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Festival of lights tonight in downtown Cape

By Staff | Dec 5, 2009

The annual Holiday Festival of Lights will jump-start the holidays today, from 4-10 p.m. in downtown Cape Coral.
Organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral and presented this year by Comcast, the festival is expected to draw a crowd to the city’s downtown.
Attendance for the Holiday Festival of Lights has grown quite a bit over the past five years, said Chamber of Commerce Special Events Director Bob Knickman.
The event, which attracted between 2,500 to 3,000 in its infancy, has grown to an attendance of about 20,000 people.
“It’s going to happen snow or shine,” Knickman said about the festival, addressing reports of predicted wet weather.
He said the Chamber of Commerce will begin to shut down the road at 8 a.m. today, so they can begin to get everything together for the Festival of Lights celebration.
The Holiday Festival of Lights will feature a tree lighting, a visit from Santa Claus, holiday performances from local schools, churches and organizations.
A free snowdrift slide, pictures with Santa Claus and a Tiny Tots Christmas Train Ride also will be available for everyone to enjoy next Saturday.
Knickman said the Comcast Holiday Festival of Lights will again include the city’s official tree lighting ceremony, which will begin between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday night in the Big John’s parking lot.
Directly after the ceremony, Santa will make an appearance, to hear all of the children’s wish lists for Christmas morning.
Knickman said the festival will feature 25 tons of ice, which will be shaved down to snow to create a snowdrift slide for all those children who live in Florida who have never experienced snow before.
The second annual gift basket auction, a silent auction, will feature holiday gift baskets worth $100 that nearly 40 Cape Coral Chamber members decorated and donated for the event. The baskets are all themed, providing those who buy raffle tickets with the opportunity to choose a personalized basket.
Knickman said all the money collected from the gift basket auction will go towards the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, which provides scholarships for local Cape Coral high school students.
A holiday drive, added for the first time this year, began because the Chamber wanted to help out those who are struggling this holiday season.
Toys may be dropped off at a tent set up by the tree the day of the event.
The chamber hopes that people are in the giving spirit this year, he said, adding that the more people who step up, the more families that can be helped.
The Cape Coral Community Foundation will match up to $5,000 dollar for dollar, which will allow the Chamber to use those funds to buy food and clothing for those who are not able to purchase things for their families.
Knickman said as of Friday morning, through the Chamber’s efforts, which includes the matching funds of the Cape Coral Community Foundation foundation, a total of $3,500 has been raised prior to the event.
The event also will have paid attractions, three different food courts and tree performance areas highlighting Christmas performances by local schools, churches and dance groups.
There will be approximately 70-80 vendors set up during the Festival of Lights celebration.
Knickman said he wanted to give a special thank you to all of the sponsors for the Comcast Holiday Festival of Lights and he 50-60 volunteers who are giving up their time to give the citizens a special event.
He encourages everyone to come out and participate in the event and kick off their holiday season with the community.
Cape Coral Parkway will close at 10 a.m. Saturday between 15th Avenue and Leonard Street and open again at midnight.