Ding-Ding-Ding! Choo-Choo! All Aboard!
Come one, come all to the magical holiday festivities once again created by the Clearwater Community Volunteers, dubbed “Elves” by Santa himself.
If you’re already a faithful fan of “Winter Wonderland” I assure you, that this year has more surprises than ever!
However, while the Elves were busily working on “Winter Wonderland”, Pam Ryan Anderson (the Head Elf) received an urgent text from Santa. The text said, “Ho, Ho, Ho, there are still a few in the community that are not aware that the festivities are open to everyone and, admission is FREE!” and his text continued, “Ho, Ho, Ho, some ‘naughty overgrown children’ otherwise known as ‘adults’ may have never even noticed ‘Winter Wonderland’ when driving up and down Ft. Harrison.”
Now, I find that a bit hard to swallow. I mean how could you miss an entire block that is lit up like a Christmas tree? If you are one of the few naughty ones, don’t despair. You still have time to redeem yourself. Remember, Santa is very generous and forgiving.
Here’s what you do: next time you are traveling south on Fort Harrison Ave, look directly across the street from Checkers and just as you are about to cross Drew Street, you will come upon a sight unusual to sunny Florida. Lo and behold! A quaint winter village that has seemingly appeared out of nowhere in downtown Clearwater and, no, it is not the new “Urban Elf Townhouses” – that is a special future project given to the newly appointed “Honorary Elves” at the Opus South Corporation for the “North Pole Edge 1”.
If you take a closer look, you will see that the snow has arrived with tens of dozens of Christmas trees, thousands and thousands of lights, and then, before you know it – you’ll see children sitting on Santa’s knee and decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus. There is a playground with swings and a fort to explore. A bouncy house and giant slide are always filled with children. Pony rides and a petting zoo create an even more delightful experience. On the large and decorated stage, there is also constant entertainment with ballet and circus acts, singers, dancers, animal shows, school performances and karaoke. Visitors of all ages wander around this special Christmas village in awe of the decorations and all the wintry details.
This year the Grand Opening of Winter Wonderland will be on Friday Dec. 5, 2008 at 6:30 pm. Santa makes his grand entrance at about 6:30 pm, and as always we never know how Santa will choose to arrive!
Each year visitors of all ages wander around wide-eyed and in awe of the decorations and details that are so lovingly looked after at this special Christmas village.
In addition to being a joyous adventure, it should be well noted that Winter Wonderland is a major fundraiser for needy families. Each year, hundreds of families are given food and toys, providing Christmas to families that would normally go without.
Admission to Winter Wonderland is free to all, but it is requested that everyone that attends bring a new, unwrapped toy or gift, canned or boxed food, or make a donation in one of the donation boxes that are set up on the Winter Wonderland site. Fifty percent of cash donations will go to Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central & Northern Florida this year. This very worthy group grants wishes to children with life threatening illnesses.
Pony rides are only $2.00 and Bouncy and the Giant Slide are each $1.00. Pictures with Santa are also $2.00. And, of course let’s not forget “Winter Wonderland Express” only $2.00 a ticket.
Winter Wonderland is funded, planned, built, and manned by volunteers from the Clearwater Community Volunteers. Each year the event is sponsored by the Church of Scientology as well as other individuals, businesses and groups in the community.
It is an opportunity for all members of the community to join in for a common purpose of helping needy families and other charities. This joint involvement and contribution makes for a stronger community. The founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard once wrote:“On the day when we can fully trust each other, there will be Peace on Earth.”
Please be sure to check out their sponsor board to see which wonderful, local companies also sponsor Winter Wonderland by donating at least $1,000.
This year, Santa and the Clearwater Community Volunteers are extremely happy to announce the new partnership with Opus South Corporation and Water’s Edge 1, LLC. This partnership has helped Clearwater Community Volunteers add a new attraction to Winter Wonderland that is sure to bring joy to all the children that attend Winter Wonderland. Look out for the new train, and get in line at the Train Station so you don’t miss riding on the “Winter Wonderland Express”! Rides on the train are only $2.00.
There is constant entertainment with ballet and circus acts, singers, dancers, animal shows, school performances, and karaoke, too. You just might see someone you know performing up on our beautiful stage.
Winter Wonderland is open weekdays from 6:00pm – 10:00pm, and on weekends from 4:00pm – 9:00pm.
Winter Wonderland takes 5 weeks to set up with 5,500 Elf hours. Each year it cost between $40,000 - $50,000 to set up and run. It is all made possible by partnerships and contributions from the fundraising done each year by the Clearwater Community Volunteers at other events such as: The Annual Easter Egg Hunt in Coachman Park, Fashion with Flair and more.
Grateful Acknowledgements go out to: All the Volunteers of CCV, Delphi, Clearwater Academy, Washburn Academy, TODL, Postcard Mania, Consumer Energy Solutions, The Cadet Organization, The Boy Scouts, The Cub Scouts, Youth for a Drug Free World of America, Mobile Mini Storage, Clearwater Towing, Neff Rental, Opus South Corporation and Water’s Edge 1, LLC and all contributors past, present and future!
- Tampa Bay Informer
The Good News Newspaper