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Sep 01st
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Written by Crystal Brewe -- BT Contributor   
December 2012

Just because the family is staying put in South Florida this season doesn’t mean there aren’t wintry things to do

HPix_Kids_12-12oly Holiday Muzak, Batman! It’s here! It started earlier this year with e-mails the day after Halloween from Amazon “reminding” me about Cyber Monday deals and countless Facebook event invitations to holiday events around South Florida. I ignored it all because I had big plans involving snow.

Who needs snow? I do! I spent the year campaigning for a trip to Park City, Utah, where the girls would have an introduction to snow and I could revisit my love for skiing. (Yes, I still ski.) I figured my whole family, including brothers, girlfriends, and cousins, would love this idea. Only Scrooge himself wouldn’t ho-ho-ho there, right? Wrong. No one bought into this very expensive plan.

So tropical temperatures be damned, we are diving headfirst into the corniest of South Florida holiday options. Don’t get me wrong; who wouldn’t want to ride a rollercoaster operated by a Christmas elf?

My husband and I have spent nearly 15 years bucking commercial holiday traditions. But for some reason, this year I can’t help my attraction to malls that make it snow and zoos with animatronic holiday displays. Let’s face it: In the Sunshine State, we may not do holidays like they do up north, but South Florida has its own unique holiday fun that any family can make its own.

Fairs, Festivals, and Snow: Your brood will have their mind blown at Miami-Dade College’s North Campus children’s holiday. It’s a diverse wonderland of fun, with exhibits including a holiday village complete with a 12-foot mountain of snow where children slide down in tubes. The event also features live performances on three stages, ranging from children’s chorus to hula. (I told you it was diverse.) Details at www.mdc.edu.

We’ve all seen the Santa’s Enchanted Forest advertisements boasting three million holiday lights so bright they can be seen from outer space. Through January 6, this winter carnival includes a 90-foot Christmas tree, a peek inside Santa’s workshop, 100 rides (only 20 of which are appropriate for children), a petting zoo, pony rides, nine live shows, and of course, funnel cake. Visit www.santasenchantedforest.com.

Onstage: Two Nutcrackers are better than one! This year the Adrienne Arsht Center has doubled down when it comes to presenting this classic tale. Miami City Ballet will offer its interpretation on the Ziff Ballet Opera House stage, while a hip, theater-in-the-round version (not a ballet) will feature falling snow and a tension-filled family. With a free family fest on December 15, and the classic, larger-than-life Broadway musical Mary Poppins, the holidays have more than a spoonful of sugar. See www.arshtcenter.org.

Boat Parades: What’s better than holiday-themed and LED-adorned houses? Holiday-themed and LED-adorned boats! On December 15, South Florida has two boat parades to choose from: the Winterfest Parade (www.winterfestparade.com) and the Miami Outboard Club Holiday Boat Parade (www.miamioutboardclub.com). Showboats, corporate mega-yachts, and even pontoons will feature hundreds of thousands of lights, music, entertainment, and celebrities.

Snowfall at Dolphin Mall: I know, I know… a mall? During the holidays? If you’re anything like us, you get the Santa’s lap thing out of the way early so as to avoid the dreadful crowds and other people’s crying kids. The thing is, a rare weather occurrence happens at Dolphin Mall through the new year. Magic wands are distributed every night to children under 12 when their parents sign up to receive the Dolphin Mall e-bulletin. (The marketer in me is envious I didn’t come up with this.) At 7:00 p.m. the children wave their wands in the air and snow illuminates the sky with a warm holiday glow. Trust me, it’s well worth the nausea malls normally cause.

Lions and Tigers and Lights, Oh My!: What holiday is complete without a drive to see other people’s holiday lights? My family used to crowd into my uncle’s van for an annual pilgrimage around the neighborhood. The tradition evolved into a contest of who could drag us to the most dreadful displays of gaudy inflatables and “Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!” messages written in LED on rooftops.

While a bit of a drive from Miami proper, the Holiday Fantasy of Lights offers a spectacular drive-through light display described by many as one of the most amazing in South Florida. It’s located at Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek and is open nightly from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., through January 2. See www.holidaylightsdrivethru.com.

Another terrific light display is much closer to home, in North Miami. It’s called Holiday Lights at Enchanted Place. For details, see our Events Calendar.

Finally, dinner with Mrs. Claus should be on everyone’s top ten list, right? ZooMiami has that and more, having stepped up their holiday offerings to include a brilliant animal-shaped light display, camel rides, “ice-skating,” and free 3-D glasses. Check www.miamimetrozoo.com.

Whatever your traditions, be it grandma’s fruitcake or kayaking through the Everglades, may you enjoy your time with family and friends. Happy holidays!

 

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