APOLLO BEACH – Here’s a news flash. Santa’s coming to town Fridayand he’s bringing along his bagful of gifts. The Jolly Old Soul will appear at 8 p.m. to give a small gift to any child 12 and younger who visits him at the 24th annual Holiday in the Park. He will also host a prize drawing for a larger gift like a bike, scooter or mp3 player.
Sponsored by Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation, the festive event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Apollo Beach Recreation Center, 664 Golf and Sea Blvd. There will be free burgers and drinks, music, inflatables and games for the entire family. It will also include the annual Christmas tree lighting in honor of Eleanor Mayweather, a longtime and beloved recreation leader who died in 1995. Kids at the park donated money for the evergreen tree, which was planted in her honor.
“This free, family event is designed to children outdoors with their families to enjoy the holiday festivities,” said Joy Robinson, assistant recreation programs supervisor. “It’s the only big holiday event in South Shore and centrally located, which makes it convenient for families throughout the area.
“All kids are welcome, regardless of where they live.”
The Bay Area Gleaners is providing the food and Bell Shoals Baptist Church, both of Apollo Beach, the music.
The first Holiday in the Park was organized by the Apollo Beach Chamber of Commerce in 1989. The following year, the chamber passed responsibility for the project to the Apollo Beach Focus Group, which has supported it ever since.
Led by Pat Woolweaver, this group of community volunteers has worked with parks personnel to build Holiday in the Park into a major event. Last year more than 400 people turned out.
“It’s a nice way to give something back to the community,” Woolweaver said. “Children can come see Santa, and everything is free.”
For additional information, call Jack Reeder at (813) 671-7635.