Focus On Holiday Fantasy of Lights
Top Seven Signs Your Holiday Tree Has Been Up Too Long
Good Fun for a Good Cause
School’s Out – Why Not Camp Out?
Back in the Saddle Again
Find Family Fun
When Getting Lectured Is a Good Thing
Walks on the Wild Side
Quote of the Month
Your Opinion Counts!
Broward County Board of County Commissioners
When the Broward County Parks and Recreation Division launched the first Holiday Fantasy of Lights (HFOL) during the 1993-94 season, it was anticipated that the event would be an annual one – which it was until 2005. That’s when the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma forced cancellation of the 13th HFOL, which by then had become an eagerly anticipated holiday tradition for both resident families and individuals and out-of-town visitors.
That first HFOL consisted of 33 displays and ran for 39 days, drawing approximately 142,000 people in 28,000 vehicles. HFOL both staged a comeback in 2006 and grew to 65 displays and a time frame of 46 days, only to fall victim the next year to budget cuts due to the beginnings of the economic downturn. The Parks and Recreation Division reluctantly called off the event, which at its peak had nearly doubled in size and attracted almost a quarter of a million people.
Then, in 2008, Brandano Displays, the vendor that had supplied the actual displays for the event, took over producing the drive-through light extravaganza and has run it ever since. The company has also lengthened HFOL, which this season runs 51 days, from November 16 through January 5.
A few other HFOL tidbits: Mascot Peppermint Penguin was introduced back in 1998. Another character associated with the event, the Big Red Bear display, was part of the show early on until its absence in 2002, prompting so many inquiries that it was brought back the following year. HFOL was named Best Kids’ Thrill by New Times Broward/Palm Beach in its 2000 “Best Of” issue. Over the years there have been special theme nights, including Food Drive Night, Kids’ Night, Motorcycle Night, and Bring Your Pooch Night; two related events, Bicycle Through the Lights and the Fantasy of Lights 5K Run, have taken place in junction with the light show for many years.
The show is an ambitious undertaking requiring weeks of preparation and installation. More than 40 miles of electrical wiring are used to power the displays, along with more than 50 electrical transformers. Approximately two miles’ worth of underground conduit and wiring are used to power those transformers. More than a million individual lights make up the displays and light up the trees along the roughly three-mile route.
As always, HFOL is open from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly, including holidays. Tickets are $10 per vehicle Mondays through Wednesdays, $13 per vehicle Thursdays through Sundays. Buses (15+ capacity) pay $35 for entry. You can also enhance the drive-through experience with 3-D glasses, available for $3 for three pairs.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.holidaylightsdrivethru.com.
All Broward County regional parks and nature centers, neighborhood parks, and natural areas will be open their regular hours on Mondays, December 24 and 31, and Tuesday, January 1 (New Year’s Day). All parks, nature centers, and natural areas will be closed on Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25.
1. You’ve taken to using it as a coat rack.
2. The bird that got into your house stayed – and nested.
3. Visitors ask how you’ll be decorating it for the spring holiday.
4. It’s sprouted roots and started growing again.
5. Squirrels gather at your window and look in longingly at it.
6. You can no longer see the carpet through the layers of dried needles.
7. You’ve decided just to go ahead and leave it up for next year.
Is there anything sadder than a holiday tree that’s still standing around in someone’s living room well into the new year? If the holidays are long gone but your tree isn’t, it’s time to chip in and donate your used evergreen to our annual Chip-a-Tree initiative. Last year Broward County Parks recycled more than 9,000 trees, representing more than a hundred tons of material that would otherwise have gone to landfills, and this year your tree can join those recyclable thousands.
The free program encourages Broward County residents to remove all decorations from their holiday trees – no decorated trees will be accepted – then bring the trees to a participating park, where they are chipped and used for landscaping throughout the county park system. There is a limit of two trees per vehicle, artificial trees are not accepted, and no commercial vehicles or garbage trucks are allowed.
This season’s program runs from Wednesday, December 26, 2012, through Monday, January 21, 2013, giving you plenty of time to take advantage of those after-the-holidays sales before taking your tree to a park. And remember, the regular weekend and holiday gate entrance fee will not be in effect for recyclers, so there’s no excuse not to do the right thing. Hours vary; call the park of your choice for details.
· Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome, 9501 Sheridan St., Cooper City 33024; 954-357-5150
· C. B. Smith Park, 900 N. Flamingo Rd., Pembroke Pines 33028; 954-357-5170
· Easterlin Park, 1000 N.W. 38th St., Oakland Park 33309; 954-357-5190
· Fern Forest Nature Center, 201 Lyons Rd. South, Coconut Creek 33063; 954-357-5198
· Markham Park & Target Range, 16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise 33326; 954-357-8868
· Plantation Heritage Park, 1100 S. Fig Tree Lane, Plantation 33317; 954-357-5135
· Quiet Waters Park, 401 S. Powerline Rd., Deerfield Beach 33441; 954-357-5100
· Reverend Samuel Delevoe Park, 2520 N.W. Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale 33311; 954-791-1036
· Snake Warrior's Island Natural Area, 3600 S.W. 62nd Ave., Miramar 33023; 954-357-8776
· Tradewinds Park & Stables, 3600 W. Sample Rd., Coconut Creek 33073; 954-357-8870
· Tree Tops Park, 3900 S.W. 100th Ave., Davie 33328; 954-357-5130
· T.Y. (Topeekeegee Yugnee) Park, 3300 N. Park Rd., Hollywood 33021; 954-357-8811
· Vista View Park, 4001 S.W. 142nd Ave., Davie 33330; 954-357-8898
· West Lake Park, 751 Sheridan St., Hollywood 33019; 954-357-5161
For the past quarter of a century a lot of enterprising motorcycle enthusiasts – as in more than 30,000 from all over the country – have gotten together and staged a 20-plus-mile cross-county journey to raise money and toys for underprivileged children. This year’s Toys in the Sun Run will be held on Sunday, December 9, when the bighearted bikers will travel from their starting point, the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach (831 N. Federal Hwy.), to Markham Park in Sunrise. At the end of their trek will be live entertainment, more than a hundred vendors selling a wide variety of merchandise, and an international food court, as well as a classic bike show. (No pets, coolers, or outside food and drinks permitted.)
The park opens at 8 a.m., and an early arrival is recommended, as the cyclists’ route will be closed to traffic once their excursion is under way. The live music gets going at 11 a.m. Admission is $10 per person plus an unwrapped toy (no stuffed animals, please); if you show up without a toy, expect to pay $20 per person. The park’s regular weekend and holiday gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will also be in effect for those not participating in the parade.
To get an idea of how much this fundraiser has grown over the years, consider that when it was started by Wings of Gold Motorcycle Club president Bob Amchir back in 1987, about 700 motorcycles participated, and the event netted $965 in cash and a little over 500 toys. These days the run typically raises more than half a million dollars and collects more than 50,000 toys.
For more information, call 954-343-8782, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.toysinthesunrun.com.
When school lets out for winter break this season, consider a mini-vacation at the Rent-a-Tent/Tepee campground at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach or tent camping at the campground at Easterlin Park in Oakland Park, which will offer a School’s Out – Camp Out! Special on Mondays through Thursdays, December 23-27 and December 30-January 3.
The special discount rate during these four-day periods will be $20/campsite per night at Quiet Waters, and $20/campsite per night at Easterlin for tricounty residents (Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade) and $25/campsite per night for non-tricounty residents. The rates are good for up to four campers per site, and up to two more campers can stay for $3/night each. You can even bring along up to two pets at $1/night each. Each site comes with electricity, running water, a fire ring, a picnic table, and a grill. Restroom/shower facilities are located throughout the campground.
For more information, call Quiet Waters at 954-357-5100 or Easterlin at 954-357-5190.
Registration opened back in November for the latest installment – the 15th annual one – of the Junior Bass Tournament Trail, a series of four tournaments that culminate with a young fishing enthusiast being named Junior Bass Angler of the Year. This year, however, you can register all the way up through December 20.
The tournaments are on Sunday mornings, January 13 (Quiet Waters Park), February 17 (Tradewinds Park), March 17 (Tradewinds), and April 21 (Quiet Waters), with fishing starting at “first light” and going till 1 p.m. Trophies and prizes will be awarded at the end of each tournament, and the angler compiling the most points over the four events wins the title as well as a special prize package. Participants must be aged 12 to 17 and accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age. The $75 fee covers both participants and all four tournaments. Registration is required by mail (T.Y. Park, 3300 N. Park Rd., Hollywood, FL 33021, Attn: Bob Newland) or in person at the park. For more information, contact Newland at 954-357-8816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The disc golf course at Easterlin Park in Oakland Park will be aglow on Friday, December 14, from 7 to 9 p.m. That’s when the park will host the second installment of its Disc “Glow” Golf Series, a tournament in which the participants guide themselves through the course using flashlights. (Bring your own flashlights and discs – the park will not provide them.) The program is designed for ages 13 and up, and ages 13 to 17 must have a parent/guardian with them to participate. Fees are $5 per person if you preregister, $8 per person if you wait until the night of the program. For more information, call the park at 954-357-5190. Easterlin is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #14.
If you have a horse-obsessed youngster aged 9 to 16 who’s looking for something to do this winter break, sign him or her up for Winter Break Equestrian Day Camp at Tradewinds Park & Stables in Coconut Creek. The camp is offered from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays through Fridays, December 26-28 and January 2-4. Students will receive comprehensive instruction in such areas as horse grooming, routine horse care and maintenance, appropriate use and care of tack and equipment, nutrition and feeding, and anatomy of the horse. Riding instruction is also included, weather permitting.
The fee is $75/day, with a sibling discount of $50/day available. Registration is ongoing at the park office daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call the park at 954-357-8870. Tradewinds is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #34.
Now that the evenings are finally cooling off a bit, what better time for an old-fashioned hayride and campfire, complete with a marshmallow roast?
The Family Hayride & Campfire Series continues this month with an event on Friday, December 14, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach. The $3.50-per-person fee is good for one hayride and one bag of fixings to make s’mores around the campfire afterward. Preregistration and prepayment are required and available by visiting the park office or calling 954-357-5100. Quiet Waters is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #14 and #48.
Future dates in the series are January 11, also at Quiet Waters; January 25 at Tradewinds Park & Stables in Coconut Creek; February 8, also at Tradewinds; February 22 at Easterlin Park in Oakland Park; March 8, also at Easterlin; and finally March 22 back at Tradewinds.
T.Y. (Topeekeegee Yugnee) Park in Hollywood has its own series, with the next event scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, December 7. The fee is also $3.50 per person. Additional refreshments will be available for purchase, and reservations are available (and required for groups of 15 or more). For more information, call T.Y. (accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #3, #12, and #17) at 954-357-8811.
Three nature centers offer lectures this month. On Sunday, December 2, you can hit two lectures on very different topics at Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek and the Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood. Fern Forest’s Nature Lecture is on “Dangerous Plants, Animals, and Insects” and runs from noon to 1 p.m. A $5 donation to the Fern Allies volunteer group is requested.
Then, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Anne Kolb concludes its three-part Family and Friends Nature Series with “Be a Good Angler!” Participants will learn about fish and fishing with hands-on activities and some actual fishing from the park’s pier. (Bring your own fishing gear or borrow some on site.) A $2-per-person donation to the Friends of Anne Kolb volunteer group is requested, and light refreshments will be served.
Finally, on Sunday, December 9, from 2 to 3 p.m., Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach will offer its third of its Propagation Class, with a focus on the topic of “Grafting.” The session, which costs $5/person, will feature hands-on instruction in techniques you can apply at home.
For more information, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198, Anne Kolb at 954-357-5161, or Secret Woods at 954-357-8884. Fern Forest is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42; Anne Kolb via Route #12; and Secret Woods via Route #6.
Just because there’s an overabundance of ambient nighttime light in Broward County doesn’t mean you can’t go stargazing. It just means that exploring the heavens is best done with the aid of telescopes. That’s where the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association (SFAAA) comes in. On a quarterly basis, the nonprofit group hosts An Evening With the Stars at Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek. The next such program will be offered starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 21, and it’s free. Participants will get a glimpse of what’s going on in the South Florida sky this season, and speakers will cover basic telescope techniques and general astronomy information.
The SFAAA also opens the Fox Observatory at Markham Park in Sunrise every Saturday evening, weather permitting, from dusk to midnight.
For more information, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198 or the SFAAA at 954-384-0442, or e-mail email@example.com. The nature center is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42.
A variety of nature walks will keep you moving this month, starting with a volunteer-led Bird Walk, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 1, at Deerfield Island Park in Deerfield Beach. Space is limited and preregistration is required by calling Quiet Waters Park at 954-357-5100. The fee is $3 per person.
Next up, a Mangrove Adventure Hike, from 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, December 6, at the Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood. This naturalist-led hike will take you along the mangrove-lined trails, where you’ll also encounter native wildlife. The cost is $3 per person. For more information, call the nature center at 954-357-5161.
Then, on Friday, December 14, from 7 to 8 p.m., Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek will have an Adult Night Hike. The fee is $5 per person, and you can get additional information by calling the nature center at 954-357-5198.
Finally, the action shifts back to Anne Kolb on Sunday, December 16, where there will be a free Trail Stroll, from 1 to 1:45 p.m. This guided introduction to the mangrove swamp takes place along a boardwalk.
Anne Kolbis accessible via Broward County Transit Route #12; Deerfield Island via Routes #48 and #50; Fern Forest via Routes #31 and #42; and Secret Woods via Route #6.
“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” – American writer Hal Borland (1900-1978)
Airboat Rides (Everglades Holiday Park) – Batting Cages (AllGolf at C.B. Smith Park) – Butterfly World (Tradewinds Park & Stables) – Cable Water-Skiing (Ski Rixen USA at Quiet Waters Park) – Campgrounds (C.B. Smith Park, Easterlin Park, Markham Park & Target Range, Quiet Waters Park, T.Y. Park) – Dog Park (Barkham at Markham Park & Target Range) – Educational Farm (Tradewinds Park & Stables) – Exhibit Halls (Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park, Fern Forest Nature Center, Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center, Secret Woods Nature Center) – Golf Facilities (AllGolf at C.B. Smith Park) – Multipurpose Athletic Fields (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome, Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium, Tradewinds Park & Stables) – Observatory (Markham Park & Target Range) – Riding Stables (Tradewinds Park & Stables, Tree Tops Park) – Skate Park/Track (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome) – Target Range (Markham Park & Target Range) – Tennis Centers (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome, C.B. Smith Park) – Velodrome (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome) – Water Playgrounds/ Waterslides/Swimming (C.B. Smith Park, Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium, Quiet Waters Park, T.Y. Park)
The Parks and Recreation Division is dedicated to providing a countywide park system with diverse facilities and recreation opportunities, along with natural area conservation and research-based educational outreach, to enhance the well-being of residents, businesses, and visitors.
We’d like to know what you think about our programs and facilities. Please take a moment to tell us how we’re doing by filling out this survey.
Broward County Commission's primary resource and referral service for available swim programs in cooperation with various cities and nonprofit organizations. Call 954-357-SWIM (7946).
Founded in February 1956 and accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, Broward County Parks and Recreation Division manages almost 6,500 acres, encompassing nearly 50 regional parks and nature centers, neighborhood parks, and natural areas at various stages of development. Facilities include water parks, campgrounds, a target range, a stadium, a skate park, an observatory, mountain bike trails, an educational farm with stables, and a velodrome and other sports facilities. Hours and fees vary by location. For more information, visit www.broward.org/parks.
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations in order to participate in county programs, services, and activities must contact the Special Populations Section at 954-357-8170 or TTY 954-537-2844 at least 10 business days prior to the scheduled meeting or event to request an accommodation.
Dale V.C. Holness
Martin David Kiar
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Parks and Recreation is a service of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners.