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A Taste of a Northern Christmas Hits The Shops of Wiregrass

Dazzling Christmas lights and displays, a Tampa Bay Lightning fanfest and, yes, snow combine to put shoppers in the Christmas mood Tuesday amid warm Florida temperatures at The Shops at Wiregrass.

The calendar suggests it is less than two weeks until Christmas but the weather is anything but Christmas-like.

With daytime temperatures in the low-80s under sunny skies, it's more like a spring day than the holidays.

But officials at were doing their best to get shoppers, visitors, local residents and part-time residents into the holiday spirit.

First the shopping center has a nightly Christmas light show beginning at 6 p.m. and resuming at the top of each hour until 9 p.m.

Also, it snows during the show. Yes, snows! White flakes fill the air. Alas, it's not real snow, the tease certainly looks like the real stuff.

Santa is also available for youngsters to visit as a line snakes around the centerpiece Christmas tree waiting for the jolly elf.

Tuesday, as if all of those activities weren't enough, the Tampa Bay Lightning helped make it feel more like Christmas by hosting a fanfest, allowing the public to try their hand at ice skating at an makeshift outdoor ice rink. Former and current players as well as officials mingled with the crowd.

So for those depressed that the closest thing to a white Christmas they can get in the area is to hit the beaches of Pinellas County, The Shops at Wiregrass is doing its best to offer a traditional holiday season, sans the awful cold weather.

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