It Was A Busy Year For Locals Making Their Mark
From online stars to booming business, from reality competition shows to good old-fashioned game shows, Wesley Chapel saw its share of residents get their 15 minutes of fame in 2017.
Back in August, Florida Hospital Center Ice was home to “Tampa Bay Idol,” an audition for the new incarnation of “American Idol,” which will now air on ABC-TV. The local tryout was hosted by Channel 28-WFTS-TV’s “ABC Action News,” and more than 400 people showed up to audition.
Over the past 12 months, we have introduced you to Wesley Chapel residents and “Idol” hopefuls Brittany Collins, 28, who is a third-grade teacher at Heritage Elementary in New Tampa, and Caloi Koelndorfer, a 16-year-old junior at Wiregrass Ranch High.
“It was awesome,’’ Caloi said of her audition. “I just let it go and tried to have fun.”
Those who got the thumbs-up – including both Brittany and Caloi – were awarded a “front-of-the-line” certificate to the next round of tryouts, held in Orlando. Unfortunately, both of their “American Idol” journeys ended there.
We’ve heard that one Wesley Chapel resident and two “Tampa Bay Idol” contestants may have made it to the next round of auditions. But, that’s still all we know at this time. The show doesn’t air until March, so we’ll keep you posted if a Wesley Chapel resident appears on it.
Then, in October, we watched NBC-TV’s “The Voice,” catching glimpses of 16-year-old Wiregrass Ranch High junior Alexandra Joyce. Her audition and subsequent battle round were reduced to montages on the show, so the hit show’s audience didn’t get to really appreciate the full extent of the teen’s talents.
After three chairs turned around for Alexandra –— those of Academy- and Grammy-award winner Jennifer Hudson, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and country crooner Blake Shelton — she joined Jennifer’s team. But, Alexandra’s journey on the show ended in her first battle round.
“I think it’s definitely been kind of a stepping stone for me,” she says. “I have a single on iTunes; I never in a million years thought I would have a single on iTunes.” Alexandra’s two audition songs, Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” and Charlie Puth’s “One Call Away” are both still available.
In November, Wesley Chapel resident Christopher Moody’s stint on the CBS-TV daytime game show “Let’s Make A Deal” aired.
Moody was offered $1,000 for a box with unknown contents — then $1,400, then $2,000.
“I turned it down,” Moody says. “It was just a gut feel. Right from the beginning, I was hoping I’d win a trip, I had a good hunch that is what was going to be in the box.”
Turns out he’s glad he followed that hunch.
And, we don’t want to forget to mention Zammy, the 100-pound “sheepadoodle” whose picture at the Shops at Wiregrass mall (right) went viral on the social media site reddit.
Zammy had about 600 followers on his Instagram account, @ZammyPup, before his photo hit reddit. After that, his owner, New Tampa resident Todd Pitner, says, “It went from 600 to 1,000 overnight, then 2,000 in a week, then 9,000.”
Zammy continues to gain fans. As of the end of 2017, the lovable Sheepadoodle has more than 71,000 followers.
“Zammy’s just a really special dog, with a special personality,” says Todd, “and he brings joy to people.”
Something else that brings joy to people is – let’s be honest – doughnuts. Another Wesley Chapel resident we featured in 2017 was Patrick Ruddell who has made his Mini Doughnut Factory in South Tampa one of Tampa Bay’s hottest spots, with a crowd almost always out the door.
Ridell’s second Mini Doughnut Factory just opened in St. Petersburg.
At one point this year, Patrick and his wife, Zezura, were on the verge of a deal to open a store in Wesley Chapel on S.R. 56. What they thought was a done deal, however, wasn’t, as they say the leasing company reneged on an agreement.
As for opening a store in the community where they live, Patrick says, “We want it more than anything.” Here’s hoping 2018 is the year that brings Wesley Chapel its own Mini Doughnut Factory.