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Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2010
CONTACT: DEP Press Office, (850) 245-2112

‘Tis the Season for Outdoor Adventure and Relaxation at a Florida State Park

~Visitors encouraged to venture outdoors to a Florida state park holiday event~ 

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA – With the weather changing and holiday season quickly approaching, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is encouraging Floridians and visitors to step outside and into the beauty of one of Florida’s 160 state parks and attend a holiday event. Hosting an array of festive decorations and activities throughout the holiday season, state parks are the perfect venue to enjoy the outdoors and celebrate the holidays.

“Holidays are about gathering with family and friends; there’s no better place to rendezvous this season than a beautiful Florida state park,” said DEP Florida State Parks Director Donald Forgione. “From visits with Santa to decorations with millions of dazzling lights, Florida’s state parks are offering endless opportunities for combining nature, quality time with others and contagious holiday cheer.”

In light of the hassles that holidays bring, DEP emphasizes the upside of taking a break at a Florida state park. Attending an event while spending time in nature and releasing endorphins through physical activity will help relieve stress and maintain a healthy balance during the busy holiday season. White sandy beaches, vast open prairies, steep ravines, lush semi-tropical forests, cultural sites, crystal clear lakes, or rivers and springs offer countless landscapes for the ideal holiday reprieve.

Holiday events taking place at state parks in Southwest Florida include:

SANTA PAWS 5K RUN AND PET PARADE
Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring
Saturday, December 11, 8:00 a.m.

Bring your whole family, including Fido, for this fun event to benefit the Humane Society of Highlands County. Dress up your pet and get your picture taken with Santa Paws. Pre-registration for the 5k run is $20 day of race. Registration for the one mile Pet Parade is just $15 person/$25 per family on race day. Regular park entrance fees apply. For more information, call (863) 386-6094.

TAMMERLIN CHRISTMAS CONCERT
Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring
Saturday, December 11, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

The Friends of Highlands Hammock host this evening concert in the picnic area featuring a special Christmas concert with Tammerlin. Picnic baskets and coolers are welcome and refreshments will be available at the Hammock Inn restaurant. Concert admission is $5 per person and regular park entrance fee will be waived after 6:00 p.m. For more information, call (863) 386-6094.

HOLIDAY MERMAID SHOW
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill
Friday, December 17 and Saturday, December 18, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Visitors are in for a special holiday treat with a festive performance by the world famous mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs. Regular park admission fees apply. For more information, call (352) 592-5656.

CELEBRATION OF LIGHTS
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa Springs
December 18-24 and 27, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.

The park is decked out for the holidays with thousands of twinkling lights and Christmas decorations during this multi-evening event sponsored by the Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. Admission is a $2 donation for adults and $1 for children.

About Florida State Parks
Created in 1935 by the Florida Legislature, the Florida State Park system has grown from eight to 160 parks in the last 75 years. Today, the Florida Park Service manages more than 700,000 acres of Florida’s natural environment, including 100 miles of beaches, eight National Historic Landmarks and 39 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Florida State Parks has been recognized by the National Recreation and Park Association as the nation’s first and only two-time Gold Medal winner for the nation’s best park service. For more information about Florida’s state parks, visit www.FloridaStateParks.org

Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs

"Holidays are about gathering with family and friends; there’s no better place to rendezvous this season than a beautiful Florida state park."

Donald Forgione
DEP Florida State Parks Director

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Last updated: November 18, 2010

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