Despite a low turnout and early start, island kids kicked off the annual Christmas Island Style celebration with a Turkey Trot at the Marco Island YMCA on Saturday.
The event was divided into four events: a coloring contest, a Diaper Derby for infants, a Come to Mommy/Daddy race for toddlers and 25-yard and 50-yard dashes for kids up to 8 years old.
"We didn't have a 'ginormous' turnout, so we blended the races together," said Stephanie Pepper, a childcare supervisor at the facility. "Everyone who came got to race and everyone who came had a blast."
Maria Petrella, a visitor from Farmington Hills, Mich., brought her two children, Isabella and Mario, to take advantage of a family event while on vacation.
"We heard about it in the paper and we were looking for a kid-friendly thing to do," she said. Isabella, 9, and Mario, 4, both placed in their prospective races.
It wasn't too hard to win, "but it was sorta hard," Isabella said.
Christmas Island Style will continue for the next month. The next event will be Santa's Arrival at the Shops of Marco on Friday.
After years of organizing the event, McFarland's of Marco owners Joyce and Shelly McFarland will be handing over the reins for coordinating Santa's visit to Marco Island to Deb and Bill Schroeder, owners of Salon and Spa Botanica.
"It's been great fun," Deb said. "What could be more exciting than welcoming Santa to the island? We're his first stop."
During Santa's visit, a sidewalk party, hosted by participating shops in the center, will be treated to a sidewalk party with treats, eggnog and special sales.
Also, performer J Roberts will be performing island-style Christmas music on steel drums and the Naples Orchestra will be performing more traditional arrangements of carols.