The Longboat Observer issues a request to readers every holiday season: Let there be lights.
We’re seeking lighted bushes and palm trees, shining Santas and reindeer displays and creative twists on the usual displays for our annual “Light Up the Keys” competition. And, every year, readers respond with their best and brightest decorations.
This year’s holiday season had many stars. There was Pelican Harbour & Beach Club, which showed its spirit with both Christmas and Hanukkah lights, including a white-and-blue menorah. There were the gold Arbomar decorations that always steal the spotlight. And Plymouth Harbor used the same creative red-and-white lights that earned it last year’s “Publisher’s Choice” award. But this year’s winners topped our “nice” list. So, read on to learn which properties made it look a lot like Christmas.
Publisher’s Choice | Promenade
Up on the condo top reindeer pause,
Out jumps good old Santa Claus.
We aren’t kidding about this one. Santa and his reindeer made it to the roof of the Promenade. But with last week’s heavy winds, Santa managed to jump not just out of his sled but off the roof of the condominium. The maintenance crew worked to restore the display just in time for our judges, and the condo community earned this year’s “Publisher’s Choice” award.
Properties hoping to snag the coveted honor next year, be warned: This display will be tough to top, because Promenade is 10 stories tall.
Before Santa’s early departure, Promenade’s maintenance team spent three days putting up decorations and used a ladder to haul materials up to the rooftop. According to Bob McFarlane, manager of
Promenade, this is the second year the community has had the rooftop display. This year’s display features additional icicle lights.
“We try to improve each year, and last year, we got an honorable mention,” McFarlane said.
First place | Bayport Beach & Tennis Club
All they wanted for Christmas was their new, front wreath.
At Bayport Beach & Tennis Club, the wreath, along with a new Joy sign, were the main additions to this year’s decorations.
“This year’s decorations are more contemporary than in the past,” said resident Pat Shutello, who organized this year’s decorations with neighbor Sue Orlowski.
The multi-colored wreath is suspended between two of the half-dozen or so palm trees at the property’s entrance that are wrapped in lights. It’s a bright idea that helped Bayport to take first place in this year’s competition for its classic, elegant decorations.
“We were very proud to be one of the winners,” Shutello said.
Second place | Beachplace
O, Christmas Tree! O, Christmas Tree!
How richly Beachplace has decked thee!
OK, so the trees aren’t your typical Christmas trees — they’re palm trees — but that’s what we love about Beachplace’s unique decorations. Earlier this year, Beachplace lost multiple palm trees to the unusually cold weather, so as a result, this year the community had just two palm trees to decorate.
But that didn’t stop Beachplace from being among the best and brightest. This year, Beachplace won second place with its red, green and gold lights that wrap around the two front palm trees, along with the ice lights and reindeer display that adorn the roof of the guardhouse.
Pool Manager Keena Robinette, who oversaw the decorating, said that this year’s decorations were pretty much the same as last year’s. The biggest challenge?
“The day that we decorated the palm trees had high winds,” Robinette said. “Trying to get (the lights) spaced evenly was difficult.”
Third place | Longboat Arms
Baby, it’s gold outside.
And red and green and blue.
This year, Longboat Arms shines so brightly with its colorful lights and decorations that it earned third place in the competition. Maintenance employee Adam Siedzik, who spends approximately three days putting up holiday decorations every year, said that he has used clear lights in past year’s competitions but decided to try something new this season.
“This year, I added some color to it,” he said.
Although they didn’t make our top-choices list, there were so many wonderful decorations this year, we have to give kudos to several dazzling displays. Honorable mentions went to: Longboat Harbour, Casa del Mar, the Arbomar, Beach Castle Resort, Little Gull Cottages, Beach Harbour Club, Longboat Terrace, Plymouth Harbour and the Sea Grape Inn.
Congratulations to all. We can’t wait to see what the Key will conjure up next year!
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]