Fireworks, Santa's arrival highlight opening of Holidays on the Green in greater Lakewood Ranch area.
The magic of the holiday season this year is growing with carousel rides, horse-drawn carriage rides and other new activities at Benderson Development’s holiday village center, called Holidays on the Green.
Cliff McHenry, the director of property management at Benderson Development, said that Benderson and its contractors have strung more than 100 miles of holiday lights along the University Town Center corridor in preparation for the Christmas season.
On Nov. 15, Santa Claus will arrive at The Mall at University Town Center, fireworks will go off, the holiday lights will be turned on, and the annual Holidays on the Green activity center will be open to the public.
“It’s a special time of year for so many people,” McHenry said. “The reward is seeing the smiles and happiness that it brings to so many people in the community. We’re fortunate to have a great group of contractors and a strong Benderson team. We work closely and tirelessly to get the job done.”
What started as McHenry’s wish to re-create a festival he saw in James Island, S.C., has evolved into Holidays on the Green, a weeks-long celebration of the Christmas holiday season at Benderson’s University Town Center shopping districts.
Contractors have unloaded and installed two warehouses full of holiday decor and prepared a new site for Holidays on the Green, to be located south of the mall adjacent to the lake at Nathan Benderson Park.
Last year’s site is currently under construction for the future Barnes & Nobles book store on Cattlemen Road.
McHenry said this year’s event will offer some new family fun, including horse-drawn carriage rides, carousel rides, and tram and self-guided bicycle tours of the holidays lights display around a lake at Nathan Benderson Park. And, of course, there will be the usual vendors, ice skating and ice sledding, live music, dance performances and weekly movies.
“We try to build on previous successes,” McHenry said. “This is a great opportunity. It will be spectacular.”
Benderson will also be collecting canned good donations for All Faiths Food Bank. A giant can display will be the holding spot for all nonperishable items donated. McHenry said Benderson hopes to collect at least a ton of food.