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Answer Man

Even Parking Meters Take a Day Off

Photo By Norma Lopez Molina

Do I have to feed the downtown meters on weekends?

For on-street meters: never on Sundays or city holidays, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. all other days (the rate is $1 per hour). The rules are inside the plastic dome on top of every meter, although scratches on some make the print hard to read. Off-street meters, such as those under Interstate 4, are enforced 24/7.

Of the $15 million the city collects in parking revenue from garages and meters annually, $14 million comes from people who feed the street meters on Sunday though they don’t need to. No, not really. But stop doing it.

There’s an apparent urban legend (popular on the Web) that Orlando has an oddball ordinance requiring a fee for any elephant that occupies a parking space. But a city attorney researched the books back to 1927 and could find only an oblique reference to animals and parking, something about how a horse “or like animal’’ must be securely hitched to a post or left with “some competent person.’’ So avoid handing over the reins to a fool.

Answer Man did, however, find a true tale of goodwill being dispensed by a public servant: Scott Zollars, Orlando’s parking division manager, revealed that he carries around a meter debit card, “and I help people out if I see them fishing for change. I’ll just put my card in the meter and give them an hour as a public service. People love it.’’
Now if he could just teach us all to parallel park…

How do Christmas trees grown up North stay fresh on the journey to Florida?

Answer Man always assumed that refrigerated trucks played a role in the travel plans of trees. If supercooled air can keep a jar of Miracle Whip edible in your fridge for a year or two, then a Fraser fir should be no problem for a few days, right?

Such logic guarantees that Answer Man will never have a second career either as a health inspector or a Christmas tree farmer.

Turns out a tractor-trailer is quite cool enough without refrigeration, at least on trips from places like northern Michigan. That’s where Ron

Watson’s family has been growing Christmas trees for more than 50 years. Watson, who sells evergreens at three tented lots in south Seminole County, ships down 500 to 700 trees at a time in a 53-foot semi. Watson says the trees are cut at different times according to the depth of their dormant states (unlike politicians who all go dormant immediately after Election Day). The first trees cut are Scotch pines; Douglas firs are among the last.

So how do you, the buyer, keep a tree that’s used to the frozen North from dying quickly in our warmer winters? Make sure to get a fresh cut on the bottom before putting it into a tree holder so that the sap seal is broken and the tree can suck up moisture. Keep that water bowl filled. And, Watson advises, avoid putting the tree near heating vents or dehumidifiers, which could dry it out. Keep in mind that a lot of hard work has gone into your evergreen: It takes Mother Nature seven to 10 years to produce a 7-foot Fraser fir.

Answer Man welcomes your questions about the Orlando area. Send queries to answerman@orlandomagazine.com

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