Photo courtesy of BETSY CLEMENT A large tree and other light sculptures were lit at the Holiday Light Up in the old Station Square Park in 2003. This year the holiday tradition returns to this location Dec. 4 now that construction on the park is complete. Holiday Light Up to be biggest yet


Article published on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009

CLEARWATER – The Clearwater Downtown Holiday Light-Up returns to Station Square Park this year and is set to be the biggest one yet.

The big event is set for Friday, Dec. 4, 5 to 10 p.m., at the park on the 600 block of Cleveland Street. City officials, Santa and WTVT FOX 13’s Charley Belcher will flip the switch on the 25-foot holiday tree and light up downtown for the holiday season.

The Holiday Light-Up event has existed as long as city staff can remember, said Betsy Clement, public information specialist for the city. It has traveled from the foot of the old bridge to the original Station Square Park, to the Main Library, to the City Hall parking lot, she said, but now it’s back to the park now that construction is complete.

“I think it’s a great way to get the citizens of Clearwater together in the spirit of what it means to be a community and certainly in the warm holiday spirit,” Clement said. “In addition, it’s going to be a lot of fun for kids and parents.”

This will be the second year that the light-up is combined with Miracle on Cleveland Street, and 40 tons of snow will be hauled in for kids to play in and take toboggan rides. The second annual Deck the District wreath decorating contest also will come to a close that night with the winning wreaths being announced right after the tree is lit. All the events are the result of a partnership between the city of Clearwater, the Clearwater Downtown Development Board and the Clearwater Downtown Partnership.

People may still enter the wreath decorating contest. The wreaths must be up to 24 inches in diameter, be decorated by the person submitting the entry, be original, made up of no live or organic materials, weigh no more than 5 pounds, and decorated only with artificial or nonperishable materials. Entries must be completed and delivered to Station Square Park, 612 Cleveland St. on Dec. 4 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Only one entry is allowed per person and must be submitted with a completed entry form. All entries will be exhibited at the park during the Light Up event.

The wreaths will be judged on workmanship, the use of materials, creativity and originality. There will be a first, second, third place and a people’s choice winner, being awarded $100, $50, $25 and $25 respectively. People at the Holiday Light Up will pick the winner of the People’s Choice award. Entrants should pick up their wreath after the judging or else during the week of Dec. 7 at City Hall on the first floor. Wreaths not retrieved by the close of business hours Dec. 11 will be recycled.

The Holiday Light Up will be packed with activities, said Courtney Orr, downtown manager. From 5 to 6 p.m., 12-year-old local singing sensation Sally Gatza will perform, and Radio Disney will provide games and entertainment from 5 to 7 p.m. A reading of “The Night Before Christmas” will begin at 6 p.m., and music by Heartbeat Productions is set from 6:15 to 7:20 p.m. Carolers will entertain the crowd from 7:15 to 7:30 p.m., and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders will sign autographs from 7 to 9 p.m. The tree light up is set for 7:30, followed by the wreath judging and then more music by Heartbeat productions and roaming carolers. The two snow slides will be open until 9:45 p.m. Santa also will be available for pictures from 6 to 7:15 p.m. and between 8 and 8:45 p.m.

Orr said this fun, unique, family event will kick off the holiday season as well as showcase the new downtown.

“I think it shows people it’s a friendly downtown with things to do, and we want to reintroduce people to downtown because it’s a beautiful, waterfront downtown,” Orr said. “We have so many great elements to downtown and we want to show it off.”