To the rest of the United States, the day after Thanksgiving is — as we’ve all come to call it — Black Friday, when consumers light up registers across the country in rabid anticipation of the holiday season. But here in Southwest Florida, and specifically Captiva Island, the day after Thanksgiving marks a different tradition, one in which beachfront sunset skies are lit up with twinkling lights, Christmas carols and a truly awesome fireworks display — and it’s all done in the spirit of community, sponsored by the good folks at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa.
For more than 20 years, ‘Tween Waters has chosen to commemorate the start of the holiday season with its spectacular Tree Lighting Celebration. This year’s event takes place Friday, November 24, and promises a day-full of fun events and activities that have become a holiday tradition for many families. And best of all, it’s all free.
It begins at the resort’s Play Pool, where the holiday begins as a crowd-pleasing DJ spins favorites and requests from 12 PM to 3 PM, then relocates to Captiva House for another two hours of holiday music. Around 6 PM as darkness descends, the live sounds of the popular Gatlin will fill the air — as one holiday display after another throughout the resort’s 13 beaches-to-bay acres are illuminated by more than 100,000 lights. Then, comes the double grand finale: the lighting of the 30-foot Christmas tree that fronts Captiva’s beach, followed by a 10-minute fireworks show choreographed to holiday music.
“There are few holiday celebrations in Southwest Florida that are more of a tradition than our annual Tree Lighting Celebration,” says Tony Lapi, Chief Executive Officer of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts. “In some cases, we’re seeing third generations of families attending the event. It’s a way we can say thank you and give back to the many visitors and residents who’ve supported us each year.”
While the ‘Tween Waters Tree Lighting Celebration is presented to the community at no charge, overnight accommodations are available, as well as dinner at the resort’s two top-rated TripAdvisor restaurants: Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, and Captiva House. Spoiler alert: make your overnight or dinner reservations in advance if you can, and be advised that parking, while free, is limited (so come early and stay late).
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