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Covino calls it a career after 34 years with News-Gazette

Posted on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Peter Covino
A&E Editor
This is my “The Sound of Music” moment.
You know the scene.
Those seven kids just don’t want to go to bed yet and are singing that “So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen,” goodnight song for what seems like an hour, before Maria exiles them to the bedroom with a broomstick.
Well, after almost 35 years, I am making my exit like the Von Trapp family.
Yes, this is my arrivederci, baby.
It’s been a wild and crazy ride since July 1983 when I first arrived in Kissimmee. After fighting off the

Arts and Entertainment Editor Peter Covino, retiring after 34, years, had many colorful assignments over the years. Above, Covino shares a moment with Chewbacca at a Star Wars event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Indians and malaria, I settled in not too far from the Osceola News-Gazette office (which actually had a bunch of other names back then). Kissimmee City Hall was still across the street, but it looked more like a log cabin compared to the large, modern building
that dominates Church Street now.
Disney World was already all-important to the area, and Epcot (Center) was almost a brand new addition. That was the beginning of a long, long relationship with the land of the Mouse and many great times including a 10th anniversary party, 15th anniversary party and on and on. We even got to see Jerry Van Dyke, finally.
There were so many celebrity interviews through the years. Lassie’s mom – June Lockhart, Beaver “Jerry Mathers” Cleaver, Maureen “Brady Bunch” McCormick, Fabian, Tammy Wynette, Andy Griffith, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons from KISS, Graham Nash, David Cassidy, John “Toy Story” Lasseter, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and lots more.
Though, the one that always seems to bring out that green monster of envy is Matthew McConaughey. Yes, I got even got to touch McConaughey’s sweaty body. He was working out with the Atlanta Braves during Spring Training, plugging some movie that I can’t remember.
Saddest interview ever: Former Vice President Dan Quayle. After riding in his motorcade, we even had lunch. It was not during a high point of the George Bush presidency, and he was friendly, but was definitely melancholy. Maybe it had something to do with his spelling of potato.
There was much more than a brush with celebrity fame through the years. I foolishly rode a bull for a media day for the Silver Spurs Rodeo and had my 2.2 seconds of fame and crash landed on my head. Concussion protocol, anyone? I did finish second and got a really large personalized belt buckle for my efforts. And a headache. I lost the belt buckle. I still get the headache. Occasionally.
You can tell there was lingering damage to the thought process, because it was not long after that I agreed to ride with the Ray Ban Gold Aerobatic Team. I hate roller coasters and not much after saying “I do” found myself upside down and sideways in some vintage aircraft that I was thinking never should have left the ground. There wasn’t even room for my carry-on. Or a parachute.
I didn’t learn from that mistake either as it was just the first of several aviation “don’ts” through the years. Not everything in the air was horrifying or needed a barf bag. The ride in the Good Year Blimp was definitely not of the Hindenburg variety. It was kind of like a relaxing bubble bath. Without the bubbles. And I got to steer.
Along the way, there were probably a few thousand movie and DVD reviews, hundreds of great dining experiences and so much more.
The ride isn’t over yet. I will still be contributing occasionally to the News-Gazette in print and on-line, as well as my own entertainment website, which will have more of a Tennessee feel,
So everyone keep on reading. There are great times ahead.
And in the words of John Lennon:
I would like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.