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Gifts of the season // Trees will glow, Santa will show

Santa sightings, Christmas trees galore and numerous community events will make for a great season. Check out some of these holiday happenings:

* The annual tree lighting kicks off the holiday season at 5:30 p.m. today at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, 4150 S Suncoast Blvd. (U.S. 19) in Homosassa. The event includes Santa's arrival and caroling. Call 628-5343.

* The Citrus County Historical Society will have a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. today in the courtroom of the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum, 1 Courthouse Square, Inverness. County Commissioner Gary Bartell will be master of ceremonies, assisted by the Rev. Harvey Dunn. Music will be provided by John Edel and the Citrus High School choir, Lionel King on the dulcimer and the First Presbyterian Church a cappella choir. Many organizations participated in the preparation and placement of trees around the courthouse. Call 361-6427.

* Another tree exhibit is inside the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum. Trees are upstairs in the old courtroom, downstairs in the Murray gallery and in the rotunda. There is a gift shop with items that reflect the county's history and some Florida history and guidebooks. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Free admission. Call 341-6429.

* The Night of Lights will be 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9 at Fort Cooper State Park, 3100 S Old Floral City Road, Inverness. Guests will enjoy lights, decorations and luminaries throughout the park. Refreshments and entertainment will be offered. Gate admission consists of a nonperishable food item or a new toy to benefit Citrus United Basket. Call 726-0315

* The Christmas Celebration of Lights is 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 20-24 at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, 4150 S U.S. 19 Homosassa, Springs. Visitors will enjoy thousands of park lights and decorations during this five-night event. A variety of entertainment and refreshments will be available. Park admission is free, but donations are welcomed. Call 628-5343.

* Santa Over the Rainbow is 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 8-10 and 15-17, Rainbow Springs State Park, 19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon. Santa and Mrs. Claus come up the Rainbow River on their shining, decorated sleigh and walk up the hill to their Santa House. Guests will enjoy live music and thousands of decorative lights. $1. Call 465-8555.

* The Winding River Garden Club of Yankeetown-Inglis will have its sixth annual Christmas In the Park celebration at 2 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Winding River Park at the corner of Riverside and 56th streets in Yankeetown. Refreshments, entertainment, live music and Santa visit.

* Fero Memorial Gardens Cemetery, 5891 N Lecanto Highway , Beverly Hills, hosts the 10th annual Candlelight Service at 6 p.m. Dec. 14. Entertainment includes a performance by the Lecanto High School choir. The Gulf to Lakes Pilot Club of Citrus County will decorate Memory Trees with snowflake ornaments to be displayed throughout the holidays.

* Central Florida Community College Theatre will present its traditional one-act plays in the Fine Arts Auditorium on the Ocala Campus, 3001 SW College Road. Admission is $3. The plays will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Dec. 7. Christmas With the One Acts features eight short plays produced each semester by the Play Production classes at CFCC. For tickets or information, call the CFCC Box Office at 873-5810.

* The Christmas Camera, a play written by Citrus Hills residents Mac and Sharon Harris and directed by Sharon Harris will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16 and 2 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Art Center Theatre, 2644 N Annapolis Ave., Citrus Hills. The show features an all-youth cast, holiday music and cameo performances by Art Theatre regulars. Open seating tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students at the Art Center Theatre box office from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call 746-7606.

* A Christmas Cabaret will be performed Dec. 8, 9 and 10 at Playhouse 19, 865 U.S. 19 S Crystal River. This holiday-inspired show features music from several popular Broadway shows. Performers from Stage West in Spring Hill and Playhouse 19 in Crystal River are featured. Written and directed by Danielle Flury. Tickets are $10 at the box office for advance purchase or an hour before the show starts. Show times are 8 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9; 2 p.m. Dec. 10. Call the box office at 563-1333 or visit for more information.

* The Afro-American Club of Citrus County is having a Christmas Dance from 7 to 11 p.m. Dec. 23 at the Citrus Hills Country Club. Ticket are $35. For more information, contact Bernadette Brooks at 637-3136.