Dreaming of a White Christmas?
November 20th, 2018 by Pamela A. Keene

Youngsters enjoy sledding at Mount Dora’s Children’s Christmas in the Park.
Photo courtesy of Jill Santos, city of Mount Dora

You actually can have a white Christmas in Florida, if you know where to find it.

Several major attractions produce snow, including Disney’s Celebration in Orlando, Winterfest Reindeer Games in Pensacola and WinterFEST at Adventure Landing in Jacksonville Beach.

But look a bit farther and you will find it could be snowing at a town near you.

Mount Dora’s Children’s Christmas in the Park with Snow Saturday, December 8, has snow sledding, ice skating and visits with Santa in Donnelly Park.

“Everyone here just loves the snow every year,” says Grace Aguda, community relations specialist with Mount Dora. “We use real snow, not something made with snow-fluid, but water-based. The kids and their parents have a blast.”

That is one of many holiday celebrations in Lake County. In Tavares, take a trip to the North Pole and a visit with Santa on The Polar Express with Christmas caroling and a reading of the children’s book by the same name.

In White Springs, the Stephen C. Foster Folk Cultural Center’s Festival of Lights December 1-24 puts on a show with millions of twinkling lights. See candy cane and Christmas tree forests, a gingerbread village and live oaks wrapped in tiny white lights. The park’s carillon is transformed into a giant multi-colored Christmas tree towering over the park. Sparkling light displays depict moving trains, Santa and his sleigh and snowmen. Designated nights feature snow, children’s activities, gift-making, bonfires and crafts demonstrations.

Flying Tips
Flying somewhere for the holidays? Here are tips to make your flight more enjoyable:

  • Want to change seats? Check the seat map about four days before your flight. Passengers upgrading to business or first class leave you with more choices. You can make the change online. If you upgrade, you may be subject to additional fees.
  • If you must take off your shoes while flying, keep your socks on. The carpet is a ready receptacle for spilled beverages, vomit and baby pee.
  • Carry wet-wipes to clean arm rests, tray tables, touch-screens and your hands.
  • Seats and some plane’s seat belts are getting smaller. Instead of struggling to fasten a too-tight belt, request a seat-belt extender from a flight attendant during boarding.
  • Place smaller bags beneath the seat in front of you. Most people place everything in overhead bins, leaving little room for people who board in later zones. On many flights, later passengers must check their bags at the jetway.
  • Flight cancellations are inevitable during the holiday travel season. Book earlier in the day for a better chance of sticking to your original itinerary and avoiding delays due to overbooking or severe weather. If you have an obligation and need to arrive at a specific time, book travel for the day before the event.

Online Insights
Sign up for regular bulletins from Travelzoo.com, where you can find out about last-minute deals, new websites and apps, and discounts on local personal services and events.

CLEAR, which has been around since 2016 and is available to air travelers, can speed passengers through airport security through scanned fingerprints and biometrics used to verify identity. Enrollment is available at my.clearme.com. The cost is $179 a year. If you are a Delta Medallion member or use certain credit cards, the cost may be discounted. Other discounts may be available through other organizations.

Florida native and travel enthusiast Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who specializes in travel, gardening, personality and feature writing. She is also a photographer and accomplished sailor. Her website is www.pamelakeene.com.