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Longboat Key Monday, Dec. 23, 2019 5 months ago

Island lights: Not a filament of the imagination

See "watt" we're talking about with Longboat Key's magical Christmas lights.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

'Tis the season for Longboat Key to come alive with Christmas lights. There's no way to have a white Christmas down in Florida, but we can have a bright Christmas.

The Observer's elves took to the streets in a sleigh (er — Nissan Sentra) of our own to find the most spirited houses on the Key. We invite you to "light"en up, take a drive down GMD to gawk at the sights, or travel off the beaten path to find the most festive hidden gems. Christmas is looking pretty bright on Longboat Key. 

Longboat Harbour Condominiums

One of Longboat Key's largest complexes went big with their docks this year. All 50 were aglow with Christmas spirit and a significant amount of lights, inflatables and scene-setters. If you find yourself behind the front gates of the community, stroll around the entire harbour to see every last festive scene. Floridian takes on Christmas, including Santa in flip-flops and creeping gators, were common themes. 

Longboat Harbour's 50 docks were all decorated this year.

Rolling Waves Cottages

The Rolling Waves Cottages beckon you to the beach.

These cottages on the north end of the island beckon in those who may be strolling along the sidewalk and offer a quick, magical glance at a Floridian winter wonderland. A tunnel of trees leading back to the property's beach access point is draped in lights, leading to a massive Christmas tree and this friendly snowman who beckons guests to the beach. 

Along the main road in Spanish Main Yacht Club, this house twinkles merry and bright.

820 Spanish Drive South

Spanish Main Yacht Club beckons passers-by into the neighborhood with its dazzling display at the entrance, including angels, presents and tree-mendous scenes. Festive houses abound within the neighborhood as well, like this one, with its friendly characters and welcoming wreaths. 

Behind the joyous snowpeople, a dog of lights deposits a letter into Santa's mailbox.

5290 Emerald Harbor Drive

A festive stretch of street in Emerald Harbor includes this house, with its feel-good scenes of winter characters, surrounded by brilliant trees. This is just one side of the heartwarming display. The other side features a puppy depositing a letter into Santa's mailbox. Bonus points for the "Aww" factor. 

Turtle Crawl Inn and Resort stick with simple decorations and lights.

Turtle Crawl Inn and Resort

The resort faces Gulf of Mexico Drive and has fairly simple decorations and lights, but the sandy color of the building makes its wreaths and white lights stand out. Something about the minimalist approach recalls classic decor of Christmases past and makes us wish we were on one of those balconies with a mug of hot chocolate. 

Far back on St. Judes Drive, blowup characters greet the street.

750 St. Judes Drive

You can almost hear this house as you approach, should you find yourself on the bay side of the island. In addition to the more relatable depiction of Santa Claus, the Peanuts characters, festive fish and another Santa Claus (on a water ski this time) line the front yard of the house, which takes the display to the next level with a string of multicolored lights along the roof. 

761 Fox Street

This Village beauty is one of our favorites. The projected green lights twinkle softly on the white house, and the plants and palms around the front yard give it a distinctly Florida feel. Small touches to make everyone feel merry and bright, like a "JOY" sign in the front window, capture the Christmas spirit at this house. 

The Gulfshore office is merry and bright.


The front office of the Gulfshore property welcomes guests in with a wintry scene. This display is one of many vibrant ones along the stretch of GMD just before Bayfront Park that has only the gulf on the other side. Will you seek a glimpse of the ocean, or a glimpse of Christmas? We'd understand either way. 

Bright bushes front this house on El Centro Drive.

691 El Centro Drive

Multicolored bulbs brighten the bushes and palm trees in front of this house on the north end of the island. The thorough lightbulb-ing of all major surfaces in this yard make for a whimsical and merry display. The exuberant colors combined with the quintessential Christmas wreath put us right in the Christmas spirit. 

The 55-foot tree on St. Armands Circle is always a favorite.

St. Armands Circle tree

And last, but certainly not least. The massive tree brightens the spirits of all those who enter Longboat Key from the south end. The whole Circle does, with bright white lights and wintry designs draping pretty much every light post and statue in the area. If you want a photo, there's an easy vantage point just across one lane of the Circle, but you may have to wait a while if you want a solo shot of the spruce. Folks stop for photos constantly, but it's likely their Christmas spirit will prove contagious. 

Nat Kaemmerer is your Longboat Key community reporter. She earned a bachelor's degree in magazine arts and culture journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2019 and has lived in Florida or Missouri her whole life. 

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