Dan's Day Trip Special
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
You may not realize it but the holiday season is in full swing. But in some places it's Christmas year round. In other words, welcome to Santa Land.
As the Christmas carol "O Come All Ye Faithful" plays over the loudspeaker, the faithful do come to Rogers' Christmas House and Village in Brooksville. They trek from far and wide to come to a place devoted to the Christmas season. Though some items like a bubble light with a flamingo and alligator may be a little more exclusive to Floridians.
It's the annual hunt for the perfect ornament for the Tanner family who made the 30-minute drive from New Port Richey. Mother Stephanie treasures her first memories here as a young girl with her grandfather. Now she's passing on the tradition to her own girls.
"It makes it feel like christmas," says Stephanie Tanner. "Especially here in Florida, you have to make it feel like christmas because it's not going to happen by itself."
And her two daughters agree.
"I really like the houses because it's beautiful there," says 7-year-old Mirinda.
"I like the ornaments," chimes in 5-year-old Josie.
Rogers' has been open in this spot in Brooksville since 1971. There are 5 houses on the property with decorations galore, though not everything is for Christmas. For example, Storybook Land displays characters from the Wizard of Oz, Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk.
Even with annual sales topping three million, Rogers' still manages to make each customer feel welcome.
"Coming in the front door, you are greeted by a person," says manager George Rodriguez. "We don't have answering machines. We have persons answering the phone so we're a person to person business, which is kind of hard to find these days."
But even the place that celebrates christmas year round isn't immune from hardship. Last month, Rogers' filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
But the owners have no plans to close. They hope new customers will discover the magic of the season here. And faithful ones like the Tanners will keep coming back.
"I just hope that this stays in business, that it continues to thrive so my girls can continue the tradition that i started," says Stephanie Tanner.
Rogers' Christmas House and Village is open 9-30 to 5 every day of the year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. It's about an hour and a half trip from Gainesville.
Go straight south on I-75. Get off at Exit 301 and follow the signs to Brooksville. It's about a 10-minute trip from the Interstate.
So while Christmas may only come once a year, you can celebrate the holidays year round.
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