Skip to main content

Say It Ain't So! No more free OJ or Grapefruit Juice at Florida Welcome Centers

Our family travels to Florida pretty much on average once a year.  And it is tradition - though my wife will say otherwise - for us to stop at the Florida Welcome Center on Interstate 95.  For decades, visitors on either Interstate 10, 75, or 95 entering the Sunshine State would be treated to a fee sample of Florida Orange or Grapefruit Juice.

So imagine our surprise when we stopped at the Interstate 95 Welcome Center and saw the sign below.


Budget cuts to both the Department of Citrus and Visit Florida are the reason for the removal.

The decades old tradition first began along US 17 in Yulee when the state opened their first "hospitality house" in 1949.  Since then, millions of visitors, young and old, have enjoyed their complimentary glass of juice.  A fitting welcome to the Sunshine State.

Unfortunately, over the last decade, budget issues have threatened - and at least as of February 2020 - and brought the unique show of Florida hospitality to a stop.   First, in 2015, then Governor Rick Scott vetoed money in the budget to cover the cost of the free juice.  The Florida Department of Citrus stepped in and agreed to take on the approximately $250,000 cost.

Unfortunately, budget cuts to the Department of Citrus over the last decade led to the Department's unfortunate decision to stop funding the free juice in July 2019.  Visit Florida - which operate the Welcome Centers - has also experience drastic cuts to their budget and was not able to support the funding either.

So as a result, the free orange and grapefruit juice is no more - at least until a source of funds can be obtained.

The reaction from travelers is of disappointment as for many it is considered the official start of their Florida vacation.  When I posted about this discovery in various transportation forums, the comments echoed my disappointment.  One comment from Chris Lokken and Scott Onson sums up the reaction quite well.


via GIPHY

Hopefully, a source of funding for this decades old tradition can be found.  I would hate for it to be discontinued for good.

Do you know of any other Florida Orange Juice type free-be's at rest area's/welcome centers?  For years, a rest area along US 301 in Georgia offered free Coca-Cola.  I stopped there in 2004 and Chris Allen wrote about it in 2010.  If you know of any, feel free to comment below.





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Deer Isle Bridge in Maine

As graceful a bridge that I ever set my eyes upon, the Deer Isle Bridge (officially known as the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge) surprisingly caught my eye as I was driving around coastal Maine one Saturday afternoon. About 35 miles south of Bangor, Maine , the Deer Isle Bridge connects the Blue Hill Peninsula of Downeast Maine with Little Deer Isle over the Eggemoggin Reach on ME 15 between the towns of Sedgwick and Deer Isle . It should be noted that Little Deer Isle is connected to Deer Isle by way of a boulder lined causeway, and there is a storied regatta that takes place on the Eggemoggin Reach each summer. But the Deer Isle Bridge holds many stories, not just for the vacationers who spend part of their summer on Deer Isle or in nearby Stonington , but for the residents throughout the years and the folks who have had a hand bringing this vital link to life.   The Deer Isle Bridge was designed by David Steinman and built by the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville,

Former US Route 99 through Athlone and the last Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor expressway

Athlone was a siding of the Southern Pacific Railroad located in Merced County on the alignment of what was US Route 99 between the cities of Chowchilla and Merced.  The Athlone corridor of US Route 99 was one of the first in San Joaquin Valley to fully upgraded to four lane expressway standards.  The Athlone expressway corridor was inherited by California State Route 99 when US Route 99 was truncated to Ashland, Oregon during June 1965.  The four-lane expressway through Athlone was the last segment of what had been US Route 99 in the Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor to be bypassed by a freeway.  The Athlone expressway corridor was bypassed by the modern California State Route 99 freeway in 2016.  Despite being put on a road diet and narrowed what was the Athlone expressway corridor still displays evidence of being part of US Route 99.   Above the blog cover photo displays the Athlone expressway corridor of US Route 99 south of Merced as depicted in the July 1939 California Highways &

California State Route 38

California State Route 38 is a fifty-nine-mile State Highway located entirety in San Bernardino County and a component of the Rim of the World Highway.  California State Route 38 begins at California State Route 18 at Bear Valley Dam of the San Bernardino Mountains and follows an easterly course on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.  California State Route 38 briefly multiplexes California State Route 18 near Baldwin Lake and branches east towards the 8,443-foot-high Onyx Summit.  From Onyx Summit the routing of California State Route 38 reverses course following a largely westward path through the San Bernardino Mountains towards a terminus at Interstate 10 in Redlands.   Pictured as the blog cover is California State Route 38 at Onyx Summit the day it opened to traffic on August 12th, 1961.   Part 1; the history of California State Route 38 California State Route 38 (CA 38) is generally considered to be the back way through the San Bernardino Mountains to Big Bear Lake of Bear Valley