The downtown tree lighting event returned Dec. 2.
It's real work for Ron Soto and other organizers of Sarasota's downtown Christmas Tree Lighting every year. Between organizing the event, installing the 40 foot-tree in Selby Five Points Park, and scheduling with various groups, it can be a lot of work for the president of the Downtown Enrichment Association.
Last year didn't even have an event during the pandemic, with just Soto and then-mayor Hagen Brody turning on the lights themselves. This year had even more trouble — a vandal cut the tree wires, though they were repaired in time for the celebration.
Still though, the sight of the tree fully alight with children and families playing and posing makes it all come together for Soto.
"I'm really happy," Soto said. "When I see people gathered around (the tree) taking photos, it's all worth it."
Mayor Erik Arroyo and other city figures were on hand to mark the Dec. 2 occasion. Santa Claus himself returned to Sarasota to take photos with families.
The event featured another new addition — the Ring Sarasota hand bell community ensemble playing relaxing Christmas music to go along with the lights and cheer.
"We've been rehearsing since the beginning of August," Rick Holdsworth, president of the ensemble. "We like to share the joy of music through hand bells all year."
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