With the Grinch slinking in behind him, Santa Claus arrived in Franklin County from the North Pole right on time Friday, stepping off the Miss Carolyn Ann shrimp boat to an adoring crowd at Riverfront Park in Apalachicola.
After selfies with the many families that waited for his arrival, Santa joined Mrs. Claus at a seat set up to hear children’s wishes, the Jolly Old Elfin couple’s visit carefully arranged by Mark and Natalie Parsley.
Meanwhile, the Grinch weaved his way in and out of the long queue of families, with his arrival from Whoville handled by Donna Duncan, chair of the Apalachicola Area Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber volunteers gave out over 300 hot dogs and popped an entire case of popcorn, all given away free along with drinks.
A handful of costumed volunteers assisted Karen Kessel with the giving out of scores of books on behalf of Bring Me A Book Franklin.
“Santa and Mrs. Claus thought it was a wonderful event,” said Chamber Director John Solomon. “The Grinch was very well-received again this year, with many kids wanting the Grinch photos as well.”
The Black Friday celebration proved to be an excellent day for downtown merchants as well, who lined the streets with luminaries.
“Black Friday for our local shops was outstanding,” said Solomon. “I heard from many shops that it was the best day ever, and the restaurants I heard from said they were packed from open to close.
“The celebration was a huge success,” he said. “Everyone that attended left happy, and that is the goal of an event like this, to entertain and make sure everyone enjoys the experience.
“I would like to thank all of the volunteers that came out and gave of their time to help make the event such a success,” Solomon said. “Events like these are so good for the soul to see community members, business owners, and public officials all celebrating the holiday season together.”
This formal opening of the holiday season leads to a busy weekend ahead, beginning with another visit by Santa this Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Project Impact site, at 190 14th Street. All community children are invited, not just Project Impact children.
On Friday evening, beginning at 5:30 p.m., the St. George Island Business Association will host the island’s annual Lighting of the Palms at the lighthouse. The lighting of the palms at dusk, followed by the golf cart parade, and of course a visit from Santa..
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce presents the Holiday Fresh Market, on Avenue E between Market and Water streets. Carrabelle hosts its country market at the Crooked River Lighthouse in Carrabelle, on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On Sunday afternoon, the Ilse Newell Fund for the Performing Arts presents Tallahassee Bach Parley, A Baroque Christmas at 4 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 79 Sixth Street, Apalachicola. Admission is $20 per person, with open seating. A reception will be held in Benedict Hall next door to the church after the concert.