Fifty of our favorite people, places and things here on the Space Coast

Raise Your Glass

Florida Beer Company, formerly the Indian River Brewing Company, it is the largest craft brewer in Florida. You may have passed the production brewery in Melbourne on US1, and if you haven’t already, you should stop at the tasting room located there. Might we suggest a Key West Sunset Ale?
2500 S. Harbor City Blvd., Melbourne.

A Hero’s Salute

The American Police Hall of Fame and Museum in Titusville is the nation’s first national police museum and memorial dedicated to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.  Through interactive displays, simulators and nearly 11,000 artifacts, the museum includes history and current trends of American law enforcement.

6350 Horizon Dr. Titusville.

Fly High

Bristow Academy in Titusville provides helicopter flight training for students from all over the world. The Titusville campus is home to the Academy’s Joint Aviation Authority program and Military Training Program and operates a fleet of modern aircraft.
365 Golden Knights Blvd., Titusville.

A Campus Oasis

A 30-acre botanical garden may seem out of place in the middle of a college campus, but Florida Tech is unlike any other school.  Founded in 1958 to provide advanced education for professionals working in the space program, it’s now ranked consistently among top schools by national sources like U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review.
150 W. University Blvd., Melbourne


No Mountains-No Problem

With more than 10,000 square feet of climbing area at On the Edge Rock Climbing Gym both newcomers to the sport and experts can experience indoor rock climbing (and a really fun workout).  They offer classes and even host birthday parties and teambuilding for co-workers.
200 West Drive, Melbourne

Need for Speed

For family fun, Andretti Thrill Park has indoor and outdoor attractions for all ages including the “grown ups.” With mini golf, laser tag, batting cages, an arcade and more, there’s plenty to keep the whole family busy and happy. 3960 S. Babcock St., Melbourne

Bamboo Therapy

Looking for an unusual relaxation experience? Try Spa 902’s bamboo massage, an exotic technique combining the healing powers of bamboo with a massage that will leave you relaxed and refreshed. The bamboo and massage combination draws toxins up toward the surface of the body. The treatment is used warm or cold, with Swedish and deep tissue pressure. Call (321) 724-6270 to book an appointment.

Boys in Their Birthday Suits

Melbourne Civic Theatre’s “The Full Monty” ran for six weeks and had 24 sold-out performances. The theatre’s best selling show in at least a decade, according to Director Peg Girard, helped the Melbourne Civic Theatre remain a successful part of the theater community. Who would have thought a production about unemployed middle-aged men performing a strip tease would draw such a crowd?



Sea Cow Sanctuaries

Manatees are part of Brevard’s famous unique wildlife and one of our animal favorites. They migrate to the Space Coast during the cold weather months in search of warm water. Here are a few spots where you’re likely to see one of the famous sea cows. Just remember to look, but don’t touch.

Manatee Viewing Platform at Haulover Canal at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Manatee Viewing Pavilion at Crane Creek Promenade near Downtown Melbourne

Turkey Creek Sanctuary in Palm Bay

Community Cameraderie

Maybe it’s the gorgeous weather we have almost year round, maybe it’s all the families in the area, but more cities are incorporating monthly street parties and car shows for residents to gather and have fun. For more information visit

Titusville’s TitusNite Street Party and Cruise In-

Indialantic’s Friday at Fifth-

Melbourne Mainstreet’s Friday Fest-

Rockledge’s Cruise On In-

Fashionable Finds

YAPA is a welcome breath of fresh air to the Space Coast shopping scene. The boutique offers an eclectic mix of items from funky homemade jewelry, home décor, clothing and so much more. (You could spend a whole day looking there.)
925 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne



A Side Order of Spectacular Scenery

Dining on the deck is a luxury that many Brevardians enjoy regularly and restaurants are taking notice. River Rocks has added on a deck for diners and many other local restaurants offer spectacular food to go along with the view including Crowne Plaza, Bonefish Willy’s and Yellow Dog Café, just to name a few.

Beautiful Butterflies

The Rockledge Gardens Butterfly Garden was dedicated ten years ago to Harry Witte, the founder of Rockledge Gardens, who passed away in 1998. The butterfly garden is a highlight for school children that come to visit on field trips once a week during the spring and fall seasons and educates and inspires customers who want to plant their own butterfly garden.

Home-Grown Sun Protection

We slather it on almost everyday but most residents don’t know that Ocean Potion is located here in Brevard. Founded in 1989 by Gary DeAngel in Virginia Beach, DeAngelo moved the corporate and manufacturing facilities to Cocoa in 1994. Ocean Potion still makes some of the most popular sun care products including sun blocks, tanning products and after-sun care.

Slip Slidin’ Away

Imagine a private indoor arena filled with inflatable slides, bounce houses and obstacle courses and you’ve got an idea of what Pump It Up in Melbourne looks like. Parties can be reserved for all ages (including adults) and the best part? A party coordinator sets it up and cleans it all up for you. 4195 West New Haven Ave., West Melbourne

Carving a Niche

Wayne Coombs and his hand carved tikis are distinctly Brevard art. Coombs began hard carving palm trees over 35 years ago. His art has advanced to paintings, hardwood, stone, lava, rock, interior as well as exterior design from his studio in Cocoa Beach. 251 Minutemen Cswy., Cocoa Beach

Ride the Wind

Each year Calema Windsurfing and Watersports hosts the Calema Midwinters which brings together World Cup Pros, Olympic Class Competitors and top amateurs in windsurfing to the area to race.  The event has grown to be the largest US Windsurfing event and one of the longest running events in the sport. U.S. Sailing Master Instructor, Trainer and Coach Tinho Dornellas and his wife Susie started the business in 1984.

Runner’s Euphoria

It seems Brevard has running fever lately. Almost every weekend you can find at least one running event. Running Zone helps organize many of the events including the Junior League of South Brevard Inc.’s inaugural Re-Run 5k, a retro themed run with an 80’s theme taking place April 17 at 7:30 a.m. in downtown Eau Gallie.  Visit to see the event calendar and details.

Travel in Style

Baer Air Charter Services offers on-demand private air charter for both passengers and cargo, providing private aircraft charter to any destination in Florida, the continental United States and the Caribbean.

One Stop Shopping for Senior Services

One Senior Place is a Mecca where seniors and family caregivers can find the advice, information, care and services they need. With a wide variety of senior-focused businesses, resource library, and daily events and activities, it is truly a one-stop information and shopping hub.
8085 Spyglass Hill Road, Viera

Cookies for a Cause

The Magical Makery’s whimsical cookies and treats will delight you and your taste buds. Jenny Puzino’s creations are 100 percent homemade and hand decorated. Proceeds from the goodies go to therapy for her autistic son.

Rock On!

Brevard Community College’s world-class planetarium has seating for 210 under a 70-foot dome projection screen. A superb audio system achieves concert-level sound for rock laser shows like U2, the Beatles and The Doors.

All In The Family

It comes as no surprise that Michael Blake entered local politics. After all, his father Richard has served on the Rockledge City Council for more than three decades.  Michael, a graduate of Cocoa High School, is the Mayor of Cocoa and is the first African American president of the Space Coast League of Cities.  Richard, a former vice mayor of Rockledge, was first elected to office in 1976 and for 22 years was principal of Cocoa High School, where Michael now teaches history.


A Mother’s Love

Betsy Farmer is proof positive that necessity is indeed the mother of invention.  When her son Luke was born with Down Syndrome Betsy established the Space Coast Early Intervention Center because “there were no programs for someone with his needs.”  Later she saw the need to expand career options for special needs kids appraching adulthood and formed the Brevard Business Leadership Network (BLN).  Since 2005 as many as 40 business partners have employed dozens of young special needs adults.

“We getting them involved with great businesses where their role models are real professionals.”   Today Betsy is looking toward the future as she works to fufill a promise.  “The parents of these children are worried about what will happen to their kids.”  Promise is a planned community where people with diverse abilities can lead a “safe life with freedom and have a network of support.”  She hopes to break ground in 2011.

To the Rescue

Patrick Air Force Base 920th Rescue Wing. The Air Force Reserve Command’s premier combat search and recue unit, the 920th Rescue Wing relocated to Patrick Air Force Base following the destruction of Homestead Air Force Base in Hurricane Andrew.  The 920th officially merged with Patrick’s 45th Space Wing two years ago and currently trains and equips more than 1,200 Airmen to locate and recover Armed Forces personnell during military operations, provides search and rescue support for civilians in distress, provides rescue support for Space Shuttle missions and assists in humantiarian aid and disaster relief.

The Gift that Keep on Giving

In 2009 United Way of Brevard topped their 2008 total by one percent and contiues to break fund-raising records.  For three years in a row the agency has supassed itself, raising $6,719,670 during the 2009 campaign despite a troubled economic climate.  The campaign supports 76 programs at 46 Brevard County nonprofit  agencied that benefit a quarter of a million people annually.

For Art’s Sake

The Brevard Cultural Alliance is marking their 35th anniversary by hosting the ambitious “The Art of Sand” exhibit showcasing internaionally recognized sand sculpture artists. In addition to supporting all arts on the Space Coast  they provide artist in residence programs at many public schools and host the Art in Public Place program showcasing local artists.  In what is perhaps their most ambitious project to date, the BCA is contiuing the revitalization of the Eau Gallie Arts District with the renovation of five buildings that will soon become the BCA Village and include the BCA offices, community resources and a Tourist Information Center.

Make No Bones About It

The Dinosaur Store in Cocoa Beach features “the most elaborate array of fossils in the world.”

Dinosaur eggs, teeth and claws; Fossil shark teeth necklaces; replicas; amber and meteorite jewelry as well as educational materials are just some of the items featured at the store.  In addition, their new interactive Adventure Zone hosts birthday parties and field trips.  250 West Cocoa Beach Causeway


Weather or Not

You had to break out the sweaters this winter, Space Coast residents still enjoys some of the most beautiful weather in the world.  After all-this could have been you.

Smooth Sailing

Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Disney Cruise lines all sail from Port Canaveral.  From there you can sail off in the sunset to the Bahamas, eastern Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico on three, four and seven day getaways.  The Carnival Glory, one of the largest ships in the world, is homeported at Port Canaveral. In addition, several cruises originating in the Northeast make port-of-call stops here, bringing visitors to our area from around the globe.  Next year, the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun, also homeported here, will introduce Freestyle Cruising to the Space Coast.

Into the Wild

They call themselves “the little zoo that does big things,” and our beloved Brevard Zoo is just that.  From kayaking through its waterways to feeding the giraffes to getting your “Paws On” paying at the zoo’s interactive family fun area, there is something for everyone at the zoo.  And check out the newest family members: Basil, Pepper and Sasha at the new Cheetah Complex in Expedition Africa, they are spectacular! 8225 North Wickham Road, Melbourne; 321-254-3002;

Pot Parties (the legal kind)

Party packages are available for birthdays, bridal and baby showers or anyone just looking for a good time with a group of friends at Get Fired Up Pottery in downtown Melbourne.  Allow your inner artist to shine through at the paint-it-yourself pottery studio with more than 400 ceramic and wheel thrown designs to choose from.  All you need is your imagination as they provide a rainbow of colored glazes to bring your vision to life.  When you’re done they’ll fire your piece so it is food and dishwasher safe.  Party packages are also available for birthdays, bridal and baby showers or anyone just looking for a good time with a group of friends.

536 East New Haven Ave.; 321-729-0222;

Phenomenal Frits

Internationally recognized artist Frits van Eeden is a local treasure.  His work has been recognized by many of the world’s art critics and is the subject of shows in Europe, the Caribbean and the United States. But it is his generosity that we truly appreciate, as his has donated his time and talent to a variety of area causes including the Children Home Society’s Portraits of Possibilities, the Make-A-wish Foundation and our very own Posh Pets fundraiser to benefit the central Brevard Humane Society.

Alzheimer’s Assistance

The Health First Leeza’s Place in Melbourne is and affiliate program of the Health First Institute and a signature program of the Leeza gibbons Memory Foundation. The center provides education, resources and support for caregivers and loved ones facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders.  Leeza’s Place serves as a community gathering place and community resource by connecting caregivers to one another, offering guidance and referrals and providing programs designed to “educate, empower and energize.” 1948 Dairy Road, Melbourne; 321-951-7118;

Chowder Champs

Rusty’s Seafood & Oyster Bar walked away with top honors as the Judge’s Choice at this year’s Chowder Cook-Off with a Twist presented by the Cocoa Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.  More than a thousand people attended the 25th annual event at Cruise Terminal #3 at the Port, sampling chowders from fourteen area restaurants.  A popular vote by attendees crowned Conch Key Grille & Tiki Bar’s chowder the People’s Choice with Rusty’s coming in second.

Broadway in Brevard

This year’s Harris Broadway Season at the King Center provided a variety of shows that dazzled and delighted us.  We were particularly enchanted by the beautiful and breathtaking South Pacific that brought new life to a Rogers and Hammerstein classic and the perfectly profane Avenue Q.  Who knew raunchy puppets could be so raucously fun?

The Sound of Music

Fills the air courtesy of a variety of virtuosos.  From Barbershop to Bluegrass, there’s something for everyone including the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, Space Coast Symphony, Central Florida Winds, Melbourne Municipal Band, Space Coast Flute Orchestra and Swingtime Jazz Band.

Photo-Terry Gerard as composer Ludwig Van Beethoven performs at the Brevard Symphony Orchestra’s annual Fifth Grade concert series at the King Center

Boat Lover’s Paradise

Sailing, canoeing, cruising-we enjoy it all on our beautiful local waterways.  Stop and picnic on a sandbar island in the Indian River or kayak through Turkey Creek-whatever you choose, it’s a great way to spend the day.

Happy Birthday

To Harris Corporation’s Palm Bay facility. Fifty years ago Radiation Inc. moved to Palm Bay and was bought by Harris-Intertype in 1967.  Today, more than 4,000 people work at the Palm Bay campus, home to the company’s Government Communications Systems Division.

Late Night Souvenir Shopping

When you absolutely positively have to have a floatable key chain in the shape of a shark at 3 in the morning, Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach is the place to go.  The “world’s largest surf shop” is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
4151 North Atlantic Avenue, Cocoa Beach; 321-799-8888

Ice, Ice Baby

Why should folks living in colder climates have all the fun? Ice skating is available right here thanks to Cocoa Village’s annual Holiday On Ice outdoor rink (November through January) and year-round  at the Space Coast Iceplex.  USA Hockey youth, adult and junior programs, figure skating lessons, and daily public skating sessions are all available at the Iceplex. 720 Roy Wall Boulevard, Rockledge; 321-504-7500;

Where the Wild Things Are

We stop traffic to allow our beautiful sand hill cranes cross the road, we marvel at the majesty of eagles soaring and laugh at the antics of pelicans perched on riverside pilings.  Brevard is a bird watcher’s paradise, even for the most casual observer.  Just ask the thousands who flock here from all over the world to attend  to the annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival every January.

All that Glitters

Jewelry designer Donna Yarger’s one of a kind pieces “are individually hand crafted, so each has their own special energy,” says Yarger.  For more than thirty years she has been creating “wearable art.” See her work locally at Sullivan’s Jewelers and LoPressionism Gallery in Melbourne and at Doeville in Indialantic.

Heartfelt Giving

One of our favority charity events is the “Have a Heart Extravaganza”. Featuring a Valentine’s Day theme, this annual fundraiser benefits Candlelighters of Brevard who are dedicated to helping local children with cancer and their families through emotional support and financial assistance.  The more than 400 guests attending this year’s event were treated to a surprise concert by special guest Eddie Money.

Dancing the Day Away

As we celebrate a national Day of Dance at Sand Point Park in Titusville.  Presented annually by Parrish Medical Center, Radio Disney and the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce, the day is filled with dance performances;  food; contests; health screenings and beauty and wellness information.

It’s Raining Golf Balls

What happens when 2,000 golf balls fall from a helicopter onto Suntree Country Club’s putting green? Some folks walk away a little bit richer courtesy of Florida Tech’s annual Chopper Dropper ball drop.  The unique raffle is part of the University’s annual Sporting Affair fundraiser to benefit Florida Tech athletics.

Colorful Collage

Created by artist Derek Gores has gained national attention.  A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Gores collage portrait series incorporates recycled magazines, labels and found materials on canvas.  His clients include Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, U2, Lucasfilm, the NFL and NASCAR.  Gores, who also works in mixed media and painting, will showcase his work at this month’s Melbourne Art Festival.

Elvis Lives!

Billed as “The South’s Premiere Elvis Tribute Artist,” Jack Smink, accompanied by his Lightening Strikes Twice (LST) Band, travels through the U.S. and England performing his Unfinished Business Concerts.  A strong supporter of several area non-profit organizations, Smink has entertained for more than 30 years, performing his first ETA (Elvis Tribute Artist) show soon after Presley’s death in 1977.

Pam Gatto-Tire Queen

Family Fortitude Forges Forty Years of

Two years after opening the first Gatto’s Tires in Melbourne, Mike Gatto asked his daughter Pam to lend a hand at the office for a couple of weeks.  “I like to say I came for two weeks and never left,” says Pam.   Since then the business has grown to include seven stores located throughout Brevard County with Pam serving as president of the company since 1994.  Pam cites the father-daughter dynamic as “one of the main reasons I came to work here.  All of those years we spent working side by side forged a special relationship between us.”

These days family contiues to play a strong role in the business.  Pam’s son Scott McHenry serves as Operations Manager of Gatto’s Tires & Auto Service, son Mike McHenry manages the Melbourne store founded by his grandfather in1971 and son-in-law Mike Nevin manages the Viera store.  “My dad worked for Goodyear for 22 years while I was growing up,” says Pam, “we moved around a lot and I never really had a permanent home base.  I wanted my kids to have what I didn’t.”  Now a fourth generation, Pam’s six grandchildren, are enjoying that stability as well.  Scott says the business “keeps the family together.  We’re lucky we have everyone here and get to see them all the time.”  Mike McHanry remembers “when I was growing up, cousins were people we saw at family reuinions, now they all go to school together.”

Gatto’s Tires & Auto Service location

Merritt Island
855 N. Courtenay Pkwy.

510 North Cocoa Blvd.

Commercial Tire and Service Center
510 North Cocoa Blvd.

8000 Block of Wickham Rd.

15 W. Hibiscus Blvd.

Lake Washington
On Wickham just south of
Lake Washington Road

Palm Bay
1103 Malabar Road

The World’s a Stage

The “Drama Mama” of the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse leads her team to produce memorable performances

For two decades Anastacia Hawkins-Smith (Staci) has served as the Executive Director of the Playhouse, a direct support organization of Brevard Community College.  “My responsibilities are artistic directing and producing, but this is a team effort. I surround myself with amazing people. I’m just the glue that pulls it all together.”

“I believe I might have been born to do this,” she says.  ‘My mama used to tell people I came out singing instead of crying.  Service to the community through the performing arts is a lifestyle.  And if you’re going to put this much work into it, you should want it to come out great.”

A graduate of Cocoa High School, Staci has “wonderful memories of coming to this theatre as a child.  I believe this was my mission and that I am walking the walk I was supposed to.”

Working with a few paid staff members and all volunteer casts she is responsible for ten productions annually, including the popular Broadway on Brevard series and the Stars of Tomorrow program.

Married for 16 years to Brian Smith (“he walked in to volunteer to work behind the scenes and never left”) Staci is the biological mother of two adult sons and spiritual mother to hundreds. “My job isn’t just presenting shows, it is to assist ‘my children’ in becoming adults through the performing arts.”  One of the lessons she tries to instill in them is perseverance. “When I first applied for this job I was not their first choice,” she says, “they hired someone else. When that person didn’t work out, I got the call asking if I was still interested.  That’s a lesson I tell everyone-don’t ever give up.”[mappress]