SWB Tourism/I-Drive Resort Area

Maria Triscari serves as president and CEO of the International Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dear Central Florida Residents,

Love is in the air! February is the month for sweethearts, and what better place to celebrate your love than on International Drive? Bring your sweetheart to I-Drive for a weekend getaway. Enjoy a romantic dinner at one of its world-famous restaurants.  Dance the night away at one of the exciting nightlife venues like Mango’s Tropical Cafe, Pointe Orlando or I-Drive 360.

SWB Tourism Update/CFHLA

The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association held its annual Golden Pineapple Awards Dinner on Jan. 26 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive to recognize frontline hourly lodging employees for exemplary service and customer satisfaction. The red-carpet event, attended by nearly 1,000 Central Florida lodging professionals, featured welcoming remarks by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who had the opportunity to take photographs with the award nominees. The dinner was emceed by Fox 35’s Tom Johnson, and awards were presented by CFHLA President/CEO Rich Maladecki.

Picture My Pet Photo Contest

For 16 years, Southwest Orlando residents have showed off the modeling talents of their beloved pets in the annual Picture My Pet photo issue. And for 16 years, the staff of the Southwest Orlando Bulletin has had the privilege of reviewing hundreds of creative — and often funny — shots, showcasing everything from dogs in hats to cuddly kittens to birds and horses.

This year was no exception. Residents from more than 42 neighborhoods submitted almost 100 photos of their furry and fluffy friends, creating an adorable album of the pets that bring joy to the hearts of their owners across Southwest Orlando.

We extend big thank-yous to all the residents and their animal pals who participated in this year’s issue!

Ocoee Construction Project Begins and more news …

compiled by Lauren Salinero

Ocoee construction project begins

City Center West Orange in Ocoee will cover 100 acres and is expected to create more than 8,000 jobs.

Developers held a groundbreaking ceremony for the start of construction of City Center West Orange in Ocoee. The $400 million mixed-use destination will be a city-style mix of retail, condominiums, a hotel and office space on 100 acres of lakeside property facing West Colonial Drive, near the junctions of state roads 429 and 408 and Florida’s Turnpike. Construction will commence on the roads and stormwater pond first and should take 10 months before building construction begins. Phase I is expected to be completed by the third quarter in 2019.

Destination Dining: Winter Garden

Sample, Sip & Savor Your Way Through This West Orange Gem!

by Kirsten Harrington

With a weekly farmers market; lively festivals; numerous restaurants; and artisan shops selling gourmet goods like craft beer, chocolate and olive oil, Winter Garden is a food-lover’s paradise. The following is just a small peek at what the area has to offer:

Upcoming Events

• This weekend is a great time to head to Winter Garden for the sixth annual Blues & BBQ (Feb. 18, from 4–10 p.m., at the Downtown Pavilion, 104 Lakeview Ave.). Bring your lawn chair and enjoy the sounds and flavors of the South, with all profits benefiting the American Cancer Society.

A Historical Look at Winter Garden

Cherishing the Past While Progressing Into the Future

by Debra Wood

One of the most successful efforts at embracing history in Central Florida, downtown Winter Garden has become an active, engaging area full of shops, restaurants, a hotel and a theater.

Men, women and children work the fields in the 1900s. (Photo courtesy of the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation)

The city formed a community redevelopment agency in 1992, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation was created in 1994, and the History Research and Education Center opened in 2015.