Photo essay: People pour onto Siesta Key to welcome the 2019 holiday season

Observers say Light Up Siesta marked its largest crowd ever

The Jolly Old Elf himself arrives in Siesta Village. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens

Marking its 35th year, the annual Light Up Siesta Key event, held on Nov. 30, drew what observers believe was its largest crowd ever.

Attendees arrived early to secure the best curbside spots from which to watch the Village Holiday Parade. Musical entertainment and a demonstration by students of the Red Tiger Martial Artsschool were among the added features of the festivities, which officially kicked off the holiday season on Siesta Key.

One young visitor is not too sure who this person is with the big smile and the red and white suit. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens

People of all ages made up the spectators, who welcomed Santa Claus as he arrived by boat — albeit a vehicle-drawn vessel. Santa then settled in at Siesta Center, where he listened to children’s wishes for holiday gifts.

The parade itself offered a wide array of entries, including an assortment of vehicles adorned for the season.

One family group camps out at curbside in Siesta Village before dusk arrives. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens

Light Up Siesta is sponsored by merchants, businesses and friends of Siesta Key.

Island resident Peter van Roekens graciously shared these scenes with The Sarasota News Leader.

Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Thanks to representatives of Algae Army, snow comes to Siesta Village during part of the parade. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Some parade participants find no need for a vehicle to traverse Ocean Boulevard. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
The crowd thickens as dusk nears. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Big Olaf’s offers not only a good vantage point for viewing but also treats to try as part of the fun. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Even pets get into the spirit of the season. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
This visitor takes advantage of a different sort of option for viewing the parade. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
One of Santa’s helpers brings along his surfboard. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Owners of The Cottage, the new MVP pub, the Summer House Restaurant, the Hub Baja Grill, the Beach Club and other properties present a creative float for the crowd. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Siesta Key Sports and Physical Therapy adorns its parade entry with dolphins dressed in holiday attire. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Students of Red Dragon Martial Arts demonstrate some of their skills. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
Village Cafe presents the Pine View School Jazz Band. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens
The photographer gets photographed: Peter van Roekens is ready to capture joys of the holiday season. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens

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