Free orange juice returning to Florida welcome centers

Tourists receive orange juice at the welcome station, 1977. (State Archives of Florida/Holland)

Free orange juice is set to return to state welcome centers next month.

On Wednesday, the Florida Citrus Commission approved a $250,000 contract with Visit Florida to start offering juice on July 1. Department of Citrus paperwork said the purpose of offering orange or grapefruit juice to visitors is “to increase awareness of the Florida citrus industry and its products.”

The freebie went dry last July, eliminated as the department made $4.1 million in cuts to promotional funding. But lawmakers this year got an assurance from the department that if $5 million was restored for promotional efforts, it would have enough money to restore juice at welcome centers.

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The commission approval came two days after welcome centers along Interstate 10 near Pensacola and Interstate 75 near Lake City were reopened from a coronavirus-caused closure, with the state providing free face masks to visitors.

Still not open is a welcome center along Interstate 95 and a Visit Florida kiosk inside the Florida Capitol, which remains closed to walkup visitors.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.