Marco Island is a small town. It is evident during the summer when all of the snow birds are gone. It is most evident during the holidays. Small town = small town Christmas celebrations...and they are wonderful.
It starts with the tree lighting (which we missed this year because I was on my deathbed, seriously I was.) Families gather for two hours of song and dance (courtesy of any and all local talent) and tailgating fun. The official town tree is lit and the festivities are launched. The grand finale is of course the arrival of Santa, who usually shows up on his Harley. It's hard for Rudolph to navigate through the sand and humidity.
The street parade follows a week or two later. The mile long parade route is lined with more tailgating families, some showing up hours ahead of time to stake out their spot. Half of the community watches as the other half passes by. There are Cub Scouts, tiny dancers, New Comers, church groups, marching bands, old cars, boats, a fire truck (yes one fire truck), even the US Postal Service showed up this year.
Parade attendees shout greetings to parade participants and children scramble to grab up the candy tossed from home-made floats.
Sometimes the parade starter doesn't get everyone moving at the designated time leaving gaps in the procession. It is during these times that neighbors visit and share their bounty with each other. Some even run home to restock.
The Boat Parade is scheduled for the following weekend. The parade route is relocated from Main Street to the main waterway and once again residents gather with coolers in hand. (We're a tailgating, beverage drinking kind of island.)
Finally the winners of the house decorating contest are announced in the weekly newspaper a few days before Christmas. A map is always included and the next few evenings you will find an excess of slow moving traffic as folks hit the streets to enjoy the lights.
Christmas around these parts is small town at its best. It's Christmas Island style and nobody does it better than Marco.