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BEACON DRAWING BY MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

“My family would be my first thing. My parents, 84 and 85, are still alive. My sister and two brothers live close by. That’s probably the first thing. All that, the veterans — we all share a common bond.”

Bill O’Connor, Orange City Council member

“I’m thankful for the Saviour for forgiving me. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for this church, the Liberty Baptist Church. I’m thankful for America.”

Slade Rickels, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in DeLand

“My son, my family, my friends and my volunteers.”

Kelli Marks, vice mayor of Orange City and founder of Backpack Buddies

“I am thankful for good health and the fact that the pandemic is slowing down. I’m thankful for a great city staff here in Orange City and all that they do.”

Gary Blair, mayor of Orange City

<p><p><strong>ASKING FOR AUTONOMY —</strong> Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood speaks at an April dedication of a veterans monument in DeLand. If a ballot measure passes this fall, Chitwood could become a constitutional officer, giving him greater autonomy from the rest of the county government.  </p></p><p>BEACON FILE PHOTO</p>

“These people standing behind me. These men and women are the finest in the country. My job is to try to improve their quality of life.”

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, standing with some of his deputies

“My brothers and sisters — the veterans — and our ability to help people in the community. Family.”

Phil Loranger, retired Army officer and member of American Legion Post 255 in Deltona

“I’m thankful for family and great friends and God’s beautiful Earth — let’s keep it that way.”

Stony Sixma, a West Volusia Realtor and a member of the Volusia County Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission

<p><p>Gabbie Milch</p></p><p>COURTESY GABBIE MILCH</p>

“I am thankful for our community talking about climate change and the protection of our drinking water supply and our rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. I hope we work towards important solutions in 2022! We need clean water.”

Gabbie Milch, middle-basin manager for the St. Johns Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protection of the river

<p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-f266cd09-7fff-6bf6-8cf2-95eba8ccec14"><span>Michelle Maclin has taught in Volusia County for nine years. She teaches at Southwestern Middle School in DeLand.</span></span></p></p><p>PHOTO COURTESY MICHELLE MACLIN</p>

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve others both personally and professionally.”

Dr. Michelle Maclin, members representative for Volusia United Educators, the union for Volusia County public-school teachers and paraprofessionals

<p><p><strong>Hari Pulapaka</strong></p></p><p>BEACON FILE PHOTO</p>

“I’m thankful for my wife, my mother, family near and far, friends, and the opportunities presented to me as a chef and educator.”

Hari Pulapaka, chef and professor of mathematics at Stetson University

<p><p class="p1"><strong>WONDERFUL QUILTS —</strong> African American Museum of the Arts Executive Director Mary Allen holds up a piece of artwork as she hangs the newest exhibit “Natural Black: The Nature Quilts of Lauren Austin.” An opening reception will be 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, and the exhibit will officially open Wednesday, Jan. 16, and run through April 13.</p><p class="p2"> </p></p><p>BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN</p>

“I’m thankful my family and I were able to get together to celebrate another Thanksgiving. We’re still able to celebrate despite the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve been blessed in my family, so I’m grateful for that.”

Mary Allen, executive director of the African American Museum of the Arts in DeLand

<p><p><strong>MAKING HISTORY </strong>— Sergia Cardenas, 36, will be the first Hispanic person to sit on the Pierson Town Council.</p></p><p>BEACON PHOTO/NOAH HERTZ</p>

“I have so much to be thankful for! I am happy, healthy, I am loved. I am thankful for my struggles which have made me a better person. I am thankful for the people who have stuck by me, the people who have pushed me to my full potential, the people who have provided me with their unconditional support. But most importantly I am thankful for my family. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am.

Sergia Cardenas, Pierson Town Council member

<p><p><strong>REUNITED AT LAST </strong>— After 38 years apart, Dane was finally able to see Queenie again in 2005 at Wild Adventures, the Valdosta, Georgia, theme park where Queenie took up residence after retiring from a job with a circus due to an injury. This photo is of Dane's second reunion with Queenie in 2006, this time with her son and his family. Before Queenie's death in 2011, Dane said, all of her children and grandchildren at the time were able to meet her childhood friend.</p></p><p>PHOTO COURTESY LIZ DANE</p>

I’m thankful for the great experiences that Queenie made possible for me — travels to two continents, three countries, many U.S. locations, specialty circuses and famous people we worked with over the years.  Also, the many wonderful memories I have of her — our life together and reunion after being apart for 38 years, when she absolutely remembered me.

Liz Dane, former performer at DeLeon Springs, where she performed a skiing act with her best friend, Queenie the elephant.

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