December brings holiday fun, South Florida-style

LAKE COUNTIES — Who needs cold weather? The holiday spirit is alive and well in sunny South Florida. Floridians celebrate the holidays with a twist. You don’t need winter clothing to play in the (fake) snow. Instead of a sleigh, Santa may ride a jet ski or a fire truck. The Lake Okeechobee area communities have a rich history of their own holiday traditions.


The City of Okeechobee started the official holiday season with a Christmas tree lighting on Nov. 29.

On Nov. 30, the City will host Santa in the Park by City Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. Santa will also be in the city park on Dec. 1 ,5, 6, 7, and 8, Santa in the Park by City Hall.

By longtime Okeechobee tradition, Santa will also visit children by driving through the streets of the city limits on a fire truck. On Dec. 15, Santa will travel through the Northwest and Northeast sections of the City. On Dec. 16, Santa will tour the Southeast section of the City; and on Dec. 17, Santa on the Fire Truck Southwestern section of the City.

Okeechobee Main Street is preparing for snow on Thursday, Dec. 8, in downtown Flagler Park in conjunction with a Gourmet Food Truck event. Main Street will host a “snow play area” and feature a Christmas movie for the children. The snow will be available at 6 p.m. and the movie will start at 6:30 p.m.

Seawinds Community Outreach in Okeechobee will host the Light Of Hope Community Candlelight Remembrance on Friday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. at Seawinds Funeral Home and Crematory, 3833 S.E. 18th Terrace. Admission is free and open to the public.

Dec. 10 brings the Top of the Lake Christmas Festival and Lighted Christmas Parade.

From the 2015 Okeechobee Lighted Christmas Parade.

From the 2015 Okeechobee Lighted Christmas Parade.

Celebrate the holiday season with Okeechobee Main Street Saturday, Dec. 10, the festival will be in the downtown parks. The festival begins at 10 a.m. and will continue through the end of the annual lighted night parade.

The lighted Christmas parade starts at 6 p.m.

Parade applications have a deadline of Dec. 5, 2016. Parade entries will be limited to 100. For more information, go online to


Join the fun for the 31st Annual Downtown Sebring Carousel of Lights as historic Circle Park illuminates again with an amazing display of festive holiday lights displayed each night from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 26-Dec. 28. In addition to the lights, this event will feature Santa Claus every night, a singing puppet show, kids games and miniature golf.

Highlands Art League, 351 W. Center Ave., Sebring, will host CookieFest on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees can decorate holiday cookies and write a letter to Santa with local Chef Mac as well as participate in arts and crafts projects. For more information, call 863-385-6682 or visit Highlands Art League.

The Sebring Christmas Parade will be held in downtown Sebring on Friday, Dec. 2. The parade will start at 7 p.m. The route will run south, starting at the corner of Sebring Parkway and North Ridgewood Drive, around the Circle, to South Commerce Avenue. It will end at McClain Lane by Firemen’s Field. For more information, contact Garrett Roberts at 352-871-3783.

Christmas at the Jacaranda Hotel, 19 East Main Street in Avon Park, will be open to the public all of December and through Jan. 25. Visit the hotel and halls where Babe Ruth, Clark Gabel and Al Capone once stayed. Step back in time and embrace the magical holiday season at this 1920s historic hotel nestled in the center of the state. Full of traditional and festive holiday décor, the Grand Lobby showcases the 15-foot Christmas Tree, nutcrackers, fireplace and ornate holiday splendor. Enjoy a wonderful buffet lunch or dinner in the Palm and Citrus Dining Rooms. Stroll the Arcade decorated with poinsettias, antique sleigh and lavish decorations. For more information, call 863-453-2211 or go online to


The LaBelle Chamber of Commerce will host a Holiday in the Park event on Saturday, Dec. 10, from noon to 6 p.m. in Barron Park on the Caloosahatchee River off Bridge Street. The celebration will include a craft fair, photos with Santa, kids activities, a Christmas cookie bake sale, food concessions, and live entertainment.

Clewiston residents will Light Up the Night with luminarias for Clewiston’s second annual Christmas Eve curbside candle lighting, on Saturday, Dec. 24, at 6 p.m.


Okeechobee Holiday Happenings as of 11/30/16

Okeechobee hosts holiday events

The City of Okeechobee has planned the following holiday events:
• Nov. 30, Santa in the Park by City Hall from 6 to 8 p.m.
• Dec. 1 ,5, 6, 7, and 8, Santa in the Park by City Hall, from 6-8 p.m.
• Dec. 15, Santa on the Fire Truck Northwest and Northeast sections of the City
• Dec. 16, Santa on the Fire Truck in the Southeast section of the City
• Dec. 17, Santa on the Fire Truck Southwest section of the City.

Lakeport boat parade
The Lakeport Christmas boat parade is on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Harney Pond Canal in Lakeport. It is sponsored by the Lakeport Garden Club. Decorate your boat and join the fun. Admission and entry fee is one new, unwrapped toy for girl/boy per car. Santa will arrive at 5:30 p.m. by firetruck. The boat parade starts at 6:30 p.m. Hot dogs, chili dogs and bowl chili, all served with a bag of chips and drink will be available for $2 and $3. For information, call Tom Mattlin at 863-946-1146 or Lorrine at 863-227-4301.

Holiday pet photo shoot
The Okeechobee County 4-H Picture Perfect Photography Club will hold their Fourth Annual Holiday Pet Photo Shoot on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Tractor Supply, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. While this event is popular with dog owners, it is not limited to dogs. All types of pets are welcome. The photo booth will be set up inside the store. Owners must be able to control their pets, and are responsible for cleaning up any “accidents.” Pet owners may be in the photos with their pets if they wish. Holiday props will be available for use in the photos. A $20 donation includes the sitting fee, one 8” x 10” print, two 5” x 7” prints, and four 4” x 6” prints as well as a CD of all of the images from your photo shoot. Proceeds will be used for 4-H projects and educational trips.

Pet photos with Santa
Bring your fur baby for a pet photo with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Love on a Leash, 218 S.W. 7th Ave., from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. A $20 donation includes an 8”X10” and two 5”X7” photos. All proceeds go to Humane Society Pet Rescue of FL, Okeechobee. Right behind Morgan’s Furniture. Need directions? Call 863-467-1999.

Toy run being held
Big Lake Missions will host their 22nd annual toy run on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 8 a.m. Meet at the Brahman Theater, 1500 S. Parrott Ave. The ride is around Lake Okeechobee and upon returning to Okeechobee there will be lunch at the Okeechobee Sport Complex. For information, contact Roy Reno at 863-634-2275 or Bruce Swinford at 863-697-6433.

Get ready for snow
Okeechobee Main Street is preparing for snow on Thursday, Dec. 8, in downtown Flagler Park in conjunction with the Gourmet Food Truck event on Thursday evening. Main Street will host a “snow play area” and feature a Christmas movie for the children. The snow will be available at 6 p.m. and the movie will start at 6:30 p.m. Main Street needs “snow” sponsors. As an accredited State Main Street, non-profit organization, funds raised from events must be spent for the betterment of the community. Any donations toward this event will help offset the cost of the snow. Any businesses wishing to sponsor the play area will be provided with signage at the area. If you have questions, please call Brittany, Executive Director, at 863-357-6246.

Church holds cookie sale
The Choir of Okeechobee Presbyterian Church, 312 N. Parrott Ave., will hold their annual Christmas Cookie Sale on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Followship Hall – entrance on N.E. Fourth St. For information, call 863-357-0465.

Christmas fundraiser set
The Pregnancy Center will hold a Christmas fundraiser by selling a holiday smoked spiral-cut ham (averages 6-1/2 lb.) and an unbaked apple or pumpkin pie for $50. Orders will be available for pick up on Thursday, Dec. 22, at the Pregnancy Center, 808 N.E. Park St. All orders must be received by Thursday, Dec. 15. To order or for information, call 863-467-8748.

Lighted boat parade planned
The Okeechobee Yatchette Club is again sponsoring the lighted boat parade. The parade is Saturday, Dec. 17, starting at 6 p.m. on Taylor Creek by Burger King, ending at Big Lake Post 10539, 3912 U.S. 441 S.E. All boats were welcome. Boats must be lighted and meet on Taylor Creek by Burger King at 5:30 p.m. For information, call Ellen at 863-824-0681.


The Lake Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and now includes news from around the lake every Wednesday.

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