CENTRAL 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 Central Florida include:
HOLIDAY TEA PARTY WITH MRS. CLAUS
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, Palm
Saturday, December 4, 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Boys and girls ages five to
eight years old, dressed in their best attire including old jewelry, ties and
garden hats can bring along their favorite stuffed animal to join in the tea
party festivities with Mrs. Claus. Sponsored by the Friends of Washington Oaks
Gardens, activities include sharing a Christmas wish list with Mrs. Claus, a
souvenir photograph with Mrs. Claus, holiday storytelling and tea and cookies.
Mrs. Claus will present each child with a Christmas bag filled with holiday
goodies to take home. Admission to the tea party is $20 per child. For more
information and to make reservations, call (386) 446-6783.
FISHING WITH SANTA
Colt Creek State Park, Lakeland
Saturday, December 11,
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Join Santa and wet a line to see what you might catch
from Mac Lake. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will have a
fishing trailer on site and will provide poles, bait and tackle free of charge.
Children ages 15 and under do not have to have a fishing license. Hot dogs,
chips and drinks will be available for sale during the event, co-sponsored by
Crew 774 of Lakeland. Regular park entrance fees will apply. For more
information, call (863) 815-6761.
CAROLING THE RAVINES
Ravine Gardens State Park, Palatka
18, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Visitors are set to enjoy an old fashioned evening of
friends, family and fellowship with an opened-aired wagon tour around the
1.8-mile tree-top canopy circle drive and listen to local church groups, school
groups and organizations sing old-fashioned seasonal carols. Visitors will be
treated to a festive evening of twinkling lights, floating candles and a holiday
themed ravine, as well a holiday entertainment, last minute shopping
opportunities, kids craft tables and children’s holiday movies. Admission will
be one non-perishable food item for local charities. For more information, call
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,