By Nicole Schoen
River Hills is home to over 1,000 homes in the Valrico community. Every year when it gets closer to the holiday season, the community hosts a family-friendly Christmas golf cart parade to bring holiday cheer to residents. The parade was recently resurrected by Wendy Cook, social chairman for River Hills, in 2009 and was originally started by several golfers many years earlier.
“This is a very unique event that River Hills has because we are a gated golf community. It promotes holiday spirit and neighborhood unity,” said Cook. “I believe the residents look forward to this every year.”
Anywhere between 400-600 residents line the streets of River Hills each year to enjoy the spectacle of carts that parade from the golf club to the Lithia Pinecrest entrance and then back to the Bloomingdale entrance only to finish at the golf club. This past December, the participants included 18 golf carts, one motorcycle and a trailer carrying Santa and several elves with two police escorts. The participants threw over 5,000 glow in the dark trinkets and pieces of candy to residents in the crowds.
Those who participate are encouraged to decorate their vehicles and transform them into Christmas carts. Some carts are themed and some are just a display of Christmas decorations. There are also winners for the best decorated carts. This past year first-place went to a golf cart that was decorated to look like the sleigh from the Grinch with riders dressed as characters from the movie How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Mid Florida Golf Cars Distrubutors in Valrico also participate by loaning a golf cart for use in the parade each year.
“I am amazed every year at the creativity and time people take to transform their carts,” said Cook. For more information about happenings in River Hills, residents can check the memo boards located at both entrances as well as the River Hills Website www.riverhills-hoa.com. The community association manager can also be contacted at 662-0837.