Florida Holidays

Florida doesn’t do anything by the book -- that includes celebrating the holidays. So this season, WUSF is extolling all the ways to enjoy the holidays with a Florida twist... and we want your input.

Tell us about your Florida holiday tradition. Does your family take part in a lighted boat parade, lace up for a jingle bell run or spend New Year’s Eve making sand sculptures?

Then there are the decorations. Show us your seashell ornaments, palm trees wrapped in lights and flamingoes in Santa hats.

We want your recipes, too. Do you dress your gingerbread men in Bermuda shorts or dip your latkes in Key lime jelly?

And how to do show out-of-town guests a good time in the warm weather? Do you take them caroling down the beach or spend all eight nights of Hanukkah at Disney?

Get creative. Share your photos, videos, recipes, tweets, memories, short essays and anything else that would make us say, “That’s so Florida!”

Your submission might end up on wusfnews.org/floridaholidays... or even on the radio.

Here are some ways to join the fun:

  • Post a photo or short story on our wall at Facebook.com/WUSF.
  • Send a tweet to @WUSF with the hashtag #floridaholidays.
  • Leave a phone message for WUSF reporter/producer Dalia Colón at (813) 974-8636.
  • Email Dalia at daliacolon@wusf.org.

We’ll collect your submissions through Dec. 21 at 5 p.m. Check this blog daily for new content, and listen WUSF 89.7 through the end of the year to hear how your fellow Floridians celebrate the season.


NPR Story
8:37 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

How To Shoot Photos Of Fireworks

Bill Sandidge, left, and Nancy Koughan, of Decatur, Ga., watch a fireworks display on the field following a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, July 4, 2012, in Atlanta. (David Goldman/AP)

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 4:47 pm

Spectacular firework displays are the grand finale of big Fourth of July celebrations.

Boston Globe freelance photographer Aram Boghosian will be at Boston’s Charles River Esplanade for tonight’s event and has some tips for how to take great photographs.

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This Is NPR
7:57 am
Thu July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day, From NPR

Katie Burk NPR

Originally published on Thu July 4, 2013 7:03 am

It's simple, we just want to wish you a happy holiday weekend from NPR, wherever your taste buds take you.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

3:15 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Video: Rockettes Inspire Dance Students at Patel Conservatory

Jeanne Cargill, far left, and Deana Brickly, far right, taught part of a Rockettes dance routine to students at the Patel Conservatory.
Credit Dalia Colón / WUSF

There are 202 shopping days left until Christmas, but there was plenty of holiday cheer to go around last week at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Tampa.

Two Florida-natives-turned-Rockettes stopped by Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center to teach a master class for local dance students. The event was part of the Straz Center's daylong kickoff promoting its 2013-2014 season, which includes the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in December.

Here's video from the class:

11:49 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Florida Holidays: Manatee Claus

WUSF listener Amy Mariani caught Santa's newest helper at the entrance of the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
Credit Amy Mariani

Looks like Rudolph may have some competition this year.

WUSF listener Amy Mariani spied a red-nosed manatee accompanying Santa Claus just off US 19 at the entrance of the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. 

"Santa realizes a reindeer just won't cut it through the swamplands and springs," Mariani said.

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Florida Holidays
7:04 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Florida Holidays: Snow in Orlando

Who says there's no snow in Florida? Becky Wanamaker shared this story on WUSF's Facebook page.

Every December, our family drives to Orlando for a little winter wonderland fun at the Gaylord Palm's ICE! show.

We bundle up in those big heavy blue coats and marvel at the beautiful sculptures that created wonderful Christmas vignettes.

The kids (old and young) enjoy sliding down the ice slides. After we've had as much of the 9º temperature we can take, we head over to the atrium for some hot chocolate, conversation and entertainment.

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6:00 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Florida Holidays: 'A Pumpkin Pie Flew Past My Head'

Credit Wikipedia

The subject line of Peggy Bode's email pretty much says it all: "That's so Florida." So without further ado, here's the note we received from the Anna Maria Island resident as part of our Florida Holidays project:

Our family tradition was to go camping every Christmas at various places in Florida. It was always a challenge to create a traditional Christmas dinner at a campground, so we often resorted to unconventional holiday fare such as hot dogs and potato chips. However, I always baked a couple of pumpkin pies to take with us so we at least we would have one Christmas standard available to remind us of holidays past. 

We camped in a conversion van for many years. One Christmas more than 20 years ago, we arrived at the campground after dark and started setting up camp. Our van doors were open because we needed access to our camping gear as we settled into our site. 

I had just grabbed some supplies from the van to place on the picnic table and was walking back to the van when, just as I got to the sliding van door, a pumpkin pie flew past my head, and then another one landed at my feet. 

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3:28 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Florida Holidays: A Tribute in Chalk

A recent tragedy led St. Petersburg chalk artist Dorothy 'Dee' Sabean to start a new Christmas tradition.
Credit Courtesy of Dorothy Sabean

Here's an email we received from St. Petersburg resident Dorothy "Dee" Sabean as part of our Florida Holidays project:

Every Christmas tradition has a beginning, and I am writing about one such beginning this very season.

I was born and bred in Massachusetts, accustomed to frigid winter walks to view the manger on the public square, singing Christmas carols in the biting cold, lolling by a roaring fire, unwrapping Christmas footie pajamas with a cup of hot cocoa in hand.

Fast-forward to Florida some 40 years later, and my husband and I were at a loss. Palm trees? Santa in Bermuda shorts? Such a sea-change, it was hard to bear! 

As our Florida Christmases progressed, we grew to appreciate the fact that this is also the best possible weather season. Talk about gifts! I can walk from my car to the shopping mall and not experience blue fingers and toes?

So string lights on the palm trees. Surely, Jesus was born in the land of dates! Instead of that hot cocoa, how about a peppermint candy-cane martini? Slowly, we added more and more un-New England ideas to our holiday each year. 

This year, I discovered the purest and simplest celebration of all. With the sad and sobering events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, my thoughts and prayers went to all of the families of those deceased and wounded. Any kind of celebration, Christmas included, hit a minor note.

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8:51 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Florida Holidays: Sunny Jim's Christmas Song

James 'Sunny Jim' White wrote his Florida-style Christmas song to make his Northern friends envious. Mission accomplished.
Credit Courtesy of James White

Some folks put a Florida twist on a classic holiday song. Then there's James "Sunny Jim" White of Osprey. The professional singer/songwriter recorded his own original Christmas carol a few years ago, as he explained in an email to WUSF:

"It's kind of special to me, as I recorded that with my then 10 year old twin daughters singing the 'angel' parts," White wrote.

"We lived in the Cayman Islands for 12 years. I was the entertainer at the Hyatt Regency there. When we moved to Florida in 2001, we felt right at home. I have lots of fans from 'the frozen North' (anywhere north of Tallahassee!) and this was kind of a jab at them having to deal with harsh winters, but in a loving way!"

All together now:

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4:49 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Florida Holidays: Christmas Pig

Chef Todd Webster drives this little piggy home from Mary's Ranch in Hialeah. The pig was later roasted in a caja china at the Front Porch Cafe in December.
Credit Todd Webster / The Front Porch Cafe

Dec. 24 is Nochebuena - Christmas Eve - and for many Hispanics, that means roasting a whole pig. This Christmas tradition scared journalist and author Carlos Frías as a boy. But he got through it with one piece of advice: “Never look a pig in the eye.”

Frías told a version of this story at a Lip Service Miami event:

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11:53 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Florida Holidays: Santa on the Beach

Caption, anyone?
Credit Wade Mullins

When listener Wade Mullins sent us this photo for our Florida Holidays project, we couldn't resist soliciting captions. The following are suggestions from the elves on the WUSF Facebook page.

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12:54 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Florida Holidays: Christmas Morning Mimosas

With fresh mimosas, there's plenty of Christmas cheer -- make that cheers -- at the home of Beth Daniels.
Credit Dinner Series / Flickr Creative Commons

Here's an email we received from listener Beth Daniels:

I loved the radio piece about the smoked mullet gifts that friends look forward to with such relish.  It made me think of my own special Florida tradition. 

Being born and raised in St. Pete, I love a nice sunny Christmas Day. As I went away to college and met more and more folks from other climates, I grew tired of people always saying, “Oh, don’t you miss the snow?” or “What is Christmas without snow in the fir trees?”

Last time I checked, there were a lot more palm trees than evergreens and snow in Bethlehem. Just sayin'.

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3:25 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Florida Holidays: Publix Commercials Make Us Cry

WUSF reporter/producer Dalia Colón rarely cries over movies, but this Publix commercial had her in pieces.
Credit YouTube screen shot

Confession: Publix holiday commercials turn me to mush.

Maybe it's the music. Maybe it's because I'm already in the holiday spirit. Or maybe it's just good marketing.

Whenever a holiday approaches, I brace myself for a good cry, courtesy of the Lakeland-based supermarket chain.

The ads are like little movies. Even the Spanish-language commercials fill my eyes with lágrimas.

This one from 2008 still gets to me:

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2:53 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Florida Holidays: Five Festive Products We Found Online

Credit zazzle.com

Department stores are mostly full of the same old stuff, so we went trolling online for some Florida-themed (read: kitschy) holiday gift ideas. Check out these real products we found on the web.

The techie in your life may already have an iPhone 5, but we bet he or she doesn't have a kayak Christmas tree case for it. We found this one for $44.95 at zazzle.com.

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2:04 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Florida Holidays: Decorations Come to Light in South Tampa

During the holidays, Hyde Park residents see their neighborhood in a new light.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF

Here's a holiday tradition in Tampa's Hyde Park neighborhood: Residents wrap the old oaks and palm trees that line South Boulevard with tiny white twinkle lights. Folks come from all over to drive down the street from Swann Avenue to Bayshore Boulevard to view the lights.

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2:22 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Florida Holidays: Photo Caption Time!

No caption. That's your job.
Credit Dalia Colón / WUSF

I spotted this oh-so-Florida decoration on my neighbor's lawn in Brandon. I thought it was prime caption material -- and apparently, many of you agreed. Here's what folks on WUSF's Facebook page thought up. Leave your own clever ideas in the comments section below.

Jon Tallon: Cinderella boy... outta nowhere to win the Masters.

Jeff Finn: Lazy unionized reindeer.

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