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As US border reopens, Canadian snowbirds hurry back to The Villages

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Canadian snowbirds, retirees who spend their winters down South, are headed back to The Villages now that the U.S. border has reopened to vaccinated travelers.

The Canadians’ club in The Villages — The Loonies and Toonies — has been out of commission for a year and a half.

Most of its 600 members were stuck in Canada, though some flew south and had their cars shipped or just used their golf carts.

Club president Dave Horsman says that’s about to change.

“In the next couple of days, there’s going to be a mass exodus from Canada of snowbirds in general,” he says. “But anybody who owns a house in The Villages is on their way or going to be on their way. And I think the renters will start to come back.”

Sally Hinds and her husband began driving down on Tuesday.

Hinds says she was humming “Welcome Back,” the “Welcome Back, Kotter” theme song by John Sebastian for weeks. Now as they hit the road in her Kia Soul, she says it’s “Nothing can stop me now.”

They’re very excited to the returning to their home in The Villages.

In March 2020, when the Canadians hurried home, they expected to be back that fall.

“It was very depressing last year, especially January, February and March,” Horsman says, “’cause not only were we not able to come to Florida, everything in Ontario, which is my province, pretty well shut down.”

Now as Horsman sees it, he is back to having “the best of both worlds.”

The club will have its first get-together — being vaccinated and wearing masks — with a Christmas party on Dec. 8.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.