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Holiday Festival of Lights: Cape Coral hosts start of the season

By Staff | Dec 4, 2014

Kick off the yuletide season with the CenturyLink Holiday Festival of Lights on Saturday.

Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral, the event will feature an official tree lighting ceremony and a visit by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. In its 22nd year, the festival will also include live performances on three stages, a 25-ton Snow Drift Slide, Tiny Tot’s Train Ride and youth activities.

It takes place along Cape Coral Parkway, between Southeast 15th Avenue and Candia Street.

“The CenturyLink Holiday Festival of Lights is one of those events that truly brings this community together,” Donna Germain, a spokeswoman for the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral, said.

“It’s filled with family traditions, like the Tabor family decorating the official Cape Coral Christmas Tree for the last 22 years or school choirs and dance groups giving their holiday performances for the community,” she said. “Many of us who work for the chamber or volunteer for this event have grown with it; some of us performed here as children, some of us have grown children who are now bringing their children to enjoy this community tradition.”

On average, approximately 20,000 people attend the festival every year.

“Last year and every year, we have an amazing turnout from our community,” Germain said.

Organizers are expecting this year’s attendance to be about the same.

“Our goal each year is to spread some holiday cheer, while putting a smile on the faces of our friends and neighbors as we start the holiday season,” she said.

Starting at 6 a.m., the stretch of Cape Coral Parkway where the festival takes place will be closed to through traffic. Motorists should arrange for alternate routes. The road will reopen at midnight.

The festival will run from 4 to 10 p.m., with the official ceremony scheduled for 5:30 p.m. At 6:15 p.m., Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will arrive at the Cape Coral Town Center for the tree lighting.

Pictures with Santa will be available immediately following the tree lighting until 10 p.m.

“LCEC (Lee County Electric Cooperative) is sponsoring the photos with Santa, so there is no cost to the families,” Germain said.

Throughout the night, there will be performances by local groups like the Lee County Junior Drill Team, Pine Island Dance, Kobayashi Dojo, Gulf Coast Dance Project, Hot Flashes and Calendar Girls.

The Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral is sponsoring a free Tiny Tot’s Train Ride on Milton Street, while all ages can enjoy the 25-ton Snow Drift Slide. Located in the Winn-Dixie, the slide is free to riders. In the Kidz Zone, located at Del Prado Boulevard, families will find lots inflatables and children’s activities.

“Kidz Street is free at the event,” she said.

Festival attendees can start their holiday shopping by visiting one of the more than 70 vendors.

“We have added a Holiday Toy Drive to help families in need,” Germain said. “The donations will go to the Cape Coral Caring Center and (the) For The Kids Foundation.”

Items needed by the Caring Center include a dollhouse, kid’s sewing machine, craft loom set, jump rope, scooter, a boy’s bicycle for a 10-year-old, learning toys for toddlers, dishes, action figures, anything from the movie “Frozen,” art sets, size 1 skates, sports items, Legos, toy swords and guns, science things, Sea Monkeys, and Jake and Neverland Pirates, Ninja Turtles and Disney princess toys.

Gifts needed for the For The Kids Foundation include small toys found at dollar stores, books, games, puzzles and such. The items are used to refill the Treasure Chest at the hospital for young patients.

She explained that the chamber will have a booth at the festival, where donations will be collected. Items can also be dropped off at the chamber’s office now through Dec. 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Organizers encouraged residents and visitors to come out Saturday for the event.

“This is truly a magical event for the entire family,” Germain said. “Cape Coral is often called a ‘large small town’ and this event is a prime example of why.”

“We invite you to come out, be a part of your community and enjoy the festivities,” she said.

Parking is available on a first come, first serve basis in the public parking lots.

For more information on the Holiday Festival of Lights, visit: www.capecoralchamber.com.

The Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral is at 2051 E. Cape Coral Parkway.