For as many years as one can remember, families with their children would descend on the Shops of Marco to welcome the Christmas Holiday Season into full swing. They come early and line-up to watch anxiously for the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
For them, this was not about Black Friday deals or shopping till you drop. Instead they’ve waited another year to say hello to the gentleman in the big red suit and flowing white beard.
Over the last 15 years he has arrived for the evening’s festivities in several fashions. He’s come by fire truck, on motorcycles and yes, he’s been airlifted in by helicopter on a couple of occasions in spectacular fashion.
This year Mr. and Mrs. Claus chose to take advantage of the invitation of Fire Chief Michael Murphy to ride on one of his big red trucks to the delight of children and their parents. “This is truly a great evening for our entire community,” said Debra Schroeder. Debra and her husband Bill Schroeder own the Salon and Spa Botanica that has hosted the pictures with Santa over the last several years.
“Well they’re here,” said Barb Dasti, a member of the Christmas Island Style Committee and an employee of the salon, as she’d pop her head out the door to gaze down the line of a couple of hundred kids and their parents.
As the fire truck would approach two “burly” Santa Security Agents would step of the curb to help assist Mr. and Mrs. Claus from the cab of the truck and escort them down the line of anxiously awaiting children who would hope to grab the attention of the two visitors from the North Pole. Rich Kaplan and Carmen Dasti have played that role for several years and both bask in the excitement of the children. Both are members of the Christmas Island Style Committee which bring all the events to the island every Christmas.
Once inside, parents and grandparents would escort their children inside and pose for pictures with Santa. The pictures are done gratis by professional photographer Frank Steiger of Frank Steiger Photography. Parents are then able to download the photos from the Christmas Island Style website within a week.
“We used to try and print the photos that evening, but we would always seem to run into issues with the printer. This is so much easier, and it gives people a wider understanding of what Christmas Island Style does when they visit the website,” said Wanda Burson another member of the committee.
Workers at the event would gather afterwards in the rear of the salon for a little celebration once everything was finished. One of the highlights of that gathering is the offering of sausage and peppers done by Carmen Dasti, who prides himself on that dish.
The next Christmas Island Style event will be on December 1 on Saturday evening as the community gathers together to light the community tree in Veterans Community Park. That event begins at 6 PM and lasts about two hours. On December 4 on Tuesday evening the Holiday Pets on Parade celebration is held at CJs on the Bay at the Esplanade beginning at 5:30 PM. Dress your favorite four-legged member of your family and enjoy another great event by Christmas Island Style.
Visit the website for more information regarding these events and others at www.christmasislandstyle.comor call Steve “Stef” Stefanides the Chairman of Christmas Island Style at 239-250-8348.
Photos by Steve Stefanides