Holiday cheer fills the air

Winter's Miracle on Cleveland Street
CLEARWATER – Winter’s Miracle on Cleveland Street, sponsored by Ruth Eckerd Hall Inc. and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, will kick-off this year’s event with the official lighting of the Capitol Theatre outdoor signage.
The festival will be held on Friday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos will be joined by other city and business leaders and officials from Ruth Eckerd Hall to turn on the lights of the theatre after dusk.
Presented by Bright House Networks, this free holiday festival returns for the sixth year when downtown Clearwater’s Cleveland Street District is transformed into a holiday wonderland complete with Florida’s largest natural snow slide, holiday crafts, train rides, inflatable attractions and an outdoor ice skating rink.
Entertainment will include the Marcia P. Hoffman School of the Arts tap dancers and live music from Tampa Bay’s favorite party band, Late Night Brass. Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, a founding member of Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers Sha-Na-Na will be the Master of Ceremonies.
The first 250 children (age 12 and under) that pass through the gate of the festival will receive an exclusive holiday Winter plush toy.
Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure located in the Harborview Center at the corner of Osceola and Cleveland Streets, will be open to the public with free admission. Children will be able to have their photograph taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy the Hurricane Blizzard and the many educational exhibits inside.
Families can participate in a scavenger hunt along Cleveland Street to win great prizes including tickets to upcoming performances at Ruth Eckerd Hall and the all-new Capitol Theatre. Other prizes include a register-to-win for the opportunity to be an “extra” in the upcoming film Dolphin Tale 2, an exclusive behind the scenes Dolphin Tale 2 family experience and exclusive Dolphin Tale 2 prizes. The festival will feature a variety of vendors throughout Cleveland Street providing holiday-themed food and refreshments.
Inaugural ‘Jingle Jog’ and ‘Reindeer Trot’ planned
CLEARWATER – Athletes are invited to participate in the inaugural Holiday Hustle, featuring a 5k Jingle Jog and a Reindeer Tot Trot, a festive holiday family running event that begins at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Saturday at 8 a.m.
The 5k course will start at Ruth Eckerd Hall and meander along the Ream Wilson Trail. The event will feature plenty of holiday cheer, hot chocolate, breakfast treats and live caroling by some of Ruth Eckerd Hall’s young performing arts students.
In addition, young runners can also play reindeer games including the Rudolph 400-yard dash for 7 to 10-year olds and the Dasher and Prancer 100-yard dash for toddlers up to 6-year olds. Walkers are welcome in the event. Athletes will also have a chance to win tickets to upcoming performances at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
The proceeds will benefit the educational programs offered at the Marcia P. Hoffman School of the Arts at Ruth Eckerd Hall.   
For more information and to register, visit
Breakfast with Santa
DUNEDIN - Breakfast with Santa is Saturday 9 to 11 a.m., at Dunedin Community Center, 1920 Pinehurst Road, Dunedin. Join Santa for a delicious pancake breakfast and let him know how good you’ve been and what you would like this year. Cost is $6 in advance and $10 at the door. For more information, call 812-4530.
Holiday bargain bazaar set for Saturday
SAFETY HARBOR - The city of Safety Harbor is hosting the annual Holiday Bargain Bazaar on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Safety Harbor Community Center, 650 9th Ave. S. While giving vendors a chance to make an extra dollar for their own gift buying, the city of Safety Harbor will provide shoppers the opportunity to score some of the best bargains around.
This is the third year Safety Harbor has hosted the Holiday Bargain Bazaar event. Bargain hunters won’t want to miss this rain or shine event which has vendors set up inside and outside of the Safety Harbor Community Center. In previous years, the Bazaar has been a huge success, so this year, the city is spreading the word and offer more vendors a chance to sell items all for under $25. An outdoor space is $10, and an indoor space is $15. Rent for an 8-foot banquet table is $5.
Vendors can register at the Safety Harbor Community Center to reserve a spot. Vendors who have participated in city programs before, can register online at For more information, contact Autumn Lewis at 724-1530.
Lighted boat parade and tree lighting
DUNEDIN – The lighted boat parade and tree lighting event, sponsored by the Dunedin Boat Club, Dunedin Parks & Recreation Department and Marker 1 Marina, will be held Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m., at Dunedin Marina and Edgewater Park, 51 Main St.
Decorated, lighted boats will leave Marker 1 Marina at 6 p.m. and proceed south through the Intracoastal Waterway to Marker 2 and arrive at the Dunedin Marina at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Santa will arrive on the last boat and preside over the tree lighting ceremony.
The event is free. Bring lawn chairs. To register your boat for the parade, call (727) 692-6440. For general information, call (727) 812-4531.
Holiday stroll in Safety Harbor
SAFETY HARBOR – Downtown merchants are hosting a holiday stroll and decorate-a-door contest that kicks off right after the tree lighting at the Gazebo on Friday and continues through Sunday at 6 p.m. Shoppers can stroll from store to store and mark their ballots for their favorite door. One lucky shopper will win a prize basket worth more than $250 in gift certificates and gifts from the participating merchants.
Old-fashioned Christmas & holiday parade
DUNEDIN – An old-fashioned Christmas & holiday parade is set for Saturday, Dec. 14, from 4 to 9 p.m., in downtown Dunedin.
Children of all ages can enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, train rides, kids’ crafts and games, holiday music, live entertainment and photos with Santa.
For more information, call (727) 812-4530.
Santa’s calling
DUNEDIN - Santa’s Calling is Thursday, Dec. 12, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Children, ages 7 and younger will receive a personal phone call from Santa or Mrs. Claus. Must preregister. Forms are available at the Dunedin Library, 230 Moray Place, and the Dunedin Community Center, 1920 Pinehurst Road.
For more information, call (727) 298-3299.
Island Estates Yacht Club holiday boat parade
CLEARWATER - The Island Estates Yacht Club Boat Parade, one of the largest and most popular marine events in the Clearwater area, will celebrate its 39th year on Saturday, Dec. 14, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The parade honors the memory of Island Estates Yacht Club members who have passed away during the year.
Decorated boats will assemble in Mandalay Channel located between Island Estates and Clearwater Beach at 6 p.m. The lead boat will proceed northward through Mandalay Channel at approximately 6:30.
The parade of boats will weave in and out of many of the Island Estate canals before heading to Coachman Park around 8 p.m. From there the boats will head south, under the Memorial Causeway Bridge, and navigate to the Clearwater Yacht Club for judging. The best decorated boats will receive cash or gift certificates, donated by area businesses.
A pre-parade Captain’s meeting will be held Thursday, Dec. 12, 6:30 p.m., at the Clearwater Yacht Club, 830 S. Bayway Blvd., Clearwater.
There is no fee to enter your boat in the parade. To participate, call IEYC Fleet Captain Paul Lightfoot at (727) 744-1728 or email
39th annual holiday fine arts and crafts festival
PALM HARBOR – The Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce will host its 39th annual fine arts and crafts festival in historic downtown Palm Harbor.
The festival will begin on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and continue Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Over 90 artists will display their artwork and nearly 100 artists have been selected to compete for approximately $6,250 in cash awards. In addition to art, guests can enjoy food from local downtown restaurants, street food vendors, music and children’s activities.
The annual “Battle of the Best Wings in Pinellas County” will be held on Saturday of the event. Wing vendor applications are now being accepted and sponsorships, exhibits and food vendor spots are available.
For more information, call (727) 784-4287 or visit
Pinellas paws cause holiday celebration
LARGO – Pinellas County Animal Services will be celebrating the holidays for the third year with the Pinellas Paws Cause Holiday Celebration on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
There will be photo sessions with Santa Paws, a pet parade through Florida Botanical Gardens, adoption specials, discounts on rabies shots, rescue groups, vendors and children’s activities. Sheriff Deputy Robert Cahoon of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office’s K-9 Unit will offer demonstrations at 12:30 p.m.
Proceeds from the Pinellas Paws Cause will benefit the Animal Welfare Trust Fund, which directly benefits shelter pets by providing creature comforts such as toys, more comfortable kennels and specialized food.
Pinellas County Animal Services is located at 12450 Ulmerton Road in Largo. For more information, visit, or call (727) 582-2600.
Celebrate the holiday season with the magic of The Nutcracker Ballet
TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Triple Threat Theatre presents The Nutcracker Ballet, a classic holiday tradition, Saturday at The University of South Florida in Theatre I.  Curtain times are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. 
Set to Tchaikovsky’s classic score by Choreographer Stanislav Ivanov, the performance will include professional principal soloists and performers from The Classical Ballet of Tampa.
Tampa Bay Triple Threat Theatre will also present fieldtrip performances of The Nutcracker Ballet on Friday at The University of South Florida in Theatre I.  This program is part of the Theatre’s community outreach program and offers a wonderful opportunity for young students to experience this holiday tradition. 
Tickets may be purchased through Ticket Master or by calling 813-969-0240.
Annual holiday gift and plant sale
LARGO – The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation will hold its gift and plant sale on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This popular sale will feature vendors offering an assortment of tropical plants, orchids, bromeliads, Florida native plants, herbs and bamboo. The Botanical Bounty gift shop will also be open with an array of gifts and goods for sale.
Entry and parking are free for visitors during daylight hours. Florida Botanical Gardens is located at 12520 Ulmerton Road in Largo. Visit or call (727) 582-2100.
Deck the doors holiday decorating contest
SAFETY HARBOR – The city of Safety Harbor is sponsoring a “Deck the Doors” holiday decorating contest.
Participating residents need only to snap a picture of their decorated door and send it to  The deadline to submit photographs is Sunday.
The winner will be announced at the holiday parade on Dec. 21.
Ongoing Holiday Events
More than a million LEDs light up Largo Central Park this holiday season
LARGO – Families looking for some sparkle over the holidays will enjoy an amazing light display of over a million lights in Largo Central Park.
From now through Jan. 3 families are invited for free to walk through the park and see the dazzling displays of trains, toy bears, carolers, toy soldiers and many more. Starting Friday there will be a campfire each night to enjoy after strolling through the park.
Largo Central Park is located at 101 Central Park Drive, Largo 33771. For more information, call the Parks Department at (727)586-7415 or visit
Holiday lights in the botanical gardens will twinkle
The Florida Botanical Gardens presents the popular Holiday Lights in the Gardens every evening now through Jan. 1.
In addition to laser lights, flora and fauna displays, and decorated trees, a seven-foot gingerbread house with more than 600 lights, a 30-foot tall white swan and a five-foot tropical parrot have been added to the traditional array of lights lining paths with nightly free entertainment and visits from Santa Claus. 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Suggested donation $2 per person (13 years and older).
In addition, a dog parade is planned for Sunday, Dec. 29 starting at 1 p.m. Florida Botanical Gardens, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Visit or call (727) 582-2100 for information. 
Holidays at the Heritage Village will be enchanting
LARGO – Share the holiday season at Pinellas County’s Heritage Village, enchanting visitors to this 21-acre living history museum now through Dec. 29.
Historical houses will be decorated true to their time period, locality and lifestyle, from an elaborately decorated Victorian home to a simply adorned 1852 log cabin. Heritage Village is located at 11909 125th Street North in Largo.
For more information, visit or call (727) 582-2123.  The village is closed each Monday and Tuesday, and on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Library friends host holiday gift basket sale
LARGO –The Friends of the Largo Library will host a holiday gift basket sale starting Saturday through Dec. 21.
Themed baskets will be on display and available for purchase in the lobby and bookstore of the library located at 120 Central Park Drive.
For more information, call the bookstore at (727) 586-7392.
MOSI plays host to Santa’s satellite workshop
Kids of all ages can create stocking stuffers and gifts for their loved ones
TAMPA — Always a big fan of MOSI, Santa Claus has decided to set up his first-ever satellite toy workshop in MOSI’s inventor’s studio, Idea Zone, now through Dec. 31. 
Kids of all ages can think, design and create cool stocking stuffers and gifts for their parents and grandparents in preparation for the big day.
“I’m really proud of the work my friends at MOSI are doing down in Tampa,” said Santa Claus on a recent Skype interview. “Idea Zone is the perfect place for my first satellite workshop. The creativity and innovation in that studio are perfect for all the boys and girls on my list.”
And since the best gifts in the world are the ones that are made from the heart, Bay area kids will have the opportunity to transform recycled materials into a variety of toys and inventive play things that spin, fly and excite.
Santa’s Workshop at MOSI will be open through Dec. 31 and is included with MOSI admission. For more information, call 813-987-6000 or visit
Llado wrapping gifts for charity at Barnes & Noble
CLEARWATER – LIADO, the Italian-American Women of Today, will wrap Barnes & Noble holiday purchases beginning Monday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Dec. 24th at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 23654 U.S. 19S and Sunset Point Rd in Clearwater.
Proceeds will benefit the Children's Cancer Research Group, the Children's Cancer Center, Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Student Center (Autism), Autism Speaks, Alzheimer's Association of Florida (Gulf Coast Chapter), Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, Safety Harbor Library, Kimberly Home and the LIADO Scholarship Program. Donations will be accepted. For more information, call Joyce at 813-335-7924 or visit
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