PLANT CITY — Christmas Lane is sledding into the Florida Strawberry Festival Expo Hall this holiday season.
The lighted tradition has been held at 2091 S Wooten Road in Dover for decades by strawberry grower Lane Wetherington.
Last year rain soaked the parking lot of Christmas Lane. The lot is a pasture behind the popular holiday attraction, which is outside. The festivities also were rained out on several nights.
"When it rains it shuts me down in Dover," Wetherington said. "Children couldn't take part in the celebration of Christmas."
Traffic was another reason why Wetherington moved Christmas Lane to the Expo Hall. He said guests would sometimes have to wait for 45 minutes to get into the parking lot. The Expo Hall has a large parking lot to accommodate guests.
"It's really a win-win for him," Paul Davis, festival manager, said. "We're happy to be part of it."
Christmas Lane will be open for five weeks at the Expo Hall, from Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving, to the third week in January. It will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
There will be displays inside and outside to make up over one million lights. Old favorites, such as the train guests can ride, will return. There will also be many new displays. The majority of the displays will be inside of the Expo Hall. An entertainment stage will be outside.
Also new this year is a gift shop and new concession items. The gift shop will have Christmas Lane T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, ornaments and wares from local artisans. At the concession stand, Wetherington plans to sell hamburgers, french fries, chili cheese fries, barbecue, snow cones, nachos and more.
Wetherington expects it to take about three weeks for he and his team to set up Christmas Lane in the Expo Hall. Because they will have to move the displays from Dover into Plant City, there will be a low admission fee this year. The price hasn't been set, but Wetherington said it would be nominal.
"It's very exciting," Wetherington said. "It's a whole new venture."
Contact Amber Jurgensen at email@example.com.