Erin McGrogan makes holiday cookies with her daughters, Emily and Ashlyn. Erin is the blogger Delray Mom, who ferrets out fun events for kids. Photo provided
By Janis Fontaine
For many, the coronavirus pandemic is a memory and the calendar is packed. If you’re planning your holidays, check the details, or find someone reliable to do it for you.
Consider Erin McGrogan, a Delray Beach mother of two, who keeps a calendar of family-friendly events updated year-round on her website, delraymom.com. McGrogan also owns Keene Designs, a graphic design company, and says she started her Delray Mom site five years ago because finding fun events for her daughters in one centralized location was a challenge.
“We wanted things to do as a family and we like to stay local,” McGrogan said.
Her daughters, Ashlyn, now 10, and Emily, 7, were so excited about all the events they wanted to put up decorations and play Christmas music right after Halloween.
So, what tops their list?
“We love going ice skating at the tree in Delray Beach,” McGrogan said.
Well, it isn’t really ice and you don’t wear ice skates, but McGrogan’s Florida-born-and-raised daughters don’t know any different. A twirl or two is all it takes and it’s on to tour the tree.
Delray Beach’s iconic 100-foot tree has been welcoming visitors since 1993. The tree lighting has become a symbol marking the start of the holidays, and a visit to the tree is a tradition for many families.
Adorned with 18,000 ornaments and boasting 217,980 individual LED lights, the tree is worth a trip even if you’ve seen it before. At the adjacent Holiday Village, activities for kids such as carousel rides and skating are offered through Dec. 31.
One tradition the McGrogan family missed during the pandemic was visiting Santa in Town Center Boca Raton. The mall has been a go-to for Santa visits since it opened in 1980.
“They have a really good Santa,” McGrogan said, “and I just read Neiman Marcus is having Breakfast with Santa.”
Santa is on site daily until Christmas Eve. Reservations are recommended at whereissanta.com.
Neiman Marcus serves breakfast to Santa and his guests at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 10 at the mall store. Tickets are $50 for kids aged 3-12 and $60 for adults at www.eventbrite.com. Search “Neiman Marcus breakfast with Santa.”
The McGrogans do have one tradition that takes them out of the county: the Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Tradewinds Park on Sample Road in Coconut Creek. The drive-thru adventure boasts “3 miles of giant, animated holiday lights and illuminated trees.”
The park is only 10 miles from downtown Boca Raton. Pack some hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. The display is open from 6-10 nightly through Jan. 1.
Tickets are $24 per car. For more information, visit https://holidaylightsdrivethru.com.
The light display is a stay-in-your-car event, and for some people who still don’t like big gatherings among strangers, that’s a good thing. The reality is, many of us have a new mentality when it comes to celebrating in large groups.
That’s one reason Mizner Park organizers again decided to spread the joy over several weeks. Instead of one big night of entertainment, the city hosts four mini-celebrations called “Merry in Mizner,” a free event from 6-9 p.m. Fridays through Dec. 23.
New lighting displays and decorations — more than 50,000 LED lights and other embellishments — have created a stunning holiday milieu.
“The goal was to capture an enchanted, wintry forest feeling,” said Amy DiNorscio, the amphitheater and community events manager at the city of Boca Raton.
And since icicles and ice crystals — which along with snow are nature’s contribution to the perfect Northern Christmas tableau — don’t form naturally in Florida, the decorators found a way to replicate the effect. Guests can meander under the glow of twinkling lights and enjoy different strolling entertainers performing each week.
DiNorscio says that spreading the holiday celebration over several nights lets more people visit.
“There’s been lots of anticipation around all of the events. The parade response has been wonderful,” DiNorscio said.
Nearly 70 floats will make their way down Federal Highway on Dec. 7 in Boca Raton.
For people who prefer their parades with a water backdrop, the city’s 48th annual Holiday Boat Parade takes place at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17.
It lights up the Intracoastal Waterway beginning at the C-15 canal at the Boca Raton/Delray Beach line and travels south to the Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge in northern Broward County. Public viewing areas include Red Reef Park, Wildflower Park and Silver Palm Park in Boca Raton.
South County’s other annual boat parade starts 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9 from near the Boynton Harbor Marina and goes to the C-15 canal.
Janis Fontaine writes about tots and teens. Contact her at email@example.com
If You Go
The 100-Foot Christmas Tree and Holiday Village, Delray Beach
When: Through Dec. 31. Hours are:
• 5-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 1-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 21.
• 1-9 p.m. Dec. 22-23 and Dec. 26-31.
• 5-9 p.m. Dec. 24-25.
Where: Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave.
Cost: Carousel rides are $4 except Dec. 24-25 when rides are free. Ice skating is $4. A ride-all-day wristband is $12. Walk-thru tours of the tree are free.
Merry in Mizner
When: 6-9 p.m. Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23.
Where: Mizner Park, Plaza Real, Boca Raton.