By MEGAN HUSSEY
As Valentine's Day approaches, many people plan formal Date Nights with their special someone; fancy soirees that feature wine, roses and all the trimmings. Yet for those in search of a low- or no-cost, family friendly way to celebrate the holiday of love, a number of Hernando nonprofit and government centers are 'putting their hearts' into the planning of a spectrum of enjoyable events.
Valentine's Day will be celebrated in grand style in downtown Brooksville, as Brooksville Main Street presents a special V-Day installment of its free Friday Night Live concert series, scheduled 6-10 p.m. Feb. 14 at Hernando Park, 205 E. Fort Dade Park in historic downtown Brooksville.
"We'll have a jazz concert featuring saxophonist Dell Barnes," said Natalie Kahler, executive director of Brooksville Main Street. "A concert in the park is a great way to celebrate Valentine's Day."
Food and drink trucks will be selling refreshments that evening, and any guest who spends $20 at a downtown merchant can show their receipt for a buy one, get one free drink deal at an event truck.
"We like creating quality, relaxed events," said Kahler. "You can enjoy who you came with and meet new people in the community. People sit in circles and hang out."
"This is something special for the community," she said.
Also for the musically inclined, orchestra tickets often make for a winning Valentine's gift. The Hernando Symphony Orchestra will present Spectrum, a concert of popular music, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 and 2 p.m. Feb. 23, at Central High School Theater, 14075 Ken Austin Parkway, Brooksville. This show will feature music from the Star Wars saga, Stevie Wonder songs, music from The Great Race and Ben Hur, and much more.
"These are big, bold movie themes, pieces everyone knows, that provoke emotions," said Michele DiLuzio, Conductor of the Hernando Symphony. "And it's a show for the whole family."
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://hernandosymphony.com/ticket-concert-info.
Of course, not all events that fall on or around Valentine's Day are Valentine's themed. The Hernando Beginning Beekeepers Workshop Series, a presentation of the University of Florida Honeybee Lab for Extension education, will offer a Honeybee Biology workshop 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 14 at the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Office, 16110 Aviation Loop Dr., Brooksville. Treat your "honey" and your family to this informative session, which will include a serving of afternoon snacks and expert information courtesy of UF specialists and agents and a network of experienced local beekeepers.
The class is $25 per person and requires pre registration; for more information go to eventbrite.com and search for Hernando beekeeper workshop.
And finally, some Valentine's events aren't Valentine's events--and that can be a good thing. West Hernando Branch Library will host an Anti-Valentine's party 4:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, in the West Hernando Branch Meeting Room of the West Hernando Branch/Staffordene T. Foggia Memorial Library, 6335 Blackbird Ave., Brooksville.
No need to dress up, preregister or bring a date for this free event, intended for teens aged 12-18.
"Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, which means that you might already be completely over it!" read an event announcement. "Come to the library and celebrate with crafts and activities to show just how over Valentine's Day you are."
All craft supplies will be provided free of charge for this event. And even as teens make whimsical black plush hearts, and decorate cookies in colors not typically associated with Valentine's Day (read: no pink permitted), they will be participating in a party that actually claims a very big heart at its core.
"When it comes to Valentine's Day, some kids might feel like they are on the outside," said Justin King, youth services librarian at the Hernando County Public Library System. "They may not have boyfriends or girlfriends, or get Valentines at school."
As they listen to a musical playlist blissfully free of love songs, and enjoy light snacks, these kids can converse, craft, and be themselves.
"Let's take the day back," King encouraged. "And give back."