Since winning the supervisor of elections post in 2000, this longtime school board member has pushed Broward County's voter-registration rolls higher than those of Miami-Dade's for the first time in history. She's also revamped the way locals vote -- but not without a fight. When she first floated the idea of ATM-style touchscreen machines, commissioners balked. They warmed to the idea a couple of months later and eventually passed a $17.2 million contract with Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software late last year. When some of the new machines showed up with dim screens, Oliphant came down hard on the company and persuaded it to fix the problem. And when the Broward Charter Review Commission tried to take away her control of her department's budget, it received a firsthand demonstration of Oliphant's clout: two rooms full of vocal supporters. Seems the woman in charge of the political process in Broward knows a thing or two about politics herself.
Since winning the supervisor of elections post in 2000, this longtime school board member has pushed Broward County's voter-registration rolls higher than those of Miami-Dade's for the first time in history. She's also revamped the way locals vote -- but not without a fight. When she first floated the idea of ATM-style touchscreen machines, commissioners balked. They warmed to the idea a couple of months later and eventually passed a $17.2 million contract with Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software late last year. When some of the new machines showed up with dim screens, Oliphant came down hard on the company and persuaded it to fix the problem. And when the Broward Charter Review Commission tried to take away her control of her department's budget, it received a firsthand demonstration of Oliphant's clout: two rooms full of vocal supporters. Seems the woman in charge of the political process in Broward knows a thing or two about politics herself.
Never mind its four Little League baseball fields, five football fields, 27-hole golf course, and 40 picnic shelters. The 900-acre Okeeheelee Park goes beyond the traditional role of a community park and takes the meaning of the word recreation to the extreme. Case in point: the five waterski courses -- one of which is a nationally recognized venue for world-class competitions. On any given day, you'll find avid water-skiers and wake-boarders making waves and splashing innocent bystanders at the park's 170 acres of water. All courses can accommodate traditional, barefoot, and kneeboard skiing, and for all of the day-jobbers out there, one of the courses is even lighted for night skiing. BMX bikers young and (slightly) old pull off 180s and 360s at the park's track, which is complete with dirt hills, sharp tricky turns, and half-pipes. Nature lovers walk, jog, and bike through woods and wetlands along the park's 1.2-mile-long nature trail. And as dads turn up the heat at the park's barbecue pavilions, kids run around and play to their hearts' content while the mouth-watering aromas of grilled burgers and corn on the cob fill the air. Additional facilities include a wooden fishing pier, two boat launching ramps, four adult softball fields, volleyball courts, five children's play areas, eight tennis courts, and a nature center. In short, there's something for everyone. And even though it's far from the beach -- the park is practically in the Everglades -- and there isn't a grain of sand in sight, you'll still find plenty of "fun in the sun."
Okeeheelee Park
Never mind its four Little League baseball fields, five football fields, 27-hole golf course, and 40 picnic shelters. The 900-acre Okeeheelee Park goes beyond the traditional role of a community park and takes the meaning of the word recreation to the extreme. Case in point: the five waterski courses -- one of which is a nationally recognized venue for world-class competitions. On any given day, you'll find avid water-skiers and wake-boarders making waves and splashing innocent bystanders at the park's 170 acres of water. All courses can accommodate traditional, barefoot, and kneeboard skiing, and for all of the day-jobbers out there, one of the courses is even lighted for night skiing. BMX bikers young and (slightly) old pull off 180s and 360s at the park's track, which is complete with dirt hills, sharp tricky turns, and half-pipes. Nature lovers walk, jog, and bike through woods and wetlands along the park's 1.2-mile-long nature trail. And as dads turn up the heat at the park's barbecue pavilions, kids run around and play to their hearts' content while the mouth-watering aromas of grilled burgers and corn on the cob fill the air. Additional facilities include a wooden fishing pier, two boat launching ramps, four adult softball fields, volleyball courts, five children's play areas, eight tennis courts, and a nature center. In short, there's something for everyone. And even though it's far from the beach -- the park is practically in the Everglades -- and there isn't a grain of sand in sight, you'll still find plenty of "fun in the sun."
When bicycling enthusiasts organize tours, they head to northern Palm Beach County. And for good reason. While there are few bad views from State Road A1A anywhere along the coast, once north of the pomp of Palm Beach, the back-to-nature scenery is downright stunning, and reminders of Florida's much-ignored history abound. Mangroves reappear, traffic disappears, and the road hugs the beach as it did elsewhere before condos became king. And it looks as good on four wheels as two. A good place to start is Juno Beach, a quaint seaside town of 2800 residents just north of PGA Boulevard. In the late 1800s, the town was the fourth stop on the Celestial Railroad, a short-lived line connecting Juno and Jupiter with train stations the publicity-savvy rail company dubbed Venus and Mars. Continuing north, you'll be surrounded by largely untouched land on the west and the blue expanse of the Atlantic on the east as you pass by the popular Juno Beach pier. At Carlin Park, the road turns west, and you'll have to get out on perpetually traffic-clogged U.S. 1 to cross the Jupiter Inlet. Once over the inlet, you'll see the 105-foot-high, bright-red Jupiter Lighthouse, which was built on an ancient Indian burial ground in 1860 and still provides a beacon to boats today. Head back east to A1A, where you'll be within spitting distance of the Intracoastal. Just north of the county line, stop at Blowing Rocks, a preserve managed by the Nature Conservancy. If you hit it at low tide, you'll discover the meaning behind its name. Sea water shoots out of holes in the porous limestone rock, creating a scene more characteristic of the rugged Pacific Coast than the more placid Atlantic. Since you've come this far, you might as well continue to Jupiter Island, the carefully manicured, old-money haven where the first President Bush went often to visit his mother. Now home to half the top golfers in the PGA, it is also where President Clinton took a highly publicized knee-twisting tumble while staying up late drinking with... er, make that talking to Greg Norman. Drive around and find out how those who consider Palm Beachers riff-raff really live. Cap the drive by taking a dip at the public park at the end of the island. Then what? Drive back and see everything you missed on the way up.
When bicycling enthusiasts organize tours, they head to northern Palm Beach County. And for good reason. While there are few bad views from State Road A1A anywhere along the coast, once north of the pomp of Palm Beach, the back-to-nature scenery is downright stunning, and reminders of Florida's much-ignored history abound. Mangroves reappear, traffic disappears, and the road hugs the beach as it did elsewhere before condos became king. And it looks as good on four wheels as two. A good place to start is Juno Beach, a quaint seaside town of 2800 residents just north of PGA Boulevard. In the late 1800s, the town was the fourth stop on the Celestial Railroad, a short-lived line connecting Juno and Jupiter with train stations the publicity-savvy rail company dubbed Venus and Mars. Continuing north, you'll be surrounded by largely untouched land on the west and the blue expanse of the Atlantic on the east as you pass by the popular Juno Beach pier. At Carlin Park, the road turns west, and you'll have to get out on perpetually traffic-clogged U.S. 1 to cross the Jupiter Inlet. Once over the inlet, you'll see the 105-foot-high, bright-red Jupiter Lighthouse, which was built on an ancient Indian burial ground in 1860 and still provides a beacon to boats today. Head back east to A1A, where you'll be within spitting distance of the Intracoastal. Just north of the county line, stop at Blowing Rocks, a preserve managed by the Nature Conservancy. If you hit it at low tide, you'll discover the meaning behind its name. Sea water shoots out of holes in the porous limestone rock, creating a scene more characteristic of the rugged Pacific Coast than the more placid Atlantic. Since you've come this far, you might as well continue to Jupiter Island, the carefully manicured, old-money haven where the first President Bush went often to visit his mother. Now home to half the top golfers in the PGA, it is also where President Clinton took a highly publicized knee-twisting tumble while staying up late drinking with... er, make that talking to Greg Norman. Drive around and find out how those who consider Palm Beachers riff-raff really live. Cap the drive by taking a dip at the public park at the end of the island. Then what? Drive back and see everything you missed on the way up.
You will not require any additional instructions to find the Seminole Rest Stop on Alligator Alley. If you do, you're clearly beyond help, since it's the only gas station on the nearly 80-mile stretch of toll road. Nor will you need many clues to pick out Wally, the rest stop's resident gator. He lives in the canal that rings the station's south parking lot. Call him and he'll paddle over with a toothy grin. Imbeciles have fed him (don't you dare), which makes him distressingly friendly for a nine-foot-long armored reptilian warrior. Stand on the other side of the chain-link fence, take photographs, and be glad he isn't feeding on you.
You will not require any additional instructions to find the Seminole Rest Stop on Alligator Alley. If you do, you're clearly beyond help, since it's the only gas station on the nearly 80-mile stretch of toll road. Nor will you need many clues to pick out Wally, the rest stop's resident gator. He lives in the canal that rings the station's south parking lot. Call him and he'll paddle over with a toothy grin. Imbeciles have fed him (don't you dare), which makes him distressingly friendly for a nine-foot-long armored reptilian warrior. Stand on the other side of the chain-link fence, take photographs, and be glad he isn't feeding on you.

Best Reminder that South Florida Is Still the South

The Rundown

When a tourist from the big city saw a bevy of bunnies running from a freshly cleared sugar-cane field, he freaked and phoned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. But little did that Yankee carpetbagger know that that's just the way it's done in Pahokee. Every January during sugar-cane harvest season, a few agile boys in the town of 6900 take to the "rundown," the sport of scrambling after rabbits fleeing the burning fields -- shooting Peter Cottontail, skinning their prizes, and selling them for $2 a hop. Call it barbaric if you will, but many in this hamlet directly east of State Hwy. 715 say it's basic training for their high school's future track and football stars.

Best Reminder that South Florida Is Still the South

The Rundown

When a tourist from the big city saw a bevy of bunnies running from a freshly cleared sugar-cane field, he freaked and phoned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. But little did that Yankee carpetbagger know that that's just the way it's done in Pahokee. Every January during sugar-cane harvest season, a few agile boys in the town of 6900 take to the "rundown," the sport of scrambling after rabbits fleeing the burning fields -- shooting Peter Cottontail, skinning their prizes, and selling them for $2 a hop. Call it barbaric if you will, but many in this hamlet directly east of State Hwy. 715 say it's basic training for their high school's future track and football stars.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of