Are Snowbirds Grounded This Winter?
Flying into town on the warm breezes Zephyrhills is known for, “snowbirds” typically begin to arrive in the city in October and roost until April. But will they still flock to Zephyrhills in 2020?
Snowbirds are seasonal travelers, most often retirees, who migrate from northern climates to warmer locales, and Zephyrhills tops that list of preferred places. As the “snowbird capital of Florida,” the city’s winter population more than doubles during a typical year, exceeding 50,000 residents by the middle of January. But, with the COVID-19 pandemic, this year is anything but normal, and snowbirds normally headed to Zephyrhills might have to reroute.
As the pandemic continues, many snowbirds are canceling their winter travels south. The Canada-U.S. border is closed to travelers until at least November 21, 2020, and some believe it will remain closed to non-essential traffic until the new year. With this closure in place, Canadian snowbirds are prohibited from driving their RVs to their winter destinations like Zephyrhills.
In addition, many snowbirds, who are generally between 50 and 69 years old, are higher at risk for COVID-19 due to age and health concerns. Normally, Zephyrhills’ balmy weather, outdoor activities, and central location would allow snowbirds to stay active all winter long. However, the number of COVID cases in the state, as well as COVID safety precautions like self-quarantine, might keep them inside instead this year.
So, what’s a snowbird to do? Many are heading to the warmest spots they can find within Canada, such as British Columbia, instead, and some hope to still travel south in the New Year. The Canadian Snowbird Association says that they are unsure how many of their members will make the trip south for the winter.
Back in Florida, the city of Zephyrhills and Pasco County have precautions in place to help protect residents and visitors alike. You can find the county’s COVID information online here.
Many RV and mobile home parks in Zephyrhills, like The Oaks at Zephyrhills, also have enhanced sanitation and safety procedures in place to keep all residents safe, whether they are just here for the season or make the park their permanent home. The Oaks at Zephyrhills is an age-restricted and Good Sam-certified RV and mobile home community, located right off of U.S. 301. You can find more information on management’s efforts to minimize COVID exposure for residents of The Oaks here.
With the past as a guide, Zephyrhills’ mobile home and RV parks are confident that they will be ready and waiting for the next snowbird migration. Did you know that snowbirds have flocked to Zephyrhills for more than a century?
The introduction of the automobile in the early 1900s allowed the very first seasonal travelers to make their way to Florida to escape the freezing Northern winter. In 1919, a group known as the Tin Can Tourists of the World was formed, outfitting their Model T cars with tents, blankets, and cooking equipment and hitting the road to the Sunshine State. Think of the Tin Can Tourists as the grandfathers of the modern recreational vehicle community!
Even more tourists, seasonal visitors, and retirees came to Zephyrhills in the 1950’s and 1960’s, drawn to the area by its sunshine, low cost of living, and pastoral landscape. Many mobile home and RV parks popped up during this time, as a result of the increased demand for housing.
In more recent times of economic hardship, Zephyrhills’ mobile home and RV parks has continued to offer housing options. In fact, the 55+ subdivisions, both mobile and brick-and-mortar, in Zephyrhills stayed relatively stable during the 2009 recession.
And, while COVID has impacted the state and the travel plans of snowbirds, we’re confident in the resiliency of Zephyrhills and its community today.
Kong Management Group, the owner of The Oaks of Zephyrhills, believes that now is the time to invest even more in quality, affordable housing. The Oaks has added seven brand-new mobile home units and also is upgrading amenities for residents. While The Oaks’ clubhouse currently is closed due to COVID, the Wi-Fi is always free!