Plant City is rolling out the red carpet for the holiday season with a calendar filled with non-stop events for residents of all ages.
The holiday season is upon us and celebrations throughout Plant City are well underway.
Regardless of your age or budget, this season you will have more than enough festive events to choose from to ensure your family is full of Christmas cheer come Dec. 25.
Tonight, head to McCall park at 5:30 p.m. to participate in the annual Lights of Love tree lighting ceremony downtown. A 24-foot live tree is adorned with lights that have been dedicated by members of the public in honor or memory of their loved ones. The event is free and there will be holiday music by local choirs as well as photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus at a nominal charge.
The photos begin at 5:30 p.m. and the tree lighting ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. Come early for a good spot as the park fills up quickly for the event. The East Hillsborough Art Guild will also be having a holiday art show and sale in the courtyard in honor of the event. The show begins at 5 p.m.
The next night, head back downtown for the annual Plant City Christmas Parade. The parade starts at Collins and Alsobrook Streets, travels north on Collins through downtown, turns right onto Reynolds Street and end at the courthouse. Be warned, few events draw massive crowds to downtown like this parade. Get there as early as possible for both parking and to secure a spot by the roadway.
The parade features a variety of officials, organizations, churches and school marching bands. Judges will be evaluating each parade participant and winners will be awarded a cash prize and a trophy. The party doesn’t wrap up until nearly 9 p.m., so bring some hot chocolate and get ready to welcome Santa Claus and his sleigh to Plant City.
On Dec. 8 head to First United Methodist Church of Plant City to enjoy the Plant City Community Chorale’s special holiday concert, “Making Spirits Bright,” which is sponsored by Hopewell Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens.
The concert is at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $15 at the door. Head to pccchorale.org for more information.
Every Thursday through Sunday head to the Florida Strawberry Festival grounds to enjoy Plant City’s own Christmas Lane. This event features a winter wonderland full of lights, nightly entertainment, fair rides and a living nativity. There is also a "letters to Santa" station, face painting and LEGO in the KidZOne. Children age three years old and under are free, ages 4 years old to 12 years old are $3 and anyone 13 years old or older are $5.
A special Candlelight Tour is being held in the historic district by the East Hillsborough Historical Society on Dec. 14 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The tour includes stops at the home of Sandi and Jock McGlathery, the Sparkman House Luxury Bed & Breakfast, the home of Doresa and Pat Young and the 1914 Plant City High School Museum.
Online reservations are preferred and there will only be advanced ticket sales. Head to ehhsoc.org for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want a one-of-a-kind Santa photo with your kids head to the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum on Dec. 14 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to get a photo with Santa in a caboose. The event is free, but they ask participants to bring a toy to donate to a local family in need. The museum will also be hosting an open house at the same time until 9 p.m.
December 15 is the day of festive shows throughout town. If you’re looking for a more unique holiday celebration check out the “Uh-Oh Here Comes Christmas” production at Plant City Entertainment on Dec. 15. There are two shows at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and tickets are $10 at the door.
The show will include 15 holiday stories that examine the struggle many of us face to find the spirit of the holidays amid the onslaught of commercialism and stress that come each December. It’s funny, heartwarming and gets even the staunchest Scrooge ready to cook the prize turkey.
The same evening Krazy Kup is hosting one of the jolliest parties of the season. The Christmas Lip Sync Battle is 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and is free to attend and $5 to perform. Message your name, song title and artist to Krazy Kup on Facebook to sign up.
The last several Lip Syncs have been a full house and the holiday show should be no exception. Come dressed in your ugly Christmas sweater or your favorite Christmas t-shirt and enjoy one of the most fun shows in town. Get there early to snag a good seat.
If Jazz is your passion, the Bealsville Community Group has you covered. On Dec. 15 at the Bealsville Recreation Center guests can dress to the nines and enjoy a “Motown Jazzy Christmas” featuring guest vocalist Velvet and music by Fireproof Unlimited.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $25. You can grab a ticket by contacting Gerald Wasi at 813-716-4554 or Rodney Mackey at 813-966-6084. For more information head to the Bealsville Community Group Facebook page.
Bruton Memorial Library is hosting a variety of special holiday events, however, the Story Time with Mr. and Mrs. Claus on Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m. is sure to be one of the highlights of the season. Santa Claus is taking a short trip from the North Pole to read a story to children ages three years old to seven years old and their caregivers.
After the story, the kiddos can jump in for a photo-op with the legendary Christmas duo and participate in some fun festive activities. Bonnie the therapy dog will also be snuggled up with the children to listen to Santa read a Christmas tale.
Bruton is also helping you nab the perfect gift for your loved ones this Christmas with its annual Christmas used book sale. The event began on Nov. 30 and is at 10 a.m. each day the library is open until New Year’s Day. The selection is diverse and the prices are minimal.
The annual Santa Sled Festival will be held on Dec. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Marie B. Ellis Park. More than 300 families will be served and children will receive toys, clothes and bicycles and their family will walk away with a Christmas ham or turkey and a variety of other groceries. Registration for the event has passed, but it will be a day of non-stop fun for all who attend.
These are just a handful of dozens of events being held throughout December. Keep your eyes peeled and you shouldn’t have any issue finding the perfect holiday celebration for your family.