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Longboat Key's spirit is put on display

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  • | 5:00 a.m. December 14, 2011
First place for a single-family home goes to 681 Emerald Harbour Drive. Photo by: Rachel S. O'Hara
First place for a single-family home goes to 681 Emerald Harbour Drive. Photo by: Rachel S. O'Hara
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Rudolph’s nose isn’t the only thing glowing this year, because our island decorated full-out. Oh, little town of Longboat Key, how bright we see you shine with palm trees decked with ornaments, lawns mounted with glowing reindeer, trees gleaming with red, green, white and even blue. It just goes to show, there are no humbugs here.

Every year, we judge the radiant beams from the Key’s holiday light displays, because there’s nothing like a spirited competition to put a holiday bounce in one’s step.

Though winners aren’t getting an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot range model air rifle (because we were worried they’d shoot their eye out!) — they did receive something special. We now present the winners of our “Light up the Keys” contest with glad tidings of great joy.

Publisher’s choice
10 Lighthouse Point Drive — Hark! the herald — wait a minute, wrong paper — the Longboat Observer publisher sings, “Glory to, all the lights that can be seen!” Driving over the New Pass Bridge at night, the cheery light display at the Saputos’ Lighthouse Point home is such a warm welcome.

The columns, dock and palms at the home are wrapped in classic white lights, and white icicle lights are draped from the perimeter of the property. Each year this house tops our list as one to watch — and it should top your list as well!

The commercial category made it almost too close to call as to who would make it on our “nice” list this year. Honorable mention goes to the blue icicles covering the ceilings at McCarver and Moser; Crab and Fin’s red, green and white trio of trees; and the decorated boat at Cannons Marina.

First place: Café L’Europe, 431 St. Armands Circle: Three wise men (or women!) must have decorated Café L’Europe. With a huge “NOEL” sign on the roof with strings of lights trailing down toward the restaurant, you can’t miss this display. It’s the first year Café L’Europe has put up this display of lights, and it clearly proved its decorating prowess. They even dodged a potential decorating mishap when the 5-foot wreath they ordered was only 4 feet tall — but sent in a 5-foot box.

Second place: Plymouth Harbor, 700 John Ringling BLvd.: Oh, Christmas palm, Oh, Christmas palm, your lights are bright and merry! Plymouth Harbor won Publisher’s Choice in 2009, and this year it remained a standout. Every leaf of the large palm tree that sits in a median in the circle drive is decked-out with green lights; the trunk is wrapped with white lights; and there is a canopy of red-and-white lights stemming from the top of the tree to the ground. They did the job bright.

Third place: St. Armands Key Lutheran Church, 40 N. Adams Drive: Leave it to St. Armands Key Lutheran Church to have a “key” display. Our third-place winner’s modest and pretty lights cover the bushes surrounding the church, lights twinkle up the trunks of the palms and a star shines bright above a well-lit nativity scene.

It’s been a miracle on Gulf of Mexico Drive — almost every condominium was glowing, making it a tough decision for the Observer team. Our honorable mentions go to Tangerine Bay Club’s forest of palms and a bushel of lights in its display. Also on our list are the fantastic displays at Positano, Sea Grape Inn and Beach Castle Resort.

First place: Promenade, 1211 Gulf of Mexico Drive: Up on the housetop, the reindeer pause, and on the tip of the roof is good ol’ Santa Claus in our first-place winner’s display. Promenade won the Publisher’s Choice in last year’s competition, took second place in 2008, and this year it was awarded first place. The elegant display never ceases to amaze us — and put us in the holiday spirit!

Second place: Turtle Crawl Inn, 4235 Gulf of Mexico Drive: Turtle Crawl Inn is crawling with lights this year, enough to garner it second place. The condo went above and beyond, because every floor of the building has icicle lights hanging from the balconies.

Third place: Beachplace, 1109 Gulf of Mexico Drive: Beachplace is having a blue Christmas, but it’s not so sad when third place is involved. The bushes and tree trunks on the property are decked with white strands, and at the top are blue lights. Blue icicle lights adorn the roof of the security office, complete with a waving Santa, sleigh and reindeer on top. Santa hats off to Beachplace.

Single-family homes
Dashing through the Key in a horsepower-driven car, we passed great looking lights, for which people clearly spent a lot of time dressing their houses in their holiday finest. The honorable mentions go to many of the houses along Gulf of Mexico Drive that were festively fun.

First place: 681 Emerald Harbor Drive: And then it happened: We stopped the car suddenly and exclaimed, “Oh, holy lights!” The home at Emerald Harbor Drive glowed brighter than the rest — possibly because the homeowners forewent normal lights for the LED kind. They have candy canes and an angel, the gutters are lined with icicle lights and the bushes are alternately draped in colored lights and white lights. Although there are a lot of components to the display, everything works in perfect harmony.

Second place: 7061 Longboat Drive E.: Our second-place winner proves lights can be quaint and pretty. The Village home on Longboat Drive East features window boxes of red flowers containing white lights, spiraled-light Christmas trees in the yard and three glowing reindeer. The home’s decorations are simple and sweet.

Third place: 6901 Poinsettia: Our third-place winner is pretty as a present wrapped with a big red bow. The home, appropriately located on Poinsettia Drive in the Village, has a white picket fence adorned with red holiday bows and classic-white lights. There were red velvet bows on the trees and on the front door. Not to mention, the red flowers planted in the yard matched perfectly.


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