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Making the holidays happier

With the holiday season just around the corner, the Citrus County Parks and Recreation Department and other recreational sports supporters are gearing up with activities to ensure that Citrus County residents of all ages won't have any reason to be inactive over the next couple of months.

"We especially like to do things around the holidays," Citrus County recreation supervisor Christine Brown said. "We want to develop our department and that seems to be when people want to get involved in things like that."

The county's mixed power volleyball season begins Friday, with games played once weekly. The women's volleyball league gets under way in December and the men's softball league is currently in full swing. The department's tennis lessons for youth and adult beginners is entering its final two weeks, and youth karate classes and tae kwon do classes for ages 6 and up are being offered twice weekly.

"These are very busy times," recreation supervisor Barney Christner said.

For women who want to learn ways to better protect themselves, Master Roy Washington, a sixth-degree black belt tae kwon do instructor, will teach a one-day self-defense seminar for women on Nov. 23 at the Citrus County Auditorium. It will run from 1-3 p.m.

"Master Washington was coming into town for a special meeting and I decided to jump in and get him while he was in town," Christner said.

In an effort to ensure that every resident can become active, Brown said the department attempts to gear its events toward citizens of all age groups.

For tennis buffs, the Citrus County Tennis Association is hosting a tournament Nov. 15-16 at Lecanto High School. The tournament is divided into three groups _ men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles. The cost is $15 per person and all proceeds go toward the Citrus County Community Tennis courts.

The county's pools officially closed for the season at the end of October, but Brown, who is in charge of the couty's aquatic activities, said the department enjoyed a successful summer season.

"We have a large, younger group involved in swimming," Brown said. "It's huge. We have to actually turn some people away. We always have a big response to our learn-to-swim program."

The recreation department will kick off a string of fall events with a Fall Harvest Dance for middle school students at the Citrus County Auditorium Nov. 22 from 7-11 p.m. Admission is $4 per student or $3 for any student who brings in at least three non-perishable goods.

"At this time of the year, I really try to concentrate a lot of special events at the Citrus County Auditorium because it's right in Inverness," Christner said. "It's an area where we have a big concerntraion of people and participation is better around holiday time. In addition, we try to concentrate more on holiday events because there are a lot of holidays."

Along with its sports recreational programs, the Citrus County Parks and Recreation Department will sponsor a home decorating contest with first-, second- and third-prize winners to be selected by a panel of judges, plus a New Year's Craft Show Jan. 10 at the auditorium. About 30-45 crafters are expected to present their wares.

"We just have all kinds of things going on right now," Christner said.