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Updated: 07/23/2014 11:24:01AM

Lake Placid ready for Caladium Festival crowds

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The 24th annual Caladium Festival will unfold Friday and continue Saturday and Sunday in uptown Lake Placid. Included will be a myriad of events and entertainers to ensure the pleasure of crowds –– and crowds are certain to descend on Lake Placid those three days.

Those crowds will likely be in awe of Lake Placid and the caladium displays that await visitors. There are caladiums ringing the big, majestic trees along Main Avenue, caladiums bursting from planting beds along Interlake Boulevard, and homeowners across Lake Placid boast bright, colorful displays of caladiums as part of landscape schemes. And, of course, there are countless caladiums adorning Stuart Park –– the base of the Caladium Festival.

Lake Placid is looking its best. Green banners with a single distinctive caladium leaf emblazoned on each one fly from ornate light poles in the uptown area. Town crews have made certain that public areas are neatly mowed and trimmed.

The Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce, host for the Caladium Festival, again sponsored a caladium landscape contest that attracted a dozen entries, mostly in the uptown area but with some as far away at the Placid Lakes Town Hall. The contest brought even more bursts of color to the town and surrounding areas.

Yes, Lake Placid is ready for the Caladium Festival that pays tribute to a most unique industry. Caladium farmers boast that 90 percent of all caladiums bulbs in the world originate from the black muck fields along the ancient shoreline of Lake Istokpoga.

New attendance records are expected this year. An influx is expected from Florida’s west coast and central region. A special 40-page Caladium Festival supplement inside this edition of the Lake Placid News-Journal, Sebring News-Sun and Avon Park News-Sun was distributed days ago to almost 60,000 subscribers at our sister newspapers in Port Charlotte, North Port, Englewood and Venice. The special sections were also distributed in the Fort Meade Leader, Frostproof News, Lake Wales News and the Bartow-based Polk County Democrat.

The extra publicity has spurred a lot of interest. The Chamber of Commerce says phone calls and emails from Polk County and Florida’s west coast have kepy the mostly volunteer staff busy fielding questions about the three-day entertainment line-up, Saturday’s car and motorcycle show and Sunday’s swamp buggy and airboat show. That kind of interest is a strong indicator that crowds are coming to Lake Placid this weekend.

All this means crowds and traffic in uptown Lake Placid could be a strain for local residents trying to go about their day-to-day routines. That favorite parking spot might be gone and some drivers may be distracted or confused as they navigate our town. Sunday morning trips to church -- especially downtown churches –– will likely require a little extra patience.

Patience is what we urge for area residents. Let’s all make an effort to greet our out-of-town visitors with a smile and a wave. Many of our visitors will be here for the first time and most will spend money that would be a boost to the local economy.

Plan a little extra time for uptown visits. Better yet, arrive early to avoid the heavier traffic and then stay and enjoy the Caladium Festival and all that comes with it.

We’ll see you there.

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