Annual festival brings winter wonderland to Keys
December 5, 2018
ISLAMORADA — With an appropriate theme of “Holiday Magic and Wonder,” the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce will conjure up a snowstorm Dec. 7 for its 14th annual Christmas celebration at Founders Park.
Santa and his helpers arrive at the Plantation Key park’s bayside beach for the Holiday Festival, from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday at mile marker 87.
“We’re going back to the beach by popular demand,” said chamber Executive Director Judy Hull. “Everyone loved being on the beach last year.”
Part of the “Holiday Magic and Wonder” will create a 30-ton mountain of snow along the shoreline and feature “a 35-foot tree blowing magical snow from its branches.”
The snow may get a mystical boost from Bastille, a mentalist who will serve as grand marshal of the Holiday Festival Parade at 7 p.m.
Bastille also goes by the name of Henry Rosenthal. The 2018 festival theme pays tribute to Rosenthal’s 10 years as Islamorada chamber president.
“Those were the early days of our chamber, and we like to reach out to recognize the contributions of our founders,” Hull said.
“I am absolutely looking forward to it and I am quite highly honored,” said Rosenthal, who also owned the Green Turtle Inn and other Islamorada businesses.
Islamorada Chamber of Commerce President Rick Freeburg expects a nice turnout for the Holiday Festival Parade.
“We think people are going to have a great time with the theme of ‘Holiday Magic and Wonder,’” Freeburg said. “It makes ideas for creating floats fun and easy.”
“People are having a lot of fun with that,” Hull agreed. “The parade could be bigger than ever.
The parade route is confined to roads inside Founders Park, with judges awarding prizes in different entry categories. Some spaces for parade entries may still be available. Interested groups can contact the chamber at 305-664-4503.
While the huge snow mountain serves as a centerpiece amid predicted island temperatures from the mid- to low-70s, the Holiday Festival offers a wide range of gift ideas and dining, including “Santa’s Sweet Shoppe.”
An annual highlight of the Holiday Gift Bazaar will be a silent auction for up to 50 Christmas ornaments created by many of the Upper Keys’ top artists. A percentage of the ornament auction will be returned to support Islamorada’s arts community.
“This auction has become really popular,” Hull said. “The ornaments are auctioned individually, so it’s a chance to add a masterpiece to your holiday collection.”
Live entertainment and photos with Santa also will be featured.