Thousands of onlookers lined the parade route on Saturday evening for the 32nd Annual Christmas Island Style Street Parade. The day, however, started out closer to 9 AM for the Christmas Island Style volunteers, as parents and children lined the soccer field at Mackle Community Park waiting for the aerial arrival of Santa for the Annual Cookies and Milk event hosted by the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Although Santa and Mrs. Claus were popular, the attraction of a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter was hard competition to beat as the children and their parents quickly flooded the field to look at the shiny modern-day Santa Sled and have their photos taken by it.
At the same time this was going on, another team of volunteers were busily working on laying out the staging area for the evening parade. Working through glitches, late arrivals and a lost band member or two, the magical hour of 6:30 PM quickly approached as the Marco P.D. and American Legion Honor Guards led off and began the exiting of bands, floats and cars from the staging area.
Marco’s new Police Chief marched with her Honor Guard and met with children and parents along the entire parade route and then turned around and reversed her direction to again meet with attendees along the San Marco Road.
The entertaining antics and super energized clowns and midget cars entertained and amused all that viewed the Araba Shriners and their escapades along the route.
The ones which had the most difficult time of the night had to be the judges at the reviewing stands, as there were so many wonderful floats and bands making their choices very difficult. If there was an event that deserved participation trophies this parade was certainly deserving of a truckload of them.
At the end of the parade came the true stars of the evening’s event when Santa and Mrs. Claus came into view perched high above the crowd in the basket of Tower 50, courtesy of the men and women of the Marco Island Fire/Rescue Department.
Behind them came the Condee Man pumping out “Marco Snow,” or the committee’s best effort at duplicating it given the tropical temperatures.
The annual Christmas Boat Parade will kick off sharply at 6 PM in the Marco River and proceed towards the Jolly Bridge, make a right turn and pass in front of the Marco Island Yacht Club and proceed westerly back down into Factory Bay and then hug the southern coastline past Pier 81 and the Snook Inn where the judges are located. It will then proceed into Collier Creek/Collier Bay and work its way into Smokehouse Bay and pass by the Esplanade, back out to Collier Bay where it will proceed to the back of the Bay and back out to the Marco River, where it will pass along Hideaway Beach and over to the Isle of Capri and along that shoreline until it returns to the Snook Inn and disperses.
Gene Burson, who is the parade coordinator anticipates a great parade and suggests that people get to their sites to watch the parade early to ensure a good view venue.
A map of the route can be found by going to the CIS website at www.christmassislandstyle.com. Download the map to research the best sites to view. The Snook Inn, The Esplanade, Anglers Cove Chickee Hut, the Marco Island Yacht Club, Jane Hitler Park are but a few of those excellent viewing spots.