The Christmas Trail
Snowmen, Santa and Snow in Florida? What better way to get in the holiday spirit than visiting a new Christmas attraction. The Christmas Trail, located in Plant City, is a free attraction for adults and kids to enjoy.
Owner Zach Glaros put together the Christmas Trail last year, but this year there’s a twist, it’s free.
“This is our second year doing the Christmas trail. Last year, 2015, we actually charged people to come through,” said Glares. “This year it’s a free event, which people have overwhelmingly responded with happiness with because who doesn’t like free stuff.”
Since a young age Glaros has always enjoyed putting up Christmas lights. When his parents gave him their old Christmas lights to decorate the backyard, Glaros did exactly that.
“I did that up until college so for 12 years or so. After I graduated college me and my dad always wanted to do something big like this so we basically took what I did at my parents house and put it out here for everyone to enjoy.”
Glaros and his father set up a quarter mile trail of lights for parents and children to enjoy, but the trail is more than just lights. Each year the trail is themed around a Christmas story, this year being The Little Lost Lamb.
“We’ve expanded a lot of stuff this year, added a lot more activities for guests and kids to do this year as well as added more lights and a new better and bigger story to our actual Christmas trail.”
While the trail is the main attraction there are other activities for families to enjoy.
“We’ll have a picture with Santa and Ms. Claus, completely free. The snowball coral, this is where kids and adults can come have a snowball fight Florida style. We have soft, cotton, plush snowballs they can fight with a in dodgeball style. That’s a lot of fun for free.”
There will also be hot coco, popcorn and marshmallows for roasting around a fire pit for sale. Kids can participate in crafts, hand painted ornaments and can even mail a letter to Santa.
Though it sounds like an attraction just for kids, it’s far from that. On select nights the Christmas Trail will feature live entertainment.
On Dec. 16th and 22nd a Plant City local singer and guitarists will be performing and a boys choir will be highlighted one night.
“It’s not every night, but we do have volunteers that will be caroling.”
Being a free attraction, the event is ran solely off of volunteers.
“Everyone is doing it on their own free time and good will. But it’s really rewarding when I get to see all these parents and kids come through and it’s like they’re all kids again and it’s really cool to see and that’s the Christmas spirit.”
Being only in its second year, the Christmas Trail has grown in popularity tremendously. Last year there were about 2,500 people that attended. This year Glaros says they are expecting about 10,000 people due to it being a free attraction.
Though no ticket needs to be purchased, Glaros urges guests to register for the night they’d like to come.
“We are completely booked for eight of our 10 nights. We are allowing cushion for probably a couple hundred people that just show up or didn’t know to register for the event to come and enjoy it.”
For Glaros this time of year is a creative outlet for him.
“I love being creative and Christmas lights is just a creative outlet for me, but more than that the Christmas season, there’s just something magical about it and I feel like people are happier this time of year.”
The Christmas Trail is open select nights during December. For more information visit thechristmastrail.com and check out the Facebook page.