SOUTHEAST 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 Southeast Florida include:
LIGNUMVITAE KEY CHRISTMAS
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park, Islamorada
Saturday, December 4, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Hosted by the Friends of the Islamorada Area State Parks, this annual holiday
event will feature the historic Matheson House decorated in traditional “Keys”
style of the early 1900s. Visitors will see how caretakers of the past would
have adorned the walls of their home during the holidays. There will also be
homemade cookies and holiday goodies to sample, along with other refreshments.
Visitors will make their own ornaments from local drift seeds and leaves. Meet
at Robbie’s Marina at MM 77.5 (bayside) for transportation. A special event fee
will apply. Transportation begins at 9:00 a.m. and continues until 3:00 p.m.
There will be a special event fee for anyone arriving in their own boats.
Admission will be $1 per person for tours. For more information, call (305)
BLIZZARD AT THE BEACH
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, North Palm Beach
Sunday, December 5, 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
The forecast calls for snow.
Activities include a holiday card drawing contest, kayaking, bounce houses, face
painting, entertainment, refreshments and photos taken with Santa on the beach.
Admission will be $5 per person and proceeds benefit the Natural Science
Education Fund. Parking is free and only at the FPL lot in Juno beach with
non-stop shuttle service. For more information, call (561) 776-7221.
THE BARNACLE UNDER MOONLIGHT
The Barnacle Historic State Park, Coconut Grove
Friday, December 10, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Cindy Curtis, a local artist that has
been entertaining South Florida audiences for 25 years, will perform. Bring your
picnic dinner, family and friends and enjoy a relaxing evening under the stars.
Rumor has it a jolly man in a red suit may visit with treats for the kids.
Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for children age six to nine and children under
10 are free. For more information, call (305) 442-6866.
WINTERFEST BOAT PARADE
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Fort Lauderdale
Saturday, December 11, 3:30 p.m.
The annual Winterfest Boat Parade will host
more than 100 boats and yachts decorated with holiday lights. The Seminole Tribe
of Florida will host an area with Indian arts, crafts, birds of prey and
authentic Native American dancing. Visit the Lucky Florida Lottery Tent and
sample the latest and greatest PopChips! Enjoy the Florida Panthers slap shot
game, Florida Marlins prize wheel, mermaids, baseball throw, bounce house,
Sun-Sentinel’s kids’ town and much more. Admission for walk-in visitors to the
park is $3 per person. For more information, call (954) 564-4521.
LIGHTS ON THE BAY BOAT PARADE
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key
Saturday, December 18, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Inspired by a 47 year
tradition, approximately 50 boats will sail out of the Key Biscayne Yacht Club
decked out in holiday lights and sail around Biscayne Bay, making several passes
through No Name Harbor. Food, beverages and music will be available at the
Boaters Grill. Park admission is waived for this event. For more information,
call (305) 361-9171.
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,