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Let it snow ... wait, this is Florida

Friday's forecast: Low, 67 degrees. High, 80 degrees. Chance of rain, 30 percent. Chance of snow, 100 percent.

Well, kinda.

Friday's 18th annual free Christmas Wonderland event features Santa and ponies, hot chocolate and sledding.

Sledding in Florida? In 80-degree weather? On snow?

Actually, it's more like "snow."

Manatee Ice, a company that makes 300-pound ice blocks used to carve ice sculptures and keep traveling produce fresh, will blow 25 tons of ice a foot thick on a wooden slope to make a snowy hill at R.E. Olds Park.

Oldsmar has featured the sledding hill for several years, said Jennifer Albee, recreation supervisor.

Christmas Wonderland is the city's second most popular event, behind Celebrate Oldsmar, Albee said.

"They'll be in shorts riding the snow slope," she said.

The ice will be shaved so fine, it'll look like snow, said Doug Morgan, president of Manatee Ice.

A true Florida kid, Noah Hambley, 10, of Oldsmar has never seen real snow before. He went sledding for the first time on the fake stuff last year.

"It was blue," he said of the "snow." "It was really hard."

You can't catch the flakes on your tongue, or make a snow fortress to protect you from a snowball fight. This is Florida, where Santa surfs and people decorate palm trees with Christmas lights.

A wooden slope covered in fake snow overlooking Tampa Bay in December's 80-degree weather will just have to do.

"It's a good alternative," said Noah's father, Todd Hambley, 38, who said he wants to take his kids to see real snow one day.

The slope has stairs leading to the top and is about 8 feet high, 30 to 40 feet wide and almost 60 feet long. Four people can zoom down on snow saucers at once.

Mikayla Wetherbee, 6, of Palm Harbor, will be there for her first sledding expedition. She saw real snow last Christmas when her family went to Wisconsin.

What does real snow look like?

"It looks like, I have no idea, but it is white," she said.


For the family

Oldsmar's Christmas Wonderland family event is at 6 p.m. Friday at R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive. Admission and parking are free.