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Heritage Days to light up town

If you're interested in history, you won't want to miss this weekend's Floral City Heritage Days event.

And if you're interested in food, from fudge to roasted pork dinners, you will want to sample them at Heritage Days. The town will bask in the local culture that is Floral City Heritage Days.

On Friday, Orange Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic from 5:30 to 9 p.m. for Candles 'n' Carols. Luminarias will shine beneath the canopy of giant oaks, and groups of carolers will stroll from house to house.

A fish fry starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Floral City Community Building, with music provided by the Remnant, a gospel group.

On Saturday, there will be even more food and displays of local history to take in at the Heritage Museum.

The museum is open only for the weekend. It is crammed with historic items. Admission is free.

This year's major exhibit is about railroads, and the centerpiece is a photo and text display commemorating the 50th anniversary of a head-on collision between two steam engines.

The accident occurred in October 1956 near a railroad crossing in Pineola (pronounced Pine-E-oh-la).

Besides the rarely seen photographs of the collision between the freight trains, railroad buffs can see a collection of signal lamps with authentic Fresnel lenses.

The railroad display was coordinated by Frank Peters, a Floral City historian and collector, with assistance from Wayne Dean.

"A dispatcher accidentally put a northbound train on a southbound track,'' Peters said.

"When he realized his mistake, he sent other workers in their cars down the highway to try and warn the trains, but it was too late.''

Four crew members died in the crash.

The Heritage Museum also contains a general store with a pot-bellied, wood-burning stove and Tom Ritchie's manual sugar cane press.

Heritage Days offers a tour of eight historic homes and four other buildings for $10.

Parking and admission to the museum are free. Food is extra.

The pavilion at the Church of Christ is a good stop for lunch. Just follow your nose.

The roast pork dinners are sumptuous, and the collection of homemade desserts are too delicious to resist.

Floral City Heritage Days will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

On Sunday, only the museum and country store will be open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Jorge Sanchez covers arts and entertainment in Citrus. Contact him at sanchez@sptimes.com or (352) 860-7313 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 7313.

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