Redfield Press | Melvin “Pack Rat” Leroy Williamson


   Melvin “Pack Rat” Leroy Williamson, 72, Doland, SD, passed away peacefully after a long battle with cancer on Friday, September 8, 2023, at Community Memorial Hospital Avera in Redfield. 

   Visitation will be from 5pm to 7pm on Friday, September 15, at Hyke Funeral Home in Redfield.  Family will be present to accept condolences.  A prayer service and time of sharing will follow at 7pm.

His funeral service will be at 10:30am on Saturday, September 16, at the Doland School Gymnasium in Doland.  Pastor Melissa Rowenhorst will officiate.  Burial will follow at the Doland Cemetery with military honors.  A luncheon will follow at the Doland School Gymnasium.

   The funeral service will be live-streamed to the funeral home’s website below Melvin’s obituary.  Arrangements have been entrusted to Hyke Funeral Home (www.hykefuneralhome.com).

   Melvin Leroy Williamson was born January 16, 1951, in Redfield to Charles “Charlie” and Delores (Ragels) Williamson.  He spent his childhood on the farm south of Doland before moving to Doland.  He attended a rural country school before attending and graduating from Doland High School. 

   Melvin was drafted into the United States Marine Corps, where he proudly served until 1974.  He never met a Veteran without thanking them for their service.  On March 7, 1970, he married his “Pretty Woman”, Lynette Bruns, in Doland, SD.  To this union, two children were born, Jody Williamson and Jamie Williamson.  After returning from the service, Melvin joined his father as the third generation of Williamson Trucking (since 1946), working up until the time of his death.  He was proud of his son Jamie when he followed in his footsteps and became the fourth generation.  His motto was, “You Call, We Haul, You Pay, That’s All!”  As the most generous man we knew, he would give the shirt off his back if he could.

   Family was everything to Melvin as he patiently waited for the birth of his first great-granddaughter who was born just hours after his death.  He loved vintique cars, traveling, and was a loyal fan of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings.  He especially loved going to the races and watching his nephew Chad “Captain Insano” Williamson race.  He enjoyed demolition derbies and playing softball in his younger days, something he passed on to his son Jamie.  If he wasn’t in his truck, you could find him watching old westerns, playing cards, or having coffee with friends.

   Melvin was a member of the Doland Methodist Church and Doland American Legion.

   Melvin is survived by the love of his life, Lynette Williamson, Doland; daughter Jody Williamson, Watertown, SD; son Jamie (Jessica Sheridan) Williamson, Doland; granddaughters: McKayla Williamson, Redfield, McKenzie (Brysen Seaman) Williamson and their children Channing and Cheznie, Redfield, and Shaylee Morris of Watertown; and grandson Briggs Williamson, Doland.   He is also survived by his sisters-in-law: Karen (David) Hink and Sandy Murphy, both of Clark, SD; as well as brother-in-law Billy (Sandy) Bruns, Renner; and many nieces and nephews.

   He is preceded in death by his parents, sister Connie Burgher Farris, brothers Ronnie and Bruce Williamson, parents-in-law Bill and Vivian Bruns, brother-in-law Don Murphy, and step grandson Triten Heber.

   No more “Just one more load” dad.  We got this!

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The Slidell Independent – Would you call yourself a pack rat?


Got a laugh from Buddy Wilcox, owner of E. Gause Tire & Automotive, when he told me about digging through a bunch of old stuff at his house.
Buddy said he stumbled upon his resume from the first job he ever applied to, which was at Don Ladner’s Goodyear store on Pontchartrain, that is still going strong today. Just for the record, that would make the resume somewhere past 40 years old.
We laughed about how so many of us—probably most of us—save way too much stuff.
While I am sure the vast majority of you folks will quickly agree, my wife will tell you that I’m not one of those people.
I’m the guy who wants to throw things away very fast, frequently sooner than I should, and then I end up wishing I had it two months later when I go looking.
What is it about most people being pack rats?
Even though it can create a real problem when you get older, and then your kids are looking at a house full of a million things mom and dad saved and saved forever. I don’t completely disagree with saving a lot of stuff. After all, isn’t much of it a way to document and remember our lives?
My wife was the greatest at taking pictures of our four children when they were growing up. She was still using a classic camera and loved photography, and she got a lot of really fantastic pictures. I especially remember the time we were keeping chickens in the backyard of a house out in the woods off Carroll Drive, and she saw a snake in the chicken coop with an egg halfway into its mouth.
She got an award-winning shot (it really did win a Louisiana Press Association award) and we put the picture on the front page of the Slidell Sentry-News since it was so cool.
Not only did she take hundreds of pictures of our kids, but she did an equally good job of sorting through them each week and putting them into photo albums. I just went into the living room and counted the photo albums that are on our bookshelves and there are close to 60. But you know what? Anytime someone in the family pulls a few out and starts looking at the old pictures it brings back amazing, wonderful memories, so I am still thankful she did that.
As for saving other “things” just because you think you might need them one day, well, I guess we are all different, right?
My mother used to have a pet sitting business and I would occasionally help her on super busy weekends. We did get to see the inside of many homes, and I can totally confirm that the majority of people are, in fact, pack rats to a higher level. I always left the home and thought, “I feel sorry for their kids when they are gone.”
Now, as the years pass, my wife has been working to slowly get rid of things she knows the kids or grandkids might never want. And I imagine that’s a good thing to make it easier for our family when the day comes that we aren’t around any longer.
But for now, even though I’m the guy who is quick to say, “throw it away,” I do not regret that my wife has saved a lot of things to remember our kids and our life together.
So, hey Buddy, enjoy that resume.


Slidell has a lot of really great people and that is the reason I enjoy running this little paper. I have made more friends than I can count, and I frequently thank God for the simple fact I can call a lot of people “friend.”
But more than just friends, I love what I see so often about the heart many people in Slidell have.
Chuck Sabadie, owner of Elder Care, LLC with Jay Badeaux, is one of those people. He told me that as part of his morning devotion time with the Lord, he has learned to look at each day with the idea of, “what can I do to bless someone today?”
So, I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise a couple of weeks ago when I got a call on Monday morning from Chuck, who said, “hey buddy, I’ve got a few free tickets for the Red Beans cookoff. I wanted to make sure someone got to use them, so do you want a few?”
My daughter Jenny certainly did take advantage of the tickets, but I had to say something to Chuck about his daily routine. What a great example for us all.
It’s so easy to wake up, not feel totally full of energy and good will, but make a decision to start your day with thankfulness to God, since the vast majority of us know we are blessed beyond belief.
Good reminder Chuck. And thanks for the tickets!


Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at kevinchiri@gmail.com.


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Adorable Rat Pack Up for Adoption at Vanderburgh Humane Society


So, you’re kid has been begging you to get a pet, but you don’t have the space for a dog or cat, and you’re not quite sure they can handle the responsibility of caring for one even if you did. Well, you’re in luck. The Vanderburgh Humane Society has more than just dogs and cats, they also have smaller animals like these rats who are our Pets of the Week.

Meet the VHS Rat Pack

Chances are, when you think of rats, you think of dirty animals that live in the sewers, carry disease, and find their way into your home to look for food and leave their little poop pellets everywhere. But, domesticated rats actually make great pets. According to the VHS, “Domesticated rats are charismatic and social creatures,” and if you’re worried about cleanliness, don’t be. The VHS says that not only are they clean animals, but they’re almost clean to a fault and enjoy social grooming and getting brushed by their people.

We have a co-worker here at the station who had a rat growing up named Gus-Gus (like the one from Cinderella) who said he was one of the best pets she ever had. I don’t think he helped sew her a gown for the prom by any means, but she said he was very friendly and social.

The VHS currently has 10 of these friendly little critters available for adoption, all of them female. While they don’t expect you to take all 10, they do require you to adopt at least two at the same time. Their adoption fee is $10 each and includes what all adoption fees at the VHS include; up-to-date vaccinations, microchipping, and spaying. All of which would be way more than $10 if purchased separately.

To get a jump start on the adoption process for any of these ladies, some of the paperwork can be filled out online through the VHS website.

More from the Vanderburgh Humane Society

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From grazing Tibetan antelope to migrating monarch butterflies, these 50 photos of wildlife around the world capture the staggering grace of the animal kingdom. The forthcoming gallery runs sequentially from air to land to water, and focuses on birds, land mammals, aquatic life, and insects as they work in pairs or groups, or sometimes all on their own.

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Tony Bennett called ‘the greatest singer in the world’ by fellow Rat Pack legend | Music | Entertainment


Tony Bennett died yesterday in his hometown of New York. Despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, he continued to perform until early 2020.

The message of his official Twitter account simply said: “Tony left us today but he was still singing the other day at his piano and his last song was Because of You, his first #1 hit.

“Tony, because of you we have your songs in our heart forever.”

Anthony Dominick Benedetto, the boy from Queens, had sung with everyone from Aretha Franklin to Lady Gaga across a glittering seven-decade career.

Surrounded and revered by his fellow greats throughout his life, the biggest one of all paid him the ultimate compliment.

Frank Sinatra, also known as the Chairman of the Board, once said: “For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business. He excites me when I watch him.

“He moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more.”

Later in his life, Bennett said: “I was his favourite and he was my favourite and I couldn’t get over it because he was a phenomenal artist, a beautiful singer and a great person.”

Sinatra went one better with an extraordinary homage to his friend at a concert.

Sinatra said: “Tony’s gonna come out now and he’s gonna tear the seats outta this place for you.He’s my man, this cat. He’s the greatest singer in the world today., this man, Mr Tony Bennett!

“I said it publicly in the paper and I’m gonna say it again, he’s the greatest thing in the world today.”

Bennett, in turn, revealed he had been inspired to a career in show business after he saw Sinatra live on stage when he was just 12 years old, and had learned so much about stagecraft from the icon.

In his early days of stardom, Bennett was encouraged and helped by the older star when he started to perform before larger crowds after humble beginnings as a singing waiter in local Italian restaurants.

Bennett said: “Sinatra taught me, the audience are your friends, they come to see you. And he changed my whole psychology about, there’s no such thing as a bad audience. There’s a bad performance, but there’s not a bad audience.”

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Music concert | Sur Vasha, a classical music concert, high…


A classical music concert, Sur Varsha, was held at Kala Mandir on the evening of July 9 to commemorate India’s selection as president of the G20 group of countries. Organised by Akashvani, it also served as a platform to promote India’s rich cultural heritage.

The programme commenced with a welcome address by Akashvani’s assistant director general of the eastern region, Rajiv Bhattacharya. In his address, he highlighted Akashvani’s ongoing support for developing talent and promoting music.

Jadavpur University’s head of the department of international relations Dr. Imankalyan Lahiri delivered a lecture on the significance of India’s G20 presidency and the role of the group in global affairs. He said, “The rainy season is here, and just as good things commence with rain, Sur Varsha is the perfect manifestation of that.”

The stage was then set ablaze with a mesmerising jugalbandi performance, featuring the renowned Pandit Tarun Bhattacharya on the santoor and Pandit Ronu Majumder on the flute. Their soul-stirring melodies enthralled the audience, setting the mood for the rest of the evening. The melodic journey continued with a captivating thumri recital by Kasturi Bandopadhyay, accompanied by Prangopal Bandopadhyay on the tabla and Hiranmoy Mitra on the harmonium. The grand finale of the evening was presented by sitar maestro Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumder, who enchanted the packed hall with his evocative performance. Pandit Kumar Bose accompanied him on the tabla, creating a mesmerising rhythmic tapestry that echoed throughout the auditorium. Their breathtaking performance showcased the various moods and intricate nuances of Raga Malhar, leaving the audience spellbound.

Sur Varsha not only honoured India’s G20 chairmanship but also emphasised the power of music to bring people together. The occasion highlighted India’s dedication to international cooperation and unity while showcasing the nation’s prodigious talent and cultural variety.

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The Kenten will redefine the gateway to Kensington


Generous ‘bungalows in the sky,’ defining architecture and vibrant community make this a signature address.

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With an infusion of significant expressions of strong architectural significance and sense of place — starting with the Bow Tower, followed by the new Central Library, the National Music Centre and several residential projects that push the traditional boundaries, Calgary, over the past several decades, has experienced a skyline transformation. Another such project is soon to etch skyward across the Bow River, at the confluence of Memorial Drive and 10th Street N.W., one of the most iconic and visually memorable intersections in the city.

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Aptly named the Kenten (the name is a combination of Kensington and Tenth), the mixed-use, eight-story project will offer a collection of 50 luxury homes. Most will have 70-foot frontages that incorporate 22 feet of retractable glass curtain wall, allowing the living area to integrate with the generous outdoor terraces to offer one of the most comprehensive condominium-style indoor/ outdoor living environments in Calgary. The developer, Sable Group of Companies, calls the homes “bungalows in the sky.”

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“This is the most interesting corner in Calgary, so we spent some time unpacking what that really means,” says Sam Boguslavsky, founder of Sable Group of Companies. “It’s an important gateway, both north and south and east and west, so we really wanted to do something very unique.”

In 2001, Boguslavsky and his wife, Loranne, the company’s vice-president, purchased the property. It’s currently known as Kensington Gate, a nine-storey mixed-use apartment-style project with 80 homes.

“When we bought it, we knew that there was something really special here, because the community itself resembled Europe and resembled the lifestyle that Loranne and I really enjoy. We create things that we could see ourselves enjoying and want to bring them to others,” says Boguslavsky.

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The couple lived and worked abroad in Moscow for several years in the 1990s and at the time travelled extensively throughout Europe, where they fell in love with the European lifestyle — the walkability, everyone is outside enjoying a meal with family and friends, people live close to where they work with no stressful rush hour commutes. It’s a place of beauty where people make time for each other, for connections, for good food and where life and the moments are treasured.

Sable Group of Companies has brought this philosophy into many of its projects, including the beachfront resort Legacy on Mara Lake and Sable Ridge Resort in Radium Hot Springs.

But Sam says that the time is now for the redevelopment and refresh of the structure in Kensington.

“During COVID, we went into our little caves, like bears, and tried to figure things out, but it didn’t work, because we are supposed to be amongst one another — family members, friends, that’s what life is. We are meant to interact, enjoy, invite — this project will allow that to the greatest extent,” says Sam.

Sam and Loranne have their offices in the current Kensington Gate building and 18 months ago, the couple sold their big home in Springbank, after the kids flew the nest (one of their sons — Markus — is now working with the company). The couple moved into a top-floor condominium in the building to get a hands-on feel for living in Kensington and for what they wanted to create in the Kenten.

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They brought on the team at Davignon Martin Architecture + Interior Design to help them with the design of the project.

“They really gave us free rein for this project and asked us to approach it as though they were high-end single-family homes. So, we started seeing them as bungalows, rather than a piece of a condo building. In these homes, everything is just so spacious. This project just doesn’t have any limitations,” says Doris Martin, principal at Davignon Martin Architecture + Interior Design.

The 50 homes will be spread over seven floors with two- and three-bedroom plans ranging from 1,100 square feet to upwards of 4,700 square feet. All will have magnificent views, floor-to-ceiling glass walls and nine, 10 or 11-foot ceiling heights; most will face south with views of the Bow River and the city’s skyline, while others will frame scenic vistas of Riley Park, Kensington Village and the foothills.

Finishes are ultra-luxury and the home designs offer all of the conveniences of a single-family home from large 14-foot-long kitchen islands encased in solid quartz with a three-inch lip and cascading waterfall edges to a full butler’s pantry with a second fridge, sink, dishwasher and even room for a second range.

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“When it came to the design, we really didn’t want to disrupt the view or divide up the space too much. We placed a lot of emphasis on coming in the front door and the floor-to-ceiling glass and the view out,” says Martin, noting that to achieve this, the design incorporates all of the solid and enclosed private storage and bathrooms along the core wall, leaving the window wall for all of the living space.

“It’s kind of obvious, but creating that in all of the layouts was a bit of a challenge, but we did it and we used the millwork and the woodwork to extend and expand the architecture of the space.”

As for amenities, the Kenten will be chock-full, with a 10,000-square-foot amenity space on the sub-penthouse level with a gym, spa, golf simulator and a 4,000-square-foot SkyLounge with a commercial kitchen and outdoor terrace. A concierge service is also planned.

One of the unique features of the building’s design, which weaves together glass, wood, matte black and polished metal — a look of sophisticated modern elegance (Martin calls it “sexy”), is that it incorporates the existing podium level brick structure built in the early 1990s and will leave all of the current business and the parkade intact, so that all of the businesses on the north side of the project will be able to continue to operate during construction of the residential tower.

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“I think this building is going to showcase a lot of what makes Kensington great — the views of the river, the views of downtown, small, fun, quirky shops, everything you need is nearby. We have a tremendous mix of businesses and we have a real sense of community, so to have a developer like this, who is so respectful of the community and is a community partner — they often sponsor community events — it’s so wonderful,” says Annie MacInnis, executive director of the Kensington BIA (Business Improvement Area).

The developers expect to break ground in the spring of 2024, with occupancy expected in 2026.

Homes start at $1 million. Visit thekenten.ca for more information and to book a private viewing of the 2,000-square-foot show suite, located at 100 10A St. N.W.

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Barbie soundtrack: From Lizzo, Nicki Minaj to Dua Lipa, here’s a list of featured songs in Greta Gerwig directorial


Step into the enchanting world of Barbie as Greta Gerwig’s long-awaited film finally graces theaters on Friday (July 21). Alongside the movie’s release, fans can now indulge in the official Barbie soundtrack, executive produced by the talented Mark Ronson, an Academy Award-winning songwriter and producer. Packed with chart-topping artists, the soundtrack promises to complement the film’s magic and charm.

Star-studded roster of pop’s finest in Barbie

The Barbie soundtrack boasts an impressive lineup of pop’s biggest hitmakers, each contributing their musical flair to the enchanting world of Barbie. Featured artists include Lizzo, Fifty Fifty, Kali, Gayle, Khalid, Haim, and Ava Max. Several tracks from the soundtrack have already made their mark on the Billboard Hot 100, such as Dua Lipa’s infectious hit “Dance the Night” (No. 31) and the catchy collaboration “Barbie World” (No. 7) featuring Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice, and AQUA. Notably, Billie Eilish’s soulful ballad, “What Was I Made For,” adds a touch of introspection to the musical journey.

ALSO READ: Did you know Margot Robbie once faked her own death? Find out why

Stellar cast of characters in the Barbie movie

The film stars Margot Robbie as the iconic Barbie, alongside Ryan Gosling as the dashing Ken. Emma Mackey, Alexandra Shipp, Dua Lipa, Kate McKinnon, and Issa Rae grace the screen as various Barbie characters, while John Cena, Ncuti Gatwa, Simu Liu, and Scott Evans bring Ken to life in different roles. The star-studded ensemble adds to the allure of the Barbie universe, offering a delightful experience for audiences.

As audiences flock to witness the magic of Barbie’s world on the big screen, the accompanying soundtrack sets the stage for an enchanting journey. With Mark Ronson’s expert touch and the stellar contributions from pop’s finest, the Barbie soundtrack promises to be a musical delight that transports listeners to a world of dreams and adventures. Whether you’re a fan of the iconic doll or simply a lover of captivating music, the Barbie film and its sensational soundtrack offer an unforgettable experience.

ALSO READ: Barbie ending explained: What life-altering choice does Margot Robbie make?

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Music concert | Sur Vasha, a classical music concert,


A classical music concert, Sur Varsha, was held at Kala Mandir on the evening of July 9 to commemorate India’s selection as president of the G20 group of countries. Organised by Akashvani, it also served as a platform to promote India’s rich cultural heritage.

The programme commenced with a welcome address by Akashvani’s assistant director general of the eastern region, Rajiv Bhattacharya. In his address, he highlighted Akashvani’s ongoing support for developing talent and promoting music.

Jadavpur University’s head of the department of international relations Dr. Imankalyan Lahiri delivered a lecture on the significance of India’s G20 presidency and the role of the group in global affairs. He said, “The rainy season is here, and just as good things commence with rain, Sur Varsha is the perfect manifestation of that.”

The stage was then set ablaze with a mesmerising jugalbandi performance, featuring the renowned Pandit Tarun Bhattacharya on the santoor and Pandit Ronu Majumder on the flute. Their soul-stirring melodies enthralled the audience, setting the mood for the rest of the evening. The melodic journey continued with a captivating thumri recital by Kasturi Bandopadhyay, accompanied by Prangopal Bandopadhyay on the tabla and Hiranmoy Mitra on the harmonium. The grand finale of the evening was presented by sitar maestro Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumder, who enchanted the packed hall with his evocative performance. Pandit Kumar Bose accompanied him on the tabla, creating a mesmerising rhythmic tapestry that echoed throughout the auditorium. Their breathtaking performance showcased the various moods and intricate nuances of Raga Malhar, leaving the audience spellbound.

Sur Varsha not only honoured India’s G20 chairmanship but also emphasised the power of music to bring people together. The occasion highlighted India’s dedication to international cooperation and unity while showcasing the nation’s prodigious talent and cultural variety.

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Kevin Hart Kicks Off Birthday Weekend With Jack Harlow


Nothing sizzles like Las Vegas in July. And with the temperature topping 100 degrees, these weekend events were no exception.

Kevin Hart pumps up the crowd during Hartbeat Weekend at Ayu Dayclub at Resorts World Las Vegas on July 8. (Ridge Productions)

Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Weekend Takes Over Resorts World

It was an action-packed weekend at Resorts World Las Vegas as Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Weekend took over the property from July 6 to 9.

The actor and comedian celebrated his 44th birthday in partnership with AEG Presents and Resorts World, drawing J. Cole, Jack Harlow, Ludacris, Kaskade and RL Grime to Zouk Nightclub and Ayu Dayclub. Also on deck was stand-up comedy, exclusive events, podcast tapings, and the final shows of Hart’s Reality Check tour inside Resorts World Theatre.

Elsewhere in the comedy realm, the return of BET’s ComicView—featuring host and executive producer Mike Epps—highlighted live stand-up comedy performances at the resort’s Jalisco Underground. Additional headlining events included the inaugural Hartbeat Poker Invitational.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gives Victor Wembanyama advice at NBA Con 2023 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center on July 8 in Las Vegas. (John Leong/Victory Creative Group, Inc.)

Victor Wembanyama & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Connect at NBA Con

Just three days after a member of his security team was accused of “backhanding” Britney Spears, 19-year-old Victor Wembanyama, the 7-foot-4-inch San Antonio Spurs phenom, sat down with 76-year-old Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the inaugural NBA Con hosted by basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.

A family-friendly celebration of hoops culture, NBA Con welcomed thousands of diehard basketball fans, over 100 talented stars and hosted a series of industry conversations to Mandalay Bay Convention Center on July 7 to 9.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, formally announced the new NBA In-Season Tournament where he revealed it will culminate with semifinals on Dec. 7 and a championship on Dec. 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, the 11-day NBA Summer League 2023 continues through July 17 at Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV where fans can witness the rise of talented rookies who are making their NBA debuts. Many special packages are available.

Denver Nuggets stars celebrate their NBA Championship at Hakkasan Las Vegas. (Sam Marshall for Tao Group Hospitality)

Denver Nuggets Bring Championship Trophy to Hakkasan

Keeping with basketball, the newly crowned NBA champions Denver Nuggets headed to Tao Group Hospitality hotspot Hakkasan at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino for a victory celebration. NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic and the team fueled up for the night with dinner at the restaurant, feasting on signature dishes before making their way to Hakkasan Nightclub where they entered to cheers from the packed crowd at the stroke of midnight.

Players including Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, Bruce Brown, Aaron Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope took over VIP tables on the stage and joined DJs Pauly D and Justin Credible in the booth and toasted their win with a three-liter bottle of Perrier Jouët Brut Champagne.

The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate their Stanley Cup Win at Encore Beach Club at Night at Wynn Las Vegas. (Mike Kirschbaum)

Vegas Golden Knights Showcase Stanley Cup at Wynn Las Vegas

The Vegas Golden Knights reaped the rewards of their championship victory by visiting multiple Sin City venues. Wynn Las Vegas welcomed the team to Delilah supper club where they indulged in a full six-course meal from executive chef Joshua Smith, accompanied by bottles of Screaming Eagle wine.

The team continued their evening at Encore Beach Club at Night, where FAED duo DJ Five and EricDlux kept the party going. The night concluded with the team checking into Encore Tower Suites. The team also brought their post-game celebrations and Stanley Cup to OMNIA Nightclub inside Caesars Palace. The champs and the Stanley Cup joined DJ Steve Aoki in the booth to the cheers of the ecstatic crowd.

Yassine Lyoubi, Chef Barry S. Dakake, Marco Cicione and Vegas Golden Knights at Barry’s Downtown Prime at Circa Resort & Casino (Black Raven Films)

Later in the week, Barry’s Downtown Prime at Circa Resort & Casino welcomed the team fresh off their championship parade. Chef Barry S. Dakake prepared a feast for the 2023 champions and the team continued to celebrate its historic win in style. On another day, the team was spotted at Ski Lodge at Superfrico inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas where players celebrated their win by drinking out of the iconic Stanley Cup and toasting with the crowd.

If that wasn’t enough, Wynn Las Vegas welcomed the Vegas Golden Knights back to the resort for a second time in one week, where this time they celebrated at XS Nightclub. After joining award-winning DJ duo The Chainsmokers onstage, the Knights showered Perrier Jouët champagne over the crowd.

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end, Maxx Crosby, and UFC heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, enjoy a meal at the grand opening of Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. (Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Carver Road Hospitality)

Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar Debuts at Mandalay Bay

UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Las Vegas Raiders defensive end and two-time Pro Bowler, Maxx Crosby, co-hosted the grand opening of Carver Road Hospitality’s Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. UFC Light Heavyweight champ Jamahal Hill, retired NFL great Marshawn Lynch, Las Vegas Raiders’s O.J. Howard and Matthew Butler, and “Big Brother” alumnus Corey Brooks were among those in attendance.

Described as “the evolution of the Vegas sports bar,” Flanker features American favorite dishes like steaks, burgers, seafood, salads, and over-the-top desserts. The beverage program features craft cocktails and one of the Strip’s most formidable beer lists. The elevated environment is complete with a ceiling lighting design inspired by the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix track at night which guides guests through the main dining room and towards the massive 30-foot by nine-foot-tall LED viewing screen. Flanker also features a hidden and private karaoke room.

Ocean Prime has opened at 63, the new four-story shopping complex which is part of City Center in Las Vegas. (Ocean Prime Las Vegas)

Ocean Prime Restaurant Opens in the Heart of the City 

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants has officially opened the nearly $20 million Ocean Prime Las Vegas at 63, the new four-story shopping complex at the southwest corner of Harmon and Las Vegas Boulevard, steps away from The Cosmopolitan and Crystals mall. The restaurant boasts 14,500 square feet with a nearly 2,500 square-foot rooftop terrace, more than 400 total seats, three bars and three private dining rooms. Numerous items are uniquely designed and exclusive to Ocean Prime Las Vegas including caviar and vodka service and the lounge menu featuring several new creations such as chips and caviar dip, crispy whole Maine lobster and A5 Wagyu Stix. The Las Vegas outpost is also the first Ocean Prime to offer regular brunch service every weekend.

This clever “Vegas Made Me Do It” neon sign is located on La Popular CDMX’s extended veranda at Palms Casino Resort. (Grupo Carolo/Eureka! Restaurant Group)

La Popular CDMX Reveals Third U.S. Location at Palms

Mexico City’s premier restaurant group, Grupo Carolo, and California-based Eureka! Restaurant Group have unveiled the third La Popular CDMX location in the U.S. inside the Palms Casino Resort. Located on the casino floor, in the former Bobby Flay’s Shark space, the upscale chef-driven Mexican restaurant is an elevated take on classic dishes.

To celebrate its Sin City opening, La Popular’s Las Vegas location features specialty items exclusively available at Palms, such as quesabirria tacos, al pastor enchiladas and ribeye or adobo prawns fajitas. La Popular also serves breakfast all day from Friday to Sunday. La Popular’s cocktail menu features rare Mexican spirits, as well as emerging artisan products sourced from a variety of small-batch distilleries in Oaxaca, Jalisco, and Guadalajara.

True to La Popular’s brand, guests will be able to spot the signature disco ball in the center of the restaurant, along with nods to the mirrored globe throughout. A custom neon sign stating “Vegas Made Me Do It” is also featured on the extended veranda.

The new Polaris Bar is part of the transformation happening at Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa & Casino. (Al Powers)

Green Valley Ranch Undergoing ‘Elevated’ Transformation

Station Casinos is continuing to reinvest in its portfolio of off-Strip resorts and has announced the start of a transformation coming to Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa & Casino in Henderson this year.

The property, which opened in 2001, recently showcased a newly refreshed pool and cabanas experience at the Backyard. Polaris Bar has opened and is centrally located on the casino floor featuring multiple screens for sports watching and a craft cocktail menu inspired by key coordinates worldwide.

Eric and Bruce Bromberg of Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Restaurants will bring Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill to the resort and the brothers will unveil an all-new Mediterranean concept featuring daily fish, meat, poultry and vegetable selections prepared in an open-concept kitchen. An upscale high limit slot will room will feature approximately 125 of the latest games and will offer personalized service and access to a dedicated bar and 14 bartop games.

Mark Wahlberg pours his Flecha Azul Tequila behind the bar at SOAK pool at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas on June 24. (Palms Casino Resort)

Stars Around Town: Mark Wahlberg, Carrie Underwood and More!

  • Continuing his Flecha Azul Tequila tour, Mark Wahlberg manned the bar at SOAK Pool at Palms Casino Resort on June 24. Fans lined up to catch a glimpse and have a chance at being served by the star who spent time posing for photos and interacting with the crowd.
  • At Resorts World, Carrie Underwood dined with her family in the private Whiskey Room at Carversteak. The superstar, who has a residency at Resorts World Theatre, rocked a black Guns N’ Roses T-shirt and black Louis Vuitton pants and enjoyed the Cookie Monster dessert.
  • Also at Carversteak, Alex Rodriguez, with his lady-of-the-moment, Canadian fitness model Jaclyn Cordeiro, dined with a large group.
Kyle Kuzma and Winnie Harlow celebrate his new $102 million contract with the Washington Wizards at Resorts World Las Vegas. (Allied Global)

Also spotted at Resorts World was former LA Laker and now Washington Wizards star Kyle Kuzma, who just re-signed to the Wizards with a four-year, $102 million contract. He and girlfriend, Winnie Harlow, celebrated his new contract in a three-bedroom Crockfords suite at the resort and they dined at FUHU restaurant alongside 25 of his friends and family. After, the group made their way to Zouk Nightclub with over 200 guests for his private afterparty including Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Tim Hardway Jr., Jayson Tatum, Matt Barnes, Larry Nance, and Frank Vogel. Kuzma and Harlow were also seen taking in Usher’s residency show later in the weekend at Dolby Live at Park MGM.

Sia (left) and Stormy Daniels (right) join Kathy Griffin for an afterparty at her private lanai at The Mirage Las Vegas following Griffin’s sold out performance at the resort. (The Mirage Las Vegas)

Kathy Griffin performed a sold-out show at The Mirage Las Vegas’s Center Stage Comedy venue. The show was the comedian’s first performance in Vegas in more than six years. The crowd greeted the comedy legend with a nearly three-minute standing ovation as she walked onto the stage. Spotted in the audience were Sia, Stormy Daniels and other friends. Kris Jenner and Corey Gamble sent Griffin flowers in honor of the milestone show. Later, the group headed to Griffin’s private lanai at the resort for an intimate afterparty.

Swae Lee made a surprise appearance at Drai’s Nightclub at The Cromwell on June 30 alongside headliner and resident artist, French Montana. (Carma Connected)

Swae Lee made a surprise appearance at Drai’s Nightclub on June 30 by hopping on the stage alongside headliner and resident artist French Montana to perform their smash hit “Unforgettable.” Also at Drai’s, Floyd Mayweather, along with Las Vegas Aces superstars, Chelsea Gray and A’ja Wilson, enjoyed 2 Chainz’s show stopping performance the next night.

Avril Lavigne performs with Marshmello at Encore Beach Club inside Wynn Las Vegas on July 1. (Danny Mahoney)

Down the strip at Wynn Las Vegas, Avril Lavigne performed with Marshmello at Encore Beach Club where she performed her hit songs “Girlfriend,” “Bite Me,” “What the Hell,” and “Sk8er Boi” as the crowd sang along. The singer was seen posing with fans for photos throughout the club. Lavigne also had some catch up time with rumored ex Tyga, who sat in a VIP section of the deejay booth watching her perform.

Jackie Siegel (The Queen of Versailles) speaks with Vernon Davis at the PlayersTV + Victoria’s Voice Foundation event at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino (Cashman Photo)

Not far away, Jackie Siegel (The Queen of Versailles) participated in a conversation with Vernon Davis at the PlayersTV + Victoria’s Voice Foundation event at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, where Russell Wilson was also in attendance.

For editorial consideration in L.A. to Vegas, email us at [email protected].

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In Naples, Maine, a Wet Hot Lakeside Summer


By Jaed Coffin
Photographed by Mat Trogner
From our July 2023 issue

Many years ago, I fell asleep in the back seat of my father’s car while driving home to Brunswick after a trip to Vermont. Occasionally, I woke to groggy visions of pastoral New England: rolling fields, roadside farm stands, tired-looking general stores. Then, suddenly, we were stuck in a traffic jam, on the outskirts of a town I didn’t recognize. Rather than wait it out, my dad parked the car, and we went to have a look around. 

The source of the congestion was a bustling lakefront boardwalk packed with tourists. On either side of a swing bridge — the sort that rotates, rather than lifts, to let boats through — cars were lined up in both directions, and lines of kids had gathered by a railing to watch a double-decker paddle-wheel boat make its way through a narrow channel, live music drifting from onboard. Another traffic jam, of pontoon boats, formed nearby.

We ate lunch inside a huge white building, where crowds of people sat out front, in neon beachwear, sipping cocktails. Still coming to, I ordered my usual vacation cuisine: a side of onion rings. What arrived instead was a fried monstrosity called a “blooming onion,” roughly the size of my 8-year-old head. I felt like I was in Disney World. But the name of the town, it turned out, was Naples, and some three decades later, I finally made a point of spending some time there.

The boat queue approaching the Chute River, between Brandy Pond and Long Lake
The boat queue approaching the Chute River, between Brandy Pond and Long Lake.

About a half mile south of downtown Naples, a traveler passes by a preview of what’s to come, in the form of Moose Landing Marina, where a three-story, open-air hangar, maybe a couple of football fields long, is stacked full of motorboats. It looks a little like a Connect Four for giants, signaling fun on an almost military-industrial scale. A large sign reads: PONTOON CAPITAL. Across the street is the always-packed parking lot of the Umbrella Factory Supermarket, so named for the bright canopy of umbrellas hung upside down from the ceiling. There, mostly out-of-state pickup trucks fill their beds with 30-racks of cheap beer, barbeque supplies, and other summer essentials.

After that, it’s a short drive to the Causeway — the epicenter of that foggy childhood memory — across the Chute River, which separates Long Lake on one side of town from Brandy Pond on the other (it’s something of a point of local pride that the Chute, only 1,000 feet long, ranks among the shortest rivers in the world). Once on the Causeway, there’s no structure more conspicuous than the Naples Casino, its upper deck aglow in neon green lights. A good portion of the casino is occupied by Rick’s Cafe, and that, I recall, is where I had my first blooming onion.

On a busy Friday night, Rick’s looked just like I remembered it: almost everyone in beachwear, pink cocktails served in long-stemmed glasses, baskets of fried food. A summer breeze lifted the leaves of potted palm trees. Bailey Odum, the 27-year-old manager of Rick’s Cafe, wasn’t surprised to hear that my childhood memory of Naples had endured. When I asked her about the blooming onion, she laughed: “Oh yeah, we still have it. People are obsessed with it.” Those same people often ask Odum why this restaurant in rural Maine has palms out front. 

From left to right: The beach at Sebago Lake State Park; at the Causeway’s Harpoon Lagoon arcade.

From out in front of Rick’s Cafe, the full buffet of waterfront attractions, from aqua-trike and Jet Ski rentals to seaplane tours, is in view. I mentioned to Odum that Naples didn’t feel like any other Maine lake town I’d ever visited. At a glance, I said, the vacation culture of Naples gave off some Ozarks energy, at least based on what I’d gleaned from the eponymous Netflix series. “Yes, oh my god,” she said. “Exactly!” 

For years, Odum, who grew up a few miles away, in the sleepier lakeside town of Raymond, never understood what she calls the “funky flair” at Rick’s Cafe. Then, she took a trip to Florida with her former boss, Eddie Osborne, who owned Rick’s from the ’80s up until he passed away last year. Walking down Las Olas Boulevard, the central hub of Fort Lauderdale, it suddenly made sense to her. Tropical plants, vintage cars, Parrothead vibes — Osborne had brought a little bit of south Florida to rural Maine. “Look at this place,” Odum said, gesturing at all the campy memorabilia that fills the dining room. “We have a plane coming out of the wall!” 

The only other place in Maine that feels remotely like Naples is, I think, Old Orchard Beach, with its all-day-and-into-the-night boardwalk revelry. In Naples, there is similarly no shortage of entertainment. But it wasn’t always that way. Like many Maine lake towns, Naples was once a staid, stately resort destination. It had big old hotels that attracted well-heeled rusticators from Portland, Boston, New York. And Naples was uniquely connected to Portland via the Cumberland and Oxford Canal, which ran 47 miles over some 27 locks, transporting timber and farm products south and vacationers north.

Over time, the commercial balance shifted solidly toward tourism. In 1899, the Bay of Naples Inn opened, on the east shore of Long Lake, with 100 rooms and a staff of 85. Visitors arrived on steamships at the town landing, and then horse-drawn carriages whisked them to the inn. In 1902, the casino was constructed — a casino in an old sense of the word, as in a place for amusements but not, in this case, gambling. Over the years, it housed bowling alleys, movie theaters, dance and opera halls, and a roller rink. It served as a venue for local parties and political rallies. Famous entertainers, like Eddie Cantor and Rudy Vallée, made appearances. The casino’s inaugural act was Julian Eltinge, a renowned “female impersonator” who, after his Naples gig, went on to perform on Broadway and across Europe. 

Through the 1940s, the tourist economy stayed relatively stable. With the construction of U.S. Route 302, a car could start out on Forest Avenue, in Portland, and roll up to the Causeway without making a single turn. But by the 1950s, steamship service had ended and the complexion of the local economy started to change. The grand Bay of Naples Inn went out of business, and word has it that high-school kids used to party in the ornate, abandoned rooms until the inn was demolished, in 1964. 

From left to right: Boaters on Brandy Pond; a scenic floatplane flight takes off, from Naples Seaplane Adventures.

Housing previously reserved for hotel staff was converted into lakeside rental cottages. A Howard Johnson’s hotel, which opened in 1937 and operated until 1973, increasingly welcomed guests who enjoyed floatplane tours and zipping around on speedboats. The era of the genteel, tea-sipping, gown- and tux-wearing rusticator had clearly ended. The old cupola from the inn had been spared during demolition, and there was some local ambition to repurpose it as a historical monument. For years, though, it sat in limbo at a town-owned campground, where it was pressed into service as a mount for a basketball hoop and as a kiddie playhouse. In 2020, a local antiques dealer moved the cupola to his property, with plans to convert the beat-up structure into a one-bedroom Airbnb. Last fall, however, his property was listed for sale, for $2.5 million, unrestored cupola included. 

A few doors down from Rick’s Cafe, Chris Cooke opened Beacon Bar & Bistro two years ago, in a building that was previously home to, among other things, a gas station, a Chinese takeout, and a real-estate office. When I stopped by in the evening, customers were gathered around propane firepits, and Cooke made the rounds, chitchatting with his clientele. Born in Jamaica, he blends culinary traditions, from full lobster dinners to rice-and-bean bowls to hot-honey chicken sandwiches. But no matter their food order, patrons tend to wash down meals with colorful cocktails — lots of Jamaican rum and fruity mixers, like strawberry-guava.

“This is what our locals wanted,” Cooke told me, gesturing across the Causeway to Long Lake at dusk. “Good music, great food, and the sunset. It’s like you’re having dinner in your backyard,” he said. “But with somebody else making the meal.” 

Stream Reggae, probably Maine’s most prolific reggae band, was performing that night, and an all-ages dance party had developed on Cooke’s patio. “On their next set,” he told me, winking, “I’ll get up there.” Minutes later, he was at the mic, belting out a reggae classic, “Murder, She Wrote” (no relation to the cozy-mystery series set in Maine that shares the same title).

Clockwise from top left: the members of Motor Booty Affair — “Maine’s ultimate disco party band” — board the Songo River Queen II before a show; Motor Booty Affair fans; the Motor Booty Affair “lot scene” in downtown Naples; getting sweaty on the Songo River Queen II; aboard the Songo River Queen II (with a Neil Diamond tribute band Cherry Cherry).

A little later, the Songo River Queen II pulled into port at the end of its evening cruise, the Village People’s “YMCA” blasting from the decks, performed by disco-funk cover band Motor Booty Affair. Meant to resemble an old-time riverboat, the original Queen was launched in 1971, taking passengers on scenic trips around Long Lake, through the swing bridge, and into Brandy Pond, with forays into the Songo Locks that lead to Sebago Lake. Then, in 1981, someone flicked a smoldering cigarette butt into a trash can and the resulting fire destroyed the ship. 

The rebuilt Queen debuted a year later, almost a third longer than its predecessor (since the 2011 replacement of the swing bridge with a fixed bridge, the boat has been confined to Long Lake). As Motor Booty Affair wrapped up their encore, boozy passengers dressed in rainbow wigs and various other disco-hippie paraphernalia stumbled across the gangway and out onto the Causeway, then disappeared into the night. 

No Naples experience is complete without cruising Long Lake and Brandy Pond on a pontoon boat — the town has six marina businesses that rent, sell, and store boats. Naples has a year-round population of only about 4,000 but a summer population of more than 20,000, and some 14,000 boats call the town home, according to local officials.

As a newbie boater, I opted to rent from Dingley’s Wharf, mostly for the convenience of being able to park right on the Causeway and have a staffer from the marina tote our coolers and bags onto our 22-footer. After a brief boating-safety lecture, our family, with a group of friends, set off into Long Lake, toward the dozens of other pontoons floating in the distance. 

“These last couple years, we really saw the dynamic change,” said Shawn Hebert, the Naples Marine Safety Division harbormaster, who was sitting in his office, in a squat brick building on the village green. When so much was shut down around the country during the first summer of the pandemic, Naples saw an influx of first-time visitors. Many boat renters, Hebert told me, think boats operate just like cars, which leads to lots of “inexperienced traffic” and keeps Hebert’s crew extra busy responding to breakdowns and issuing citations for speed violations and disorderly conduct. 

Hebert sometimes imagines Naples as a combination of the busy outdoor-recreational scene in North Conway, New Hampshire, and the boisterous boardwalk scene in Old Orchard Beach. (Naples is, in fact, just about halfway between those two towns.) Members of his 16-person department can issue summonses on the water but lack authority to make arrests. For arrests, he has to call in state wardens. “Some people,” Hebert half-joked, sounding a little exasperated, “like to call us the mall cops of the water.” 

Clockwise from top left: Dancing at Beacon Bar and Bistro; Beacon owner Chris Cooke; Stream Reggae performing at the bar.

That afternoon, a steady wind had kicked up, and Long Lake was choppy. After a while, we puttered under the bridge and into the more sheltered waters of Brandy Pond (which, according to lore, was named for a barrel of booze that fell off a boat back in the 1800s). We wanted to check out an informal gathering place known as the Sandbar, and when we got there, we found a pack of at least 40 boats that had dropped anchor in a vast, bobbing circle. 

Chunky Dunky Ice Cream Boat
Wading with treats from the Chunky Dunky Ice Cream Boat.

College-age bros in American-flag swim trunks chucked a football back and forth while sipping White Claws. A few older couples kept an eye on their lapdogs that perched on nearby rafts. Moms carried travel mugs, presumably filled with something other than coffee, as they waded after toddlers held afloat by pool toys. The music of choice was country and classic rock, and there were more than a few flags flying astern with right-wing political messages.

People around town had described the Sandbar to me as “the Redneck Riviera,” “kind of Ozark,” and “very honky-tonk.” I might add “precarious.” With the wind still up, it was no small feat to slide our boat into a vacant slot and drop anchor without drifting into our new neighbors. Behind cans of Bud Light, they watched me maneuver. I thought they looked largely unimpressed. 

“Believe it or not, the Sandbar kind of manages itself,” Hebert told me. “Most of the frequent users, they know how special it is.” In Maine, private ownership of lakefront property ends at the six-foot depth line. The Sandbar is barely three feet deep. But boaters have an unspoken agreement with the adjacent property owners: keep things under control or lose the privilege. 

Suddenly, a clanky, electronic version of “Pop Goes the Weasel” drowned out the music playing from people’s radios — the Chunky Dunky Ice Cream boat was making its afternoon pass. The husband-and-wife duo of Barb and Richie Vieira has captained the ice-cream boat since the summer of 2020, when they sold their laundromat, 40 minutes away, and chose a semi-retirement gig on the water. The name comes from a term of endearment they told me friends had bestowed on their big-boned family. Their business slogan: “We’re not skinny dipping anymore! We’re chunky dunking!” 

Early on, the Vieiras worried that boaters and homeowners lounging on their docks wouldn’t want to be sold anything while trying to relax. “But 99 percent of the time,” Richie said, “people are happy to see us.” The Vieiras also had concerns about collisions, what with so many inexperienced boaters on the water, so they instituted a “we come to you” policy that involves a pool-skimming net on a 15-foot pole, for shuttling credit cards, cash, and SpongeBob popsicles between vessels kept at a safe distance from each other. “We haven’t lost one yet!” Barb said. 

Dockside pizza delivery from Randy’s Wooster St Pizza Shop.

We spent the rest of the afternoon yanking the kids around Brandy Pond on tubes and taking turns seeing who among the adults remembered how to water-ski. On our way back to the Causeway, we approached the old town landing, where, a century ago, genteel travelers stepped off steamships. Instead, an employee of Randy’s Wooster St Pizza met us there. She was waiting with several cheesy pies we’d called in for waterside pickup. 

While we were tied off at the landing, I started chatting with a group of tourists from out of state. I mentioned the Ozarks analogy to them. “No way!” one said. “I’m a Missouri guy, and this is way better than the Ozarks.”

Down East magazine, June 2023

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