Marco Island's Christmas tree is up, now let’s light it up

The Christmas Island Style (CIS) committee started out the season in grand style last Friday night with the helicopter arrival of Santa at the Shops of Marco. It was the first such arrival for Santa by aerial transport and he was welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd of young and old alike.

With the assistance of volunteers from the Italian-American Club, the community Christmas tree was erected on Monday and plans went into high gear for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony to be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Veterans’ Community Park.

The morning started early as the city’s utility department delivered about 25 large boxes which housed the tree during its slumber over the last year, in addition to a number of large steel rings which make up the skeleton of the tree.

Soon volunteers were opening boxes and the initial four-hour process began to start phase one of the tree assembly. Assisted by a large lift truck from LCEC, the rings which make up the tree were assembled, attired with branches and sparkling new ornaments which the CIS committee purchased this year.

The intricate work of electrifying the tree was left to volunteers from Condee Cooling and Electric. Gregg Schneider was assisted by electrician Terry Minyard and joined by Carmen Dasti and Peter Ward who worked well into the afternoon to complete phase two of the job. Schneider and Minyard will complete the project during the week and be ready for the Saturday evening’s event.

This year CIS purchased approximately $3,000 worth of new ornaments for the tree through their fundraising activities which continue throughout the season. Wanda Day and Kris Hodgdon, who helped to order the new ornaments, were on-site to help place them and admire their choices.

This year celebrity radio talk radio host Dave Elliott will again be the master of ceremonies for the event, which will feature a number of talented local performers. This event is now in its third year at the Veterans’ Community Park as it outgrew the old venue at a local shopping center.

Entertainers this year will be Stan Goeber and Johnny Angel, along with Island favorites Frankie Ray and MaryEllen in addition to Ron Farlow, a newcomer to Marco Island who will be singing a song he composed. The Charter Middle School Choir will also be singing festive holiday songs and we’ll have Sabrina Williams charm us with her beautiful voice. The Island Dance Studio and the Spot Light Dance Studio will also have children, age 5 to 13, showing their best moves for us all.

In addition to a great evening of song and dance the CIS committee will introduce the winner and runner-ups from the Charter Middle School for the 2011 Christmas Ornament Design Contest. The winner will be presented a $100 U.S. Savings Bond and the honor of having his/hers design chosen for the 2011 ornament that will be sold next season.

Islanders will also have the winning ticket drawn for a $3,000 professionally decorated Christmas tree. The tree was donated as part of the fundraising efforts of the committee and tickets will be available that evening, or by visiting the Chamber of Commerce or the Marco Florist, 178 South Barfield, where the tree is on display.

Hot chocolate and refreshments will be on sale at the event and the proceeds will go to help fund the sporting programs run by the Optimist Club on Marco. The Optimist run a wide range of team sports from football, soccer, basketball and baseball and all children are welcomed.

Islanders and guests alike should bring their lawn chairs and dress comfortably as they join their neighbors and friends for a great evening of fun and entertainment at the Veterans’ Community Park.

If you go

Tree Lighting Ceremony

WHEN: 6 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Veterans’ Community Park, Park Avenue and Elkcam Circle

© 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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