Fort Lauderdale- Light Up the Beach
Mayor Jack Seiler’s flick of a switch set Fort Lauderdale Beach alight Wednesday night in a twinkling arabesque of seasonal whimsy, signaling the start of the holidays, tropical style.
A crowd of several hundred — families, tourists and dignitaries — applauded and gasped the requisite “Awwww.”
For the sixth year running, the city has decked lamp posts and trees along beachside roadways with custom-designed LED lighting. This year, more than 50,000 lights shimmered along Las Olas Boulevard and A1A, north and south from where the two roads intersect.
There were 113 white and blue starbursts, 44 snowflakes boasting 300 lights apiece, and 35 palm trees wrapped in 600 lights per tree. The centerpiece, constructed of 20,000 recycled bottles illuminated in colored lights, were two fishes, 20 feet tall, that appeared to be springing from the ground.
People posed before the fish, snapped photos and tentatively touched the clear water bottles.
Eriq Denton, 10, of Fort Lauderdale, pondered the labor involved in affixing thousands of bottles to a styrofoam frame. “They had to do all of this,” he marveled. “They had to do so many bottles, get them up there, glue them.”
Quipped Lyza Latham, also of Fort Lauderdale, “Isn’t this a fish-mas tree?”
The display was sponsored by the Beach Improvement District, made up of beachside businesses; the Beach Community Redevelopment Agency; and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. Contract crews worked a week setting up the elaborate show.
“It’s a way to kick off the holiday season, to invite folks down to the beach for the holidays,” city spokesman Chaz Adams said. “Each year we’ve tried to add a little something to it.”
Sounds of the season accompanied the ceremonial Light up the Beach event.
For its second year, the South Florida Chamber Ensemble — singer Jamie De Oliviera, Myrna Meeroff on French horn, Brian Mirsky on violin, and Marie Schwartz on flute — offered an electrifying accompaniment of seasonal songs. Their repertoire ranged from traditional classics like the Nutcracker to the playful March of the Toys.
“It’s something different that we enjoy,” Meeroff said. “We normally do straight classical programs.” Some in the crowd even falala’d gamely to “Deck the Halls.”
After the lights were lit, the party moved a few blocks south to DC Alexander Park, where the Florida 9thDistrict American Legion Symphonic Band performed its own variety of holiday tunes. A toy soldier stilt walker strode through the crowd. Children played on slides and bounce houses until the event’s conclusion at 8:30 p.m.
Latham, sporting a knit turkey cap, was encouraged to see a bit of seasonal merriment in the tropics. “We don’t get much of the holiday down here,” she said. “No snow angels.” Most of the lights will remain on until February.