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Holiday calendar features many delights

Residents can find some type of festivities just about every day for the next few weeks.

Published December 5, 2003

[Times photo: Douglas Clifford]
Models of the twin towers are featured in music boxes as part of the elaborate decorations at the home of Richard and Carole Fretwell, 8422 Royal Hart Drive, New Port Richey.

Pasco County will be alive with holiday lights and sights this weekend, as New Port Richey and Dade City kick off their annual celebrations.

Santa Claus arrives at 7 tonight in the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce's "Magical Night Christmas Parade." The parade has more than 100 units. Santa himself will be at the end of the parade riding on a firetruck.

Best viewing is on Seventh Street between Martin Luther King and Church Avenue and on Church Avenue between Fourth and Sixth streets.

Festivities continue from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday with the Country Christmas Stroll, which features buggy rides, carolers, antique cars, food and shopping in downtown Dade City.

On the west side of the county, Greater New Port Richey Main Street's fourth annual "Riverlights Boat Parade" will be at 7 p.m. Saturday on the Cotee River. It starts at U.S. 19 and goes south to the Main Street bridge. Viewers can see the brightly lit boats from Sims Park or from the new linear park along the river north of downtown.

Sims Park itself will be filled with activities from 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

At 5 p.m., Expressions, The Dance Company, will perform a special show in the amphitheater. Entertainment will continue before and after the boat parade, featuring Mikki Taylor, Dusty Ward, Victoria Williams, Mary Ann's School of Dance, Crazy Ladies and Band 51.

From 5:30 to 11 p.m. is "Taste of the Holidays," a fundraiser for Main Street and the Alzheimer's Family Organization. Sheets of 10 food tickets will be sold for $10. They can be redeemed at food booths operated by Wing House (chicken wings), Hoppers Grill (hamburgers), Brunches Cafe (quiche and soup), Gulf High School track team (cotton candy), Boys and Girls Clubs and Greater New Port Richey Main Street (hamburgers, hot dogs, egg nog, beverages) and Kettle Corn.

The holiday celebration continues on both sides of the county in the days ahead.

Pioneer Florida Museum off U.S. 301 in Dade City celebrates "Country Christmas" from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 12, 13 and 14. The buildings in the museum are decorated for the holidays, and entries in the Gingerbread House contest are on display at the museum through Jan. 1. For these special evenings, there is no parking fee or admission.

Meanwhile, in New Port Richey, the celebration continues with "Main Street Promenade."

Events begin at 5 p.m. Thursday with the opening of a carnival. From 6 to 10 p.m., $15 wristbands allow wearers to ride all the rides as many times as they wish.

"Promenade" continues 5 to 11 p.m. Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dec. 13 and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 14.

Highlights on Dec. 12 include Movies in the Park after the 6 p.m. "Light Up Downtown" awards ceremony and after the Genesis School children's play, December Nights, December Lights at 7:30 p.m. Both movies are suitable for families. (Because of licensing restrictions, the names of the movies cannot be publicized.)

More than 50 arts and crafts vendors will be in Sims Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14, with live entertainment from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 13 and 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 14. Both days will have hayrides through downtown and boat tours on the river from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The big event of the weekend, of course, is the Holiday Street Parade at 7 p.m. Dec. 13. The parade starts at Grand Boulevard and Gulf Drive, goes north on Grand around Orange Lake, to Bank Street, to Main Street, then west on Main to U.S. 19.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will remain in town from 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 14 to visit during breakfast for kids and their families in Sims Park. The Cotee River Lions Club will supply the cooks and the food. Breakfast is $3 for grown-ups and $2 for kids.

The county's big public celebrations wind up Dec. 21, 22 and 23 with Church Street Christmas after dark in Dade City. The evenings include cantatas in various churches, a petting zoo, Christmas Card Lane, decorated historic homes, and pathways lit by luminarias.

[Last modified December 5, 2003, 01:34:13]

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