Freedom Plaza residents get ready for Christmas in August
Summer days at Freedom Plaza seem quiet and serene. There are fewer people in the atrium for morning coffee and conversation, not as many participants in the various classes. The usual hub-bub of activity is a bit subdued. This probably has to do with the fact that many residents are visiting friends or relatives who live cooler climates or enjoying extended vacations with their families. But that impression of "summertime and the livin' is easy" is deceptive. Behind the doors of the Resident Programs Office "fish are, indeed, jumpin' and the cotton is high" with plans under way that extend into December and next year. Despite outside temperature readings of 90 degrees, residents will soon receive notices that it's time to sign up for December events and excursions. These will include holiday shows at area theaters - which fill fast - and special holiday-related local excursions.The trip that will fill fastest, no doubt, is the annual sojourn to Fort Myers, a three-day excursion that includes a dinner-in-the-diner experience on the Seminole Gulf Railway, culminating in a boat-ride through Punta Gorda's island homes. The light displays illuminating impressive residences and pleasure boats are always stunning. A show at Fort Myers' Broadway Palm Dinner Theater and a narrated tram tour of the Ding Darling Nature Preserve on nearby Captiva Island are added attractions to the Fort Myers excursion. Another popular Christmas excursion, one closer to home, is certain to be the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Holiday Spectacular at Tampa's Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets ordered in August will assure good seating. After enjoying their matinee show, residents will dine at one of their favorite Tampa restaurants, The Colonnade. Other December delights listed on the Christmas in August sign-up agenda include a holiday show at Bradenton's Manatee Players Theater and dinner at Donatello's, where Opera Tampa singers will entertain with Christmas music. Although Freedom Plaza residents are naturally entitled to first choice in all events and excursions arranged by the Resident Programs Office, non-residents are always welcome on a space-available basis. Call (813) 642-1213 or (813) 642-1215 for additional information. Peggy Burgess is a resident activities associate for Freedom Plaza and columnist for The Sun.