MARCO ISLAND — Christmas marched a little closer over the weekend.
The Christmas Island Style street parade took over San Marco Road on Saturday evening, on a night so warm it felt like it could have been the Fourth of July parade, with nighttime temperatures in the 80s and a nearly full moon rising. Spectators lined the street several deep, and after participants finished their stint, they swelled the crowd, coming back in costume or carrying instruments to watch the rest of the entertainment.
Although this was the street parade, there was no shortage of boats pulled along on trailers and bedecked with Christmas lights, fittingly for an island. Sharon Doggett and Marcia Orsolini stood waving in the cockpit of the Marco Bay Yacht Club boat. The marching band from Marco Island Charter Middle School, 250 strong, was a crowd favorite, blasting a big sound. Lely High School’s Trojan Marching Band wore Santa hats, and a third band, the adults of the Florida Brass, marched and played as well. Riding in an Araba Shrine car, Walter Gorman did a solo version of “Jingle Bells” on his cornet, garnering applause.
The handbell choir of Marco Presbyterian Church was another highlight, along with trailer loads of adorable kids, such as those on the floats of Island Montessori Academy and the Girl Scouts. For Island Dance Academy, the little girls rode, but the big girls danced, wearing halos and angelic white.
Being in a wheelchair didn’t stop 99-year-old Mary Baer from coming out to enjoy the parade, or 89-year-old Virginia Myers from parading, her wheelchair ablaze with lights.
There were often long stretches of nothing between parade units, leading young Gigi Polito to ask, “Where’s the parade?” Some entrants, such as Myers’ wheelchair and Dale and Donna Rod’s decked out hog, took advantage of the extra time to make a bonus pass or two around the crowd.
The women of the Newcomers presented “Babes in Toyland,” dressing as toys and dolls carrying enormous gift boxes. Marco Island Firefighter of the Year Donny Jones rode the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Foundation with his wife Elaine.
The couple everyone was waiting for came last, as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus brought up the rear of the parade riding jet skis on a trailer followed by a truck blowing colored “snow.”