By B.C. Manion
Whether you want to be bedazzled by a holiday light show, take in a live nativity scene or do a bit of seasonal shopping, there are plenty of area offerings to help you get into a holiday mood.
The Shops at Wiregrass is offering its fifth annual Symphony in Lights at the regional shopping center at Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and SR 56.
This year’s extravaganza showcases more than a quarter-million lights and 10 tons of holiday décor.
The illuminated trees are choreographed to light in sync with the sounds of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
The crowd even gets to experience some snow flurries, but these are of a much more temporary nature than real stuff that falls at the North Pole.
The Symphony in Lights is nightly at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Some other holiday events and celebrations are:
Posing with Santa
If you want to get a free family portrait with Santa, or want to get a shot of your child hamming it up with Old St. Nick, then head to Zephyrhills Dec. 1.
Free photos with Santa are available at Hut no. 8, 38435 Fifth Ave., between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m., which is during the Main Street Zephyrhills’ Festival of Lights celebration.
Families are encouraged to bring their own cameras, but a professional photographer will also take free photos, which will be available for a free download on the Facebook pages of Goin’ Postal Zephyrhills and Hut no. 8 Zephyrhills.
Santa will be taking a break during the Christmas parade, but otherwise he’ll be easy to spot at Hut no. 8.
Bob Stephens and the Price family of Zephyrhills sponsor the annual event.
Lutz Arts & Crafts Festival
If you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, you may want to drop by the Lutz Arts & Crafts Festival, hosted by the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club at Lake Park near the intersection of Dale Mabry Highway and Van Dyke Road.
This is the club’s 33rd annual sale, and the two-day event presents plenty of choices to shoppers, with more than 250 vendors offering paintings, print works, photographs, jewelry, pottery, ceramics, woodwork, quilts and other handmade items.
This year’s event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 2.
Admission is free, but the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department charges $2 per car for parking.
This is a juried art show with cash prizes awarded in several categories. Food booths will feature such favorites as sausage and biscuits, barbecue, Cuban food, hot dogs, peach cobbler and funnel cakes.
Jazz band in Land O’ Lakes
The Hudson Middle Jazz Band will help celebrate the holiday season with a 2 p.m. concert Dec. 1 at the Land O’ Lakes Branch Library, 2818 Collier Parkway in Land O’ Lakes.
Forest Lakes holiday craft fair
Forest Lakes Estates will have its annual holiday craft fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 1. The fair is at 6429 Forest Lake Drive in Zephyrhills. Lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Handcrafted items including jewelry, jams, quilted items and other goods will be available for purchase.
Stately Christmas trees
Florida Hospital Zephyrhills is presenting its 28th annual Christmas Tree Lighting Dec. 2 on the front lawn of the hospital at 7050 US 301.
Grab some lawn chairs and blankets and gather family and friends for this free event, which features light refreshments, a variety of performances, musical entertainment and 53 decorated holiday trees.
Featured musical entertainers include vocalist Ashley Shannon, the East Pasco Adventist Academy Hand Bell Choir and the hospital’s community chorale under the direction of Marvin Robertson.
Children from local schools, members of civic organizations and clubs and individuals will decorate 53 trees between noon and 4 p.m. There are trees to represent each state, an international tree to represent the world, a tree for the 12 Canadian provinces and a Support Our Troops tree.
Chili cook-off/birthday party
The First United Methodist Church of Lutz is having a chili cook-off and birthday party for Jesus.
Those wishing to enter the Dec. 2 cook-off must have their chili at the church by 5:25 p.m. Judging will begin at 5:30 p.m. After that, a progressive dinner will begin at 6 p.m.
Those attending are encouraged to bring a crockpot full of their best chili or a salad large enough to share.
There will be roasted marshmallows at a fire ring by the lake, followed by a stroll behind the church for a birthday party for Jesus complete with cake and ice cream.
The church is at 960 W. Lutz Lake Fern Road.
If you are planning to attend, let the church know you’re coming with a count of how many will be attending and whether you’ll be bringing chili or a salad to share. Reserve your spot by emailing or calling (813) 949-1751.
Tampa Theatre in downtown Tampa has a slate of holiday movies on tap for December.
—3 p.m. Dec. 2: The Muppet Christmas Carol
—3 p.m. Dec. 9: White Christmas
—3 p.m. Dec. 16: Miracle on 34th Street
—7:30 Dec. 21, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22 and 3 p.m. Dec. 23: It’s A Wonderful Life
Tickets for the Holiday Classics Movie Series are $9 for adults, $7 for children, seniors, military and Tampa Theatre members at the box office.
Christmas in the Park
Celebrate the holiday season by attending the Founders Garden Club of San Antonio’s Christmas in the Park at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 in the San Antonio City Park.
The event, sponsored by the garden club, has been a holiday tradition for 40 years.
Club members provide the refreshments, and the evening entertainment features the musical Huron family from Heritage Bible Church of San Antonio.
Tickets will be sold for drawings on a variety of gift baskets. The tickets are $1 each or six for $5.
Breakfast with Santa in Lutz
The Old Lutz Schoolhouse, 18819 US 41, presents its 16th annual Breakfast with Santa. A continental breakfast will be served from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Dec. 8. Children can have breakfast with the jolly old elf and create homemade crafts for $3.50.
They also can purchase presents from the Santa Store and tour the Christmas House.
The house is decorated with community trees with glimmering lights, all types of model railroad displays, animated figures and more than 200 nutcrackers.
Parents are welcome to bring a camera to take pictures of their children with Santa.
The adult and student choirs, the orchestra and cast of Idlewild Baptist Church present Right White Christmas at 7 p.m. nightly Dec. 7, Dec. 8 and Dec. 9. Tickets are available online at www.idlewild.org. Reserved seating is $12, $10 and $8. For more information, call (813) 264-8764. The church is one mile east of N. Dale Mabry Highway on Van Dyke Road in Lutz.
More photo ops with Santa
The Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) is offering a couple of photo opportunities with Santa. One will be on the Sky Trail Ropes Course, and the other during a holiday breakfast.
Photos with Santa on the rope trail will also feature other fun holiday activities for the family from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 8. Photos are free with paid Sky Trail Ropes Course admission. Or, keep both feet on the ground and have your photo taken with Santa for $7 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
If climbing ropes isn’t your thing, there’s also a breakfast with the jolly old elf. That’s happening at MOSI at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 15. The museum will be offering an all-you-can-eat breakfast, holiday activities, music and fun. Bring your camera for photos with Santa.
Proceeds from the breakfast will benefit MOSI’s educational programs. Preregistration is highly recommended. Prepurchased tickets for MOSI Members are $11 for adults and $8 for children. For nonmembers, prepurchased tickets are $13 for adults and $10 for children. At the event, tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children. Tickets are available by calling (813) 987-6000.
Wild Wonderland at the zoo
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo transforms into a whimsical world of holiday magic for Wild Wonderland, presented by Publix Super Markets Charities.
Stroll through the zoo illuminated with holiday lights, sights and sounds from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 8, Dec. 14 to 23 and Dec. 26 to 30.
The newest addition to the seasonal celebration this year is an Arctic Freeze Ice Slide, 100 feet of frozen fun located inside the Reindeer Games area. Families can chill out, play carnival games and little elves can jump for joy on new inflatables.
Admission prices for Wild Wonderland are $13 for adults, $11 for children ages 3 to 11 and free for ages 2 and younger. Parking is free. Tickets may be purchased online, at the zoo’s front gate during business hours or on the night of the event.
Traditions on the Green
Have breakfast with Santa, enjoy concerts and art and do a bit of shopping with vendors at Traditions on the Green at the Land O’ Lakes Community Center, 5401 US 41.
The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. until noon on Dec. 8, with the breakfast with Santa set for 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Pasco County’s parks and recreation department is hosting a cornhole tournament; entry is a new toy to donate to Toys for Tots.
Donations of canned foods are also welcome. Those contributions will be taken to the Land O’ Lakes drop-off tent for Metropolitan Ministries.
Christmas home tour
The Trinity Oaks Women’s Association is hosting a Christmas Home Tour and Boutique Dec. 9 at Fox Hollow Golf Club, 10050 Robert Trent Jones Parkway in Trinity.
The tour of the holiday decorated homes and Trinity Club Apartment’s clubhouse and model apartment is from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The boutique at Fox Hollow Golf Club, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., will feature 18 vendors.
Proceeds go to support a scholarship supported by the women’s association for a Mitchell High graduate and various groups, including Good Samaritan Health Clinic, Salvation Army Domestic Violence Center, All Children’s Hospital, Salvation Army Center of Hope, West Pasco Habitat for Humanity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Florida Orchestra, PACE and Support Our Troops.
A Walk through Bethlehem
Step back and let your imagination be stirred, as you join the Walk through Bethlehem live nativity scene created by the Richland Baptist Church, 40510 Stewart Road in Zephyrhills.
Visitors, in groups of 10 to 12, are led on a guided tour in a village intended to convey first century Bethlehem.
The reconstructed city seeks to emulate what life would have been like at the time of the birth of Jesus. The village includes a census taker who greets people at the gate, city people of all ages, shopkeepers, Roman guards, animals and baby Jesus in a manger.
As they tour through, visitors will hear the story of the birth of Christ. The group will also see the three wise men and visit the crucifixion scene and the empty tomb.
This year, tours are available from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 14 and Dec. 15 and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 16.
There is no charge for the tour or parking. For more information and directions to the church, call (352) 567-2990 or visit www.rbczephyrhills.com.
Illuminated holiday boat parade
If you enjoy illuminated boat parades, check out Florida By Water’s 2012 Holiday Boat Parade guide. The guide lists more than 70 parades throughout the Sunshine State running through Dec. 23.
To view the complete the list, please go to www.floridabywater.com/events/holiday-boat-parade.