A different season

8238003656?profile=RESIZE_710xActor Michael Walters, well known to audiences at The Wick Theatre in Boca Raton, portrays the jolly old elf while doing a personalized video call as part of LiveSantaCalls.com. Tim Stepien / The Coastal Star

Keeping the holiday spirit alive in 2020

By Mary Thurwachter

If ever there were a year we all “need a little Christmas,” 2020 would be it. This year has been a downright slog, after all, courtesy of COVID-19. It continues to be a very different year and this will be a different holiday season.

Expect awkward moments under the mistletoe because strangers who find themselves beneath the berried plant — a symbol of love and an invitation to smooch — are too close and in violation of CDC social distancing guidelines. That could land them on Santa’s naughty list. (Somehow a spirited elbow bump doesn’t feel adequate.)

Mistletoe missteps aside, there are still many nice things happening to keep the season alive in this year of change. Like so many other events, holiday happenings are often taking a virtual spin.

Children will still be able to chat with Santa, he’ll just be less up close and personal.

8238011259?profile=RESIZE_710xBoca Raton Town Center: Socially distanced photos with Santa are part of the holiday at the mall. Photo provided

At Town Center in Boca Raton, there will be no sitting on Santa’s lap, no tugging on his beard. The jolly fellow in a red suit will be staying socially distant and he’ll be wearing a mask or shield. Little folks who come to be photographed with him will need to don the requisite masks, too.

Wish lists can be shared with Santa, but there will be no direct contact. Walk-up visits are available as space allows, but reservations — for visits through Dec. 24 — can be made at www.WhereIsSanta.com and are strongly encouraged.

Lantana’s Winterfest (www.lantana.org/enjoy-lantana-events) turns into a drive-by experience this year. Santa will wave to kids 12 and younger in cars as they parade by him from 6-7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Sports Park (903 N. Eighth St.). Volunteers will hand out candy canes and gift bags to the children in the cars during the free event open to residents only.

Photos of Santa with his signature on them will be distributed.

A new link to the North Pole’s most famous resident is offered this year via LiveSantaCalls.com.

Two well-known South Florida actors, Michael Walters and Joe Zimmer, are offering virtual video chats that allow family members to personalize their children’s holiday experience with special messages and add festive options — including a cameo from Mrs. Claus, a story-time segment and a video Christmas card. Prices start at $50.
For reservations, visit www.livesantacalls.com.


O Christmas Tree!

Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach have canceled tree lightings, but the trees we are used to admiring every year will still be there.

• Boca’s 25-foot holiday tree, with more than 7,500 lights, can be enjoyed in Sanborn Square through New Year’s Day, and a 47-foot animated holiday tree at the south end of Mizner Park near the Yard House restaurant will be twinkling for the holidays. Free musical tree performances are scheduled daily starting at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.

• Delray Beach has already erected and lit its 100-foot Christmas tree at Old School Square. But the tree’s interior isn’t open for public viewing because of the pandemic, and the tree-lighting ceremony has been canceled.

The menorah-lighting ceremony will be virtual and can be viewed at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10 on the city’s Facebook page.

Outdoor shows in the pavilion at Old School Square include Christmas with the Nelsons at 8 p.m. Dec. 5. It tells the story of three family Christmases in the lives of America’s “First Family of Entertainment,” the Nelsons, featuring Matthew and Gunnar Nelson.

Also: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Wild and Swingin’ Holiday Party is set for 8-11 p.m. Dec. 11 at Old School Square.

Pod seating is available for both performances. A $100 pod is similar to buying four tickets for $25 per ticket. For parties of one to four, only one ticket purchase is necessary. For parties of five to eight, two tickets must be purchased. For parties of nine to 12, three tickets must be purchased. 

• West Palm Beach welcomes the return of the star of its annual Holiday in Paradise starting Dec. 5 on the waterfront: Sandi, the world’s only 35-foot, 700-ton holiday sand tree.
New this year will be a synchronized show with the city’s soon-to-be-completed Centennial Square Fountain, where the water will “dance to the music.” Sandi will host daily music and light shows, 6-10 p.m. through New Year’s Eve.


Home Tour goes virtual

The Delray Beach Home Tour will host a series of virtual events as a way to connect safely during the holidays and “Experience Holiday Traditions from Home.” The event benefits Achievement Centers for Children & Families.

8238006264?profile=RESIZE_710xDelray Beach Home Tour: In one of the tour’s virtual events, Grace Gdaniec, manager of the Arts Warehouse gallery, provides instruction on how to create your own wrapping paper with a starry night theme. www.artswarehouse.org/overview Photo provided

8238009069?profile=RESIZE_180x180Participants can enjoy holiday decorating tips, fun recipes and holiday surprises provided by Delray Beach leaders, movers and shakers. For a $20 donation, participants will receive weekly emails, starting this month, that will feature videos starring community leaders, current and future home tour hosts, ACCF staff, families, and tour committee members.

Participants will be entered into a drawing to win a home tour basket, an in-person catered home tour committee cocktail party, or two home tour tickets for a future tour.

“We were very disappointed to cancel our annual event, but we are excited about this new adventure and to share our holiday traditions with the community,” says event co-chair Kari Shipley.

For tickets or more information, email Events@accffoundation.org.


Christmas classics

• A special presentation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol — a reading of the 1843 novella by artists who have been integral to Palm Beach Dramaworks — will be offered at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21. The prerecorded show features a large cast and artwork. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. Tickets to plays can be reserved by calling the box office, 561-514-4042, Ext. 2, or by visiting www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.

• Although Boca Ballet Theatre canceled live performances of The Nutcracker, a video production has been recorded complete with cast, costumes and scenery. Boca Ballet school’s dancers are joined by three professional guest artists. 
Tickets are available at $25 for the video production at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 or 2 p.m. Dec. 13. To register, visit www.bocaballet.org/season.

• The Bolshoi Ballet’s recorded performance of The Nutcracker can be viewed at 2 p.m. Dec. 20 at The Society of the Four Arts Gubelmann Auditorium, 100 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students. For reservations, call 561-655-7226 or visit www.fourarts.org. 


Kwanzaa celebration

Local artists and professional artisans will perform and work from 2-5 p.m. Dec. 26 at Kuumba Village at Spady Cultural Heritage Museum to celebrate Kwanzaa. Participants can create their own masterpieces to give during the holiday season. Kwanzaa is observed from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. This free event will take place outside the museum at 170 NW 5th Ave., Delray Beach. COVID-19 protocols will be practiced. For details, call 561-279-8883 or visit www.spadymuseum.com.


Other holiday events

8238012866?profile=RESIZE_710xLake Worth Playhouse: The Divas Holiday Party on Dec. 16 has limited tickets with assigned seating. Photo provided

• The Lake Worth Playhouse will have the annual Divas Holiday Party at 8 p.m. Dec. 16. Some of the theater’s favorite queens will sing holiday songs and perform skits for a comically good time.

Tickets, at $20 each, are limited with social distancing guidelines in mind. For reservations, call 561-586-6410, or visit www.lakeworthplayhouse.org.

• The Arts Garage, 94 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach (www.artsgarage.org), has two holiday concerts planned. A Bahamian concert featuring the Togetherness Band is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 18. A Christmas concert featuring local choirs will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 19. Tickets are $25 for each.

• Zoo Lights!, presented by Florida Power & Light Company, illuminates the Palm Beach Zoo, 1301 Summit Blvd., West Palm Beach, with more than 1 million eco-friendly lights on display Dec. 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29 and Jan. 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9. Unique themed displays stretch from the entrance through the Florida Wetlands and Tropics of the Americas. Photos with Santa are available until Dec. 23. Admission plus zoo lights tickets are $14.95 adults, $12.95 children 12 and under, free for kids under 2. For details, call 561-547-9453 or visit www.palmbeachzoo.org. 


Churches, synagogues

Many churches will hold Christmas services virtually.

• St. Lucy Catholic Church, 3510 S. Ocean in Highland Beach (www.stlucycommunity.com), displays its Nativity scene, but the town isn’t planning a lighting ceremony. 

• Temple Beth El will have an elaborate eight-day virtual Hanukkah, Dec. 10-17, on Facebook and its website. For details, visit www.tbeboca.shulcloud.com/chanukah2020.

For more on what the churches have planned, see Religion Notes, page AT17.


For four-legged friends

Pet Supermarkets are having a “Pet sELFie” holiday event from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 5. Santa’s elves will hand out free stocking stuffers, while supplies last, to the pets on Santa’s “Nice List” and assist customers and their furry friends by taking their pictures in front of a holiday-themed backdrop. 

Stores will collect pet food donations to give to local animal shelters and rescues during the holiday season. For details, visit www.petsupermarket.com.

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