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DeLand Wins America’s Main Street Contest

For the second year in a row, Independent We Stand has awarded more than $25,000 in cash and prizes, plus a brag-worthy title, to one deserving Main Street program. The America’s Main Streets contest celebrates local communities across the country, while recognizing the groups working to keep them vibrant. This year, MainStreet DeLand of DeLand, Florida, claimed the top spot in IWS’ America’s Main Streets contest.

Situated about 30 miles north of Orlando, DeLand is one of Florida’s “small-town treasures.” The city is home to about 27,000 residents and the historic campus of Stetson University. MainStreet DeLand has served the community for more than 30 years, blending the city’s historic roots with the 21st century. The award-winning Main Street program organizes regular events, such as a growers and makers market and small business meetings. MainStreet DeLand was even the first program in Florida to earn the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street designation.

“MainStreet DeLand has worked long and hard to reinvigorate the downtown. At one point over half of the downtown buildings were vacant. Now it is clearly the pride and joy of the community.” said Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand. “The purpose of the America’s Main Streets contest is to highlight the type of leadership and longstanding commitment to community that MainStreet DeLand provides.”

As the contest’s ultimate winner, MainStreet DeLand will receive $25,000 cash, plus a series of prizes intended to make community revitalization easier.

Additionally, MainStreet DeLand will work with Independent We Stand on a “Main Streets Make Us Better” event. The event will take place on July 1, during DeLand’s annual Firecracker Festival. The Main Street-themed event will give the local community an opportunity to celebrate the contest win and reenergize its support for the downtown program.

The full article appears on

Catherine’s Corner: Business Women of Style

My daughter, Leslie, and I are proud to be chosen as Businesswomen of Style by Lake & Sumter Style Magazine. We love that we have the opportunity to work together to grow Catherine Hanson Real Estate, Inc. It’s a family business, and one we are very passionate about. We hope to see you soon!

Mount Dora Ribbon Cutting

Our newest Catherine Hanson Real Estate, Inc. location is now open in Mount Dora, Florida. Please stop by and say hi the next time you are in town: 346 Dora Drawdy Way, Mount Dora, FL 32757.

A special thank you to Mount Dora & East Lake Chambers of Commerce for your support. Thanks to our generous partners who donated door prizes: The Closing Boutique; First International Title – Kim Mahoney; Chelsea Title – Angela Sheppard.

Upcoming Events in Lake County

There is always a reason to explore and have fun in Lake County, Florida. From annual festivals to weekly events, Lake County offers many opportunities for exciting activities. We’ve come up with a list of things to do while you are living or visiting Central Florida. Enjoy these upcoming events in Lake County.


Blithe Spirit 
May 12-19 at Melon Patch Theatre, Leesburg

This classic comedy from the playwright of Private Lives Noel Coward offers up fussy, cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine, re-married but haunted (literally) by the ghost of his late first wife, Elvira.

Movies Under The Stars-Waterfront Park 
May 19 at Waterfront Park, Clermont

The Clermont Fire Department is bringing you great movies and awesome family fun. Bring a blanket and some family and friends to this rain or shine event on this dates at Waterfront Park: May 19- Monster Trucks.

Gallagher Jokes on You Comedy Tour 
May 20 at Clermont Performing Arts Center, Clermont

Prepare for a crazy evening as Gallagher brings his unique form of comedy to the hills of Clermont! Joined by his colleague Artie Fletcher, this one-night-only performance will have you in the aisles, and ducking for cover from the SLEDGE-O-MATIC!

4th Annual East Lake Heritage Festival 
May 20 at East Lake County Library, Sorrento

Come and join us for a fun day of activities. There will be a Civil War Reenactment Campsite, an Historical Slideshow, the Blackwater Creek Bluegrass Band, Dulcimers, the Avian Reconditioning Center, a Country Store & Sweet Shop and much, much more.

Clermont Jerk Festival 
June 10 at Clermont Waterfront Park, Clermont

Event celebrates Caribbean American Heritage in June.This year marks the 6th annual celebration of Caribbean American culture in Clermont. Enjoy the cultural taste, sight and sound.

Tavares Theater Presents: The Game’s Afoot or Holmes for the Holiday by Ken Ludwig 
July 1-7 at Bridges Covenant Church, Tavares

Scathing critic Daria attends holiday party at the Gillette mansion. Everyone is suspected of her murder. A secret room, moving body, and ghastly humor keeps you on the edge of your seat. Buy tickets online: or call for season pass.

4th of July- Red, White, & Boom! 
July 4 at Waterfront Park, Clermont

An all-day, 4th of July celebration at Waterfront Park, filled with traditional Americana-type activities for all ages and ending with fireworks over Lake Minneola.

Mount Dora Seafood Festival

August 26-27 at Elizabeth Evans Park, Mount Dora

The 3rd annual Mount Dora Seafood Festival is a Free event held on the shores of Lake Dora in Evans Park and Gilbert Park featuring seafood, music, kids activities and pirates!

Find your dream home in Lake County, Florida

Catherine’s Corner: new office opens in Mount Dora

Sometimes opportunities present themselves — and you have to act fast. When we saw the potential for growth in Mount Dora, Florida, we trusted our instincts and opened a new office at 346 Dora Drawdy Way. We are very excited to return to this beautiful town!

I have been most fortunate in the real estate business thanks to many of you. We have survived the downturn that started in 2007. I was able to consolidate and hang in there during the tough times. Then, a couple of years ago, my daughter, Leslie, became interested in the business and has become a key member of my team. She has learned the ropes quickly and has taken over some of my duties. I am proud, thrilled and less stressed to have my daughter working with me. She grew up on our dairy in Sorrento, went to school Mt. Dora and lives east of Eustis. She knows East Lake County and Mt. Dora well.


A couple of months ago, we started to explore the idea of opening an office again in Mt. Dora (I had one there for several years before 2007). And then things started to fall into place: a couple of top notch sales associates agreed to place their license with us, a small office on Dora Drawdy Way (close to Goblin Market) became available and, fortunately, the market is moving forward again. On February 1st, the stars aligned and Catherine Hanson Real Estate, Inc. opened in downtown Mt. Dora. We are excited to have a presence in the city as well as the county. When you are in town stop by and say hello to Lisa Dyson and Mike & Mandy Specchio, Jean & Tim BarlowGraham Biles and Misti Winters. They would love to visit and get to know you.


If you know of someone looking for a residence or even commercial property in Mt. Dora, please keep us in mind. The same personal touch and sincere concern found in our Sorrento location exists in the Mt. Dora office as well. We are a homegrown family business that began in 1989 when I started Catherine Hanson Real Estate, Inc. from my home and constructed the building in Sorrento that same year. We are one big family that is committed to serving the residents and potential residents of East Lake County with competence and enthusiasm.


See you soon!

Tavares: America’s Seaplane City

This story was originally posted by the Orlando Economic Development Commission and has been reposted here with their permission.

A team of Orlando ambassadors (“Obassadors”) met in the City of Tavares to discover the rich history and exciting activities of this historic town in Lake County. Hosted by Lake County Economic Development & Tourism department and the City of Tavares, the team of Obassadors discovered many hidden gems in Tavares – America’s Seaplane City.

The Obassadors started off the day at the City of Tavares’ Pavilion on the Lake, a striking, 3-story wedding and event venue looking out over Lake Dora. Guests can watch seaplanes land and take off right outside its tall glass windows, as well as on the rooftop and its many balconies. The City of Tavares’ Pavilion on the Lake is the only building built over water in Florida in the last 50 years.

The City of Tavares has a rich history of establishing passenger flights as a means of public transportation. John Drury, Tavares City Manager, enlightened the group with little-known facts about Tavares, including:

  • Only four years after the seaplane was invented in France, a seaplane took off from Lake Eustis in the City of Tavares.
  • After a flight in a Tavares seaplane in 1914, Clara Adams (“The Maiden of Maiden Voyages”) predicted that the future of passenger transportation would be accomplished by airplanes.
  • Famous pilots and passengers of Tavares seaplanes include the Wright Brothers, Clara Adams, and Amelia Earhart.

Seaplane shot.jpgThe Obassadors took to the skies on the Jones Brothers & Co. seaplanes, experiencing a breath-taking view of Mount Dora, Howey-in-the-Hills, Astatula, the lake canal system between the Lakes Eustis, Dora, and Harris, as well as a distant glimpse of downtown Orlando and the attractions.

After the seaplane rides, the group walked down the City of Tavares main street and explored the quaint, historic downtown.

“Lake County is proud to represent everything that is great about the other half of Orlando. It was a pleasure to host the Obassadors, and we can’t thank them enough for their efforts to highlight some of the many reasons why we call ourselves ‘Real Florida. Real Close.'” said Robert Chandler, Lake County Economic Growth Director.

Catherine’s Corner: East Lake Park Expansion

Election day 2016 was quite memorable — some of you were most pleased with the outcome, others very disappointed. However, on November 8 in East Lake County, all the residents were winners! That is the day the Lake Board of County Commissioners voted to purchase 40 acres adjacent to the East Lake Park in order to expand our extremely popular facility. This is something positive your elected officials have done for the citizens of our area, and I am so pleased and excited that we will be able to improve the park.

I am sure many of you use the facility. During soccer season, it’s Friday night lights and jam packed. There must be hundreds of kids running down the field with tons of spectators along the sidelines clapping and cheering for the energetic participants.

On Saturdays, and at least one weekday night, the sound of “play ball” rings out after the players and fans have said the Pledge of Allegiance. America’s past time brings back memories for grandparents and invokes encouragement from parents. There’s nothing quite like the experience of baseball for a young kid. Cracking the bat and catching pop flies continues to make kids (of all ages) smile.

It is so important to have a community park that provides opportunities for us to get outside, enjoy ourselves and get moving. I am afraid we all spend too much time in front of some kind of screen (tv, computer, phone, etc.). When I was growing up, we left the house early and did not get back until dark (of course, I was helping my parents with our dairy — until the cows came home!). I am sure many of you experienced the same dose of the outdoors as you were playing ball, helping around the house, or on a wonderful pretend journey with your friends.

I encourage you to experience the park AND drop a note or email to let the Lake County Commissioners know how much you appreciate their efforts to expand and improve the park for all generations. After all, it’s just as easy to show appreciation as it is criticism! Be positive — it feels so much better.

I hope to see you at the park!