On its third year, the annual Light Up Longboat event is starting to branch out — from the cheerful offerings on hand to the expansion of the illuminated-for-the-holidays oak trees at Town Center Green. The third annual tree lighting saw its largest crowd on Nov. 27.
The holiday hullabaloo attracted families, from visitors to residents, to grab a cup of hot chocolate and take in the wintry Florida night. Nick Ponitz, visiting with his family for the second year in a row, said they saw the flyer for their event in their condo and decided to come check it out.
There was plenty to see, from 10 local organizations with informational tables stocked with candy and sweet treats set up around the burgeoning Town Center Green to Santa Claus doling out hugs and candy canes and finally, to the five oak trees covered in blue lights, thanks to the hard work of Casa Del Mar's Mark Meador and his team.
The Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce hosted the event along with the town, but other participants included the Longboat Key Turtle Watch, Save Our Seabirds, The Paradise Center, the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs of Longboat Key, the Longboat Library, Tidewell Foundation and the Longboat Key Garden Club.
Chamber President Gail Loefgren welcomed the crowd to the event and Mayor Ken Schneier went through a list of town projects and accomplishments during 2021 before lighting the tree. After a momentary bobble and a second countdown from the crowd, Schneier and Meador got the lights on, much to the delight of the assembled attendees. Kids ran to the glowing oaks to get a better look.
The Town Center Green is on its way to further upgrades in the coming year, with walkways, lighting and other facilities planned.