ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — Despite subtropical air temperatures in the 70s, the forecast calls for snowflakes during the seventh annual Florida Keys Holiday Festival set for 4-10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Islamorada’s Founders Park, mile marker 87 bayside.
The festival centerpiece, a 35-foot-tall holiday tree with “magical” snow blowing from its branches, is to be lighted at 6 p.m. while carolers sing. Mitten-clad children can delight in a 20-ton snow mountain — the island event’s most anticipated crowd-pleasing highlight.
Fir is to give way to fur during the Santa Paws Pet Parade, where prizes await the best-dressed “party animals” or those that perform the best trick. All domestic animals are welcome and entry is free.
Other highlights include live musical and dance performances on the outdoor amphitheater’s stage, as well contests to choose the “Best Baked Goodie,” “Little Miss Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Mr. Gingerbread Man.”
A holiday-themed shopping bazaar is to feature gift items, baked goods and gourmet baskets as well as a holiday ornament silent auction for ornately hand-painted pieces donated by local artists. Wine enthusiasts can sample gourmet foods and fine wines at Vino Village, a traditional festival favorite.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Over-Sea Railroad that connected the Keys to mainland Florida in 1912, the annual holiday parade is to be themed “The Little Train That Could.” The parade is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. with decorated floats including one carrying jolly old Saint Nick. Local historian Irving R. Eyster is to be the parade’s grand marshal.
The event is organized by the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce. Admission is free, but a $5 donation for parking will be collected to help defray costs of the snow mountain.
Festival information: www.islamoradachamber.com/events.cfm or 800-322-5397