🎅 5 surprisingly delightful holiday facts about Orlando
Plus, what downtown could look like post-2020, no texting while driving, and a makeover for Winter Park Village
Happy Tuesday to ya!
I’m taking a bit of time off this week and next, using up all that vacation time I didn’t get to use earlier in the year because ya know, COVID. 😭 If I take a little longer to reply to your email, just know it's because I'm (hopefully) sipping the coquito my dear friend Maria was kind enough to make for me while maybe also cleaning out my closet.
Don't fret, you’ll still see us in your inbox a few times between now and New Years Day, spreading some holiday cheer and reflecting on 2020 with you.
Speaking of cheer, today we've got some season-specific fun facts about Orlando that are sure to keep the conversation moving when you reach a stalemate on the topic of politics this holiday season. 🙃
But first, let's talk about the future of downtown now that much of its workforce has shifted to working remotely, a proposed bill that would further strengthen the no texting-while-driving ban, and what's next for ICON Park and Winter Park Village.
What Orlando is talking about
Merry and bright. | Wanna see your photo here? Tag @pulptown to be featured in our IG of the day. (📸:: @mindfulandfab)
The Orlando Sentinel released the final piece in its four-part series detailing the lasting effects of COVID-19 on Central Florida and we think the whole series is worth the read. This latest feature details specifically what the future for downtown Orlando could look like as more leasing spaces become available and tenants make moves to more remote work. (Orlando Sentinel)
A bill requiring Florida drivers to go completely “hands-free” when using mobile phones was introduced ahead of the 2021 legislative session. The proposed bill would strengthen the texting-while-driving ban that was passed in 2019, making it illegal to hold or otherwise operate your mobile device while driving. (Orlando Weekly)
ICON Park is really owning this whole “tall” thrill ride space. It will add the world’s tallest slingshot ride and the world’s tallest drop tower to its roster of entertainment by the summer of 2021, joining the world’s tallest swing ride the Orlando Star Flyer. We’ll let you thrill-seekers report back on this one. 😳 (ClickOrlando)
Winter Park Village is getting a $20 million makeover in the next 18 months. In keeping with the times, the goal is to build a more outdoors-friendly environment with extra patio and lawn space, outdoor projections, a possible beer garden, and more. (Orlando Weekly)
The weather outside is predicted to be delightful at least through Thursday. We should see a few afternoon showers that day that will result in much cooler temps for Christmas day. We're going from highs of 81 to a low of 34. (ClickOrlando)
Mennello Art Museum founder and local philanthropist Michael Mennello passed away over the weekend due to complications from the coronavirus. Mennello was remembered as a visionary, an Orlando icon, and one of the best party hosts around. (Orlando Sentinel)
Did you know...
Mailing Christmas cards from Christmas, Florida has been a local thing to do for years, as seen in this picture from 1947. (📸: Florida Memory)
“Ever caught a wave with Santa?”
Cue the Beach Boys’ Christmas Album: Ol' St. Nick turns out every Christmas Eve to ride the waves in Cocoa Beach and raise money for local charities. New York can have SantaCon, we’ll take the Surfing Santas any day of the week. The event regularly draws hundreds of surfers and spectators — but due to the coronavirus this year, opted to go virtual. This means there’s still time to participate… Cowabunga, dudes.
“Where were you during the blizzard of ‘77?”
It’s snowed just ONE TIME EVER in Orlando, on Jan. 19, 1977. (OK, technically a few flurries also fell in 2010, but the ‘77 storm was the only one with any real accumulation. See for yourself.) The temperature dropped to a frigid 20 degrees, tying a previous record for the second-coldest day in Orlando history and causing severe crop damage throughout Florida. Maybe a sunny holiday with temps in the low 50s isn’t so bad after all. 😉
“Can you get more Christmas than a Christmas, Florida stamp?”
No other town in America does Christmas quite like Christmas, Florida, located 30 minutes east of Orlando. Formed during the Second Seminole War as a U.S. Army fort on Dec. 25, 1837, the town features impressive holiday displays and street names like Comet Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. And while the fort itself is closed due to COVID-19, you can still walk the grounds. It’s the post office that’s always the biggest draw this time of year — folks go out of their way to get a “Christmas, Florida” stamp on their holiday greeting cards and letters to Santa.
“Do you know the Johannessens?”
For the last nine years, the Johannessen family of Winter Park had pretty much everyone beat when it comes to holiday light displays. With 250,000 lights and dozens of inflatables, the Johannessens’ display was featured on “The Great Christmas Light Fight” show on ABC back in 2016. Unfortunately, they made the tough call earlier this year to cancel their light display for 2020 with hopes of returning to some normalcy in the new year.
“Guess how many lights Disney puts up for the holidays.”
In a typical year: 15 miles of garland. 8.5 million lights. 1,300 decorated trees. With a nickname like “the Magic Kingdom,” it’s no surprise that Disney World goes all-out for the holiday season. Here are all the facts and figures you need to challenge your nieces and nephews to a rousing game of over/under.
Hey, that should keep you busy at the dinner table, even if via Zoom. For more mostly useless but interesting Orlando knowledge, we recommend giving @oldlando a follow on Instagram. Then spend the rest of your week stumping your quaranteam with a big history dump of ol’ O-town. We’re here to serve. 👌
Things to do
🎶 Spread Christmas cheer at this outdoor cabaret performance through Wednesday (Loch Haven Park)
🎄 Meet Santa before his big day out at ICON Park through Thursday (I-Drive)
🌮 Take a culinary crawl of our local food trucks (Milk District)
🎄 Go for a drive to check out the neighborhood lights (Baldwin Park)
🎄 Visit the North Pole by way of the Jolly Creek Festival through Jan. 1 (Kissimmee)
🎁 Finish your last-minute shopping and support local makers at the Thornton Park District's holiday pop-up market (Thornton Park/South Eola)
🍻 Grab your ugly sweater and celebrate Christmas Eve Eve at Castle Church Brewing (Conway)
🏀 Basketball is back! The Orlando Magic face off against the Miami Heat at 7 p.m. at Amway Center
👟 Lace up for a Christmas Eve Eve run around town (Thornton Park)
☮️ Practice your cat-cow pose with real cats (Downtown)
💪 Sweat out those holiday cookies with this outdoor workout (Baldwin Park)
🍿 Celebrate Boxing Day with movies and wine at Swirlery Wine Bar (SoDo)
Wednesday, December 30
🏒 Cheer on the Solar Bears to a win over the Florida Everblades (Parramore)
One more thing ...
We’ll be back tomorrow with the bright spots of 2020 according to you.
In the meantime, stay safe out there and just breathe (just not on anyone!). We’re almost to the other side, folks.