LAND O'LAKES — Heritage Park lies in the heart of Land O'Lakes. Used for years as a sports park, members of the Heritage Park Foundation hope this year it will begin to stand out in the minds of residents as a cultural center and local meeting place.
The foundation is celebrating this year's holiday season on Sunday with Traditions on the Green, an event that will feature local choirs, a puppet show and stories told by local residents.
Sandy Graves, the president of the foundation, said traditional gatherings are essential in today's splintered society.
"I think it's important for everyone to feel a sense they're part of something, especially a community that has a past and a sense of belonging," Graves said. "We're a fast-paced world. We need that."
State Rep. Will Weatherford said Traditions on the Green is an important link to the past, especially for an area like Pasco County that has changed so much in the past 20 years.
"In order to understand your future you have to understand your past," Weatherford said. "To be a visionary, to have a plan you have to understand where you came from."
Kurt Conover, who is on the board of directors for Heritage Park, said December is the perfect time to look to the past because of the nostalgia many feel for years gone by.
Conover also said Traditions on the Green is a way for residents to take pride in their community and he hopes it might ease the pain felt when the Flapjack Festival was moved to Dade City this year.
"We like our identity in Land O'Lakes," Conover said. "This is an opportunity to have an event that defines our community."
Graves said she wants locals to think of Heritage Park and its green space as the center of life in Land O'Lakes.
"We'd like eventually for people to say 'on the green' and know where they're going to meet," Graves said.
Conover said he wants to leave a lasting mark on Pasco County, one that will stand out for years to come.
"History is happening as we speak," Conover said. "Hopefully generations from now people can look back and say they still have Traditions on the Green."