Happy Manatee Appreciation Month! Here Are 10 Reason to Celebrate These Majestic Mammals

In case you weren’t already enamored with them, we’ve compiled a list of reasons to care about some of our planet’s most lovable mammals.

1. They’re also called sea cows.

Who couldn’t love an animal known as a sea cow?

2. They share our love of food.

Manatees are voracious herbivores, consuming around 100 to 200 pounds of sea grasses and weeds every day. In fact, about seven hours of this marine mammal’s day are spent snacking. That’s the life!

3. They’re related to elephants!

Elephants are distant relatives of manatees and share similar traits: tough skin, bristle-like hair covering their entire body and teeth that are continually replaced.

4. They’re awesome swimmers.

Manatees can hold their breath for 15 to 20 minutes and can swim at speeds up to 15 miles per hour, using their strong tails to propel themselves through the water.

5. Manatee calves look like this:

Go ahead and “awww.” You know you want to.

6. They’re big fans of the Bay.

Manatees come from all over to enjoy Tampa Bay.

7. Christopher Columbus thought they were mermaids.

It’s true. Columbus and other early explorers reported sightings of female figures swimming in the ocean. It’s now understood that many of these “mermaids” were actually manatees.

8. They’ve been around forever.

Well, not forever—but 50 million years is impressive to say the least. These mammals likely arose in the early Eocene Epoch. The oldest fossils were discovered in Jamaica.

9. They communicate through cute little chirps and squeaks.

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10. They need our help!

Despite no natural predators in the wild, manatees are listed as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species. As you might of guessed, their vulnerability status is due to human activity—specifically, powerboat collisions and residential and commercial development along rivers and waterways. Find out what you can do to help these amazing mammals by visiting the Defenders of Wildlife website.

Bring Your Pooch to LEGOLAND Florida Water Park Nov. 8 for a Four-Legged Fundraiser to Benefit Humane Society of Polk County

LEGOLAND Water Park is going to the dogs for Everything is Paw-some, a four-legged event benefitting the Humane Society of Polk County. On Sunday, Nov. 8, dogs can bring their owners to LEGOLAND Water Park at LEGOLAND Florida Resort from 1-4:30 p.m. for some doggone good fun.

Dogs are welcome to cool off in the LEGO Wave Pool, the DUPLO Splash Safari pool and the Joker Soaker pool while humans enjoy demonstrations by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit, a doggy costume contest and a raffle in which a plucky dog will pick the lucky winner. In addition, caricature artists and portrait photographers will be on hand to capture one-of-a-kind memories and the Humane Society of Polk County will help facilitate pet adoptions. Food, beverages and souvenirs will be available for purchase.

Admission is $5 per dog, $10 per human, with a one-dog-per-human maximum. Event parking is included with the ticket price. Guests will park in the Resort’s north parking lot, adjacent to LEGOLAND Water Park, which is located off Helena Road between Roosevelt Drive and Cypress Gardens Road.

Several pet-friendly VIP experience cabanas will be offered with deluxe amenities such as champagne and refreshments for a donation of $55. Businesses interested in a unique sponsorship opportunity can reserve a limited number of “We are Paw-some” cabanas with a wide variety of amenities for $225.

“We’re excited to partner with the Humane Society of Polk County to provide resources to help the county’s only no-kill shelter and find homes for pets in need,” said Phil Royle, product excellence manager at LEGOLAND Florida Resort and a member of the Humane Society of Polk County board of directors. “Proceeds from the event will benefit not only the Humane Society, but also Merlin’s Magic Wand, our worldwide charity for seriously ill, disabled and disadvantaged children.”

For tickets, VIP experience cabanas and sponsorship inquiries, call (855) 753-7777 or contact llf.vipexperiences@legoland.com. Registration is available on a first-come, first-served basis until the event reaches capacity.

Additional information about Everything is Paw-some will be posted on the official LEGOLAND Florida Resort Blog at www.llfblog.com closer to the event, including a link for online registration.

The Florida Knifemakers Association’s 18th Annual Custom Knife Show at the Lakeland Center

Steel, wood and ivory transformed into the stuff dreams are made of will be on display at the Florida Knifemakers Association’s 18th annual Knife Show, Dec. 5-6, at the Lakeland Center. Admission is $10. The pubic is invited to attend. For details, visit http://www.floridaknifemakers.org/show.html.

The popular show features artisans from Pensacola to Key Largo who use their talent and imagination to painstakingly and passionately work with exotic materials, to create custom, modern, vintage and collectible knives.

Show hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 9 .m. to 3 p.m. Parking is free. Organizers said a limited number of vendor slots are still available. In all, 100 display tables are anticipated in Sikes Hall when the doors open Dec. 5 at The Lakeland Center, 701 W. Lime St. Lakeland, FL.

FKA President, John Davis says Florida’s knifemakers represent people from all works of life: Dentists, lawyers, construction workers, and office workers.

“All have a passion,” he said. “That passion has taken them into making their own knives—their own pieces of art.”

Some of the handiwork on display will concentrate on overall functionality and cutting ability. Other examples reveal the maker’s imagination and go beyond functionality into artistry, in effect painting a picture with steel, wood and ivory, that tells a story in three dimensions.

Centerpiece of the show is FKA’s first ever raffle knife, a collaborative work of functional art: Damascus forged, ground, etched, and polished by FKA President Davis, with finger-guard, pommel, spacers and file work and fit-up by Ralph Turnbull. Master Engraver, Roland J. Robidoux, was tabbed to add finishing touches. After engraving, the knife goes to Jimmie Smith for scrimshaw and its presentation box

“It was a privilege to be associated with this worthwhile project,” said Turnbull, an award-winning artisan who has been making quality knives since 1973.

“100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Shriners Hospitals for Children,” said FKA President Davis, adding that the drawing will be at the FKA Show on Sunday, Dec. 6.

“The Florida Knifemakers’ Association was founded in 1997, to promote and advance the craft, art, and science of knife making and to improve the overall quality, performance, and value of knives, edged tools, cutlery, and related products,” Davis said.

The Association assists members with respect to technical and esthetic values, quality of work, and business ethics, he said. It also works to educate the general public with respect to the fabricating processes and the skills involved in knife making.

The annual Knife Show is one FKA’s major outreach efforts.

Knife making and ownership is more than a hobby, says the organization’s president. He described it as a passion with a deep connection to the past, drenched in rich memories.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a knife in my pocket,” Davis recalls. “Even as a 5-year-old heading to the woods to go fishing, I had a knife in my pocket,” adding that, “My Dad made sure I knew how to use it.”

For more information about the Florida Knifemakers Association and its upcoming show, including details about FKA’s first official Club Knife raffle, contact Jimmie Smith at (352) 771-6481, John David at (209) 740-7125 or visit http://www.floridaknifemakers.org/index.html.

Brick or Treat Adds Even More Halloween Fun in 2015 at LEGOLAND Florida Resort

This October, kids will discover even more Halloween fun at LEGOLAND Florida Resort during Brick or Treat, the popular, kid-friendly celebration included with theme park admission on select dates. Adding to the excitement this year are two event dates on select Fridays, an exclusive fireworks show, meet-and-greet opportunities with new LEGO Halloween characters and photo opportunities with an all-new, larger-than-life LEGO model created exclusively for Brick or Treat.

Offered every Saturday and Sunday in October, plus new Friday dates on Oct. 23 and 30, Brick or Treat features whimsical Halloween activities for kids throughout LEGOLAND Florida theme park. Highlights include:

  • The “Everything is Awesome Costume Contest” inside the Wells Fargo 4D Theater in Fun Town
  • Meet-and-greets with LEGO Halloween characters, including the Mad Scientist and Frank N. Stein –new this year!
  • Trick-or-treating along the Brick or Treat Trail for children 12 and under.
  • A scavenger hunt in Miniland USA that offers a collectible, limited-edition LEGO brick – with a new design released each weekend!
  • The popular – and delicious – Granny’s Apple Fries with a special pumpkin spice flavor – new this year!
  • Vladimir’s Castle takeover in LEGO Kingdoms – new this year!
  • Photo opportunities with the world’s largest LEGO pumpkin and a stunning, 13-foot-long “Vampyre Hearse” made of thousands of LEGO bricks – new this year!

Each event date will conclude with a dazzling, pirate-themed fireworks show in the skies above Lake Eloise. Complimentary 3-D glasses add a special LEGO twist to the colorful spectacle.

Guests at the brand-new LEGOLAND Hotel can extend the fun with Halloween-inspired food and beverage offerings such as “mocktails” mixed just for kids. Plus, themed prizes await kids in each guestroom — locked in a LEGO treasure chest that can only be opened during an in-room scavenger hunt.

“This is a Halloween celebration completely designed with kids in mind, one that’s unlike any other,” said Adrian Jones, general manager of LEGOLAND Florida Resort. “This year, we’re very excited to offer additional dates and an incredible Halloween-themed fireworks show, plus lots more all-new fun throughout the park. Families will find all the Halloween traditions they love in a style that’s authentically LEGO.”

2015 Brick or Treat Dates:

  • October 3-4 (Saturday & Sunday)
  • October 10-11 (Saturday & Sunday)
  • October 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday)
  • October 23-25 (Friday, Saturday & Sunday)
  • October 30-31 (Friday & Saturday)

For more information about LEGOLAND Florida Resort, visit florida.legoland.com.

Register Now for the Brick Dash at LEGOLAND Florida Resort

Taking place on April 11, the Brick Dash 5K Run and Fun Walk invites runners and walkers of all ages to wind their way through the family theme park that’s built for kids. New this year, kids will have an event that’s all their own. The Kids Half Mile is specially designed for participants 12 and under.

“We continue to be impressed with how this event grows every year,” said David Johnson, New Business Development Director for Merlin Magic Making and Merlin Entertainments and Winter Haven Hospital Foundation trustee. “The name change ties directly into the personality of LEGOLAND Florida Resort: playful, fun and kid-oriented.”

Specifically designed for this race, first, second and third place winners of each age group will receive Specially designed LEGO trophy, as well as to first place finishers for overall male and female, and for masters male and female.  Everyone that participates will receive a race finisher prize, finisher medal and a t-shirt.

Registration is available at www.active.com or by calling the Winter Haven Hospital Foundation at (863) 292-4138. The fee for participants 13 and older is $35; the fee for children age 12 and under is $25. A family of up to five participants is $99. Special corporate rates are offered; call the foundation for more information.

Discounted admission to LEGOLAND Florida Resort is offered to every Brick Dash participant for $30 plus tax. Admission to the Water Park is also available for an additional $15 per person. Special pricing is only available for race day.  Proceeds from the Brick Dash benefit the Foundation’s Fund for Women and Children.