By Rebecca Carlson
*This article originally appeared in print and online in the Pensacola News Journal on Feb. 4, 2018.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and with it comes the traditional greeting cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and red roses.
For some, this holiday is a chance to go above and beyond for a loved one.
But Trevor Raney, a Pensacola local, believes Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to include an expensive gesture.
“I really liked this girl a lot, but I didn’t necessarily have a lot of money,” Raney said.
So he made a collage of Snapchat photos that meant something to him and his long-distance crush. Raney used Photoshop to incorporate images like a graffiti bridge in her hometown and a historic church to make a one-of-a-kind gift.
“I like the holiday. I’m not into the corporate aspect of it. What I did was very no cost to me,” Raney said.
Not everyone is on board with Valentine’s Day, and some people feel it’s just too commercialized.
“I do not believe that love should be celebrated on a particular day. I think love is something you experience every day,” said Amanda Schmidt, who is originally from upstate New York. “You should appreciate the person that you’re with every day.”
While Feb. 14 can be a day to celebrate love, it doesn’t have to be in a traditional way. Here are unique suggestions for just about anyone to enjoy the occasion.
Couples filled with love
Sometimes, the perfect gift is the one that’s handmade, not store bought. Painting with A Twist will offer two opportunities to create unique artwork and amazing memories. Choose between creating a “Wet Kiss Set” from 6:30-9:30 p.m. or “Summer Sun-Winter Moon” from 7-9 p.m. on Feb. 14 — either costs less than $50. Visit paintingwithatwist.com/studio/Pensacola for more information.
Does your honey have a favorite local business? Try creating a gift basket of items from Joe Patti’s, Apple Market, Ever’man Co-Op, Bella Mia or even Pensacola Hardware, just to name a few. This is a great way to create unique and thoughtful gifts while supporting the local economy.
What better way to test the mettle of your mate than by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane together? Skydive The Gulf, 28502 Frank Road in Elberta, Alabama, has just the plane to jump out of. This event is available beginning Valentine’s weekend. To schedule a free-fall experience, call 850-208-3011 or visit skydivethegulf.com.
Singles who hate Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day haters can join Puddles Pity Party starting at 7 p.m. Feb. 14 at Vinyl Music Hall in downtown Pensacola. His unexpected performance on season 12 of “America’s Got Talent” was so powerful that even Simon Cowell took pity on him. Even if you hate clowns, once Puddles open his mouth, you’ll fall in love with his original renditions of popular songs. Let a sad clown cheer you up this Valentine’s Day. Get the details at vinylmusichall.com.
If wine and fine dining aren’t your things, join the weekly Tap it and Run Club event from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 14 at World of Beer. Enjoy half-off select beers and pasta snacks after completing the 5K run. No need to be the leader of the pack, go at your own pace and meet other fun runners. Find more details at worldofbeer.com.
Some say the best revenge is to get in shape and make your ex-flame jealous. Join “Angry” Andi at the Radford Fitness Center for the Anti-Valentine’s Day Spin class from 9:15-10 a.m. Feb. 14 and burn those old calories and make way for new opportunities. If you really hate your ex, you can close your eyes and imagine cycling over their toes. For more information visit navymwrpensacola.com.
All the single ladies
Thanks to “Parks and Recreation” character, Leslie Knope, Galentine’s Day has become a tradition for many ladies to celebrate other ladies.
Although Knope preferred waffles, “fries before guys” is also a great slogan for the day. While this event usually falls on Feb. 13, brunch will taste just as good one day later.
For the bachelors
There may not be a fancy name for the men’s version of Galentine’s Day — maybe Guyentine’s Day? Instead of wine and rom-coms (romantic comedies), guys can enjoy real man stuff like a cigar from the Cigar Factory Pensacola and some whiskey from Old Hickory Whiskey Bar, both located in downtown Pensacola on Palafox Street.
Love your mind, body and soul with yoga at Ever’man Co-op. Starting at 6 p.m. Feb. 14, roll out a mat and enjoy one full hour of Vinyasa flow. Don’t worry if you’ve never been to a yoga class before; this session is for beginners and advanced practitioners. The event is free but bring your own mat. Find all the details at everman.org/events.
If you prefer to give love to others rather than yourself, volunteering is a wonderful way to pay it forward. Open Books Bookstore and the Prison Book Project offers opportunities to pick and ship books or educational materials to prisoners across the state of Florida. Join them from 6-8 p.m. for a Valentine’s book packing night at 1040 N. Guillemard St. or discover more about this organization at openbookspcola.org.
Puppy love may be the greatest love of all for dog lovers. So, why not take your pup on a date to the park? Couples can show love for their four-legged friends and single folks can meet fellow single dog lovers — you already have something in common. Bayview Park offers two separate doggie friendly areas, one with water access. Pensacola Beach has two dog parks on the Gulf of Mexico, located at lots 21.5 and 28.5.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t even have to be about couples. Unique ways to celebrate the holiday can be found all over Pensacola — if you’re willing to think outside the box.