm – 9:30pm; meet at the Battery Worth Picnic Area. Join park staff and volunteers from the Escambia Amateur Astronomer’s Association (EAAA) for a fun night out under the stars. Get an up close view of some celestial objects and learn more about the night sky. Telescopes will be available for use.
Held Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 7pm; meet at the Fort Pickens Museum. A 1 hour program that gets you up close and personal to the breath taking sunsets that dazzle the evening waters of the national seashore.
Underwater Snorkel Adventure
Held on Wednesdays and Sundays at 10am; meet at the Battery Worth Picnic Area, and Fridays at 10am; meet at Opal Beach Picnic Pavilion F. This special 90 minute program allows you to get up close and personal with the wonders under our water. Snorkel gear is provided first-come, first served. The seagrass habitats are fascinating places to explore.
All programs are free, but are subject to change. There is an entrance fee to the Fort Pickens Area, Perdido Key Area, and Opal Beach.
For updated information, please call 850-934-2600 or visit the National Seashore website at www.nps.gov/guis and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GulfIslandsNPS.
Local Thrill Seekers Are Ready To Mess With the Bull and Get the Horns
By: Kelly Woodard
A little piece of Spain comes to downtown Pensacola as the 5th Annual Fiesta de San Fermin en Pensacola hits the streets on Saturday, July 18th at 8:30 am. The Fiesta de San Fermin en Pensacola mixes Pensacola’s rich Spanish history and culture with the excitement and danger of a traditional Encierro (Bull Run).
Inspired by the Fiesta de San Fermin, best known for the “Running of the Bulls” held yearly in Pamplona, Spain which was made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s novel "The Sun Also Rises”, Pensacola’s version of the festival has also been heavily influenced by the Fiesta de San Fermin en Nueva Orleans held in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This exciting and unique event was featured on the Travel Channel as part of their “Edge of America” series in 2013.
The three-day event will combine classic Ernest Hemingway, Spain, music, food & drink all leading up to the excitement in the streets. The weekend will start on Thursday, July 16th with a Spanish inspired Wine Pairing Dinner at Apple Annie’s with wines selected by Executive Chef, Brandon Melton. The cost for the event is $60.00 per person (tax and gratuity not included). Reservations are required as this event is limited to just 80 seats.
A “Chupinazo,” or opening celebration, is scheduled for the evening of Friday, July 17th at 6 pm and will feature a procession honoring San Fermin, the Patron Saint of Pamplona, Spain with members of the Krewe of Andres de Pez. A local “Padre” will make the traditional opening remarks and local dignitaries will dedicate the weekend to St. Fermin. There will also be a wide array of food, specialty drinks, and live entertainment for everyone to enjoy.
On Saturday morning, July 18th at 8:30 am, an “Encierro” (Bull Run), honoring the perilous running of the bulls in Spain, will run through the streets of Pensacola. Runners will be notified with rockets throughout the race as to the whereabouts of the bulls. Runners will hear the first rocket at 9:00 am to alert the runners that the corral gate is open. A second rocket signals that all bulls have been released. The third and fourth rockets are signals that all of the herds have entered the bullring, marking the end of the event. Live music, food & drink will be available for participants & spectators following the “Bull Run”.
The “bulls” are members of the Pensacola Roller Gurlz roller derby team and select participants from other roller-derby leagues across the country. In keeping in tradition of the New Orleans version, in place of angry bulls, the roller derby enthusiasts will be wielding whiffle bats to chase the runners through the streets of Historic Downtown Pensacola.
Runners are required to wear (any kind) of white shirt, white pants or shorts and wear a red bandana or piece of red cloth around the waste and neck. There are only five rules each runner must follow:
1. Run at your own risk
2. Do not touch the “bulls”
3. If you go down, stay down
4. Do not stand still
5. Children under 10 (or those who don’t want to be hit) use the sidewalk
Registration is going on now, and the Saturday Running of the Bulls event is $45. The first 300 registered participants will receive a St. Fermin bandana. Registered participants will also receive a St. Fermin commemorative t-shirt and a wristband for complimentary beer/soft drinks.
Weekend VIP Passes are available for all the weekend’s festivities for just $100. There are a total of 50 packages available. Call Seville Quarter at 850-434-6211 for reservations.
You can register for the 2015 Running of the Bulls in the Seville Quarter Wine Shoppe or on-line at www.runsignup.com. Late registration and t-shirt pick-up will be on Friday, July 17th from 4- 7 pm. Day of registration will be Saturday, July 18th from 7 - 8 am.
This event is free for spectators and all ages are welcome. For more information or for a list of all the festival events, visit www.sevillequarter.com or call 850-434-6211.