by Jamie Rich | October 18, 2021

Editor in Chief Jamie Rich Gives Herself Permission to Party

The Flamingo founder contemplates the beauty of starting anew and giving milestones their due this holiday season with a whole issue dedicated to exploring Florida

As the year begins to come to a close, Editor in Chief Jamie Rich ushers in a guide to exploring Florida and understanding the state’s history. Photography by Mary Beth Koeth

Every September, when pumpkin-spiced everything takes over the nation, my 10-year-old daughter Audrey starts begging me to go into the attic and bring down the Spooky Town village, 15 adorable zombie-filled horror houses that sing and whirl, a collection we started buying at Michael’s in 2007 when our oldest daughter Elle was just one. As much as I love Halloween, I don’t want to see or hear a haunted carousel spinning and groaning outside the month of October. And, please, no one better so much as even light a Christmas candle in our house before Thanksgiving has fully come and gone—generally not until after the first weekend in December, when Elle has blown out the last birthday candle on her cake. Then, and only then, can the garland go up.

Don’t get me wrong: We like to go all-out with holiday festivities at the Rich house. But to me, overlapping events and celebrating for too long dull the shine of each holiday. There’s also the anticipation and real satisfaction of taking down all that cheer. 

We have a similar tradition with each print issue of Flamingo. We celebrate the content—the pages adorn our office wall like a giant piece of art for three months—and then relish in ripping them down to start over with a new crop of stories. Most recently, our officemate’s 9-year-old son tore down all 200 pages of the Anniversary issue content with gusto in about 10 seconds flat. Pure joy. And a clean slate.

It was time, though, for the next Sunshine State celebration, one dedicated to exploring this place’s great outdoors, hidden gems and untold stories. In this edition, we tear up a few backroads discovering some of Florida’s most unlikely destinations. We wind down a famous brick highway and contemplate the origins of its controversial name in Moni Basu’s feature, “The Road Less Traveled.” We rope and ride with some of the state’s long-standing cattle ranchers to understand how they are keeping Florida green and wild in Craig Pittman’s story, “Cowboy Country,” featuring photography by Carlton Ward Jr. We lift off in a hot air balloon to sail over the old phosphate mines of Central Florida and go mudding through Ocala National Forest in our adventure roundup, “Explore Florida.” Then we saddle up for a girls’ glamping weekend with deputy editor Jessica Giles in her travel feature, “Gunpowder and Glamping.” 

In addition, Diane Roberts introduces us to some of Florida’s most formidable females in her Capital Dame column, and Prissy Elrod will have you laughing so hard you just might pee your pants reading her latest Panhandling essay. We also eat, shop and dance our way across the state with a fresh lineup of music, art, architecture, food, events and brand new places to try.

As you dive into the pages of Flamingo’s volume 19, dog-earing the feature story you need to share with a friend or the dish you’d like to make or the hot air balloon trip you’re dying to book, don’t fight the urge to mix a citrus cocktail and help us string up the proverbial lights in honor of this print edition (and all of the ones that came before it). Despite my aversion to holiday overkill, there are some milestones that simply demand a little excess. So let’s raise a glass (or two) to exploring Florida and celebrating Flamingo’s fifth anniversary all year long! You have my permission. 

And with that, it’s time for me to make a trip up to the attic.