Our friends at WUSF in Tampa have been collecting holiday stories and traditions from around the state for a series they call "Florida Holidays." The following was originally posted by WUSF reporter Dalia Colón. It came to her as an email with subject line "That's so Florida." Here's a strange tale from Anna Maria Island resident Peggy Bode:
Our family tradition was to go camping every Christmas at various places in Florida. It was always a challenge to create a traditional Christmas dinner at a campground, so we often resorted to unconventional holiday fare such as hot dogs and potato chips.
However, I always baked a couple of pumpkin pies to take with us so we at least we would have one Christmas standard available to remind us of holidays past.
We camped in a conversion van for many years. One Christmas more than 20 years ago, we arrived at the campground after dark and started setting up camp. Our van doors were open because we needed access to our camping gear as we settled into our site.
I had just grabbed some supplies from the van to place on the picnic table and was walking back to the van when, just as I got to the sliding van door, a pumpkin pie flew past my head, and then another one landed at my feet.
I cried out in dismay and shock as I saw my hours of rolling, cutting and mixing the perfect pumpkin pie disappear into the dark woods.
Then to my surprise, the pies were followed by a raccoon as big as a large dog. He slowly climbed down out of the van, looked up at me and gave me a very perturbed look as if I had taken his pies! He ambled off into the trees and dragged one of the pies with him.
I was so upset that I ran off into the woods after him, not knowing what I’d do when I caught up with him.
Needless to say, Christmas wasn’t the same that year without the pies. But the hot dogs and potato chips kept us in the holiday spirit.
If you've got your own Florida Holidays tradition or story, here are some ways to join in the fun: