In 2020, residents of Gulfshore are creating their own cheer for the season.
At Gulfshore on Longboat Key, a group of women decided that everyone needed a little Christmas, so they hauled out the holly, turned on the brightest string of lights and decked the halls again now for a neighborhood-wide effort of lights, decorations and tributes for the holidays.
President Iris White asked residents to make a little extra effort to decorate their homes this year and while they didn’t get the entire neighborhood twinkling, there are extra lights and displays around.
“Every year we do some lights, but in (the) spirit of a bit more joy, there was just a feeling we needed to uplift spirits and put forth a bit more effort,” resident and helper Kathy Rylander said.
Gulfshore always does the front office and main street with lights, but went further into the common areas like the dock, which Heigle wrapped with lighted garlands. Several units sparkle like never before, and the base of the tree that usually serves as the spot of the neighborhood tree lighting is framed with poinsettias honoring Buck Wendt, an active resident who died earlier this year. Because the tree is near the dock where guys come back from fishing, it’s lovingly, laughingly, referred to as the “Liar’s Tree.”
“Last year when we had the tree lighting ceremony, I changed the lyrics to ‘O, Liar’s Tree’ instead of ‘O, Christmas Tree,’” decorator Kay Heigle said.
Even in the clubhouse, which usually hosts a bevy of Christmas parties, is a tree that is just so 2020. Nancy Kryway created the COVID-19 tree, complete with a garland of mini masks, a vaccine ornament, hand sanitizer and a Minion ornament that screams when someone strays too close. Kryway wasn’t even sure if there would be a tree in the clubhouse this year, not only because there won’t be holiday parties, but also because the neighborhood, including the clubhouse, flooded during Tropical Storm Eta.
“The flood really caught a lot of people unprepared,” Rylander said. “We’re making the extra effort to pull ourselves up and bring extra spirit.”
The ornamental organizers have gotten a good deal of thanks from their neighbors as they all walk through the neighborhood. A few years ago, Heigle’s church passed out a “recipe for holiday joy” around Christmas — a few cups of love, a healthy serving of goodwill towards man — so this year she modified it for holiday joy during a pandemic. She went around leaving it on neighbor’s doorknobs, trying to stay anonymous, but got caught a couple of times.