A few hints from random pre-holiday revelers elicited this interesting fact: receiving seven swans a-swimming would not add cheer to the average Christmas season. Neither would unwrapping six geese a-laying.
Eggs are all well and good, the random revelers informed me, but they’re easy to purchase at grocery stores or farmers’ markets — and where would you stash six geese or seven swans in a typical contemporary home anyway?
Santa, possibly accompanied by a reindeer (!), is likely to make surprise appearances at pre-holiday events throughout the Keys.
No, the random revelers made it quite clear that most gifts suggested in that traditional musical favorite, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” would be wildly impractical in this modern age.
So instead of celebrating the lead-up to Santa’s Dec. 25 arrival by bestowing daily gifts, consider celebrating with experiences. Florida Keys experiences, to be exact — because the island chain’s December calendar is packed with creative, colorful and heartwarming events designed to spark smiles and lasting memories.
Here are just a few examples …
Dec 8, 9, 10, 16: Lighted Boat Parades. Lighted and festively decorated boats are to cruise the waters surrounding the Florida Keys — in six different areas! For details about the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on Stock Island (Dec. 8), visit keywestrotary.com. For the Key Largo Boat Parade on Key Largo’s Blackwater Sound, themed “Christmas Around the World” (Dec. 9), visit keylargoboatparade.com. For the Boot Key Harbor Christmas Boat Parade in Marathon (Dec. 9), visit bootkeyharbor.com. For the Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade (Dec. 9) around the Key West Historic Seaport and harbor, visit schoonerwharf.com. For the Key Colony Beach Christmas Boat Parade (Dec. 10), call 518-859-5662. For the Kiki’s Sandbar Lighted Boat Parade on Little Torch Key in the Lower Keys (Dec. 16), visit facebook.com/events/1311932189541310.
The iconic tree growing on the Middle Keys’ historic Old Seven Mile Bridge, widely known as “Fred,” is decorated each year for the holidays by a group of anonymous elves. (Photo courtesy of Fred the Tree)
Dec. 12: Pet Photos with the Grinch. Strike a pose with your pet and the Grinch to create a Who-tastic holiday picture in exchange for a donation to the Florida Keys SPCA. Pets should be on a leash or in a carrier. The animal antics are set for 5-7 p.m. at 30085 Overseas Highway on Big Pine Key. Visit fkspca.org.
Dec. 15: Holiday Historic Inn Tours. Old Town Key West is filled with lovely historic inns, and this 6-8 p.m. tour offers a chance to glimpse lavish decorations, discover unique architecture, and experience holiday cheer and treats at featured properties. Visit keywestholidayfest.com.
Dec. 15-30: Key West Waterfront Winter Wonderland. The Coffee Butler Amphitheater at Truman Waterfront Park becomes the Key West Waterfront Winter Wonderland for a family-friendly holiday experience that includes stunning light displays, an ice-skating rink (really!), games, rides, attractions, music and more. The vendor village offers a variety of food options and wares by local artisans — perfect for holiday shopping. Visit waterfrontwinterwonderland.com.
Dec. 16: Winter Wonderland at Crane Point. At Crane Point Hammock Museum & Nature Trails, 5550 Overseas Highway in Marathon, families can enjoy an evening winter wonderland from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Attractions include reindeer ponies, Santa and Mrs. Claus, performers from Marathon Community Theatre, sleigh rides, holiday decorations, a chocolate fountain (yummm), other seasonal treats and alcoholic drinks for purchase — plus a forecast of snow! Visit cranepoint.net.
Dec. 16: Pops in the Park Concert “Ice Cream Suites.” The family-friendly, free-admission holiday concert themed “Ice Cream Suites” offers traditional and pops music by the Florida Keys Community Concert Band as well as sing-alongs of holiday favorites. The Burton Bell Ringers are to be special guests, along with Santa. An Ugly Christmas Sweater contest and free ice cream round out the fun. Attendees can bring chairs and blankets to the 4-5 p.m. outdoor concert at the Founders Park amphitheater, mile marker 87 bayside in Islamorada. Visit keyscommunityconcertband.org.
The holidays are celebrated with great enthusiasm in the Keys — even by the feline population!
Dec. 21: Third Thursday Art Walk. Showcasing the Islamorada area’s fine arts, music and culinary nuances, the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District features national and local artisans whose work is showcased in galleries along Morada Way between mile markers 81 and 82. Art Walks are held on the third Thursday of each month — and this 6-9 p.m. holiday edition features live music, beer tastings and other seasonal cheer. Admission is free. Visit moradaway.org.
No doubt your friends and family, like the random revelers we questioned, will agree: the experiences described above are far more appealing than six geese a-laying, seven swans a-swimming, or even 12 drummers drumming.
Check out the overflowing calendar of Florida Keys events here. And whether you choose experiences, gifts or both, may you find everything you seek to celebrate a meaningful holiday.