HOMOSASSA SPRINGS — With temperatures reaching the 80s and no cold front in sight, folks are not expecting nature to bring a white Christmas this year.
So, people will have to do it themselves.
During the annual Celebration of Lights, which kicks off Friday evening at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, there will be snow, sort of, if only for one day.
Tuesday, a snow-blowing machine will be brought in to shoot out 6 tons of fake snow for a toboggan slide in the Garden of the Springs.
"This is the first time we're having snow," said park manager Art Yerian, who promises it will be a fun experience for people all ages. "And there won't be a charge to ride."
The event will be from 5:30 to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 24 and again on Dec. 26. The underwater observatory will be lit up and there will be thousands of holiday lights, decorations and Christmas music.
Also, to mark the park's 20th anniversary as a state park, Yerian said there will be a Memory Lane event in the Garden Pavilion on Saturday. The program will be presented on a big screen, and will include photos from the early days of the attraction to the present.
Visitors will be entertained by numerous new groups, as well as the return of some popular groups, such as the Hearts of Hands Deaf Choir, which will perform from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
"Folks really loved Hearts of Hands last year and asked to have them back," Yerian said. "It is a great show."
Entertainment will be provided from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. each evening, followed by a holiday party from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Other performers include Debbie's School of Dance on Friday and the Beverly Hills Community Church Chime Choir on Sunday. The Homosassa's Got Talent show, featuring various local entertainers, will be on Monday.
The Nature Coast Community Church will present a nondenominational Christmas Eve candlelight service on Dec. 24. Admission that day will be a donation of nonperishable food items for the We Care Food Bank in lieu of a monetary fee.
On Dec. 26 there will be an after-Christmas party with DJ Joe Dube. The highlight will be Marcus Held performing as Elvis.
Of course, the holidays wouldn't be the same without Santa, who will be at the park on Tuesday and Wednesday. He will bring along Mrs. Claus and some live animals. What critters he brings will be a surprise.
"The animals are provided by our Wildlife Department," Yerian said. "Santa might bring baby alligators, hogs or different reptiles. You never know."