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‘Tween Waters kicks off Captiva Holiday Village with annual tree lighting ceremony

By Staff | Nov 17, 2010

Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and as locals check the Turkey Day tradition off their list, they set their sights on another yearly event that officially marks the opening of season on the islands: the annual tree lighting ceremony at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

But this year, things are going to be just a bit different.

“We have a little over 200,000 lights this year. We’ll have actors from the Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater singing Christmas carols, our great light show in front of the Old Captiva House and then, of course, fireworks — which are going to be bigger and better than ever,” said ‘Tween Waters General Manager Jeff Shuff.

Veterans of the annual Captiva event will know that the aforementioned

activities are pretty much standard protocol, but this year, the ‘Tween Waters tree lighting stands as the official kickoff event for the four-weekend Captiva Holiday Village — an extravaganza of events, Captiva culture and a tribute to the holiday season.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus (portrayed by John and Sherry Lucht) arrived at last year’s event by golf cart instead of the traditional sleigh.

“We were hoping that we would develop the Captiva Holiday Village over the next two or three years, but I think we really have something just in this first year,” Shuff said. “We just booked a club of 11 boats in for the boat parade.” Just under a month ago, the Roosevelt Channel holiday boat parade was just one of many ideas being tossed around — now, it’s a fully-coordinated event that is sure to attract many participants.

Throughout the duration of the Captiva Holiday Village, ‘Tween Waters will offer many events, including “Sunset Arias,” fire dancing, drum circles, fireworks and great live music.

The concept of the Holiday Village started with Denice Beggs of Royal Shell Real Estate and Paul McCarthy of McCarthy’s Marina. Their conversation took place in August and in October, they sent out a call to all Captiva business owners interested in revitalizing the island economy during the holidays.

Today, just a little over a month later, more than 50 businesses have signed on to the Captiva Holiday Village project.

But it’s turned into much more than just a business venture.

The ’Tween Waters’ Santa is back at his post and ready for another annual tree lighting ceremony — and the kickoff to the island’s inaugural Captiva Holiday Village.

We all wanted to create something that would be a phenomenon for residents and guests alike. All the businesses are acting in concert and everyone has been so supportive and just jumped right in. The generosity and camaraderie is what keeps the energy and enthusiasm going,” Beggs said. “It’s a big task, but it seems like it’s just flowed — like it was meant to be.

Drawing on Captiva’s tropical, artistic atmosphere, the Holiday Village will offer many events throughout the next four weeks, including a golf cart decoration contest and parade, opera on the beach, a boat parade, live concerts, cruises, live art demonstrations, library programs for children and a holiday market.

As always, Captiva will participate in Luminary Night on Saturday, Dec. 4, but this year, Captiva will also play host to a Skim USA PRO-AM Contest Dec. 11.

So far, Beggs is thrilled with the overwhelming response from islanders.

“It’s inspiring. All the residents and homeowners are getting excited as they see the lights and decorations go up, when they see the list of events. The buzz is on the street. But it’s more than just holiday spirit — it’s community spirit,” she said, noting that while she and McCarthy may have spearheaded the idea, it’s the people of Captiva that gave it momentum. “Paul McCarthy is so passionate about this and he’s one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. He really is amazing. But really, none of this would be happening if everyone hadn’t pitched in. I keep saying it takes a village, because it’s true. Each and every one of them come to meetings and run committees and it’s just amazing. No one person could do this.

For Beggs, the ‘Tween Waters tree lighting ceremony is the perfect way to open the new community-driven Holiday Village.

“The tree lighting ceremony and the Chapel By-The-Sea Christmas service — those are the things that always made my holiday on the island. We definitely plan on growing the Holiday Village every year with more decorations and events. This year we have awesome events and we hope that, like the ‘Tween Waters tree lighting, the Captiva Holiday Village also becomes a tradition,” Beggs said.

For more information and a full listing of events throughout the Captiva Holiday Village, go to www.CaptivaHolidayVillage.com‘>www.CaptivaHolidayVillage.com.

And remember — because the ‘Tween Waters Inn tree ceremony draws a large crowd every year, Shuff recommends that people arrive around 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26, and, if at all possible, try to walk or carpool to the event as parking space is limited. McCarthy’s Marina will also be offering a special Fireworks Cruise from 5 to 7 p.m. that night. Call 472-5300 for reservations.