Although it was more like an Indian summer evening, leaves crunching under foot instead of snow, the spirit of Christmas and the Holiday Season was in the air last week on Main Street in Avon Park.
Visitors could see and feel the spirit of the season: friends saying hello to neighbors; chairs and blankets set out in front of the Hotel Jacaranda; and hugs all around. Babies, children,, families and pets all settled themselves under the huge shade trees wrapped with dainty white lights.
The celebration began promptly at 6 p.m. The first group of entertainers were from Park Elementary School. The Park Elementary Panthers Choir consisted of 56 children attending fourth and fifth grades. The group was under the direction of Mary Beth Frazier. They sang songs such as “O Come Little Children” and “Santa is my Buddy.”
Proud parents were excited and iPhones, tablets and cameras were rapidly taking pictures to capture the special moments to save and share with others. The Panthers were dressed in holiday red and sported Santa Caps.
The next group to perform was the Avon Park “Avonaires”. This group was from Avon Park Elementary School. The 55 singers, all fourth and fifth graders, were directed by Wendy Garcia. They sang traditional Christmas songs to the delight of the crowd. The children were also dressed in red and white for the holidays.
You could hear excited parents telling others, “That’s my baby up there.” “Listen. Katie’s doing her solo next.” It was heartwarming to hear the pride in their voices, supporting their children’s efforts with the group. Smiles and tears adorned many faces in the crowd.
There were several tables and booths with vendors offering treats. A Bake Sale table was managed by Miss Avon Park 2013 Jordan Wright and Junior Miss Avon Park Kelli Sullivan. Both were dressed in holiday finery and wore jeweled tiaras, looking like princesses.
“We are having the bake sale to raise money for the 2014 Miss Avon Park Pageant, Wright said. “It will be held next year in April. It’s very exciting.”
The crowd was quite large, gathered in front of the historic Hotel Jacaranda on Main Street. The gazebo in the downtown area was decorated with bright colorful lights. Just west of the gazebo, on Main Street, was Candy Cane Lane with a pathway with beautiful decorations.
And what would a holiday celebration be without a visit from you-know-who? The man with the fluffy white beard and the red suit – Santa Claus! Ho,ho, ho! Santa visited with children and handed out goodies to the good little girls and boys.
Addyson Getz quietly asked Santa for a doll. Nabil Raoui told Santa, “I don’t know what I want. Wait! Now I know. I want a remote control airplane or helicopter!”
The mood was festive, the energy contagious and the entertainment delightful. This was the perfect evening for families to start their Christmas season with friends and loved ones in Avon Park.