Fifth Avenue South tree lighting begins at 6 tonight

Don Ehrmentraut, a designer at Deck the Halls, hangs decorations on a 14-foot temporary Christmas Tree outside the Sugden Theater on Fifth Ave South in Naples on Dec. 3, 2009. The Fifth Avenue Christmas tree lighting festival was postponed until today because of inclement weather. Tomorrow the 20-foot tree will be set up and decorated, and the temporary tree will be donated to a local non-profit organization. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN

Don Ehrmentraut, a designer at Deck the Halls, hangs decorations on a 14-foot temporary Christmas Tree outside the Sugden Theater on Fifth Ave South in Naples on Dec. 3, 2009. The Fifth Avenue Christmas tree lighting festival was postponed until today because of inclement weather. Tomorrow the 20-foot tree will be set up and decorated, and the temporary tree will be donated to a local non-profit organization. Greg Kahn/Staff

— Fifth Avenue South will close at 4 p.m. today for the annual Christmas Walk.

The annual event will include the lighting of the Fifth Avenue South Christmas tree, but event organizers said this morning visitors to downtown Naples shouldn't expect the same old event.

“We've kicked it up a notch,” said Cathy Christopher, a spokeswoman for the Downtown Naples Association. “I think it's the most spectacular night of the year on Fifth Avenue South.”

This year's event will last from 6 to 9:30 p.m., and will feature live music, bands, dance troupes and choirs. Naples Mayor Bill Barnett will light the tree at 6 p.m., and Santa Claus will make an appearance.

Lisa Swirda, the executive director of the Downtown Naples Association, said the event usually attracts about 5,000 people. She said she doesn't think the chilly temperatures will deter people from coming out tonight.

“That's what it's about,” she said. “Christmas.”

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