FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - For many, Christmas is a time for cold weather and building snowmen. For others, it's a time to get away from winter, and escape to the beaches of Florida. We went down to Fort Myers Beach to see how our northern visitors are trading in their snowboots for flip flops.
Nathan Oltman is putting the finishing touch on this year's sand sculpture, gifts sitting at the base of a 4 foot tall snowman. Make that, sandman.
"We've been here since 2005" Nathan's mom tells me, "We always celebrate it on the beach. This is our Christmas"
For almost a decade, the Oltman family has spent Christmas on Fort Myers Beach, every year building at least one sand sculpture. Nathan's older brother Zach tells Fox 4 he's okay with playing in the sand, rather than the snow
"We don't get enough snow that I would miss it, because we wouldn't be able to do sledding or anything. So this warm weather on the beach, is definitely better"
Halfway through building a sand fortress of their own, the Elsden family is also spending Christmas on Fort Myers Beach. Mimi and Papa Elsden are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and with 15 family members visiting, they tell me the hardest part of their holidays was the travel
"Not fun when you're driving. There was ice storms, rain storms, tornado, traffic jam..."
But they say it was worth the effort, leaving behind Iowa and temperatures dipping to fifteen below zero!
Not everyone on Fort Myers Beach was on vacation, however. Steve from Nervous Nellie's telling Fox 4 they're open for families just like the Oltmans and Elsdens
"Bring 'em on! Bring 'em on, we're happy to have 'em"
Even though Steve is working on Christmas, he knew what he was getting himself into
"We got to celebrate Christmas earlier today, most of the folks in the restaurant industry understand that's your busy time"
And so far, it's been very busy
"Santa's being good to Nervous Nellie's this year"