2nd Annual Jonathan’s Day

The second annual ‘Jonathan’s Day’ was one of family fun and learning. Held on December 3rd in Coral Reef Park, as part of Palmetto Bay’s Unique Abilities Fair, about 500 people to learn about supporting and assisting kids and families dealing with autism.

‘Jonathan’s Day’ is named after Jonathan Mizrachi, a bright-eyed 12-year-old with autism and the son of CBS4 Digital Sales Manager, Jason Mizrachi. As such, CBS4 Sports Anchor Mike Cugno served as co-MC of the event along with Miami Heat announcer Michael Baiamonte. “Jonathan’s Day is exciting,” said Baiamonte. “We got plenty of kids out here enjoying themselves as I announce the kids like they’re NBA stars, making them feel really special, because they really are special to us.”

Championed locally by Councilwoman Larissa Siegel Lara, she and the Mayor made several presentations, along with Councilwoman Karyn Cunningham.

“We already have a great parks system and lots of events here in the Village of Palmetto Bay, we’re utilizing ‘Jonathan’s Day’ as a way to expand our efforts to improve and hone park programming to be more inclusive for those with unique abilities,” explained Mayor Eugene Flinn.

For the day, Palmetto Bay’s Westminster Christian School provided a drum line and a band of seniors wrote and performed a special song called “Superhero”, dedicated specifically to Jonathan.

Daniel Bonsanti wrote the lyrics and explained, “Jonathan loves superheroes and acts like one every day for our community.” The lyrics say it all: “Look at me. I’m what I set out to be…I’m a superhero and I got powers too. And I can change the world, but so can you.”

As kids played and parents learned, Jonathan set his sights on the police helicopter. I led him over to the pilot’s seat and asked him what the day meant to him.

“It’s about acceptance and adventure, activities and games.  I even got my own theme song. The Green Lantern is my favorite superhero because he’s awesome!” Jonathan is pretty awesome too.

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Pinecrest Pioneers’ Luncheon

Twice annually, the Village of Pinecrest proudly honors the seniors who live in the community, many of whom helped in the formation of Pinecrest. On December 2nd, our newly elected Mayor Joe Corradino helped greet everyone at the community room at Evelyn Greer Park.

It is the over-80 set that officially gets invited for a free lunch filled with conversation and camaraderie, but with friends and family joining, the crowd is a good mix of 55-90+ year olds. “This is one of the best events we hold because we have a whole set of our population who really can benefit from our senior programming throughout the Village and this is a highlight of that,” explained Corradino. “It’s living history, since many in the room can tell you stories about when Pinecrest was orchards and an airstrip, well before incorporation.”

This all started four years ago when former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner met Joyce Diehl, who was 89 at the time and still mowed her own lawn. Lerner recalls, “It occurred to me that there must be many other ‘Joyces’ living in Pinecrest, and that we should seek them out, bring them together and celebrate all of our Pioneers. And so, I looked up all residents 90 and over and there were more then 100. Then we backed it up to 80 and older and it was more than 600!  Thus, our Pinecrest Pioneers were born.”

Sponsors Baptist Health, Healthsouth, RE/MAX Advance Realty, Care Patrol, Whole Foods and many others were on hand to help serve up the lunch, including Pinecrest’s Seniors Activity Coordinator Isabel Dossul, “We celebrate our Pinecrest seniors and I love being a part of this.” As everyone ate, they were serenaded by the Vineland K-8 Strings trio. There were raffles too.

Ruth Braddock attended and was celebrating her 93rd birthday. “I’ve lived in my same house for over 60 years and I loved celebrating because I’m amazed I’m still alive,” explained Ruth. “I stay active and swim, just like my father taught me so many years ago. Pinecrest is a beautiful place with beautiful people and they are so good at addressing community needs.”

Braddock was a teacher at Howard Drive Elementary and taught Government Palmetto Senior High many years ago when that was a requirement for graduation. “It was so long ago, the main topic was Americanism versus Communism.”


Local Russian Zyr Vodka

When Wine Enthusiast awards you its first perfect 100-point rating for vodka and you win double gold from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, you’ve done a lot of things right. Yes, Zyr Vodka has those distinctions. And it has an interesting story of how it came into being.

Growing up, David Katz was an ice hockey fan, and in particular loved the legendary Russian goalie Vladislav Tretiak. “I played goalie in high school and college and wore the same type pads and played in his style of goaltending.”

His passion for hockey led him to select Russian as his foreign language in college, and when he failed the freshman course miserably, the school suggested he immerse himself in the summer of his sophomore year to ‘just get rid of the requirement’ by going to Moscow. “In 1993, I did that and after three months I was essentially bi-lingual,” explains Katz. He also got a taste for Russian vodka.

After earning a degree in Russian and Political Science, Katz returned to Russia for five years (1995-2000) where his focus turned to vodka. “In Russia you don’t mix. No cocktails, just straight drinking.” It was the golden years of clear spirits in America, and when Katz saw the rise of Belvedere, Grey Goose, Ketel One and Skyy vodkas he thought: “It’s crazy that Americans are drinking all these imports and none of it is from Russia, where the good stuff is made!”

Katz’s passion turned into anger and he vowed to bring a superior Russian vodka to the States. He toured dozens of Russian vodka factories and although they were good, Katz realized it was all mass industrialized production of grain alcohol where they added sugars, glycerin and lactic acid like all the others. Katz felt he could make a pure vodka to top them all.

So, after many trials, he came to understand that the big picture included proper grain selection, refining the fermentation process and managing everything through the bottling process. Katz journeyed across Russia and realized his vodka needed to be made from a blend of Russian winter wheat and rye. “It is much more expensive, but it gave me the taste, nose and finish that I wanted.”

Fast forward to 2002, when Zyr Vodka first hit shelves. It was a product that proudly went through 9 filtrations, 5 distillations, and 3 tastings, as it still does today. Obviously, the right mix to win the accolades mentioned above. Katz peddled his product in the NY, NJ and CT corridor to some pretty discerning palates. He had some great early success, but still, it’s tough to truly win in the liquor business against the big boys. “I took my licks, and maybe it was the too many hockey pucks to the head, but I just kept pushing.”

Katz doubled down and invested in a patented bottle design and still to this day is pounding the pavement passionately pitching Zyr to fine dining restaurants and winning distribution deals almost door-to-door. The good news for us is that Katz, and Zyr Vodka are based right here in Palmetto Bay! Therefore, there are many spots in South Florida you can pick up this remarkable vodka. It is stocked at Total Wine & More, Crown Wine & Spirits, Checkers Wine and Spirits, ABC Liquors, Publix and Walgreens. You can also order it at Captain’s Tavern, Two Chefs, Town Bar & Grill, Taurus and Jaguar, among others. So this holiday, celebrate the season with local Russian vodka. I certainly will!