Blue Jays spring-training home of Dunedin, Florida ready to welcome Canadian visitors again

Dunedin TD Ballpark Florida baseball

If you’re a Toronto Blue Jays fan, you won’t be able to see them play any home games until the COVID situation in Ontario improves, but you might be able to catch a game if you can get to Florida.

The Major League Baseball team has been playing its home games in its spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida since opening day and the original plan was that would last until May 21 which would amount to 22 games, or 27 per cent of the home schedule.

The way things are going in Canada’s largest province with the pandemic, it’s probably a good bet that their stay there will be extended, although there is talk of playing some games in Buffalo, New York, if necessary. At least it would be closer to home, but I’d imagine fans (and probably players) would rather see their team play in the Sunshine State if they had the chance.

A delegation from Visit Florida met with media and travel advisors last week to pitch the attractions of Dunedin which has been the springtime home to the Jays for the past 44 years when they play at TD Ballpark,  which has been newly renovated as a state-of-the-art player development facility.

More akin to a minor-league ballpark, the intimate stadium is a great place to catch a game, especially during February and March when the Jays would normally be playing Cactus League pre-season baseball.

Located on the state’s west coast near Clearwater, Dunedin has more to offer visitors than just baseball, including the thing that all sun-starved Canadians crave during the cold months and that’s ready access to an abundance of beautiful beaches.

Among the beaches nearby include St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island Beach and Clearwater Beach, which frequently top lists as the best beaches in the United States. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, the Visit Florida Beach Finder Tool will help you find a beach to suit your tastes. The state has 1,327 kilometers of beaches so you’re bound to find something.

There’s a Dunedin in Scotland and this cit,y with its quaint downtown filled with antique shops, art galleries and inviting restaurants, shares the name because it was founded in 1899 by a pair of Scotsman. Those Scottish roots remain strong.

“We are one of the only cities in our state that has bagpiping as a part of the school band for middle school and our high school and we also have an adult city band that on any given day you can see a bagpiper on the pier and our marina,” said Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski. “We also host a one of the largest Highland Games and Celtic festivals.”

Bujalski said Dunedin’s downtown is one of its great strengths.

“Most of the things that are going on in downtown are restaurants and retail and they’re all independently owned, so you’re not going to find these places anywhere else except in Dunedin and we’re very, very proud of that. So in other words, no chains, and we guarantee that you’re going to get to know the name of your local bartender or waitress or even owner of a restaurant,” she said.

“We are really known for our breweries as well we have eight breweries in our city and we partner with visit St. Pete/ Clearwater on brewery tours,” said Bujalski, adding that the city is proud that is home to the state’s oldest microbrewery, Dunedin Brewery.

And, of course, because it’s by the sea, Dunedin boasts a wonderful marina where you’re going to find great seafood, fishing and dolphin-watching charters and the ferry that will take you to Clearwater Beach.

The mayor added that the city is also known for the arts, so you’ll find galleries, mural tours, a history museum, historical walking tours and even the state’s largest arts-teaching facility.

“Interestingly enough, we have all of this and we’re only 38,000 people that live here, and we’re only 10 square miles, so we are packed full. And then, almost every weekend you’re going to find a festival,” she said.

“But of course, along with our beaches, we have baseball, and we couldn’t be more proud to be the original home for the Toronto Blue Jays’ spring training. We just love them. We have been so thrilled to have been able to sign a deal to have them here for another 25 years,” concluded Bujalski. “We’re really proud and want to welcome you back and hope that we get to see you soon.”

Flags of the World Quiz #11: Know your United States

The United States is made up of 50 states and each has its own flag. Many of them are easy to identify simply because the state’s name is written upon them, either on a coat of arms or in some other inscription.

How familiar are you with the other flags that aren’t so easily identifiable? Here are 10 state flags for you to identify. Can you get all 10?

Welcome to your Flags of the World Quiz #11

Which flag is this?
Which flag is this?
Which flag is this?
Which flag is this?
Which flag is this?
Which flag is this?
Which flag is this?
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Which flag is this?

Flagstaff to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing

It’s hard to believe that this year will mark the 50th anniversary of man’s first walk on the Moon. It’s harder to believe that I still remember when it happened, even though I was a small boy at the time.

I remember my Dad making me watch the grainy image on our black and white TV of Neil Armstrong stepping off the Eagle on to the Moon’s surface and telling me that I should remember this day because it was very historic. It must have stuck, because I still do.

I was reminded of that time by a press release that rolled through my inbox from Flagstaff, Arizona. The desert town played a role in that great Apollo exploration in a variety of ways and they are celebrating it with 18 months of events.

When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon on July 20, 1969, followed by 11 astronauts over the next three years, it was made possible through years of preparation in northern Arizona, including astronaut science training, instrument development and lunar mapping.

According to the press release, Flagstaff’s lunar milestones include the following:

  • Every one of the 12 astronauts who walked on the Moon, from Neil Armstrong to Gene Cernan, prepared for their journeys in northern Arizona.
  • Artists worked with scientists at Lowell Observatory to create detailed lunar topographic maps, while cartographers at the USGS Flagstaff Science Campus developed geological maps of the Moon.
  • USGS Flagstaff Science Campus scientists taught astronauts geological principles and techniques at Meteor Crater, the Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater, and the cinder fields that blanket northern Arizona.
  • Astronauts studied the Moon through telescopes at Lowell Observatory, Northern Arizona University, and the US Naval Observatory. In addition, the Museum of Northern Arizona supplied office space.
  • Using explosives, scientists created a simulated lunar surface in the cinder field near Sunset Crater, complete with a network of craters modeled after authentic Moon craters for training astronauts and testing several lunar rover vehicle simulators (moon buggies) in the surrounding volcanic features.
  • For decades Flagstaff has and continues to be an epicenter for space science studies.

I visited Flagstaff years ago with my wife on a Babymoon in a time before the word was even coined. We were on a Route 66 pilgrimage and we spent some time in Flagstaff and were charmed by the scenic town. It’s actually the world’s first International Dark Sky City and is home to Lowell Observatory where Pluto was discovered. We visited the observatory and found it an interesting stop.

As a weird aside, our son who my wife was carrying at the time, was fascinated with Pluto as a child so I don’t know what kind of cosmic coincidence that is.

Lift-off event for Flagstaff’s celebrations launches July 20, 2018 in downtown Flagstaff at the Orpheum Theater and events to mark the occasion will continue through 2019, including exhibits, lectures, book signings, demonstrations, lunar photography, guided hikes, entertainment, and restaurants and bars offering moon-themed dishes and drinks. You can find a calendar of events at www.flagstaffarizona.org/lunarlegacy.

 

Roadside America collects roadside attractions from North America’s highways and byways.

Whether it’s the world’s largest catfish or a replica of the Stanley Cup made out of bacon, Roadside America is a user-generated database of some of the weirdest roadside attractions to be found anywhere in America (and Canada). Check it out before your next road trip.

http://www.roadsideamerica.com