Published: Dec 04, 2011 4:33 AM EST
Updated: Dec 04, 2011 4:42 AM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Like Christmas in July, for a few precious minutes, snow fell over Cape Coral.

It wasn't a fluke of nature, but rather, the man-made feature families count on at the city's Festival of Lights.

The annual event was bigger than ever this year, drawing thousands to downtown. For no cost at all, those big and small boosted their holiday spirits with games, rides, food, and a little romp in a 2-ton snowpile, courtesy of a snow machine.

"This is the only snow experience they've ever had," said Chris Tilman, who came to the festival with his wife and two kids. "They've never seen real snow before."

Kids and adults got a chance to test their sledding skills, in weather that otherwise wouldn't have made a flurry.

"It was pretty cool because I haven't ever seen snow in Florida," said 9-year-old Haley Johnson, a first-time festival-goer.

White wasn't the only color this year either, as the festival swapped out its 10,000 tree lights for LEDs. According to the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce, that small green step will help save them energy and cash.

"It usually costs us $68 to do the lights for the tree for the whole year, it cost us like $8.10," said Bob Knickman, special events coordinator for the chamber.

And with a visit from Santa himself to cap off the night, and lighting of the city's Christmas tree, many consider this faux white Christmas a family tradition they can't live without.

"We want to raise our kids and give them good memories -- pleasant memories with their parents, and that's just one of those things this is part of," said Wayne Morosco, who comes every year with his family.