The town of Longboat Key de“light”ed residents with a tree-mendous lighting event, known as Light Up Longboat, on Saturday, Nov. 30.
On the spot where the Amore Restaurant used to be, more than 100 adults, kids and dogs gathered for a neighborly meet-and-greet.
“You can see people really enjoy having a town center, having a place to gather like this,” said Carol Erker, who attended the event with the Rotary Club of Longboat Key.
Folks mingled in the space, enjoying snacks, drinks and holiday cheer with live music wafting through the crowd. Away from the crowd near the tents set up by organizations around town, families sat under the to-be-lit tree and kids chased each other around the trees' trunks.
The Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce was present as the sponsor of the community-driven event. Several island organizations set up tents at the event to raise money for their causes, as was the case of the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key and their Dec. 7 Lawn Party to benefit All-Star Children Foundation, to share their mission and reach out to the community as the Paradise Center of Longboat Key did or to chat with friends and sell a few poinsettias like the Garden Club of Longboat Key.
Santa Claus made an appearance with a few elves, and kids and adults alike flocked to the area for their Selfie with Santa. A few wish lists made it into Santa’s pockets from visiting children.
“Santa” was actually the Rotary Club of Longboat Key president Nancy Rozance, seated near her club as residents came to their table to donate toys and gifts for the club’s annual Toy Drive, which will be wrapped and donated to children of migrant workers in Arcadia.
Once it was time for the big reveal, town manager Tom Harmer pressed the button … and waited. Chamber of Commerce president Gail Loefgren came to assist with the technical difficulty and soon, Longboat Key’s bright Christmas was a reality.
The town of Longboat Key also addressed the future of the space and more events there in the future, indicating that like the tree, the future of the town center idea was bright.
“This is just the beginning,” Harmer said. “People have been asking for years to do something else like this.”