Thursday, January 21, 2010

Economy, cold couldn't keep RV snowbirds from Florida

SEBRING - For Leon Bluhm, there was never a question of whether he would come here again.

"We just came." The Bluhms winter in a double-wide at Leisure Acres, a 400-unit mobile home and RV park in south Sebring. Before they return to Illinois in April, each of the three children and their families will visit, Bluhm (sounds like "bloom") will make religious symbols on his scroll saw, and he'll both work and volunteer on fix-it projects.

Highlands County has about 20,000 seasonal residents. They show up as early as November - when the Rust Belt weather turns frigid - and go home in the spring.

Last year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tanked at 6,600, their portfolios were cut in half, and snowbirds wondered if they could afford to come back to Florida again.

What a difference a year makes. The Dow is up 4,000 points, the Bluhms had a good year farming and - here's the deciding factor - the Canadian cold fronts have been pitiless.

A week ago, when the temperature dropped to 20 degrees here, it was -19 in Flint, Mich. Yesterday, Flint's expected high was 27. It's in the 80s here.
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