The club also used the occasion to swear in its new president.
The Republicans Club of Longboat Key hosted its annual holiday party at the Harbourside Ballroom on Dec. 11, taking the time to not only celebrate but also usher in new leadership for the club.
In exchange for half off the price of admission, members could bring an unwrapped toy to place under the tree for Toys for Tots, leading to an overflowing Christmas tree at the ballroom's entrance.
Members spread out around the ballroom as they caught up on each other's holidays plans and happenings. Before dinner, Nancy McElmeel sang the national anthem and Santa (John Wheeland) led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
President Joe McElmeel told the gathered crowd it was with a heavy heart that he declined to seek another term.
"I thank you, our members, our previous board members, committee members, volunteers and our past presidents who have assisted me in making the Republican Club of Longboat Key great," McElmeel said.
McElmeel grew the club to 325 members by the end of his term and brought in 54 new members this year. Under his leadership, the club went from slightly struggling lunch meetings to robust dinner parties. He ends his runs with six years in the club's presidency and passes it onto Scott Gray.
Gray was sworn in with the rest of his board — Paul Hylbert and Chris Sachs and first and second vice presidents respectively, Jane Hunter as secretary and Bob Parish as treasurer — by the Sarasota Republican Party's acting chairman Jack Brill.