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Largo Central Park goes with the glow of holiday lights

LARGO

From now through Jan. 3, Largo Central Park lights up the night sky with more than 2 million lights, most of which are energy-efficient LEDs.

This year, there's a novel way to see them. Just hop one of Santa's sleighs.

Actually we're talking about pedicabs, three-wheeled vehicles pedaled by a driver ready to ferry you and yours around the 70-acre park. It's a charming 10- to 12-minute ride for couples looking for a unique date night adventure or those who may have little ones or other family members not able to complete the mile-and-a-half stroll.

The four pedicabs can accommodate a couple of adults and one or two small children, depending on size. Rides are $5 for those 17 and older, $3 for those 3 to 16 years old, and free for children 2 and younger. The bike taxis take passengers throughout the main loop of the park, the Antarctica section and Central Park Drive.

Pedicabs may be hailed anywhere within the park, but our journey starts near the open campfire where visitors are roasting s'mores. The chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker confections are sold for $2 each at the nearby concession stand run by Boy Scouts.

Park superintendent Greg Brown says it took 900 staff hours to install the light displays that wrap around tree trunks, lace through tree branches and stand as images of carolers, snowmen, igloos, polar bears, toy soldiers and such.

"About 40 percent was state inmate labor," he said.

He points out some small forest animal light displays hidden throughout the park. The two owls, four rabbits, an eagle, raccoon and squirrel, are part of a new family scavenger hunt activity.

Along the way, green and red lasers positioned in a tree branch above create a mesmerizing shower of stars on all who stand (or ride) beneath.

Brown says the mayor's 31-foot Christmas tree is "bigger than ever" and will for the first time feature lights and ornaments that are synchronized with music.

Also new: 15 illuminated lanterns that float in a pond.

The city budgeted $58,000 this year to cover the cost of electricity, new installations and repairs.

If you enjoy the show, make sure and drop a donation into one of the two tall narrow red boxes decorated with snowflake patterns. Last year, visitors contributed $5,000, which was funneled back into the show.

Brown is already planning for next year.

"My goal for 2016 is to get a 100-foot long blue whale to go in the Antarctica section," he said.

>>If you go

Holiday Lights in Largo Central Park

When: Now through Jan. 3. Pedicab rides available daily from 6 to 11 p.m. through Jan. 1.

Where: 101 Central Park Drive

Info: (727) 586-7415 or visit largoparks.com

Entertainment schedule

Saturday: "Sounds of the Season" with headliner Late Night Brass. Enjoy a holiday craft fair, beer and wine garden, and Santa appearance.

Dec. 19: "Let It Snow" with a holiday movie, holiday craft fair, snow play area, snow slide rides, horse-drawn carriage rides, appearances by Santa and a lighted motorcycle group.

Parking: Limited on-site parking for $5. Free park-and-walk from Largo Middle School.

Largo Central Park goes with the glow of holiday lights 12/10/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 10, 2015 12:05pm]
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