BRADENTON BEACH, Fla. — Bradenton Beach on the south end of Anna Maria Island recently announced details for its highly anticipated holiday schedule. Bradenton Beach merchants and city officials will soon launch the Season of Lights and Spirit, an incredible light display with a peekaboo view from the Cortez Bridge.
The nightly light display runs through New Year’s, providing the perfect photo backdrop for locals and visitors in front of the 32-foot-tall Christmas tree. The season will feature a series of fun and free holiday events, including Light Up Bridge Street, a street party and annual boat parade and Christmas on Bridge Street.
The Light Up Bridge Street event will kick off the season on Saturday, Nov. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. Attendees will gather in the post office parking lot located at 116 Bridge St. for entertainment and a crowd sing-along hosted by the Magic of Manatee, an award-winning a cappella women’s chorus. A special appearance will be made by Santa Claus, and longtime islander Ed Straight will do the honors of flipping the switch to light up the small town and big tree. Attendees are encouraged to bring canned food to the event to help stuff the trunk of a police patrol vehicle to benefit the Manatee Food Bank. Donations will also be accepted for Straight’s long-running non-profit, Wildlife, Inc. After the festivities, retailers and restaurants in the area will be offering special pre-season offers, live music and holiday fun.
On Saturday, Dec. 3 from 3 to 9 p.m., a boat parade and street party will be held on Bridge Street. The family-friendly event will start in the post office parking lot with face painting, a kid’s holiday craft station and photos with Santa. Attendees are encouraged to take advantage of the closure of Bridge Street to enjoy waived open container rules, drink specials, live music, entertainment from local youth performers, a drawing featuring more than $2,000 in island gift cards for one lucky winner and shopping opportunities at area merchants. A one-of-a-kind Bradenton Beach fillable ornament will be available for purchase with proceeds benefiting Turning Points of Bradenton.
Starting at 6:30 p.m., the Bridge Street Pier will provide a view of the annual boat parade hosted by the Bradenton Beach Marina, with Mike Sales announcing decorated boats and providing a live soundtrack in his beachy, musical style. Shops and restaurants will remain open after the boat parade.
Christmas on Bridge Street will take place on Saturday, Dec. 17 from 3 to 9 p.m. The Anna Maria Island Privateers will arrive by sleigh in front of the big Christmas tree for pirate pictures with Santa while the Drift In hosts their annual Christmas Party Fundraiser for the Privateers’ youth programs. The afternoon’s activities will include a performance by the Crosley Theater Dickens Carolers, face painting and kid’s holiday craft station. A free outdoor movie featuring the latest version in the beloved Home Alone series will start at 7 p.m. with a concession stand offering popcorn, soda and virgin daiquiris. Takeout will also be available from many restaurants in Bradenton Beach.
For more information on any of the Holidays in Paradise event times, activities, parking or drawings, visit LoveBradentonBeach.com or call 941-896-2222.
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