Local News

Seasonal exit in full swing

HIGHLANDS COUNTY - When Jim London called a hometown official in Ohio recently to get his utilities turned back since he is returning soon, his first response was, ‘Why?,’” London recalled Monday. The man couldn’t understand why London would leave warm Florida to return to cold Lordstown, Ohio. The snowbird is planning to leave this week from Whispering Pines Home and RV Park in Sebring. Like London, despite the cold weather up north, many of the seasonal residents have decided to return this week or did so last week, although some have stayed longer. Others, on the other hand, have left earlier than usual because Easter fell early.
At Reflections in Avon Park, office manager Brenda Richards, said some have delayed their return because of the weather. She estimated that as of Monday, 20 percent had left. People are still line dancing at the social hall on Mondays, she said. “By the end of the month, we will see a large difference,” she said. Sue Lewis, manager of Highland Wheel Estates, said many have left because of Easter. A small percentage stayed because of the weather, she said. At other parks, such as Buttonwood Bay RV Resort and Lake Bonnet Village RV Resort, the same was pretty much true. Andy Bailey, a seasonal resident of Whispering Pines, said many of his neighbors left. “You can throw a rock and not hit a camper,” he said. He said this was the first time he decided to travel south from his home state of Minnesota to avoid the bitter cold. In the past, he’s been in the Sebring area, he added. “I enjoyed the people,” he said about his stay at Whispering Pines. Bailey said he would return to Whispering Pines, but wants to try a winter stay in Texas or Arizona before choosing a more permanent place to go during the cold season. “You have to have something to compare,” he said. Butch Alphonse, who came to Whispering Pines from Rochester, N.Y., said he keeps coming back because the “the people are very friendly.” He was leaving Tuesday, but said he was going to travel to another resort in the Orlando area for about two weeks before returning to New York. “Hopefully, the snow will be gone by then,” he said. Whispering Pines may not be the fanciest resort, said Eileen Gillis, who traveled with her husband, Ross, from Prince Edward’s Island in Canada. “The people make up for it,” she said. She plans to leave for Canada around April 13. By then, she said, the coldest weather should be gone. jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834