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CenturyLink Holiday Festival of Lights set for Saturday

By Staff | Dec 5, 2019

A beloved tradition in Cape Coral, the CenturyLink Holiday Festival of Lights, will once again return to Cape Coral Parkway for another year of bringing Christmas festivities to Southwest Florida.

The free event, put on by the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral, takes place Saturday, from 4 to 10 p.m., along the parkway from Southeast 15th Avenue to Candia Street.

The Cape’s most festive celebration is a marquee tradition, as more than 25,000 residents from around the area will come to enjoy the festive atmosphere for music, attractions, sledding (yes, sledding), the lighting of the tree and to even catch a glimpse of jolly old St. Nick himself.

“The CenturyLink Holiday Festival of Lights is so special to us and is one of our longest-standing traditions, not only as a chamber, but as a community. We love having our community come out to enjoy this event and celebrate the start of the holiday season,” said Donna Germain, president/CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral. “As an organization, we are fortunate to have our incredible sponsors and volunteers to aid our staff each year in putting this event together for the residents of Cape Coral. We could not do a fraction of what we do without them.”

The festivities begin Saturday at 4 p.m. as attractions and decorations fill Cape Coral Parkway.

There will be five holiday stages that will host local entertainers, dance troupes and singers, who will perform throughout the night.

The Special Pops of Cape Coral Dance Team will open the festivities on the main stage. The dance troupe’s motto is, “Yes, anyone can dance! We will show you how!”

Businesses in the area also will have entertainment outside their shops for folks to enjoy.

There will be lots to do for the kids, including a Tiny Tots Train Ride, Candy Cane Park, tree lighting and the ever-popular 15-ton Snow Slide.

“It is so cool,” Germain said of the attraction. “We love being able to include the snow slide each year. The kids love it and it is one of our most popular attractions at Holiday Festival of Lights.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be jingle bell rockin’ their way into Cape Coral Town Center (Big John’s) at 6:15 to light the 25-foot Christmas tree to officially ring in the Christmas season.

The tree is decorated annually by the Tabor family, who were pioneers in the city’s early years.

“I cannot talk about this event and family without mentioning Elmer Tabor and his family,” Germain said. “For more than 30 years, they have generously ‘loaned’ the Chamber Big John’s Plaza/Cape Coral Town Center as host of the official Cape Coral Christmas Tree. Decorating the tree has also become a very special tradition for the Tabor Family over the years as well.”

Comically, the first year the Tabors had the tree delivered, it was decorated by the company who delivered it.

To the dismay of Tabor’s wife, she found herself unmoved with how it was decorated, so the Tabors decided they would do it themselves.

The rest, as they say, is history.

“It’s our gift to the community every year,” Tabor said in a prior interview. “It originally started out as a holiday night for people to come out and enjoy, and for businesses to say ‘thank you’ to their customers for the year.”

Now, the event is one of the biggest in the Cape each year.

“The CenturyLink Holiday Festival of Lights is a Cape Coral tradition that is all about family and community,” Germain said. “More than 40 years ago, the business owners in Downtown Cape Coral or South Cape, as it is now known, started the annual Tree Lighting and block party. I personally remember performing in a school group when I was in elementary school at this very event. Over the years, this event has grown into one of the largest single day events in Southwest Florida, with more than 25,000 in attendance.”

The festival brings a jubilant and lighthearted atmosphere for families and residents alike that can provide a lasting Christmas memory for years to come.

“One of the things I have always loved about Cape Coral is, even though we are growing as a city, we have still been able to maintain our hometown feel,” Germain said. “That is what this event is all about, bringing our families, businesses, community leaders and friends together to celebrate the holiday season.”

Attendees also can participate in the Holiday Food Drive to benefit The Cape Coral Caring Center by bringing a food or monetary donation to the snow slide.

Cape Coral Parkway, from Southeast 15th Avenue to Candia Street will be closed from 5 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, until 2 a.m. Dec. 8.

Parking is on a first-come, first-serve basis in the public parking lots surrounding Cape Coral Parkway.

For more information, visit www.holidayfestivalcc.com .

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj