It’s hard to believe it’s already December, especially when you live in Tampa. Being from South Jersey December always meant cute scarves, hot chocolate and the ever popular snow day. Here in Tampa it means Christmas lights on palm trees, breaking out your boots when it drops below 65 degrees and a day off to hit the beach (weather pending). While I do miss the atmosphere of Christmas up north and hitting NYC to see the lights and tree in Rockerfeller Center, I don’t miss the black ice and runny nose.
Tampa does its best to bring the Christmas spirit to Florida, and on Friday night that meant their annual tree lightning ceremony. We were excited to go check out the scene and what the night would entail, and apparently, so was the rest of Tampa. There had to be well over 200 people hanging out downtown at Curtis Hixon Park with their blankets and chairs. After spending about 15 minutes trying to find parking we settled on parking on campus and making the short walk to the park. It felt a little weird going to a Christmas celebration in short sleeves and 70 degree weather but once we got there it was like a winter wonderland. Along with the giant tree that was to be lit during the celebration, they also had a large stage on which the Late Night Brass Band and American Idol’s Michael “Big Mike” Lynch performed. With music in the air and a lively crowd, it was time for the tree to be lit.
Check out the countdown below:
(Sorry about the sideways tree, here is a better picture:)
After the big reveal we decided to take ourselves, and our wine- for a walk. While the children settled down in front of the large screen for a showing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (Jim Carrey version)- we made our way through the crowd to check out the food scene. There were about 5 different food vendors on hand to feed the masses, and while we had already ate, each tent looked delicious. After salivating over the smells, we walked up the steps towards to Christmas Market. There was only a few tents open but we were informed the market was also open Saturday morning as well. We made a quick pit stop by Mama’s Whoopie Pies and Ryan was very impresseddd. He even went back for seconds. (sorry Ry) Once past all the tents we went to the biggest tent of all- the ice skating rink. Even though they’ve had the skating rink each year since I’ve lived in Tampa, I’ve never actually gone skating- and Friday night certainly wasn’t going to be my first time. The ice was full of what looked like middle/high schoolers on “date night”. Not our scene.
Once we were all “christmased out” we headed out. With less than a month left till Christmas it was a nice reminder to get our butts in gear. Our decorations are up, but being in Florida it’s easy to forget it’s December. The tree lighting was a great way to kick off the Christmas season and a great example of how involved the community is here in Tampa.
Happy Holidays- Allison