Holiday merriment takes over Bridge Street

    Holiday merriment takes over Bridge Street
    Santa and Mrs. Claus took requests from kids at the Bradenton Beach tree light- ing ceremony on Saturday night. - Cindy Lane | Sun

    BRADENTON BEACH – Merchants and city officials launched the Season of Lights and Spirit light display that will continue to shine through the New Year and that’s not the only holiday event happening on Bridge Street.

    The holiday festivities began on Nov. 19 with the Light Up Bridge Street tree lighting ceremony and continue with a street party, boat parade and outdoor movie.

    The tree lighting ceremony included a special appearance by Santa Claus. Longtime Island resident and former city commissioner Ed Straight had the honor of flipping the switch to light the 32-foot big tree for the first time this season.

    Street party and boat parade

    Coinciding with the annual Holiday Boat Parade is a festive street party taking place on and around Bridge Street on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 3-9 p.m. This family-friendly event starts in the post office parking lot with face painting, a kid’s holiday crafts station and photo opportunities with Santa.

    Attendees are encouraged to take advantage of the closure of Bridge Street to enjoy the waived open container rules, drink specials from local venues, live music, entertainment from local youth performers, a drawing featuring more than $2,000 in 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, an organization that assists the homeless.

    Starting at 6:30 p.m., the Bradenton Beach Pier will provide an excellent view of the annual Holiday Boat Parade hosted again this year by the Bradenton Beach Marina. Local entertainer Mike Sales will provide the musical soundtrack to the festivities and announce the boat parade participants as they pass by the pier.

    The boat parade vessels will gather near the south end of Jewfish Key. At 6 p.m., the boat parade will head northwest along the Longboat Pass Bridge and then north up the Intracoastal Waterway. At approximately 6:30 p.m., the boat parade will pass alongside the pier at Bridge Street on its way to the Bradenton Beach Marina.

    There is no entry fee to join the boat parade and interested boaters are asked to download the entry form at www.braden- or call John or Mike at 941-778-2288. The shops, restaurants and bars along and around Bridge Street will remain open until after the street party and boat parade.

    Christmas on Bridge Street

    The annual Christmas on Bridge Street is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 17 from 3-9 p.m. The Anna Maria Island Privateers will arrive by sleigh in front of the big Christmas tree for pirate pictures with Santa. The afternoon’s activities also include a performance by the Crosley Theater Dickens Carolers, face painting and a kids’ holiday craft station. A free outdoor movie featuring a screening of “Home Sweet Home Alone” starts at 7 p.m. with a concession stand offering popcorn, soda and virgin daiquiris. Takeout also is available from many restaurants in Bradenton Beach.

    At the same time, the Drift In will host its annual Christmas party and fundraiser benefitting the AMI Privateers’ youth programs.

    For more information on any of these “Holidays in Paradise” events, go online or call 941-896-2222.