Guest Article by Susan Strawbridge, Park Services Specialist, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is starting the new year with the introduction of monthly themes focusing on our natural and cultural resources and opportunities in Florida State Parks.
February will have two themes. The first will spotlight artists; famous and current. This theme was selected to celebrate the famous American artist Winslow Homer who visited Homosassa later in this life to enjoy the fishing opportunities and natural beauty of the Homosassa area. This inspired him to create 11 beautiful watercolors in February 1904. An exhibit of prints of Homer’s Florida and tropical watercolors is featured in the Florida Room at the Park’s Visitor Center.
Keeping with the artists’ theme, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park will be hosting two art shows in February. The first will be the Wildlife Park Arts & Crafts Show at the Visitor Center on Saturday, Feb. 15. This show and sale will display the arts and crafts of members of the community. The show and sale will include paintings, photography, crafts, and books.
On the following weekend, Feb. 22 and 23rd, the art work of members of the Citrus Watercolor Club will be exhibited with original paintings, prints, cards, and more offered for sale. The Club’s membership consists of 135 members. About 35 members will be exhibiting their work at the annual art show. The Club will donate 20 percent of all sales from the Arts in the Park show to the Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park.
In February, the Park will also promote many ways to get fit in Florida State Parks. In addition to the Park’s monthly bird walks and ongoing Tai Chi classes, the Park will introduce a series of four exercise/fitness classes on alternating Monday mornings in the Florida Room. These will be taught by Patti and Steve Griffith and will focus on improving balance, range of motion and strength. These exercises and practices are useful in improving a person’s ability to perform normal, daily tasks.
Citrus County Audubon will lead a monthly bird walk on Pepper Creek Trail on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 8:00 a.m. Meet at 7:45 a.m. if you are interested in participating. Register by calling (352) 628-5343.
As you can see, we have a lot planned for February and encourage you to visit Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to enjoy the Winslow Homer exhibit, both art shows in the Visitor Center, and opportunities to get out and exercise by joining the new exercise/fitness class or joining the bird walk on Pepper Creek Trail.
-Public invited to attend classes starting February 24-
The Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park will host exercise classes in the Florida Room in the park’s Visitor Center located on US 19 in Homosassa Springs. These exercise/fitness programs will be held on the following dates: Monday, February 24; Monday, March 10; Monday, March 24; and Monday, April 7, 2014. The classes will start at 9:30 a.m. and run until 10:00 a.m.
The public is invited to join in any of the exercise classes. While you are encouraged to attend all four classes, it is not mandatory that you do so. Consult your medical professional before beginning an exercise routine. A donation of $2.00 per class is suggested and will benefit the Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park.
Presented by Steve and Patti Griffith, all of the exercises in this program are focused on improving balance, range of motion and strength. Participants should wear lose clothing and “gym shoes” appropriate for exercising. Some exercises are practiced while sitting. Others, including balance, are practiced while standing. Your chair will always be nearby to help provide ease while practicing all balancing exercises. Exercises and practices are useful in improving your ability to perform normal, daily tasks.
After enjoying a fun-filled exercise class, take some additional time to enjoy the Wildlife Park. Regular park admission will apply for entrance into the Wildlife Park. For more information on this and other fitness related programs, please call the Park Office (352) 628-5343, ext. 1002, Mondays through Fridays.
For more information about Florida State Parks, visit www.FloridaStateParks.org
Monday, February 24; Monday, March 10; Monday, March 24; and Monday, April 7, 2014.
9:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
In the Florida Room at the Visitor Center
4150 South Suncoast Boulevard
Homosassa Springs, Florida
Citrus County Veterans Services Department will have a Veterans Case Manager on site Wednesdays from 10am - 2pm to assist veterans applying for benefits and provide information for other veteran benefits.
1st Wednesday of the month – Lakes Region Branch
2nd Wednesday of the month – Homosassa Branch
3rd Wednesday of the month – Coastal Region Branch
To make an appointment with the Case Manager, please call 352-527-5915.
~State park and local children will celebrate popular hippo’s Birthday~
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park will celebrate Lu, the hippopotamus’ 54th birthday with two special birthday parties on Friday, January 24, 2014.
Lu has been a long-time resident of Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and has fans around the world. People come from all over to help him celebrate his birthday. There is an international club for people who love hippos called the Hippo-Lot-of-Us Club. They have a website and members travel to visit hippos. Every year members of Hippo-Lot-of-Us Club attend Lu’s birthday.
Students from Homosassa Elementary School will join park staff in wishing Lu a Happy 54th Birthday. The students will be encouraged to join in singing a special birthday song written and performed by park volunteer Vicky Iozzia. (Every year Vicky adds another stanza for his latest birthday). The children and other park visitors will enjoy sampling the hundreds of cupcakes provided by Just a Cupcake of Crystal River along with fruit punch.
Lu will enjoy a specially made birthday cake (purchased by Friends from Publix). In the afternoon, another party will take place during the park’s alligator and hippopotamus program. Lu will be offered another birthday cake as park visitors have the opportunity to join in the celebration of the birthday of Florida’s only resident hippopotamus. There will be a giant birthday card for visitors to sign to wish Lu a Happy Birthday. Lu has his own “Lu the Hippo” Facebook page.
Lu, an African Hippopotamus, was born at the San Diego Zoo on January 26, 1960. (Note: The park will celebrate Lu’s birthday on January 24th so the schoolchildren can participate.) He weighed 90 pounds at birth and now weighs more than 6,000 pounds. A vegetarian, Lu consumes 15 pounds of alfalfa hay, four scoops of herbivore diet and a five gallon bucket of vegetables and fruit every day.
A fixture at Homosassa Springs since 1964, Lu was a movie and television star with the Ivan Tors Animal Actors troupe, which wintered at the park while in private ownership. His credits include the 1960s movies Daktari and Cowboy in Africa, and television specials such as Art Linkletter Show and Herb Alpert Special.
For more than four decades, Lu has been a mainstay among the animals at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. When the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service purchased the attraction in 1989, the state planned to shift the emphasis of the park to native Florida wildlife and find homes for all of the exotic species, including Lu. Public support, however, led the state to grant Lu special Florida citizenship in 1991, allowing him to stay at the park.
Friday, January 24, 2014
10:00 am and at 12:30 pm
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd.
Homosassa Springs, Florida