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‘Christmas’ comes early to St. Pete this weekend

Bill DeYoung



The Thanksgiving turkey’s barely cold, and the City of St. Petersburg is ready to start declaring the Christmas season. Which is, of course, pretty much how things work in America today.

Political correctness being what it is, the word Christmas doesn’t actually appear in the event’s official name. “Holidays in the Sunshine City” is a Parks and Recreation Department event.

Saturday (Nov. 24), along Bayshore Drive from Albert Whitted Field to the Vinoy Basin, it’s the all-new Santa Parade – in which a certain jolly, bearded fellow (not to be confused with Mayor Rick Kriseman, who’ll also be there) will greet the impending season. The parade kicks off at 5:30 p.m., and culminates with the mayor (and that other guy) lighting the “holiday tree” and the North Straub Park waterfront.

All this is bookended by music and family events in the park – admission is free, and blankets and/or lawn chairs are encouraged. Concessions available.

Things will go into high gear next weekend. On Saturday, Dec. 1, North Straub Park invites kids of all ages to the annual Snowfest (10 a.m.-3 p.m.), a veritable winter wonderland (well, St. Pete style) of toboggan rides (on 60 tons of real fake snow), a giant slide, Moonwalk, arts, crafts and all sorts of other stuff. There’s special rides for preschoolers, too.

Wristbands are required to ride the rides, and they’re available (for $5) through Nov. 30 at any St. Petersburg recreation center.

The City promises there’ll be ice skating this year at Albert Whitted Park – no details have emerged yet, but we’ll be sure to let you know.

LocalShops1 will be set up in the park all day on the 24th, and many of the vendors have agreed to stay open, for your local-buying pleasure, through tree-lighting time.

And beginning Dec. 7, there’ll be a free holiday movie screening in Vinoy Park every Friday at 7 p.m., with free admission. The first one is 1983’s A Christmas Story.

For more information, visit the Parks and Recreation website.

(Photos: St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation)

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