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Contrasting landscapes — Manatee’s and the frozen northland’s

Russ and Donna Lundstrom returned to Illinois to see family for Christmas.

Hooo, boy.

What a bad trip that was.

Especially for snowbirds like them who arrived in Bradenton like usual in November.

“Five below one day. Hadn’t seen that in a long time,” said Russ, 73, a winter resident from Huntley, Ill.

“An ice storm, big snow drifts, rain, flood conditions. Saw everything in two weeks time.”

“Couldn’t wait to get back here.”

Dick and Marge Trout can relate.

They usually arrive here in January, but left their home in Lancaster, Pa., first to visit family in Illinois for the holidays, too.

They took a chance and ran smack into the exact same weather.

“Cold and ugly,” said Marge, 73.

So it was good to get to Bradenton and feel the warmth of winter.

Ditto for other snowbirds, even if our town’s landscape has changed somewhat due to the economy.

They’ve noticed, all right.

“More for-sale signs,” Marge said.

“Golf course prices are way up,” Dick said.

“Our house has gone down (in property value),” said Sally Przybycin of Allison Park, Pa. “Milk and a loaf of bread have gone up.”

Some economic fallout has impacted snowbirds in other substantive ways.

Take retirees Ron and Joan Yunginger, also of Lancaster, Pa.

“Our income is down from the interest on our investments, so we’ve had to cut back so we could extend our income,” said Ron, 72.

“We cut back on going out to restaurants. We used to go out three, four times a week.

“Now, it’s maybe once a week. We’ve cut back on traveling, even though gas is cheaper than it was a year ago.”

On the positive side, they’re not having to pay exorbitant fuel costs to heat their Pennsylvania house in winter.

“We keep our expenses down,” he said.

Then there are Jo and Howard Cromie, snowbirds from Union City, Pa.

They’ve been wintering here for more than 20 years and aren’t letting the economy interfere with their sun and fun.

“No, thank God,” said Jo, 73. “Of course, our investments are (worth) half what they were, but we don’t use them. Hopefully, they’ll come back.”

Meantime, they’re eating out practically every night.

Going to the beach.

Seeing shows at Van Wezel and Manatee Players.

Shopping.

“We love it here,” she said.

So do their fellow snowbirds.

Like the Trouts.

“Good things overshadow the other things,” Dick said.

“People are helpful, the friendliness most places we go. And there are things to do.”

“And the weather,” Marge added.

“Yeah,” he said. “The weather.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification.

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