By SHARON WEATHERHEAD

Correspondent

SEBRING — The Palms of Sebring was full of delicious smells and happy sounds as it was time for their 23rd annual Apple Festival. The fragrance of apples, pumpkin and cinnamon filled the air and the laughter of friends having fun, make this a much anticipated event every year.

Susan Waters and her friend Sandy Coppotelli were browsing the goodies available at various tables. “We’re looking around at everything, especially the cookies and the breads,” said Coppotelli.

Bonnie and Stan Hoover were making selections in the Christmas section. Bonnie selected several items. “Look at this; it’s just adorable. I am going to put it on the back of the setee on my porch. We’ve been coming here forever!”

Sharon Reynolds and Karen Smith, with the Palms, were shopping with Diana Miller. “I just love to look at everything here,” said Miller. “It’s just beautiful.”

Tables full of delicacies were available for the community to browse through. There were breads such as apple, pumpkin, banana, applesauce, cinnamon raisin and apple oatmeal. Low-sugar and sugar-free versions were also available so no one was left out.

“Every year we make more. This year we made over 3000 apple dumplings and about 800-900 loafs of bread,” said Chef Mac Gentleman. “This is my 11th year and although it’s a lot of work, it’s fun. We have a blast.” The chef and his team do all of this in about 2 ½ days.

Barbara Kesselring was packing up the apple dumplings just delivered from the kitchen. “My late husband, Lester, created this event 23 years ago. I’ve worked at all of them.”

“Before Chef Mac came to the Palms, Carolyn Miller used to make all of the apple dumplings by hand and Dottie Stauffer was the cookie baker. Cakes were created by me and my team. They baked at the Church kitchen with the Palms staff making an assembly line,” said Marcel Miranda, Palms Auxiliary President.

“Through the years, our menu has expanded and Chef Mac and his staff handle all the baking of the goodies. Apple butter and apple jelly are still homemade by Carolyn Miller and Sharon Kesselring. We now have breads, pies, cakes, cookies along with those wonderful dumplings.”

“This is our annual event, open to the public. It’s very popular,” said Chevonne Foster, Executive Director at the Palms. “We sell about 3000 apple dumplings each year as well as arts and crafts for fall, Halloween and Christmas.”

Foster says the residents are the greeters in the lobby and make some of the arts and crafts for the festival sale.

“Everyone wants to know when it’s apple dumpling time,” said Julia Mercer, Marketing Director at the Palms. “They call several months ahead of time. We have one lady who comes every year since 2008 to support the residents. Her own mom used to live here.”

All of the proceeds from the festival go into a fund for Resident Activities. These funds purchase items that enhance the lives of the residents. Some items they are enjoying now are a player piano with CD’s, a karaoke machine, Wii games, cameras, flat screen televisions and an oak bird aviary.

“We just love to see the public come in to enjoy our festival,” said Foster.

All of the goodies and gift displays were presented by The Palms of Sebring, the Palms Auxiliary Gift Shop, residents and volunteers. For more information on the Palms of Sebring please visit their website at www.palmsofsebring.com.

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