Luminary Holiday Stroll to light up islands with the holiday spirit
The islands will usher in the holidays leading into the weekend with an annual two-day tradition.
Hosted by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, the 35th annual Luminary Holiday Stroll will take place on Dec. 6 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. along Periwinkle Way on Sanibel, followed by the same festivities on Dec. 7 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. along Captiva Drive and Andy Rosse Lane on Captiva.
“The idea behind it is to kick off the holiday season on our little islands and to showcase the unique food, beverages and retail options the islands have to offer,” chamber President John Lai said.
He explained that it originally started as a “shop small” type of event.
“And it has turned into, really, a holiday kickoff celebration for the community,” Lai said. “We’re excited this is our 35th year of doing it, and we’re anticipating it to be phenomenal this year.”
For the Luminary Holiday Stroll, lit paths will lead the way to landmarks, where attendees can enjoy activities, snacks and refreshments provided by participating businesses, organizations and entities.
Both island events are free and open to the public.
Between residents, vacationers and day-trippers, thousands are estimated to attend each year.
“We’re looking at over 25,000 people over the two-day period,” he said, noting that non-residents typically will come out to the islands and make an evening of it with dinner and shopping.
Lai explained that the event is organized with the support of the Sanibel Captiva Rotary Club and Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club, which set up and light all of the luminary candles on the routes.
“We couldn’t make this possible without our service club volunteers,” he said.
The chamber has partnered with Teen Challenge on the clean-up efforts after.
The Sanibel Luminary Holiday Stroll will extend from the east end of the island, near Sanibel’s Best Homemade Ice Cream and the Sanibel Sea School, to the Olde Sanibel Shoppes and Bailey’s Shopping Center at the west end. Along the route, businesses within shopping plazas, stand-alone ventures and more are taking part, according to Lai.
Sanibel’s Best Homemade Ice Cream will hand out samples of its products, while the Sanibel Sea School will feature cookie decorating, s’more roasting, a screening of the film “Artifishal” and more.
“Jerry’s (Foods) has Santa,” he said, adding that there will be free hot dogs and music.
The Sanibel Community Church will have its live nativity, Walk Through Bethlehem, along with a petting zoo. The Tahitian Gardens will feature live music, along with hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
At Periwinkle Place, attendees can enjoy performances by the Children’s Education Choir, along with the Malibu Duo and Megan Rose Duo. There also will be an opportunity to take photos with Santa.
St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church will feature cider, cookies and holiday carolers, with the Village Shops and Olde Sanibel Shoppes also taking part with entertainment, snacks and refreshments.
“The city will have a photo booth set up at the (Sanibel) Community Park,” Lai said.
At the Bailey’s Shopping Center, attendees will find something for everyone. Some highlights will include: wine sampling at Bailey’s; wine and Marsala meatballs from George and Wendy’s; hot cocoa, cookies and Santa drawings at Joey’s Custard; glow party at Spoondrift Island Bowls; Sanibel Sprout with vegan cookies and snacks; and performances by the BIG ARTS Community Chorus and more.
“It’s a festival-type of atmosphere in their parking lot,” he said.
New this year, bicyclists are asked to walk not ride their bikes on the Periwinkle trail.
“It’s a safety concern,” Lai said.
As in years past, the event is designed to be family-friendly and for all ages.
“It’s a great family event,” he said. “Photos with Santa for the kids, plus the live music and food and drinks for the adults. It lends itself to all ages.”
Vehicle parking for attendees will be available at Jerry’s, the Tahitian Gardens, Periwinkle Place, Village Shops, Olde Sanibel Shoppes and Bailey’s Shopping Center.
While the Captiva Luminary Holiday Stroll will be held the next evening during the same time period, the northern sister island has its own unique tradition leading up to the kick off of the annual event.
Sponsored by South Seas Island Resort, the annual Captiva Holiday Village Golf Cart Parade will feature holiday-decorated carts hoping to win Best Commercial, Best Non-Commercial, Best of Show or People’s Choice Award. Entry fee proceeds go to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
Director of Guest Experience Catrina Vargas explained that South Seas plans the parade.
“We give prizes, too, along with other local businesses,” she said, adding that the event is marking its 10th anniversary. “There will be a speech about Paul, the founder, who passed away in years past.”
The parade will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., rain or shine. Starting out from South Seas, participants will wind down Captiva Drive and then along Andy Rosse Lane, Chapin Lane and Wiles Drive, before going back to the resort. The judging and awards will be held at 2:30 p.m. in the Sand Dollar Plaza.
The People’s Choice Award, however, will be awarded on Dec. 10. It will be determined by the photo with the most likes, with the contest taking place on the South Seas Island Resort Facebook page.
Fire Chief Jeff Pawul reported that the Captiva Island Fire Control District gets involved.
“Traditionally, in the past, we have always ‘transported’ Santa,” he said. “We usually try to help out in any way we can to support the community.”
For details or to sign up, contact Sunny Island Adventures at 954-850-9240.
As for the Luminary Holiday Stroll to follow, it will feature fun and freebies just like on Sanibel.
“Starting from ‘Tween Waters all the way down to South Seas, you have businesses participating,” Lai said. “Including The Green Flash and the Andy Rosse Lane stores, out to Chadwick’s Square.”
He noted that it is similar in terms of food and drinks, but different as far as atmosphere.
“I think this one is more geared toward the adult crowd,” Lai said, adding that the event route is more walkable. “It’s about bringing the community together and having a kickoff to the holiday season.”
Sandy Stilwell, owner of Stilwell Enterprises, explained that several of her restaurants will be taking part in the holiday festivities. The Keylime Bistro Bruschetta will be handed out at the Keylime Bistro, while attendees can enjoy eggnog at RC Otter’s Island Eats or chips and salsa at the Cantina Captiva.
The Sunshine Seafood Cafe and Wine Bar will offer up bite-sized crab cakes.
“We participate every year because it is a time of year where we can socialize on the streets of Andy Rosse Lane and down Captiva Drive with our neighbors, friends and visitors,” she said. “It’s just a nice way to enjoy our island-casual lifestyle. It’s also a way to say, ‘Thank you for supporting us.'”
Corban Chesnut, owner of Captiva Island Pizza, will pass out pizza samples.
“We have been having fun with Luminary the past two years,” he said. “We look forward to it.”
The Burns Family Team and Premier Sotheby’s International Realty also is participating.
“(We’re) sharing refreshments and freshly-popped popcorn,” John and Denice Beggs said. “We always look forward to the Captiva Luminary.”
Residents and visitors are welcome to take part in one or both island events.
“If you’ve not come out before, it’s basically like walking into a Hallmark movie set. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen before,” Lai said. “It’s small businesses showcasing the islands as a whole and the community coming together with decorations. It certainly gets you into the holiday spirit.”
“And if you’ve been before, there are new businesses that have popped up on the islands,” he continued. “And there’s always new exciting displays that the businesses are showing.”
The presenting sponsor this year is the Island Inn, while Bank of the Islands, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Periwinkle Place Shops and Jerry’s Foods are the gold sponsors for the event.
For more information, contact the chamber at 239-472-1080 or visit sanibel-captiva.org/sanibel-captiva-island-chamber-of-commerce. A Luminary Status Line also has been set up at 239-339-4015.