Celebrate the holiday season at Florida state park this December

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection invites the public to participate in events across the state celebrating the holiday season this December.

This year, many State Parks will host a wide range of holiday celebrations, complete with lights and festivities. For locals and visitors alike, events at Florida State Parks over the next month are experiences everyone can enjoy.

“The holiday season is a wonderful time to enjoy Florida State Parks,” says Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “Stopping by a state park this December is a great way to enjoy Florida’s brilliant scenery while adding cheer to the season.”

Among the many events at state parks in 2014 is the award-winning Festival of Lights at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs beginning Friday, Dec. 5. This event will run through the entire month of December with a holiday light display, a gingerbread village, a candy cane forest and a winter wonderland area complete with snow flurries and Santa Claus. Additionally, Cousin Thelma Boltin’s Gift Shop will be open every day from noon to 9 p.m. and will have craft demonstrations, marshmallow roasting and caroling. The event is $3 per person and is open each night until 9 p.m., excluding Christmas night. Christmas Eve will be drive through only.

Another great event to attend with friends and family this December is Santa Over the Rainbow at Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon. On the second and third weekend of December from 6 to 8 p.m. Santa Claus will be visiting the park. Visitors can walk along the wonderland of lights, which decorate the headsprings area of the park and watch as Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrive on a lighted boat as they head toward their cottage along the Rainbow River. The special nighttime entry fee for this event is $2.

A complete list of events at Florida State Parks this December is on the DEP website.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.