Fifth Avenue tree lighting kicks off month of Naples holiday festivities

In December 2008 during the annual Naples Main Street Christmas Walk and Avenue of Lights, excited children help Naples Mayor Bill Barnett and Santa count down to the lighting of the 21-foot Colorado blue spruce Christmas tree in Sugden Plaza on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples. 'Is it going to snow in Naples?' Barnett asked the kids. (Jennifer Whitney/ staff)

In December 2008 during the annual Naples Main Street Christmas Walk and Avenue of Lights, excited children help Naples Mayor Bill Barnett and Santa count down to the lighting of the 21-foot Colorado blue spruce Christmas tree in Sugden Plaza on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples. "Is it going to snow in Naples?" Barnett asked the kids. (Jennifer Whitney/ staff)

For contact information and a more events visit http://www.naplesgov.com/Calendar.aspx

Thursday, Dec. 3 — Christmas Walk, Tree Lighting on Fifth Avenue South 6 to 9 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 8 — Christmas Parade on Fifth Avenue South 6 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 10 — Boat Parade at the Village on Venetian Bay 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 12 — Boat Parade at Naples Bay 6 to 9 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 13 — Chanukah Celebration and Menorah Lighting at the Village on Venetian Bay 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 16 — Chanukah Celebration and Menorah Lighting 6:30 p.m. Sugden Plaza

Thursday, Dec. 24 — Christmas Eve Service at Lowdermilk Park 6 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 31 — New Year’s Eve Fireworks at the Naples Pier 7:30 p.m.

Organizations across Naples are preparing to make December, as the classic Andy Williams melody goes, the most wonderful time of the year.

— The calendar is stuffed like a stocking full of holiday events from tree lightings to parades.

The first and possibly biggest event is Thursday’s Christmas Walk on Fifth Avenue South with tree lighting and entertainment. All the buildings are decorated.

“There’s Christmas lights up and down the street,” said Michele Klinowski, senior vice president of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. “It’s just a very festive, uplifting kickoff to the holiday season.”

The event is produced by the Downtown Naples Association, a division of the chamber.

Fifth Avenue South will close to car traffic as thousands of visitors are expected to witness Mr. And Mrs. Santa Claus join Mayor Bill Barnett in lighting a 20-foot pine in Sugden Plaza.

Bands, orchestras, carolers and choirs will usher in the holiday sounds.

“One of the great parts about it is it’s truly a family affair,” Klinowski said.

The event’s big draw lost its main sponsor this year as Congress Jewelers, who traditionally covered the cost of the $5,000 tree, left the street. Capital Wealth Advisors and the Law Office of Wilson & Johnson agreed to sponsor it this year.

“Sponsorships are tough right now and these two stepped up,” Klinowski said.

Next Tuesday, Fifth Avenue South will be host to another big draw, the Christmas Parade.

This year’s theme, The Magic of Christmas Past, will highlight more than the holiday spirits as entrants have been asked to design their floats around the history of the city of Naples, including the beach, railroads and Tamiami Trail.

Floats will be judged by members of the Oldtimers group, residents who have lived in the city since at least 1960.

“It’s a great fun time,” said Lois Bolin, cofounder of Naples Backyard History, which helped create the theme for this year’s parade.

“It’s a way to connect and be together, not only connect to the community spirit but learn a tad about their history.”

As many residents have struggled this year, some losing jobs or homes, the parade, as with all of the holiday events, can bring some reprieve.

“Even if it’s only for an hour or two that we’re in that spirit, a reprieve is good for the soul even if it’s only for a short time,” Bolin said.

She said she hopes residents will see lessons in resilience and perspective in the Oldtimers who lived through the Great Depression and both world wars.

Mike Leslie, the city’s assistant director of community services, said there are about 105 entries so far and the parade typically takes about 90 minutes to two hours.

A few days later, the city will be home to another parade, this time on the water for the 20th boat parade on Naples Bay. Dozens of boats decorated in a Caribbean theme will wind through the bay passing by the City Dock.

There is no entry fee but donations collected by entrants or others will be delivered to the Ricky King Foundation, a local charity that helps pay for medical bills and equipment for sick children.

Children and their families who have been beneficiaries of the foundation will have a front-row seat to the parade Saturday.

“If we can make a kid smile for about an hour and a half or so and the families relax a bit too ... we’ve done a good thing,” said Frank Perrucci, parade chairman and president of sponsor Marine Industries Association.

“If we can support them financially we’ve done another good thing.”

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features