Hearts were full on Dec. 4 as St. Armands Circle hosted the lighting of its massive tree.
The tree, built from decorated wooden scaffolding, was the centerpiece for holiday happiness as groups, most in masks, loosely gathered in the inner circle park, on sidewalks and at benches around the area for the tree lighting. A light rain fell at times during the evening, but it didn't dampen spirits at all. Santa Claus tried to keep moving through the crowd, but a gaggle of his admirers was never far behind to slow his progress.
"It's so wonderful to see people excited," St. Armands Circle Association President Diana Corrigan said. "I think people needed that tonight."
Corrigan led attendees in a few Christmas carols before turning the microphone to Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody, who thanked everyone for coming and reminded that hope can be found, even in 2020. St. Armands Key Lutheran Church Pastor Ken Blyth said a prayer for essential workers, health workers and first responders, and the theme of hope even in dark times rang through.
"This tree will light and we will light with it," Blyth said. "May we be beacons of hope."