Chris GarniewiczBluffton Fire Capt. Chris Garniewicz’s usual firefighter uniform can be described as inspiring, yet creatively uninspired. But the colorful costumes he and his wife, Lara, make in their free time are worthy of sugar plum fairies and mouse kings.

Chris and Lara have been sewing and designing costumes for “The Nutcracker” ever since their daughter Hayden, now 10, joined the Dance Theatre seven years ago. This year, they created the delicate ruffles and glittering baubles on nearly every costume in the show. “I get some odd looks sometimes when I tell people I make tutus,” says Chris. “The guys at the fire station take it in stride because they’re also asking me to alter pants and fix tears. I just got done sewing zippers back on some sweatshirts.”

What makes a person intriguing?

Intriguing People of the Lowcountry

According to Webster’s Dictionary, it’s someone that has the capacity to fascinate us, to arouse our curiosity. The people profiled here range from a liberal and a conservative columnist to a man who’s bringing rap and rockn’ roll acts to the Lowcountry to a 92-year-old golf starter. They also include a sailor, a pilot who flies sick children to get the help they need, a woman who works diligently to help single moms, another woman whose Down Syndrome child inspired her to help others, an architect who came about his calling in an unusual fashion, and a man who brings his Caribbean music to local children. There’s also the doctor helping Hispanic women with prenatal care, a businessman who had his “aha” moment and is now helping teen girls as they recover from substance abuse, and the solicitor who has changed the face of law enforcement in our community.

Young actor shines onstage

Lauren OsborneWITH A NATURAL POISE beyond her years, fresh-faced Lauren Osborne brings the stage to life. The 15-year-old found her calling onstage with her first lead role as Laurey in “Oklahoma!”

“It’s one of my favorite places to be,” said Osborne.

“I have a good feeling — must be the adrenaline!”

“Oklahoma!” was an ideal role for Osborne, according to Jodi Layman, Main Street Youth Theatre artistic director and choreographer.

“Lauren studied ballet with Hilton Head Dance Theatre for years and is a beautiful dancer,” Layman said. “She’s a triple threat — voice, dance, acting — and those are hard to come by. Most of all, she’s a natural. It’s in her eyes! She’s so believable.”

New Hilton Head Prep chief and his family are ready to enjoy island living.

Kandel, “is totally committed to doing what’s best for the kids. He is the right guy to take the school to the next level.”Anthony Kandel, newly named head of school at Hilton Head Preparatory School, would admit to personal as well as professional reasons why he’s eager to move to the island.

Those reasons could be summarized as “Sun” and “Belt.” Kandel, contacted March 4 in Philadelphia, where he heads the upper school at Haverford School, reported an outdoor temperature of 16 degrees at mid-morning.

“Two nights ago it snowed eight inches,” the Los Angeles native added.

2009 INTRIGUING PEOPLE of the Lowcountry

Amee PatrickMeet Monthly's Intriguing People of the Lowcountry for 2009: Peter D. Baier, Debbie Berling, Steve Brown, Carlos Chacon, Fred Devyatkin, Don Hite, Erma Koenigsberg, Denise Kuss, Amee Patrick, Cynthia Rivers, Dick Stewart, Lisa Sulka, Cora Bett Thomas, Dr. Valerie Truesdale, Joni Vanderslice, Chuck Wielgus and Jim Willard.

Our area abounds with interesting personalities, making it quite a challenge to select only a handful for Monthly’s annual Intriguing feature.

To read more about 2009 Monthly's Intriguing People CLICK HERE.

Lung cancer survivor achieves her North Pole dreams.

“Having lung cancer does not have to be as debilitating as it’s made out to be,” says Barbara Hillary.Barbara Hillary walks with a slight limp and reluctantly carries a cane – a stress fracture from training for her latest, top-secret adventure.

“Let’s just say I’ll be setting another world record,” the 76-year-old lung cancer survivor said with a smile, adding that her next “vacation” will take place in a dangerous, remote area.

It’s difficult to imagine anything can top Hillary’s last expedition – a three-week trek to the North Pole that required months of preparation. Hillary had to be in prime physical condition to endure the arctic elements – including 40-below temperatures and the constantly shifting ice – while skiing a majority of the way and carrying heavy supplies. The retired nurse also had to raise more than $22,000 for the trip by soliciting companies and appealing to the public.

Newsweek legend & Hall of Famer captured history through his lens.

Intriguing icon: Wally McNamee Hall of Fame photographerWally McNamee’s career as a photojour-nalist for Newsweek took him around the world - from the Olympics to the White House - covering the movers and shakers of the 20th century.

“It’s very, very hard work,” McNamee said of covering the Olympics. “It’s very frustrating work. It’s as much a bureaucracy as the federal government, and after the terrorist attack there [Munich in 1972] the security was very stringent.” But at the same time, “It’s very exciting,” he said. “I always liked sports and there you are with the best athletes in the world. It’s hard to get really good pictures - you have to use big, long lenses - but it’s worth it.”

His dad was a part-time sportswriter who covered the minor league Harrisonburg Turks in Harrisonburg, VA, where McNamee was born in 1932. “I thought I wanted to be a sportswriter,” McNamee said. But during a stint as a copy boy at the Washington Post he had a shot at covering sports as a photographer and got hooked.

The story of town founder Ben Racusin, Hilton Head Island’s First Mayor

Ben Racusin, Hilton Head Island’s First Mayor “I met her in Shanghai on a Wednesday,” said Ben Racusin of his unforgettable first encounter with the love of his life, Helen. “I don’t recall that either of us were too impressed.”

But then he felt a little different after another rendezvous. They married three months later, and they’ve been together for 61 years. It’s a love story that has made its way to Hilton Head Island. Following a world-wide career with the CIA, Racusin and his wife decided to spend their well-earned retirement years on Hilton Head Island.

Racusin holds the distinction of being Hilton Head Island’s first mayor – and while Charles Fraser may have had the original vision for what Hilton Head Island could be from a tourism standpoint, Racusin led the way to make it “home” for the residents. Friends first told the couple about “the most wonderful place” they had found, and convinced them to visit the island. They saw the charm and glimmer of Hilton Head back when a spring bridge was the only connection to the mainland. That was 41 years ago, and Racusin said he is just as impressed with Hilton Head Island today as he was when its thriving population consisted of about 3,000 people.