Here it is the first week of December behind us and as Christmas approaches, minds turn toward holiday preparations and festivities. Holiday music feels the airways, street lights twinkle as you drive by and the ever present sale ads are piling up in our mailboxes.
What if you are having a hard time revving up in this season of commercial bliss and are longing for a simpler, more inspired way to go. What if you would rather spend some quality time looking for fun, albeit holiday related things do and see with your family. Locally here in Ocala, FL, this is fairly easy to do. There is finally a chill in the air and one can almost picture a wintry scene. Just on TV this morning, I saw that it is SNOWING along the gulf coast- well not in Florida- but close enough. There was a person skiing in the snow being pulled along by a GOLF CART.
Okay, back to the to dos’.
At home, there is the baking, and watching of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or pulling out the favorite movies White Christmas or It’s a Beautiful Life.
But if you want to get out to do some fun things in Ocala and in the surrounding area, here are some ideas:
One of the best fun times I’ve had recently was the ice show. We’ve gone several times to see the Ice Show at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee near Orlando. This you have to see to believe. This year you can see it from November 11 through January 13. There are over two million pounds of ice sculpted into life sized ice sculptures of the most beautiful vignettes with Santa, toy shops, a life sized carousel and an Arctic forest. You are bundled up in subzero parkas and treated to hot chocolate on the way out through what else a gift shop. But it was fun. For ticket prices and hours click here. When we were there we made a day of it by also going to the Villa de Flora right in the complex for a wonderful buffet of Mediterranean goodies in a twinkling arbor setting. There are a lot of other eateries there too – something for everyone.
This weekend in Ocala you can take the Candlelight House Tour sponsored by the Historical Preservation Society. There are three houses in the historic district all decked out inside and out. Fabulous. Along the route are carolers, Santa, and hostesses from the society greeting you with hot cider, hot chocolate and festive cookies. The homes themselves are just beautiful, but all decked out with garland, trees, lights, and all manor of finery, they are a real treat. Along with that if you park in the downtown square, which is all aglow itself, you can ride in style to the homes in a horse drawn carriage.
Also, this weekend on December 6 is the famous Ocala Christmas Parade along Silver Springs Blvd. I was shocked the first time I saw it. This parade draws so many people that they start putting out lawn chairs along the parade route a WEEK before to reserve a spot. Vendors aplenty walk the route, set up food areas where you can but a hot drink and a hot dog, and people tailgate just like at a football game. Very festive. The parade lasts a couple hours with marching bands, horses, floats, cars with dignitaries, police on motorcycles, Shriners in small cars, Clydesdales and Santa himself at the end.
The famous attraction,Silver Springs, has opened their annual Festival of Lights. It is in full swing with a light display throughout the park and a lighted boat parade that will delight you as you stroll the park’s paths while listening to live Carolers.
And the Ocala Symphony Orchestra performs their annual Christmas and Hanukkah festival of music called A Mannheim Christmas Spectacular on December 12th and 13th.
As a matter of fact there are so many happenings crammed into this month that it would be hard to see them all. Anything you’d like from church chorales and plays to story times to art receptions to Santa on the Square – there is something for the young, the old and everyone in between. I found 14 pages of activities and events by just going to www.ocala.com and clicking on the entertainment topic. It would take me all week to just list them all for you, so just click and take a look for the listings. If you live in another community, you could probably find just as many fun outings too. Hopefully, there are some ideas here that will spark your interest.
“May you days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white”……….. Happy holidays everyone!!
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