Last Saturday we had the pleasure of checking out the Winter Garden Christmas Parade as it coincided with the downtown Farmer's Market we walk to each week. After we purchased some veggies at the market (including a large bunch of local, organic Lacinato kale for just two bucks - yum), we headed over to where the parade-watching throngs were gathering.
Here's some of the festive decor we saw on the way. This purple cow in front of a local business gets my vote for most unusual, but cutest display.
This town takes Christmas seriously!
I bet the town Christmas tree is gorgeous all lit up at night. Since we don't have a car, we will probably not get to see it after dark, but it's pretty during the day as well.
Everyone staked out their places to view the parade. There were a lot of folks downtown! We were pleased to see that some rode their bikes or walked there. I expect we had one of the longer walks at two miles one way.
While waiting for the parade to begin, I crushed on this adorable Boston Terrier. I spoke to her owner so I could pet her and found out that she is about a year and a half old, a mere baby, and her name is Pixil because of the Haggerty spot on her head. How cute is that?
Pixil, you are an adorable flirt -- and your owner has a great smile too!
But without further ado, let the parade begin!
First up, the Winter Garden Police and Fire departments strutted their stuff.
Next up were folks from a few community organizations riding some unique motor vehicles.
Here are some of the adorable parade-watchers, human and canine.
There were some excellent marching bands participating in the parade. I'm sure they'd worked hard to prepare for this day, and that preparation paid off. I was impressed!
This band was the biggest and best. They just kept on coming with sizeable contingents of each instrument section. Their lively music made you want to get up and dance. I did, in fact!
Students from dance and charter schools also showed their spirit.
The marching band from nearby Ocoee High School, just east of Winter Garden, did a great job also.
There were other floats from local businesses and associations. I didn't catch them all, just snapped photos of the more colorful/interesting ones.
Frosty was riding atop a vehicle. He was a beige color so I assume he was a sandman, not a snowman. He's definitely wearing his Florida garb!
The biggest crowd pleasers had to be the adorable small dogs from the Polka Dogz Pet Rescue. Some were available for adoption, while some had already been rescued. While watching the pooches trot by, the girls next to me were begging their mother for a pup. I hope they were successful in convincing her to rescue one!
We ended up leaving the parade before Santa made an appearance as we needed to get back to do some things. As we were walking back to the campground, we heard calls of "Merry Christmas!" from many voices and turned to see folks on floats waving and shouting to us. Turns out, we were walking along the exit route for the parade vehicles.
They were all so friendly and plenty of greetings were exchanged. On a beautiful day like this, it's impossible not to catch the holiday spirit!
Last winter while in Winter Garden, we religiously walked to the downtown farmer's market every Saturday, about two miles each way from our campsite. The tradition continued as we visited the market on our first Saturday back in town. This also happened to be their holiday market, with extra vendors selling art, food, and interesting creations. Since we were last here, the market has expanded, and a large parking deck has been built downtown, bringing in even more vendors and shoppers.
But some things never change: the main pavillion was still filled with rows of yummy fruits and vegetables. Are they all local? Unfortunately not. But everything is clearly marked, making it easy to chose only Florida produce if desired.
After filling our packs with a variety of veggies and herbs, we explored the rest of the market. There was plenty more to see and some delicious aromas from the various food vendors. Best smell award goes to the cinnamon nuts booth: Mmmmmmm! I'm still not quite sure how we resisted those.
For those shopping for Christmas gifts, the market hosted a plethora of interesting choices. Living in a motorhome, we only have room for so much "stuff", so most of our purchases must be consumable. But it's always fun to look around and see the sights and colorful, unique items for sale.
Here's some of what we saw, starting with beautiful (and inexpensive!) orchids. I sure would love to have one in Pearl, but I don't want to have to worry about it getting damaged when we travel. And the one time I did have an orchid, I could never get it to bloom again after the initial blooms finished up.
This charming restored truck is associated with a vegetarian/vegan restaurant that makes unique cold-pressed juices, thus the name "Press'd". Could be good! I just might have to try one of these some week.
These vibrant garments are from Africa!
While this booth made us feel like we were back in Mexico....
The live music added to the festive atmosphere at the market.
Shopping was just all too exhausting for this little guy.
On the other hand, I was rather energized by it all!
Tomorrow's market coincides with the annual Winter Garden Christmas parade, so you can bet we'll be there and will report back.
We're back in Winter Garden for the winter season and couldn't be happier about that.
We bought our motorhome, Pearl, here last January and spent the next 2.5 months in the area getting accustomed to RV living and enjoying the warm (with a few exceptions) winter weather.
We're about two miles from the charming downtown and the very nice bike trails that we so enjoy bicycling.
From our site, we have a perfect view of a small pond that hosts a variety of bird life. We can walk to grocery and other stores and are right on the bus line if we need to travel farther for shopping.
Life is easy and good here, and since there's no two-week camping limit as at most national and state parks, we can stay just as long as we like. And we plan to do just that! After traveling for months, staying anywhere from a day to two weeks in one place, we are ready to be settled for a bit. We'll save money not buying so much fuel, and staying put gives us a chance to recharge, get some RV projects done, and make plans for next year.
We had a nice Thanksgiving here shortly after arriving. The day began with Barry making an unexpected repair. The right rear of our kitchen counter had been sinking over time, more than we even realized. It had gotten to be about an inch below the level of the left side, so an intervention was required! The previous owners had replaced the counter when they took out the gas stove and put in an induction cooktop, and they hadn't done a great job of it. Barry made short work of it, and we now have a sturdy, level counter again. Whew!
Have I mentioned lately how lucky I am to have such a handy husband? I can't imagine living in a motorhome without one.
Repair completed, the turkey day cooking could commence. This was our first major holiday feast in Pearl, and it went pretty darn well! Planning and organization kept things running smoothly, and I had just enough vessels for all the dishes. Barry had made a lovely pumpkin pie the day before as well We were stuffed -- and very thankful. We have so much to be grateful for, and we try not to lose sight of that.
I think we're now ready to tackle the hills of Lake County!
There are new signs at the pond at our campground. We don't know if these were posted in response to actual threats or just to keep people out of the pond. We've seen ducks on the pond, so it seems unlikely that there are serious predators lurking below, but who knows?
This Belted Kingfisher doesn't seem to care; he's looking for fish!
In the meantime, rest assured that Paisley will be keeping a sharp lookout!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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