Ribbon-cuttings for facilities make a grand return

Citrus Grove Recreation Area officially opened on Thursday.

Pam Henry is thrilled to properly celebrate new recreation openings once again. The Villages Recreation and Parks Department held the grand opening of the Citrus Grove Recreation Area complete with a ribbon-cutting featuring the giant scissors on Thursday morning. “It’s so nice to be able to be out here and see people coming to explore the new facilities and see all the wonderful new amenities,” said Henry, recreation manager for lifestyle, parks and public relations. Several recreation facilities that opened since the start of the pandemic last March had soft openings or virtual events rather than public ribbon-cuttings.

Henry said she always looks forward to grand openings.

“Every one is always different,” she said. “And it’s great to see residents get excited about all the new lifestyle opportunities.”

David and Cathy Stauffer, of the Village of Fenney, were driving around checking out the new Village of Citrus Grove, so they decided to stop by and check it out.

Fortunately they were already dressed in swimwear so they earned the honor of being the first residents to take a dip in the new adult pool.

“We were out for a drive and just happened to see the flags out so we stopped to see what was going on,” David said.

Citrus Grove Recreation Area also has a postal station for the neighborhood, shuffleboard, bocce, corn toss, a picnic pavilion and access to the pedestrian and bicycle pathways.

The Stauffers enjoy exploring the new areas, David said. He noted they are particularly looking forward to the nearby Sawgrass Grove area in the neighboring Village of St. Catherine that will be home to Ezell Regional Recreation Complex, Sawgrass Market, McGrady’s Pub and the Box Car Stage live entertainment area.

“The Sawgrass Market and that whole area looks like it has a lot of potential with everything they are putting in,” David said. “I usually don’t like to say any one area is better than another because they are all nice, but that could be something really special.”

Nadia Whittaker, who will become recreation area manager at Ezell, said she is looking forward to being part of the growing area after moving from La Hacienda Regional Recreation Complex.

“It’s very exciting to be part of the growth and the expansion of the community,” she said. “There’s so many new innovative amenities and experiences in this area because of the great planning from The Villages.”

Whittaker was impressed by the new recreation area.

“The neighborhood recreation areas are a little larger in the new areas,” she said. “They each have two shuffleboard courts, two bocce courts and two corn toss courts. And here we have this beautiful free-form pool. I think residents here will be very happy.”

The Ezell regional area also will include Homestead Recreation Center, which is under construction in Citrus Grove. It will be home to a resort-style family pool, a boardwalk nature trail, a dog park, astronomy pads, pickleball, tennis, horseshoes, bocce, corn toss and shuffleboard.

Specialty Editor Keith Pearlman can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5347, or keith.pearlman@thevillagesmedia.com.