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Focus On Toys in the Sun Run
Holiday Hours
Find Family Fun
Holiday Fantasy of Lights in Full Swing
Go Fish
Star Light, Star Bright
Find Stocking Stuffers
Back in the Saddle Again
A Greener Today, a Brighter Tomorrow
Seven Signs Your Holiday Tree Has Been Up Too Long
Advisory Board Meeting
Quote of the Month
Special Attractions
Mission Statement
Your Opinion Counts!
SWIM Central
Broward County Board of County Commissioners

Focus On Toys in the Sun Run

For more than a quarter of a century a lot of enterprising motorcycle enthusiasts – as in more than 30,000, from all over the country – have assembled and staged a 20-plus-mile cross-Broward journey to raise money and toys for underprivileged kids. The fundraiser has grown from about 700 participating motorcycles netting under a thousand dollars in cash and around 500 toys, to an event typically raising more than half a million dollars and collecting more than 50,000 toys.

This year’s Toys in the Sun Run – the 26th annual one – will be held on Sunday, December 8, when the bighearted bikers will travel from the starting point, the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach (831 N. Federal Hwy.), to Markham Park. Proceeds benefit Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

At the end of their trek will be live entertainment, more than a hundred vendors selling all kinds of merchandise, and an international food court, as well as classic car and bike shows. (No pets, coolers, or outside food and drinks permitted.)

The cyclists line up at 7 a.m. at the casino and set out at 9:45 a.m. The park opens at 8 a.m., and an early arrival (no later than 10 a.m.) is recommended, as the cyclists’ route will be closed to traffic once their excursion is under way. The live music gets going at 11 a.m. and includes Bret Michaels on the main stage.

Admission is $10/person, plus an unwrapped toy (no stuffed animals, please); if you show up without a toy, you’ll pay $20/person. The park’s regular weekend gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will also be in effect for those not participating in the parade.

For more information, call 954-343-8782, or visit toysinthesunrun.com.  For park information, call Markham at 954-357-8868.

Holiday Hours

All Broward County regional parks (except Deerfield Island Park) and nature centers, neighborhood parks, and natural areas will be open their regular hours on Tuesdays, December 24 and 31, and Wednesday, January 1 (New Year’s Day). All parks, nature centers, and natural areas will be closed on Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25. The parks’ regular holiday gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect on New Year’s Day.

Find Family Fun

Imagine sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows to make s’mores after a hayride through a park on a winter evening. You can do just that this month when the Family Hayride & Campfire Series continues at three parks. There will be events on Fridays at Plantation Heritage Park (December 6), at Quiet Waters Park (December 13), and at T.Y. (Topeekeegee Yugnee) Park (December 20). The programs run from 7 to 9:30 p.m., and tickets are $3.50 per person (ages 3 and up), which gets you one hayride and one bag of fixings for s’mores. Preregistration and prepayment are required by visiting or calling the park office of your choice: Plantation Heritage (accessible via Broward County Transit Route #30) at 954-357-5135; Quiet Waters (Routes #14 and #48) at 954-357-5100, (Route #34), or T.Y.(Routes #3, #12, and #17) at 954-357-8811; or reserving online at Broward.org/Parks.

Holiday Fantasy of Lights in Full Swing

When the Broward County Parks and Recreation Division launched the first Holiday Fantasy of Lights (HFOL) during the 1993-94 season, it was anticipated that the event would be an annual one – which it was until 2005. That’s when the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma forced cancellation of the 13th HFOL, which by then had become an eagerly anticipated holiday tradition for both resident families and individuals and out-of-town visitors.

That first HFOL consisted of 33 displays and ran for 39 days, drawing approximately 142,000 people in 28,000 vehicles. HFOL both staged a comeback in 2006 and grew to 65 displays and a time frame of 46 days, only to fall victim the next year to budget cuts due to the beginnings of the economic downturn. The Parks and Recreation Division reluctantly called off the event, which at its peak had nearly doubled in size and attracted almost a quarter of a million people.

Then, in 2008, Brandano Displays, the vendor that had supplied the actual displays for the event, took over producing the drive-through light extravaganza and has run it ever since. This season the show started on November 22 and runs through Saturday, January 4 at Tradewinds Park & Stables.

As always, HFOL is open from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly, including holidays. Tickets are $10 per vehicle Mondays and Tuesdays (through December 17 only), $14 per vehicle Wednesdays through Sundays. Buses (15+ capacity) pay $35 for entry. You can also enhance the drive-through experience with 3-D glasses, available for $3 for three pairs.

For more information, email hfol@brandano.com, or visit holidaylightsdrivethru.com.

Go Fish

Registration opened back in November for the latest installment – the 16th annual one – of the Junior Bass Tournament Trail, a series of four tournaments that culminate with a young fishing enthusiast being named Junior Bass Angler of the Year. This year, however, you can register all the way up through December 20.

The tournaments are on Sunday mornings, January 19 (Quiet Waters Park), February 23 (Tradewinds Park), March 23 (Tradewinds), and April 27 (Quiet Waters), with fishing starting at “first light” and going till 1 p.m. Trophies and prizes will be awarded at the end of each tournament, and the angler compiling the most points over the four events wins the title as well as a special prize package. Participants must be aged 12 to 17 and accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age. The $80 (plus sales tax) fee covers both participants and all four tournaments. Registration is required by mail (T.Y. Park, 3300 N. Park Rd., Hollywood, FL 33021, Attn: Bob Newland) or in person at the park. For more information, contact Newland at 954-357-8816 or RNewland@Broward.org.

Star Light, Star Bright

Just because there’s an overabundance of ambient nighttime light in Broward County doesn’t mean you can’t go stargazing. It just means that exploring the heavens is best done with the aid of telescopes. That’s where the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association (SFAAA) comes in. On a quarterly basis, the nonprofit group hosts An Evening With the Stars at Fern Forest Nature Center. The next such program will be offered starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 13, and it’s free. Participants will get a glimpse of what’s going on in the South Florida sky this season, and speakers will cover basic telescope techniques and general astronomy information.

The SFAAA also opens the Fox Observatory at Markham Park every Saturday evening, weather permitting, from dusk to midnight.

For more information, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198 or the SFAAA at 954-384-0442, or email info@sfaaa.com. The nature center is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42.

Find Stocking Stuffers

Looking for that perfect gift this holiday season? Purchase our Parks Passports for fun, affordable gifts.

· Family Parks Passport (good for up to six people) – $60 + sales tax = $63.60

· Individual Parks Passport – $25 + sales tax = $26.50

With a Parks Passport, you never have to worry about paying the $1.50/person gate entrance fee (children 5 and under free) that’s in effect on weekends and county holidays at most of our regional parks; the credit card-style passports are good for one year from the date of purchase.

Parks Passports are also now available online. And while it’s the off-season for our water parks (until the middle of March 2014), Seasonal Aquatics Passes are also available online.

Back in the Saddle Again

If you have a horse-obsessed youngster aged 9 to 16 who’s looking for something to do this winter break, sign him or her up for Winter Break Horse Camp at Tradewinds Park & Stables in Coconut Creek. The camp is offered from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, Thursday, and Friday, December 23, 26, and 27 and December 30 and January 2 and 3. Students will receive instruction in such areas as horse grooming, routine horse care and maintenance, appropriate use and care of tack and equipment, nutrition and feeding, and anatomy of the horse. Riding instruction is also included, weather permitting.

The fee is $75/day. Registration is ongoing at the park office daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or reserve online at Broward.org/Parks. For more information, call the park at 954-357-8870. Tradewinds is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #34.

A Greener Today, a Brighter Tomorrow

Learn more about environmentally friendly living from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 7, when Quiet Waters Park introduces the Everyday Green Expo. The first-time event will feature exhibitors, educational demonstrations, raffles and giveaways, a recycling drop-off, trash-to-treasure demos, and Florida-friendly planting demos. Food trucks will be on site.

The event is open free, although the park’s regular weekend gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect. For more information, call the park at 954-357-5100. Quiet Waters is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #14 and #48.

Seven Signs Your Holiday Tree Has Been Up Too Long

1. You’ve taken to using it as a coat rack.

2. The bird that got into your house stayed – and nested.

3. Visitors ask how you’ll be decorating it for the spring holiday.

4. It’s sprouted roots and started growing again.

5. Squirrels gather at your window and look in longingly at it.

6. You can no longer see the carpet through the layers of dried needles.

7. You’ve decided just to go ahead and leave it up for next year.

Few things are as sad as a holiday tree that’s still standing around in someone’s living room well into the new year. If the holidays are long gone but your tree isn’t, it’s time to chip in and donate your used evergreen to our annual Chip-a-Tree initiative. Last year Broward County Parks recycled more than 9,000 trees, representing more than a hundred tons of material that would otherwise have gone to landfills, and this year your tree can join those recyclable thousands.

The free program encourages Broward County residents to remove all decorations from their holiday trees (no decorated trees will be accepted), then bring the trees to a participating park, where they are chipped and used for landscaping throughout the county park system. There is a limit of two trees per vehicle, artificial trees are not accepted, and no commercial vehicles or garbage trucks are allowed.

This season’s program runs from Thursday, December 26, 2013, through Monday, January 20, 2014, giving you plenty of time to take advantage of those after-the-holidays sales before hauling your tree to a park. And remember, the regular weekend and holiday gate entrance fee will not be in effect for recyclers, so there’s no excuse not to do the right thing. Hours vary; call the park of your choice for details.

· Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome, 9501 Sheridan St., Cooper City 33024; 954-357-5150

· C. B. Smith Park, 900 N. Flamingo Rd., Pembroke Pines 33028; 954-357-5170

· Easterlin Park, 1000 N.W. 38th St., Oakland Park 33309; 954-357-5190

· Fern Forest Nature Center, 201 Lyons Rd. South, Coconut Creek 33063; 954-357-5198

· Markham Park & Target Range, 16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise 33326; 954-357-8868

· Plantation Heritage Park, 1100 S. Fig Tree Lane, Plantation 33317; 954-357-5135

· Quiet Waters Park, 401 S. Powerline Rd., Deerfield Beach 33441; 954-357-5100

· Reverend Samuel Delevoe Park, 2520 N.W. Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale 33311; 954-357-8801

· Snake Warrior’s Island Natural Area,  3600 S.W. 62nd Ave., Miramar, FL 33023; 954-357-8776

· Tradewinds Park & Stables, 3600 W. Sample Rd., Coconut Creek 33073; 954-357-8870

· Tree Tops Park, 3900 S.W. 100th Ave., Davie 33328; 954-357-5130

· T.Y. (Topeekeegee Yugnee) Park, 3300 N. Park Rd., Hollywood 33021; 954-357-8811

· Vista View Park, 4001 S.W. 142nd Ave., Davie 33330; 954-357-8898

· West Lake Park, 751 Sheridan St., Hollywood 33019; 954-357-5161

Advisory Board Meeting

The next meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. on Friday, December 6. The meeting will take place at Franklin Park, 2501 Franklin Dr., Fort Lauderdale 33311; 954-357-7080. While the public is invited to attend, participation in the meeting is limited to the advisory board and staff.

Quote of the Month

“Good manners are just a way of showing other people that we have respect for them.” – American screenwriter Bill Kelly

Special Attractions

Airboat Rides (Everglades Holiday Park)Batting Cages (AllGolf at C.B. Smith Park) – Bike America (Quiet Waters Park) –  Butterfly World (Tradewinds Park & Stables) – Cable Water-Skiing (Ski Rixen USA at Quiet Waters Park) – Campgrounds (C.B. Smith Park, Easterlin Park, Markham Park & Target Range, Quiet Waters Park, T.Y. Park) – Dog Park (Barkham at Markham Park & Target Range) – Educational Farm (Tradewinds Park & Stables) – Exhibit Halls (Anne Kolb Nature Center, Fern Forest Nature Center, Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center, Secret Woods Nature Center) – Golf Facilities (AllGolf at C.B. Smith Park) – Multipurpose Athletic Fields (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome, Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium, Tradewinds Park & Stables) – Observatory (Markham Park & Target Range) – Riding Stables (Tradewinds Park & Stables, Tree Tops Park) – Skate Park/Track (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome) – Target Range (Markham Park & Target Range) – Tennis Centers (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome, C.B. Smith Park) – Velodrome (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome) – Water Playgrounds/ Waterslides/Swimming (C.B. Smith Park, Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium, Quiet Waters Park, T.Y. Park)

Mission Statement

The Parks and Recreation Division is dedicated to providing a countywide park system with diverse facilities and recreation opportunities, along with natural area conservation and research-based educational outreach, to enhance the well-being of residents, businesses, and visitors.

Your Opinion Counts!

We’d like to know what you think about our programs and facilities. Please take a moment to tell us how we’re doing by filling out this survey.

SWIM Central

Broward County Commission's primary resource and referral service for available swim programs in cooperation with various cities and nonprofit organizations. Call 954-357-SWIM (7946).

Founded in February 1956 and accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, Broward County Parks and Recreation Division manages almost 6,500 acres, encompassing nearly 50 regional parks and nature centers, neighborhood parks, and natural areas at various stages of development. Facilities include water parks, campgrounds, a target range, a stadium, a skate park, an observatory, mountain bike trails, an educational farm with stables, and a velodrome and other sports facilities. Hours and fees vary by location. For more information, visit broward.org/parks

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations in order to participate in programs, services, and activities must contact the Special Populations Section at 954-357-8170 or TTY 954-537-2844 at least five (5) business days prior to the scheduled meeting or event.

Broward County Board of County Commissioners

Sue Gunzburger
Dale V.C. Holness
Kristin Jacobs
Martin David Kiar
Chip LaMarca
Stacy Ritter
Tim Ryan
Barbara Sharief
Lois Wexler

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Parks and Recreation is a service of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners.