It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas on St. Armands Circle.
The Holiday Night of Lights was the place to be for holiday spirit on Dec. 1. All the businesses on the Circle were decked out in holiday decor for the annual tree lighting.
The Holiday Night of Lights is held in partnership with Flight to the North Pole, a charity that provides financial and emotional support to terminally ill children and their families in Sarasota.
“This is literally the perfect way to start the holiday season,” said Carol McCarthy, who attends the event every year with her friends. “We always get dinner on the Circle first and then get to see the special presentation of the tree being lit up. It is an absolutely gorgeous tree, and we also love dressing up festively so it really is quite a special night.”
The presentation started with the annual Christmas carol sing-a-long. Families were also able to take photos with Santa. There were special performances by different groups such as the Sarasota Academy of the Arts and Future of Dance. Then, the St. Armands Circle Association led the count down to illuminate the 60-foot Christmas tree.
Kandais Williams said that her family never misses the Holiday Night of Lights.
“I just love that there are so many things like caroling and seeing Santa,” said Williams. “The tree is just incredible. It is a special family tradition for us to get into the holiday spirit and get involved in our community as well.”
The holiday magic continued a little ways away at the St. Armands Key Lutheran Church with a live Nativity scene.
The cast comprised families from around SAKLC along with two donkeys and two camels. Pastor Kenneth Blyth said the church has been putting on this live Nativity scene for years as a community building tradition that people look forward to every year.
SAKLC also had a special performance by dancers from the Sarasota Contemporary Dance Company. Then they led another Christmas carol sing-a-long for all their guests.
“There was a guy who came up to me almost two years ago,'' said Blyth. “He was just moved by the Nativity scene. He was an older guy who just moved from New York. He said ‘It's my first Christmas in Florida, and I thought it wouldn't feel like Christmas, but you guys did it.’ It is just amazing to see everyone, especially the kids, light up when they come.”