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Highway 50 Revisited

Exploring one of the busiest, yet most overlooked, roadways in our region

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“We have a great relationship with East Coast,” Hennessey says of East Coast Martial Art Supply, the Colonialtown South storefront that has catered to karate needs in the area since 1979 – and happens to neighbor yet another dojo, Martial Arts World. “They’ve been here forever.”

Hennessey also believes the popularity of the sport itself, which has seen ups and downs as fads have come and gone, from The Karate Kid to the Ultimate Fighting Championships, has had an impact. Five or six years ago, Hennessey says, interest in MMA might have been more “spread out.” These days, businesses specializing in the sport can be found nearly anywhere, but Hennessy says the Jungle, which has been open for about four years, “is not just some fly-by-night place trying to capitalize on the trend of MMA.”

Hennessey says auto traffic in the area is “horrible,” but he says the “foot traffic” in the Mills 50 neighborhood has contributed to his gym’s success. Many of his customers are locals who’ve driven or walked by and spotted a class training outside.

“We have people that come from Clermont and Apopka, but mainly it’s people downtown that might have seen one of our shirts at L.A. Fitness and ask about it,” he says. “Word of mouth around here is great, and the crazy tire-dragging stuff outside gets some attention. People drive by and slow down, like, ‘What the shit are they doing?’”

Magic Mall Flea Market

2155 W. Colonial Drive

Jessica Bryce Young

At 7 p.m. Saturday night, Nov. 19, Colonial Drive west of Orange Blossom Trail is a river of cars, five lanes wide and dammed by orange barrels and yellow police tape. (Woe to the driver who wants to pull a U-turn; the tape-and-barrel construct extends for blocks.) For those who are not simply caught in traffic, the destination point is the spacious parking lot of the Magic Mall at 2155 W. Colonial Drive. It’s Florida Classic weekend, and a significant segment of the folks in town for the annual Citrus Bowl showdown between Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University are here to show off their cars or ogle others’. The shiny, shaved, jacked-up American cars on 30-inch rims called donks are the main flavor, though plenty of intimidatingly tall trucks are present as well. The cars are directed (with more tape and barrels) into a slow processional around the lot, stereos bumping, surrounded by lesser cars like pilot fish, drifting in a grand circle until pulling into an isolated parking spot, the better to be admired from all angles.

Inside the roughly 100,000-square-foot flea-market-cum-mall, business is good, but not great. Clumps of young women drift around the periphery in an unconscious echo of the cars outside, frowning critically at costume jewelry and hair extensions; a couple banters while negotiating who’s buying what for whom at one of the many stalls trading in gold jewelry priced by the pound (or fraction thereof).

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