By LINDA CHION KENNEY
This year’s draw for the Tampa Bay Festival of Lights and Santa’s Village can be summed up in an impromptu seasonal thing, “candy creation, reindeer feeding station, hayrides and patio, lights, sights and‘ smores ’.
In a nutshell, family-friendly sights and activities are the highlight of the annual multi-day festival, which started on Thanksgiving and runs through the day after Christmas at Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover.
“We were here when she was a year old, and now we’re back, and it’s bigger,” David Kohut told the festival with his six-year-old daughter, Maia, who had just created her own snowflake ornament. . “She’s having fun,” Kohut said.
“I painted it white and I added glitter to it,” Maia said of the artwork she planned to hang on her newly acquired “Alf on the Shelf” at home. “I like that I got some parts to have a lot of glitter and some parts not.”
The festival, which features an almost 2-mile transit of lights, ends its run on Sunday, January 2nd. The price to participate is $ 25 per. vehicle with up to eight people.
Outside the car and inside Santa’s workshop in Santa’s village, participants pay for some activities, which overall include arts and crafts and the opportunity to take a picture with Mr. and Mrs. Santa, before or after a visit to the face painting station. The price of a tractor-drawn hayride to see the lights from a different perspective costs $ 2 per passenger.
Laura Palacio was in the village with her 4-year-old daughter, Zara Sofia, who said, “The paint is really cool,” about the colorful hand-painted butterfly on her face.
“It’s very family friendly,” Palacio said of the event in general. “I loved the lights and being able to see Santa Claus and the face paint. There are just so many activities.”
Outside the workshop, participants roasted marshmallows to their ‘smores’, and the food stations offered a range of treats and beverages, including buttermilk dogs, bubble waffle ice cream, apple cider (cold and hot), hot chocolate, coffee, kettle corn, cookies, cupcakes, candy canes, tacos, kebbs , nachos and street corn.
In addition to an outdoor seating area where you can watch holiday movies and shorts, the offerings include a small animal zoo, a camel ride and other games and activities, including corn holes. Backdrop walls with seasonal graphics entice participants to take their own photo memorials or share on social media channels.
It was here that Sione, Vernonica, Nathaly and Nallely posed for a photoshoot of Anita Gomes, a sports teacher at the Immanuel Lutheran Church School in Brandon.
Veronica said she liked the children’s zoo best; Sione and Nallely, the camel ride; and Nathaly, the food. As for Anita Gomes: “I like that I can take the kids with me and they can have fun.”
As for the candles themselves, the seasonal and native themes include Santa Claus, elves, angels, Christmas trees, wrapped gifts and candles, along with alligators, crocodiles, starfish, dolphins and golf.
The image as a light show “designed to appeal to all ages and backgrounds” and the theme “Florida and traditional winter vacations representing Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and more”, the display is provided by Brandano Displays Inc., nationally known for its community holiday show events.
Santa’s Village is also covered in light, with reportedly more than 3,000 feet of light on buildings and 500 animated drip lights on trees.
The Festival of Lights and Santa’s Village started on November 25 and runs through Sunday, January 2. Hours are 6pm to 10pm at Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover, at 215 Sydney Washer Road. Price is $ 25 per hour. vehicle with room for up to eight people. Buy tickets online at www.hillsboroughcountyfair.com/.