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Events find a home in Homosassa

This weekend, Homosassa will be bustling with arts, crafts and seafood, but there's plenty to do and see in Homosassa during the rest of the year as well. This community has deep roots in the history and culture of Citrus County. With its background in the fishing industry, Homosassa is well-known for its seafood. Recognizing its natural beauty, many artists have established galleries and exhibits there.

Here are some events and places to see year-round in Homosassa.

+ Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. With its new visitors center on U.S. 19, the park has re-emerged as one of the outstanding attractions of the area. Within its 180 acres, visitors can walk on nature trails and view a spectacular display of native plants and animals.

+ Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins. The remnants of an old sugar mill contain some of the earliest man-made structures of Citrus County. The site is a popular landmark in Homosassa.

+ The Antique Print Shop. Near the sugar mill on Yulee Drive, the shop is a museum of the printing industry and also exhibits the works of local artists.

+ The Homosassa River Raft Race. Held in June, this fund-raiser for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society features a wacky armada of rafts racing for fun and recognition down a short stretch of the river around Monkey Island. The event is accompanied by a huge outdoor beach-style party on the grounds of the K.C. Crumps Restaurant.

+ Fourth of July. These festivities center on a day-long party featuring barbecue and live music at K.C. Crumps, and culminate with a giant fireworks display.

+ The Celebration of Lights. To be held this year from Dec. 20-28 at the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, the celebration transforms the park into a twinkling night-time holiday wonderland. Thousands of tiny white lights are strung along some of the paths, and the underwater observatory allows visitors to see manatees and hundreds of fish in the lighted water. Community groups also perform Christmas carols, and children can visit with Santa.

+ The Homosassa Springs Christmas Boat Parade. The parade, which will be on Dec. 20, is a big community event. Boats decked out with holiday lights and decorations proceed slowly down the Homosassa River.

+ Parks: Fire Station Park, 8350 W Homosassa Trail, includes a playground, picnic facilities and restrooms. Homosassa Area Recreation Park, 420 S Grand March Ave., in Homosassa Springs, has lighted tennis courts, soccer fields, a multi-purpose field, a baseball field, a fitness trail, basketball courts, picnic tables, a playground and restrooms. Bluebird Springs State Park, 8750 W Bluebird Lane, has complete picnic facilities.

+ Manatee Awareness Day. Scheduled at the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park on Nov. 29.

_ Compiled by Jorge Sanchez