When Santa Claus sailed into Apalachicola Friday afternoon, he
surely knew he would be getting a grand reception.
But just how large, that may have come as a surprise to the
Jolly Old Elf and his wife.
With crisp sunny skies, Riverfront Park was the gathering
place for what was no doubt Apalachicolas largest ever downtown Christmas
After arriving alongside the Grinch aboard the Capt.
TJ, captained by Tommy Ward and his family, Santa
and Mrs. Claus – their visits arranged by Apalachicolas Mark and Natalie
Parsley – spent four solid hours greeting children.
I warm them up, said Mrs. Claus, of how she welcomes apprehensive
youngsters. When they see me, theyre not as scared.
Seated on a Santa chair found by the Parsleys in a thrift
store, St. Nicholas dressed for the occasion in a long robe, patchwork vest and
faux fur hat, reminiscent of a 19th century Father Christmas, his attire sewn by Port St. Joe’s Renee Valentine.
I never rush a child, said Santa
After they told Santa their Christmas wish, the children
could then go to the table of books laid out by Bring Me A Book Franklin, and
pick out an age-appropriate one.
Karen Kessel, who directs the program, said 384 books were
given out, over 100 more than were given out in 2019, the last time the Apalachicola
Bay Chamber of Commerce was able to hold the celebration.
John Solomon, the chambers director, said he and his fellow
volunteers gave out 420 hot dogs and a case of popcorn. We gave out much more than
we have in the past, he said.
He said eight merchants told him they had a record day on Friday,
one of whom was Jon Brubacher, of SGI Threads, who said it was the stores
best day since they opened in May 2019.
Mayor Brenda Ash had the honor of lighting the tree,
actually a net strung with various nautical ornaments, and in her remarks thanked the chamber, the many local merchants who had stayed open, and the
spirit of the supportive audience in celebrating, and shopping, local.
Once lit, the Grinch, whose visit was arranged by Donna
Duncan, kept unplugging it, with Solomon having to keep relighting it. The kids
loved it, he said.
The crew also lit the live tree on the other side of the
On Monday, Dec. 6, Santa will pay a visit to the Apalachicola Margaret Key library from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.