Let There be Lights: Largo Gears up for Holiday Events

LARGO – What we don’t get in snow in Florida, we make up for in lights – lots of lights.

In the case of Largo, 2 million LED lights will illuminate the 70-acre Largo Central Park through New Year’s Day.

But lights are just a small portion of what’s in store, because, since September, Largo’s Recreation, Parks and Arts department has been busy planning and organizing holiday events to transform the city into a winter wonderland.

The centerpiece of that wonderland will be the two Holiday Stroll evenings Dec. 1 and 15 that draw thousands to Central Park.  

“In the course of the evening, we have between 10,000 to 15,000 people, but we almost have that many on a regular weekend night,” said Joan Byrne, Recreation, Parks and Arts director. “There are so many people in the park. We probably get closer to 15,000 for the actual event, but on any given night, it looks like there’s an event going on. We love it that way. It makes all the work putting up a million lights worthwhile.”

Byrne said she is especially excited about a new event, the North Pole Express, which will be held Dec. 7-9. The event takes families on a journey to the “North Pole” aboard the Largo Central Railroad and serves as a fundraiser to help the club build a new storage facility for the trains.

Byrne said the event sold out quickly, but she hopes it will become an annual event, so residents should stay on the lookout next year.

Byrne said there are plenty of other events still available, however.

“We would invite people to participate in as many things as possible,” she said. “Each one has a slightly different twist, so there’s no repeating and it’s always a pleasant experience to go through the park and just enjoy. It’s my favorite place to be during the holidays.”

Here’s a look at what the city has to offer in December.

Holiday Lights in the Park:

WHEN: Runs through Jan. 1, 6 to 11 p.m.

WHERE: Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive

COST: Free to view the lights; $5 per rider for the carousel and Ferris wheel.

This tradition features a holiday light display, carousel and seven-story Ferris wheel that offers a bird’s-eye view of the 70-acre Largo Central Park and more than 2 million LED lights.

Holiday Stroll:

WHEN: Dec. 1 and 15, 6:30-9 p.m.; Holiday Gift Market, 3-9 p.m.

WHERE: Largo Central Park. 101 Central Park Drive

COST: Free to attend.

Largo’s annual two-night event features more than 2 million LED lights, visits from Santa, entertainment and free family-friendly activities for all ages. A variety of crafts, activities and concessions will be available each night. Limited on-site parking for $10 will be available, along with free park and walk from Largo Middle School and the former Everest University site.

The Dec. 1 event, titled Rockin’ Lights Family Fun Night, will feature the tree lighting at 7 p.m., a kids craft tent and chalk art. The Dec. 15 event, titled Let It Snow, will include snow-themed activities for kids, lighted motorcycles at 7:45 p.m. and more.

Both days also will include a Holiday Gift Market that will feature more than 60 local merchants, holiday characters, children’s crafts and fun Christmas photo ops.

Very Merry Christmas Party:

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 5-8:30pm

WHERE: Largo Community Center, 400 Alt. Keene Road

COST: $12 per person for party only; $15 per person for party and tour.

Party for active adult community includes dinner, entertainment and door prizes. Attendees also can purchase the tour ticket and travel on the Jingle Bus to Central Park for a golf cart tour of the holiday lights.

Breakfast with Santa:

WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Highland; 9:30 a.m. Dec. 15 at Southwest

COST: $6 per child, $2 per adult; preregister by Dec. 4.

Event for children age 6 and younger includes holiday crafts and activities as well as a photo op with Santa.

Santa’s Calling:

WHEN: 6-8 p.m. Dec. 10-11

WHERE: Largo Community Center, 400 Alt. Keene Road

COST: Free

Children can talk to the big man himself. If you aren’t available for a call, you may select to receive a personalized letter from Santa. Participants must choose either a phone call or letter. Due to volume of requests, no participant will receive both. Forms are available at all recreation facilities, Largo Library and online.

Sensitive Santa:

WHEN: 1-2:30 p.m. Dec. 15; must register by Dec. 1

WHERE: Largo Community Center, 400 Alt. Keene Road

COST: $5

Designed for youth on the autism spectrum or with other sensory issues, this meet and greet with Santa Claus will be held in a quiet environment complete with visits with therapy dogs and other activities.

Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade:

WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 15, noon-2 p.m.

WHERE: The route begins at Fourth Street Southwest and First Avenue Southwest in downtown Largo.

COST: Free

View dozens of participants, including floats, vintage cars, decorated vehicles, dancers, fire trucks, festive motorcycles, various businesses, nonprofits and community organizations, and of course, Santa. Organized and hosted by Downtown Largo merchants and businesses, and sponsored by the Largo Leader.

Largo High School Madrigals:

WHEN: 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18

WHERE: Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Drive

COST: Free

The Madrigals, Largo High School’s elite vocal ensemble, will perform. Music and refreshments also will be provided.

Dunk the Halls Basketball Tournament:

WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 22

WHERE: Highland Recreation Complex, 400 Highland Ave.

COST: $50 per team

Tournament featuring three-person basketball teams. Preregister at any recreation facilities.

Elves Workshop:

WHEN: 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22

WHERE: Highland Recreation Complex, 400 Highland Ave.

COST: $4 per child

The Largo Teen Volunteers will help kids ages 4-8 play mini games and create presents for the holidays. The little elves will enjoy tasty themed treats and leave with a special present. RSVP at the Highland Recreation Complex or by calling 727-518-3016 no later than Dec. 15.

Happy Noon Year’s Eve:

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 31

WHERE: Largo Community Center, 400 Alt. Keene Road

COST: $8 per person

Party features dancing, entertainment, door prizes, light refreshments and a champagne toast at noon. The party is open to all, but is primarily a senior adult function.

SOURCE: tbnweekly.com