Get ready to Light up Longboat. The fourth annual holiday lights event and toy drive is being held from 5:30-7 p.m. Nov. 26 at the Town Center Green on Bay Isles Road. The lights turn on at 6:30 p.m.
“The event is a lot of fun and a wonderful event that celebrates the start of the holiday season,” Chamber of Commerce President Gail Loefgren said. “It is also a great opportunity for us to showcase our nonprofit members who support the community.”
Along with the town of Longboat Key, the nonprofits participating this year are The Paradise Center, Save Our Seabirds, Longboat Key Turtle Watch, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Longboat Key Garden Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and the Players Center for Performing Arts.
Mike Sales will play holiday music, and Santa Claus will be taking selfies with the crowd. Normally, about 250 residents attend the free community event.
The Rotary Club of Longboat Key is hosting the toy drive. Attendees are encouraged to bring unwrapped toys valued at $15 to receive a raffle ticket for a $50 gift certificate to the Lazy Lobster.
Typically, the toys are collected for children of migrant workers in Arcadia, but this year, there is a bigger need in North Port and Englewood. The club is not leaving Arcadia out, but they're prioritizing the homeless victims of Hurricane Ian first.
"We'll work it all out. We just need the gifts," Rotary member Nancy Rozance said.
About 45 gifts were collected at last year's drive, but the need is greater this year. Rotary holds a wrap party the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. They have to ensure the toys are brand new.
"If the biggest problem is that I have to buy more wrapping paper, then God bless America," Rozance said.