In response to one too many Ocala bashing bumper stickers, allow me to introduce Ocala Rocks, a blog born out of love for my hometown and the people who make it ROCK. Here, I hope to share with you the people, places, events, attractions, businesses and everyday sweet nothings that make Ocala and the Marion county area a great place to live. I welcome information on people, places, events and yes even the sweet nothings (stay tuned for examples of what I consider a sweet nothing) that make Ocala great. About myself, I am a "30 something" money saving mom of 3 married to the love of my life and fellow Ocala native for almost 16 years. As a family we enjoy the outdoors, water sports, camping, entertaining, traveling, home improvement projects, and photography. Individually "Ocalimom" enjoys scrapbooking, papercrafts and throwing parties while "Ocalidad" likes model airplanes, motorcycles and most anything technology related. And in case you are wondering I am not ignorant of the current economic situation and joblessness our area is currently enduring however, I am a "glass half full" kind of girl and truly believe if you don't like Ocala, move to Orlando or get off your butt and make some lemonade out those "Ocala Sucks" lemons you've been sucking on! Enough Said!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Urban Holiday Tour ...An Ocala Gem!

It all started with one piece.  One porcelain  Santa Clause kneeling in reverence before the Christ Child.  That piece, now discreetly placed at the base of a tree, in the middle of a room, at the center of the house, that sits at the base of a lime rock pit, off a tree lined road not too far from the center of Ocala is at the heart of my next "Ocala Rocks" Treasure. It is upon this humble piece, purchased with her very first paycheck, that Joyce Urban built her magical holiday collection.  And in the true spirit of Christmas giving, Joyce has shared her holiday treasures with our community for a tenth season.

The 2010 Urban holiday tour ended yesterday after sharing a healthy dose of Christmas cheer with as many as 400 guests in four short afternoons. As an Ocala native, I am ashamed to say this was my very first time making the tour, but have heard that this Ocala treasure gets better with each passing year.  Collected over the past 35 years from all over the world, I dare say Santa's very own house could not compete with this comprehensive collection of Christmas magic.  It has even been said of past year's tours that Joyce's decor rivals that of the White house.
From the penguins greeting you at the front door to the curious brown and black bears graciously allowing you to pass through the den, each of the 10 decorated rooms is a showpiece that will delight even the most "Scrooge like" guest.  No corner of the home has been left untouched by holiday cheer and it is amazing to believe that a family actually lives in this home that looks more like a department store window than a residence.
As I toured through the Urban's home, if the thousands of holiday pieces had not enthralled me and sounds of holiday music hadn't coaxed me into holiday good spirits then the smell of cookies and homemade candy would have surely pushed me over the edge.  At the center of the home in the Urban's kitchen was the tour's "Cherry on Top" if you will.  Homemade cookies and gourmet cupcakes decoratively packaged, ready to purchase for gift giving and Chocolate Candy being made and sampled before my very eyes.  The baked goods were offered for sale by my favorite cupcake baker, Mackenzie DeHart of Kupkeyk, who is currently raising money to finance a mission trip to Haiti.

But above and beyond the simple fact that Joyce and her husband, Dr. Paul Urban open their home to the public each year, is the greater good they give back to the community. The thing that makes this event an Ocala treasure is the monies raised from the entrance fee do not go to add another Santa to the shelf or star on the tree.  The Urban family have lived, worked and raised a family in Ocala and believe in giving back to their community.  Proceeds from the tickets  benefited;

  • Tony and Tracey Herrera, former Ocala residents, now serving the people of Haiti with Harvest International.
  • Cornerstone School
  • Central Florida College
  • The Counseling and Resource Center
 So I thank you Dr. and Mrs. Urban for sharing your holiday with Ocala and for the way you give to the community.

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