Christmas in July was celebrated by Bob and Sharon Ball and their friends Mike and Toni Little on Saturday in Dade City.
They drove up from Tampa to see what the historic downtown merchants and specialty stores had to offer.
"There are a lot of neat things here," said Bob Ball. "And, we just got started."
They came looking for Limoges china in the antique shops.
"We found one (Limoges) china that has the initial B on it," he said. "We'll definitely be back again."
Inside the stores surrounding the historic courthouse and down side streets, shops and stores demonstrated flower arranging, bow making and gem stone wire wrapping, offered samples of food and appraised antiques.
New to the event this year was a visit from Santa Claus and a workshop for children.
Under a tent _ dressed in a tropical shirt, shorts, sandals and a red, white and blue visor _ the jolly old elf was taking early requests for Christmas gifts. Sydney Collier, 6, and his sister Savanna Collier, 3, told him they wanted an Xbox and Barbie dolls, respectively.
Their aunt told Santa the children would be spending Christmas in Korea, where their dad is a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.
Barbie dolls and monster trucks are in great demand, Santa said.
Under another tent children could make sand art, decorate water bottles donated by Zephyrhills water and have fake tattoos put on their arms or faces.
Craft volunteer Lynda Ehrman,who represented teachers sorority Alpha Delta Kappa, dressed in a bright red blouse with a green Christmas tree ornament around her neck and helped children choose tropical fish, frogs or butterfly decals for their water bottles.
Jordanna Vallen, 4, chose frogs, pointing out that one was her favorite color _ purple.
At Grapevine Antiques, Bill Hogan looked at a clock brought by Mike McAndrews of Ridge Manor.
"It is a Gilbert Mantle Clock from the 1920s," he said. "It's broke but I can fix it. When it's working it is worth about $200 to $250."
Hogan said he is in Dade City on Fridays and Sundays and in Brandon at Sweet Memories on Parsons Avenue on Saturdays.
"I'm here today because of Christmas in July," said Hogan.
Several people brought in clocks. The most expensive was an Ansonia Crystal Regular, circa 1910.
"When in mint condition it is worth about $800," he said. "I'm not an appraiser but when people bring them in to be repaired I can give them an estimate."
At the Sandbar Market, Loretta Thompson of New Port Richey made bows and wreaths.
She showed how inexpensive bows can be when made from fabric purchased by the yard.
Around the corner at the Corner Emporium, Jim Novotny showed a video of Fenton glass and gave samples of Crazy Jerry's saucesthat ranged from mild to hot.
He said he has been selling Fenton glass for eight years.
"One lady comes each year and buys a whole set of the Christmas trees," he said. "Fenton comes out with a different color and a different critter in the tree each year."
Novotny said the 100-year-old Fenton Glass Co. glass is one of the few U.S. made hand-blown glass companies left.
"The sand, in West Virginia, is the finest sand for glass in the world," he said.
Although temperatures were soaring, stores provided a respite from the heat and a place to peruse gifts for the holidays, which seemed a long way off in the 90 degree heat. Roxanne Hayter of Zephyrhills came with her own way to beat the heat. As she watched the Showstoppers sing Christmas carols, the umbrella over her shoulder provided a small bit of shade.
_ Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (800) 333-7505 ext. 4612 or (813) 909-4612. Her e-mail is jonessptimes.com