ABOVE: Tour owners, from left, Janet Gamache, Brian Young, John Tucker and Paula Tucker.
Segway tours in Mount Dora are hardly new. The two-wheeled personal transporters have been rolling through the streets of the historic downtown and waterfront for years. What has changed for the popular tours are its owners and its new scenic waterfront location. Longtime Mount Dora area residents Brian Young and Janet Gamache have joined forces with Paula and John Tucker to take over the city’s Segway tours and rename it Glide Adventure Tours. The foursome aren’t new to operating tours in Mount Dora nor partnering on business ventures. The Tuckers have owned and operated Taste of our Town Tours in Mount Dora since 2013. Paula served as Mount Dora’s Postmaster for six years and John is currently a city councilman. Young and Gamache are the organizers of several of Mount Dora’s large downtown events. Last year, the foursome partnered to open CatBoat Adventures, a guided two-person watercraft tour across Lake Dora and through the Dora Canal that departs from Mount Dora. Segway of Central Florida, located in downtown Mount Dora, will no longer offer tours, but will continue to offer sales, service and maintenance of the personal transporters, according to Young. Glide Adventure Tours is expected to launch in early June with five Segway Personal Transporters and plans to expand to 10 as demand for the tour grows. The tours will be based out of Mount Dora Marina and Boating Center located between downtown shops and the lighthouse The 90-minute Segway tours will depart from Mount Dora Marina and Boating Center next to Evans Park and wind through downtown Mount Dora and Evans Park and then travel to scenic Palm Island Boardwalk and Lighthouse Point. A new two-hour evening tour will be added to encompass enjoying the city’s beautiful sunsets from Lighthouse Point. The 90-minute tours are $55 per person plus tax and the new 2-hour tours are $65 per person plus tax. The age requirement to ride is 12 years and older, and the weight requirement is for riders to weigh between 100 and 260 pounds. The minimum number for a tour is two people and the maximum is eight. Glide Tours will be offering packages for larger groups that allow group members to split between Segway tours and CatBoat Adventures tours.
ABOVE: The bar at Fiesta Grande Mexican restaurant in Mount Dora on May 5.
Times have changed in the days of COVID-19. Now police officers in small towns like Mount Dora can find themselves stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Over the years, Mount Dora Police Department (MDPD) has emphasized its community policing, a philosophy that creates a constructive partnership between law enforcement and the community. The strategy enables police departments to build trust and understanding which creates a stronger bond with local residents, business owners and neighborhoods. That bond helps shape goodwill and prevent crime.
Now MDPD must balance community policy with public safety by enforcing Florida Governor’s Ron DeSantis’ executive orders designed to protect the public’s safety by mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
That is what happened on May 5, one day after DeSantis allowed a limited reopening of restaurants' dining rooms, but did not allow patrons at at close proximity to each other at their bars. That evening MDPD responded to Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant after receiving a call about the large crowd. At the same time, a photo of the restaurant’s bar crowded with patrons appearing to have drinks was being circulated statewide on social media. The temporary order requires restaurants have six feet of social distancing, but compliance is the responsibility of the business owners, not the patrons.
The image was captured by a food delivery driver who was on duty and had to enter the restaurant. Although the driver is not the person that placed the call to authorities, his photo sparked concern inside the city and out.
“Local law enforcement has been working a fine line between enforcing the governor’s executive order and being empathetic to the needs of our business community,” said Mount Dora Police Chief Robert Bell. “We appreciate our merchant partners and hope they police themselves. However, in the rare occasion where we have to get involved, their quick compliance to the order is appreciated.”
Meanwhile, other Mount Dora restaurants are complying and working hard to provide a safe environment for their employees and patrons. Pisces Rising published a reopening message on Facebook that outlined how they will be improving safety during COVID-19, including switching to disposable paper menus, screening staff prior to work and requiring masks for employees that have direct contact with customers as recommended by DeSantis. The Olive Branch Mediterranean Grille also requires staff to wear masks, placed a hand-sanitizing station at the entrance for guests and employees, physically removed several of its tables and chairs and increased sanitation efforts. Las Palmas Cuban Restaurant also requires its staff to wear masks. Allyson A Bakeshop, whose owner is a former ER doctor,accepted only credit card payments and had an efficient no-contact policy during the initial shutdown. All of the voluntary safety practices at restaurants come at an increased cost to the businesses that are already operating under difficult financial limitations.
Although local police departments are on the front lines to enforce DeSantis’ order for public health, anyone can report business violations directly to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) using their online form available here.
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