Plus, Second Harvest needs 700 volunteers and ain’t no party like a parking lot party.

📚 Meet the Central Florida 12-year-old author changing the world one affirmation at a time

Plus, Second Harvest needs 700 volunteers and ain’t no party like a parking lot party.

By Katie Johnston

Happy Friday, folks. 

It’s going to be a bit of a chilly one today when the sun goes down. We’re looking at a high of 68 and a low of 52 — all my hopes and dreams, minus that high pollen count that’s also heading our way. 🙄 To all my fellow allergy-sufferers, the inside of your house is your best friend this weekend.

And speaking of the indoors, the long-awaited Steinmetz Hall is opening at the Dr. Phillips Center today. There’s an opening ceremony set for 11 a.m. starting outdoors on the Seneff Arts Plaza followed by an open house of the “acoustically advanced theater” from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., and another open house planned for tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

The first show planned for the hall is happening tonight at 7:30 p.m. Check out “Rise & Shine,” a 250+ person production led by Cole NeSmith of Creative City Project and Eric Jacobsen of Orlando Philharmonic. There will be improv, spoken word, ballet, and so much more. Tickets start at $25

In true Friday fashion, we’re keeping it light from here on out. Keep reading for good news for Zora Neale Hurston Museum, a 12-year-old Central Florida author changing the world one affirmation at a time, and the local organizations that need your help right now. Plus, what to do with those unwanted gift cards still leftover from Christmas. 


WowRolling on the Cholo Dogs cart is the kind of energy I’m hoping to channel this weekend (likely from my living room)... how about you? 📸: @cholodogs | Wanna see your photo here? Tag either #pulptown or @pulptown on Instagram to be featured as our IG of the Day!

Feel-good Friday news for you

🙏 There are 700 volunteer positions needed to be filled at Second Harvest as of Tuesday. The food bank is desperate for volunteers and almost always is during the month of January but add two years’ worth of a pandemic too, and they could really use our help. Sign up for a food-packing shift here. (WESH

🐶 Earlier this week, the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando received enough food to provide 50,000 meals to its pets. Greater Good Charities and WAG, a pet owner app, donated 13 pallets worth of pet food on Tuesday, freeing up funds that Pet Alliance would’ve otherwise had to spend. (WESH

📚 One Central Florida 12-year-old is changing the world one affirmation at a time. Orlando middle-schooler Lauryn Jones (also known as Sumer Strawbree) already has one book under her belt (Black, Brown and Beautiful), and she’s days away from releasing her second book, Glow Up, with a third book planned for the summer. In addition to buying Jones’ books, you can also support her by buying her merch on her website found here. (WKMG)

💰 Speaking of young Black authors, the Zora Neale Hurston Museum in Eatonville was just awarded a $50,000 grant from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights org based in Alabama. A billboard on the side of I-4 pointing people to the museum was also part of the deal. (Orlando Sentinel

🎉 The Orlando Parking Lot Party is going down outside of Plaza Live tonight. The bi-weekly food truck pop-up is guaranteed to be a good time with spots like Wondering Goat, Treehouse Truck, and Cholo Dogs (as seen above) on the lineup. Party starts at 6 p.m. (Orlando Parking Lot Party on Instagram

📅 The City of Winter Park is kicking off its 20th Annual Unity Heritage Festival this weekend in Shady Park in Winter Park. Enjoy some family-friendly activities, live music, and food while also learning about the culturally rich history of Hannibal Square. Go-time is 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday. (Bungalower)

💳 Tomorrow is National Use Your Gift Card Day. We’re two to three weeks out of the holiday hustle and bustle and chances are if you haven’t used your gift card yet, you might not use it ever. There’s still hope for what to use it for, whether you’re looking to sell it, donate it, or put it to good use. (WESH

Get to know the Orlando Hospitality Alliance


The newly-formed Orlando Hospitality Alliance (OHA) launched today. It’s a new nonprofit org that represents and advocates for our local leaders and entrepreneurs who work in the hospitality industry, something your editor here knows a little bit about, considering my first 12 years spent here managing local bars and restaurants. And full disclosure: I sit on OHA's board. But it just so happened that it launched on a day when Pulptown usually highlights feel-good news and the work of nonprofits in our community, and so I sat down with its founder, Dominique Greco, to ask her to share the guts of OHA with our readers. 

What follows are the five questions addressing what it is, why it’s important, and what it means for you and for me. 

Pulptown: Give me the elevator pitch of OHA. 

Dominique: In Central Florida, there's tourist-centric hospitality culture and there's local-centric hospitality culture. The latter has been in need of a dedicated organization just for them for some time. Our members (hospitality entrepreneurs) are brand-building, job-creating, tax-paying members of our community. OHA plans to offer support in ways most meaningful to them; by shining light on their good work, economic impact, workforce impact, philanthropy, and overall contribution to the cultural fabric of Central Florida; and giving them a voice that will encourage modernizing the regulatory environment to ultimately foster small-business hospitality. 

P: Where did the idea of OHA come from? 

D: It's been a conversation between my friends and colleagues for years and years — at every dinner table, over cocktails, lunches and late nights. It was always a good idea because being unified is simply a better option compared to not being. Members of OHA have so much in common. By organizing their needs, wants, and collective impacts, we can rightfully position the local & social community as the vital segment of central Florida's economy that they are. 

P: Why do you think Orlando needs the OHA? 

D: To give entrepreneurs resources and educational opportunities. To translate information to/from our members; breaking down rules and policies making them easier to understand and explaining the reality of hospitality entrepreneurship to law-makers and community leaders. To specifically represent an important segment of central Florida's hospitality industry.  

P: Why should Orlandoans care that we have this representation now? 

D: Even before COVID, the hospitality industry was known to change rapidly; just as fast as trends change! Arguably, hospitality is the most trend-driven industry of them all, and all too often, the ability to adapt as such is limited by passe' rules and policies. Orlandoans should care about the viability of our local & social treasures and help to ensure that hospitality entrepreneurs have the resources and support they need to start up and scale up.

P: What can Orlandoans do to support OHA? 

D: Recruit your favorite eating, drinking, dining, dancing, creating, entertainment, or live event establishment to join OHA today. Follow us on social. Contact me (Dominique) to discuss partnership opportunities.

📅Need help planning your weekend? We got you.


Today our Pulptown+ members are getting a weekend guide specially curated by us! 

If you like our “Things to do” section then you’ll like our “We planned your weekend” guide we give exclusively to our Pulptown+ members. Every Friday we give members a suggestion on something to watch, listen to, read, go to, and eat. Want in on the next guide, rounds of I Spy, and other exclusive content? Become a member today!

Things to do


🎶 Head to the Dr. Phillips Center for the grand opening weekend of Steinmetz Hall thru Saturday (Downtown)

🍷 Enjoy a grilled cheese, good wine, and local music at Swirlery Wine Bar (SoDo)

🍿Pack a chair and head to Ivanhoe Park Brewing for this week's Brew and View featuring "Jumanji" (Ivanhoe)


🖼 Get some facetime with the artists behind Snap! Orlando's latest exhibit, "As Seen in Florida" (South Eola)

🍿Head to The Nook for a night of movie trash. Drink local brews and pick apart "Showgirls" with everyone else (Milk District)

🍿Grab a blanket and settle in for movie night on the lawn of Nora's Sugar Shack (Ivanhoe)

🍿Make your way to Independence Square for a night of "Back to the Future," kids games, movie trivia, popcorn, and fun (Maitland)


💐 New plant parents, check out this floral design workshop for beginners happening at The House on Lang (Mills 50)

🛍 Shop local plants, art, vintage, and oddities at the Bazaar Botanica happening at Ivanhoe Park Brewing (Ivanhoe)

🍿Celebrate what would've been Betty White's 100th birthday with a viewing of "Lake Placid" at the Enzian (Maitland)


🎯 Drag a friend to 90s drag bingo at Ivanhoe Park Brewing (Ivanhoe)


🍿Don't miss your chance to catch Orlando Fringe Mini Digi-Fest from the comfort of your couch (Online)

One more thing…

Monday marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an occasion to celebrate the late civil rights leader’s life and legacy. Be sure to check out the array of ways you can celebrate in Central Florida (here’s a great list to get you started) and uphold the example Dr. King set in pursuing equity for all people. The fight to guarantee justice and freedom for all is a lifelong task and one that each of us — as members of a community as large and diverse as Greater Orlando — ought to prioritize every day.

Be kind out there and see you back here next week,

– ✌️ Katie at Pulptown

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