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Attendance at Polk nature reserve where massive gator went viral up roughly 60 percent

Posted at 6:33 PM, Mar 22, 2017

The secret is out in Polk County.

The nature reserve where the huge gator went viral sauntering across the path, is now seeing bigger crowds than ever before.

RELATED: Video of HUGE gator in Lakeland goes viral

Circle B Bar Reserve is Polk County estimates it’s crowds are up roughly 60 percent compared to a couple years ago.

The estimate is based off an unscientific count of cars entering the park over a week’s time.

“We for years said Circle B is the hidden gem of Polk County, but maybe it’s not so hidden anymore,” said Tabitha Biehl, Environmental Lands Stewardship Coordinator for Polk County Parks.

Biehl said they started noticing an uptick in attendance a couple years ago.

“You won’t see billboards driving to Florida, you won’t see large media events. It’s really all word of mouth, people sharing it with their families,” she said.

Of course two months ago, they had more eyeballs on the reserve than ever before when the video went viral.

Officials have no way of knowing how much of an impact that video had on attendance, but they know it counts for some.

Regulars are quick to point out the downside of all the attention: they tend to miss the smaller, more peaceful crowds.

“Well I’m telling everyone I know, it’s very nice,” said Linda Turner, who’s visiting here from Kentucky.

For those looking for the smaller crowds, the county recommends people try one of their other “hidden gems.” A list of the public reserves and parks can be found at polknature.com.

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