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

The Midway Palm and Pine of US Route 99

Along modern day California State Route 99 south of Avenue 11 just outside the City limits of Madera one can find the Midway Palm and Pine in the center median of the freeway.  The Midway Palm and Pine denotes the halfway point between the Mexican Border and Oregon State Line on what was US Route 99.  The Midway Palm is intended to represent Southern California whereas the Midway Pine is intended to represent Northern California.  Pictured above the Midway Palm and Pine can be seen from the northbound lanes of the California State Route 99 Freeway.   The history of the Midway Palm and Pine The true timeframe for when the Midway Palm and Pine (originally a Deadora Cedar Tree) were planted is unknown.  In fact the origin of the Midway Palm and Pine was referenced in California's Gold Episode #608 during which Huell Howser examined numerous points claimed to be the Center of California.  During Episode #608 Huell Howser interviews Caltrans employee Bob Thompson who emphasizes there wa

Erie Canal: Little Falls and Moss Island

  Little Falls, New York is a small city in the Mohawk Valley that has been shaped by the forces of water throughout its history. Nowhere in Little Falls is that more evident than at Moss Island. Representing the Industrial Age, this is home of Lock 17 the tallest lock along the Erie Canal, but there is also evidence of the Ice Age in the form of 40 foot deep glacial potholes from when there was an ancient waterfall that was even larger than Niagara Falls at this spot, once draining Glacial Lake Iroquois when other outlets (such as the St. Lawrence River) were blocked by retreating glaciers. While Little Falls does not have the amount of industry around the river and canal than it once had, checking out what Moss Island has to offer is a great way to see what the city has to offer. Visiting Moss Island allows you to experience the engineering marvel that is the Erie Canal plus the wonders of nature by taking a hike around the island and seeing the glacial potholes. A

California State Route 33 and legacy of US Route 399 on the Maricopa-Ventura Highway

California State Route 33 is a 290 mile (about 323 including multiplexes) State Highway spanning from Ventura at US Route 101 north to Interstate 5 near Tracy.  California State Route 33 offers a scenic alternate from the Pacific Coast over former US Route 399 via the Ventura-Maricopa Highway to San Joaquin Valley.  Within San Joaquin Valley California State Route 33 largely is known as the main street connecting it's western communities.  Depicted above is an overlook of California State Route 33 and the Maricopa-Ventura Highway snaking through Wheeler Gorge.  Pictured below is reverse view of the Maricopa-Ventura Highway shortly after it opened in October 1933.  The Maricopa-Ventura Highway would become part of US Route 399 in 1934 and would be absorbed into California State Route 33 in 1964.   The present alignment of California State Route 33 can be observed below.   Part 1; the history of California State Route 33 The origin of modern California State Rou