If there were any doubt the Christmas season is underway, Marco Island made it official Saturday evening. A crowd filled Veterans’ Community Park on a beautiful night, chowing down with friends and families at some football-style tailgate parties, took in some homegrown entertainment at the Christmas Island Style Tree Lighting Ceremony and then counted down as the switch was flipped on the tree.
Radio personality Dave Elliott emceed the event, introducing dance troupes from Island Dance Academy and Spotlight Dance Studio, singer Jim Long, and the New Life Choir from New Life Community Church, and New Life pastor Thomas McCulley intoned a blessing of the tree before the towering 30-foot structure, decorated with lights and oversized ornaments, was officially lit although if you had been watching intently over the last few days, you probably could have seen a quick test lighting to make sure all was in working order. Christmas Island Style board member Wanda Day was in charge of tree decorating and the evening’s entertainment.
Speaking of entertainment, the diminutive ballerinas onstage blew the needle on the cuteness gauge off the dial, as they stepped through a series of holiday numbers in their festive outfits, guaranteed to melt the heart of any grinches in the crowd. Rather than grinches, though, the front echelon of the audience seemed to be made up primarily of proud moms, recording their kids’ performances on a wide variety of cameras and cell phones.
“I love this time of year,” said Joe Granda, wearing his police auxiliary gear. “This is for the little kids, and it’s great to see them having a good time.” Granda said he thought there were not quite as many on hand as last year, when the crowd was estimated at over 1,000, but if there weren’t 1,000 people in the park, it was mighty close.
The next few weeks will be filled with Christmas Island Style activity, starting with a pet parade Tuesday, the Christmas Boat Parade Saturday, and “Three Wise Men and a Baby” at the Rose History Auditorium Dec. 5-8.
For more information, go to www.christmasislandstyle.com.