Flipped Out

Forty's something for Flipper

What becomes a legend most? When you hit midlife without a crisis and you are still capable of leaping through hoops and turning somersaults with class. Miami's original TV darling, Flipper, hit the big four-OH this year and you wouldn't know it to look at him. To celebrate the marine mammalian's milestone, the Miami Seaquarium is sending the young-at-heart dolphin out into the city and suburbs ... in a tricked-out SUV.

Let us suspend our disbelief. We all know there have been a few Flippers since the landmark television series. Still there's only one, like Lassie, that we all know and love. Flipper was the slippery and playful sea friend who smilingly saved the day with a tremulous "ah-ah-ah-ah" that we all tried to imitate. When the adventures of Sandy and Bud and their father, Ranger Porter Ricks, got out of hand, Flipper would spring into action and bust the bad guys. Though he may not be going after salty bandits these days (the TV star spends time swimming with dolphin lovers), Flipper will be going after legions of new fans in the city.

Together with a cast of Seaquarium buddies including Lolita, Salty the Sea Lion, and Romeo the Manatee, Flipper's Splash Attack will showcase the seafaring buddies performing musical numbers, hosting games and challenges, as well as giving away Seaquarium goodies.

Now don't be shocked -- these oceanic wonders who talk and dance and sing are really actors wearing plush costumes. But it's nice to remember the old Flipper and his young pal Sandy, the towheaded, freckle-faced rugrat who lives inside all of us.

Flipper's 40th birthday stretches throughout the rest of the summer with various promotions. Flipper's Splash Attack can be spotted from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Dadeland Mall (7535 N. Kendall Dr.). Admission is free. Community organizations can schedule a Splash Attack event by calling the Seaquarium. Call 305-365-2530. -Juan Carlos Rodriguez


Birth Rights

The old adage about an ounce of prevention may be most true when it comes to birth, given the soaring rate of cesarean births in South Florida. Miami Maternity Center, Florida's largest birth center run by midwives, offers early pregnancy, childbirth, and child development classes to prepare women and their partners for impending parenthood. Free and open to the public, the classes (in English and in Spanish) cover topics such as nutrition, labor, delivery, complications, and the partner's role. "Childbirth classes give women the confidence to face a normal event which today has become a medical event, but it also gives them the facts as a weapon," explains Shari Daniels, president of the Miami Maternity Center and chief midwife. "Too often women are being led like lambs to the slaughter with our 50 percent cesarean rate in Miami-Dade County." Daniels has delivered thousands of babies over the past 30 years, trained more than 500 midwives, and assisted in opening birth centers in Mexico, Israel, India, Ecuador, and Jamaica. Ongoing courses start at 7:00 p.m. at the Miami Maternity Center, 140 NE 119th St. Call 305-754-2229. -- Mia Leonin

Capital Ideas

New group aids the arts

Sure, arts organizations do all sorts of cool things for your edification and entertainment. But they won't be doing them for much longer if government funding cuts continue. How to survive? Turn to private bucks. A new crew of concerned movers and shakers known as the Miami Beach Arts Trust is recruiting members to fulfill its noble mission of offering financial support to worthy local arts groups, drumming up attendance for cultural events, and even presenting them too. They'll kick off their campaign at 7:00 tonight with a cocktail party, featuring hors d'oeuvres and a slide show on the waterfront dining patio at Roger's Restaurant & Bar (1601 79th Street Cswy.). Guest speaker will be Randall Robinson, planner with the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation and author, who will present a colorful illustrated talk centering on the hottest architecture around: MiMo, or the Miami Modern style. Tickets cost $25. Call 786-210-2319. - Nina Korman

Loco Motives

Nearly every Florida history course covers Henry Flagler bringing his railroad down to Miami, a seemingly impossible job considering the lack of technology, not to mention supremely inhospitable conditions, namely all the brush that had to be cleared. But much less is said about the nutty idea of expanding the railroad down to Key West, a Herculean task that thousands of laborers and engineers worked on from 1905 to 1916. Former college-professor-turned-boat-captain, environmental guide, and writer/editor Dan Gallagher documented the backbreaking project with illuminating text, maps, and more than 250 photographs in his 2003 book, Florida's Great Ocean Railway. A resident of Grassy Key, he'll talk about the construction of the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum (12450 SW 152nd St.) this afternoon at 2:00. Perhaps appropriately, the lecture will take place in the 52-seat Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Observation Bar Lounge #254, built in 1940. Admission is $5. Call 305-301-2674. -- Nina Korman

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