A huge crowd swelled to capacity for the annual Christmas Eve celebration at Lowdermilk Park. Many began the evening on the beach and were treated to a classic sunset. At dark the service got underway with music by the Mega Ministries Celebration Church and help from the Holy Mackerels Band. A well received sermon was delivered and the event closed with the lighting of a candle by each individual in attendance.
The Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium Arbor Lights Festival featured wildlife, a Christmas laser light show, hot chocolate, a lighted woodland boardwalk and Santa plus a "green decorating" theme and contest where inventive individuals and organizations vied for the best "green" or recycled tree. The winner turned out to be artist Brad Hermann. In the meantime the throngs of families strolled the premises sampling everything from fresh snacks, a pose with a python and a photo with Santa.
Waves of passengers passed through Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers on Thursday afternoon. While travel experts expect large crowds this holiday season, overall holiday air travel, both locally and nationally, is expected to drop compared to previous years because of higher ticket prices, fewer flights and reduced seating capacities.
The 2nd graders at Tommie Barfield Elementary entertained a holiday crowd performing "flakes" complete with dialogue & song directed by music instructor Lisa Braren. With outside temps at 80 or so the kids seemed to get a kick out of performing the snowy themed show. Next the "Morning Musicians", dedicated 4th & 5th graders sang a set entitled "Jingle Bell Jukebox" putting their own spin on holiday classics like Jingle Bell Rock and Let It Snow. The perfect start to their Christmas break.
Saturday night Isle or Capri residents were treated to the biggest holiday boat parade the island community has seen yet. The annual event, now in its eighth year, boasted 15 boats. From larger-than-life reproductions of Santa's sleigh (complete with reindeer and all), to a giant dragon that exhaled smoke (made by shooting flour out of an air compressor), this year's boat parade was not-to-be-missed.
Christmas Island Style continued on Marco with the 24th annual parade. An obviously widely popular event, the streets were lined with people in anticipation of a parade started by a motorcycle escort, local color guards and a procession of floats and performances by local businesses, schools and civic organizations. Afterwards the judges met and will announce this years winning floats within 8 categories.
Naples First Church of the Nazarene opened their annual Live Nativity on Friday night. The free Nativity event will be running both Saturday and Sunday from 6-8 at the church located at 3100 Bailey Lane in Naples. This is the fourth year the church has had the event.
The Naples Concert Band drew an even larger holiday season crowd to 5th Avenue than usual. Divided into musical sections like trumpets, saxophones, percussion and more with each playing 45 minute sets they anchored a busy evening that included other entertainment along the avenue. A forty year tradition, the band provides scholarships to high school and college aged students who audition to play with the band with annual awards totalling around $6,000.
"Cirque Dreams Holidaze" runs Dec. 27-Jan. 1 at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. Tickets are $26, $36, $46 and $61. A 25% off military discount is available in person at the box office for all Active Duty, Reserve and Guard personnel with military ID. Call (239) 481-4849 or online at www.bbmannpah.com.
"Winter Wonderettes" will run Dec. 16-31 at the BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel. Tickets are $42 for adults and $20 for children. Call the theater box office at (239) 472-6862 or (239) 395-0900; e-mail info@BIGARTS.org; or log on to www.BIGARTS.org.
The waterways of Marco Island were filled with the ‘Christmas Spirit’ as Christmas Island Style put on the 24th Annual Christmas Island Style ‘Boat Parade’. Islanders and visitors packed the Snook Inn, the Esplanade, houses and vacant lots along the parade route. The 17 boats entered in the parade were competing in five judging categories. The winners were: Best in Parade – Marco Mania, Best Holiday Spirit – Cecelia, Most Creative – Gem Remotes, Most Entertaining – FunFun, Pople’s Choice – Gem Remotes.