ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys —Though fall and winter daytime temperatures average in the 70s in the subtropical Florida Keys, sandal-clad kids still play in the snow every year. Magical flakes of the white stuff are scheduled to “fall” at the annual Florida Keys Holiday Festival set for 4-9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, at Islamorada’s Founders Park, mile marker 87 bayside.
The festival’s centerpiece is a children’s area featuring a 20-ton mountain of actual snow. Kids who have never seen snow can join with those more experienced in snowman sculpting to create one complete with corncob pipe and button nose before the snow melts.
Other event highlights include the Santa Paws Pet Parade, designed to provide a tail-waggin’ good time for pets decked out in holiday finery. Prizes await “party animals” that are best dressed or perform the best trick. Any domestic animal is welcome to participate and entry is free.
During the evening, fur is to give way to fir as a 35-foot-tall community Christmas fir tree is lighted at 6 p.m. while carolers sing.
The youngsters who win the Mr. Gingerbread Man and Mrs. Sugarplum Fairy contests are to be announced during the family-friendly community gala.
Vendors plan to offer arts and crafts in a holiday bazaar and gourmet foods and extraordinary wines in “Vino Village.” In addition, nearly 40 artists are expected to donate handcrafted ornaments that will be displayed, juried and sold by silent auction.
Themed “It’s A Small World,” the annual holiday parade is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., and its grand marshal is to be State Representative Ron Saunders.
Led by the local high school’s Hurricanes marching band, parade participants typically include decorated floats and antique cars, with a showstopper Santa also to make an appearance at the festivities. The parade route proceeds from the Founders Park main entrance through the park before finishing at the southern gate.
Admission to the Holiday Festival is free, but donations are to be collected for parking.
For more information, contact the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce at (800) 322-5397 or visit www.islamoradachamber.com/events.
To find out about area accommodations, call the chamber or explore the official Web site of the Florida Keys & Key West at www.fla-keys.com.