Shortcuts January 16 2002

Winter Haven, Fla.
As if you didn't see enough twinkling displays over the holidays, Cypress Gardens hosts its Spring Lights Festival, featuring more than 4 million lights, Feb. 1-March 31. Animated light sculptures depict banjo- and flute-playing frogs, peacocks, sunflowers, butterflies, rainbows, jungle plants and more. The centerpiece is a 116-foot-high "Tree of Light" with 100 lighted ornaments, 25,000 bulbs and a 3-D floral bouquet crown. Park hours 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. $19.95-$34.95 (click on "tickets" at www.cypressgardens.com for a $5 coupon). 2641 S. Lake Summit Drive. 863-324-2111.

Birchwood, Tenn.
The Hiwassee Refuge holds its 10th annual Cherokee Indian Heritage & Sandhill Crane Viewing Days Feb. 2-3. Park visitors can watch as a portion of the some 50,000 sandhill cranes stop for a rest in their journey south for the winter. You might even see one of seven endangered whooping cranes as it's led from Wisconsin to Florida by ultra-light aircraft. Speakers will offer lectures throughout the two-day event, and experts will help viewers use the telescopes to see the cranes, bald and golden eagles, and other wildlife. Event times vary. Free. For location and information, call 423-334-5850. www.tnwildlife.org.

Hilton Head, S.C.
The influence of West Africa lives on in the Gullah culture of the Lowcountry and nearby coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia. The Native Island Business and Community Affairs Association hosts the sixth annual Native Islander Gullah Celebration to honor the lifestyle, culture and heritage of these African Americans Feb. 1-24. The month-long event showcases the arts, crafts, food and history of the Gullah people. Events include an art exhibit, gospel concerts, a cultural symposium and a business economic summit. Times, prices and locations vary. 877-650-0676. www.gullahcelebration.com.

-- Lea Holland??

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