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GreaterJax™ Rings in the Holidays: December 11-17

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While we might get some cooler weather this weekend, Christmas is happening whether it’s 80 degrees or not.

Just ask Santa while the North Pole melts away under his feet.

All around us are concerts and parties and parades – almost more chances for family-friendly fun and good deeds than we can manage in three or four days.

While you plan that next shopping trip to the mall, take some time to remember why you’re shopping in the firs place.

Stay tuned for updates.

GJE

ALACHUA COUNTY

  • Alachua County Youth Orchestra Annual Winter Concert – Sun., Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 315 Hull Rd., Gainesville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Middle school and high school students under the direction of UF Professor Emeritus Gary Langford. This year’s Winter Concert features: Frescobaldi’s Toccata, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Bizet’s Farandole, Polar Express, Jingle Bells Forever, A Hanukkah Festival and Sleigh Ride. For more information, please call 352-392-2787.
  • Alachua County Youth Orchestra Annual Winter Concert – Sun., Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 315 Hull Rd., Gainesville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Middle school and high school students under the direction of UF Professor Emeritus Gary Langford. This year’s Winter Concert features: Frescobaldi’s Toccata, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Bizet’s Farandole, Polar Express, Jingle Bells Forever, A Hanukkah Festival and Sleigh Ride. For more information, please call 352-392-2787.

CLAY COUNTY

  • 11th Annual Whitey’s Light Boat Parade – Sat., Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m. Whitey’s Fish Camp, 2032 County Rd. 220, Fleming Island, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Lighted boats parade on Swimming Pen Creek. Proceeds benefit Clay county’s Safe Animal Shelter and the American Cancer Society. For more information, please call Vickie at 904-269-4198. whiteysfishcamp.com.
  • Christmas on Fleming Island: Sights, Sounds & Sounds – Sat., Dec. 14 & Sun.,Dec. 15, 5 p.m. Hibenia Baptist, 1700 US 17 S, Fleming Island, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Musical presentation, then from 6:30-9-:30 p.m. snow slide, 30’ x 70’ HO train exhibit and refreshmens. For more information, please call 904-529-8944 or visit hiberniabaptist.org.
  • A Clay County Christmas – Sat., Dec. 14, 7 p.m. Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts, 283 College Dr., Orange Park, Fla. Admission: Tickets start at $8. Celebrate the joy of the season for the sixth year as Clay county arts groups and ensembles ring in the holidays with song and pageantry. For more information, please call the Box Office at 904-276-6750.
  • Lakeside Junior High School Chorus – Mon., Dec. 16, 6:30 p.m. Clay County Library Headquarters, 1895 Town Center Blvd., Fleming Island, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. For more information, please call 904-278-3722.
  • Lighted Christmas Parade – Sat., Dec. 14, 6:30-8 p.m. First Baptist Church of Middleburg, 2645 Blanding Blvd., Middleburg, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Parade route: Advance Auto to McDonalds, north side of Blanding only. For more information, please call 904-282-5289 or visit www.middleburgcivicassociation.com.
  • Live Nativity – Fri., Dec. 13 & Sat., Dec. 14, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Christ Church of Fleming Island, 5900 US 17 South, Fleming Island, Fla. FREE & open to the public. Shepherds lead guests to the Christ Child. Petting zoo, family photos, mini concert, refreshments and more. For more information, please visit www.flemingislandnativity.com.
  • Middleburg Light Christmas Parade – Sat., Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m. Downtown Middleburg, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Sponsored by the Middleburg Civic Association. For more information, please visit www.middleburgcivicassociation.com.
  • Orange Park Fire Department Neighborhood Christmas Parade – Fri., Dec. 20. Orange Park, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. For more information, please visit www.townoforangepark.com.
  • Walk Through Bethlehem – Fri., Dec. 13, Sat., Dec. 14 & Sun., Dec. 15 5-9 p.m. Lake Asbury Baptist Church, 2674 Henley Rd., Green Cove Springs, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Join us for an extraordinary guide journey back in time to ancient Bethlehem to experience what life was like in this important biblical city at the time of the birth of Christ. Refreshments, keepsake photo center, bounce house and games. For more information, please call 904-442-5222 or visit www.labcfamily.org.

DUVAL COUNTY

  • Big Orange Chorus Sounds of the Season Christmas Show – Sun., Dec. 15, 3 p.m. University of North Florida, Lazzara Performance Hall, 1 UNF Dr., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: Adults $25, Kids $15, $18 per person for groups of 6+. Men’s barbershop and a cappella singing. For more information, please call Bill Vockell at 904-287-1896 or visit www.BigOrangeChorus.com.
  • Breakfast with Santa – Sat., Dec. 14, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Museum of Science & History, 1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: $20 Non-members (opens Nov. 15), $15 Members (opens Nov. 1). Pancake breakfast with fruit and pastries, science with Santa, the Alien Who Stole Christmas, letter writing and craft stations. For more information, please call 904-396-MOSH or visit www.themosh.org.
  • Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville – Sat., Dec. 14, 9 a.m. until all toys are distributed. Prime Osborne Convention Center, 1000 Water St., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. For Jacksonville children 12 & under. First come, first served for toys and fun for a whole day of celebration. For more information, please call 904-350-1616 or visit www.ccpoj.org.
  • Community Holiday Social – Thurs., Dec. 12, 6-8 p.m. Historic Springfield Community Learning Center, 1601 N. Main St., 2nd floor of the Wells Fargo Bank, Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Music and food samples from Springfield restaurants. For more information, 904-355-2091.
  • Community Nutcracker – Fri., Dec. 13 & Sat., Dec. 14, call or visit website for times. Florida Theatre, 128 Forsyth St., St., 300, Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: call for prices. More than 200 children from northeast Florid audition for and perform. For more information, please call the Florida Theatre box office at 904-355-5661 or visit floridatheatre.com.
  • The Cool Side of Yuletide – Sat., Dec. 14, 3 p.m. Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church, 4001 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: $18 general admission. The Jacksonville Children's Chorus will presents a concert of holiday favorites. Proceeds from the concert will benefit The Jacksonville Children's Chorus's ongoing programming and scholarship funds. For more information, please call 904-353-1636 or visit www.JaxChildrensChorus.org.
  • Family Christmas Caroling Party – Mon., Dec. 16, 7 p.m. The Salem Center, 7235 Bonneval Rd., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Featuring the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus. Door prizes and refreshments. Kids receive a goodie bag of surprises while supplies last. For more information please call 904-641-9626.
  • Holiday Pops – Sun., Dec. 15, 2 p.m. Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, 300 W. Water St., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: $25, FREE for active-duty military in uniform and immediate family. Proceeds benefit the Mayport Navy League. Navy Band Windward Brass Concert. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Salvation Army Christmas Drive and receive a voucher for two free symphony tickets. For more information, please call 904-356-0426.
  • Holiday Wines & Food Tasting – Fri., Dec. 13, 5-8 p.m. Whole Food Market, 10601 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: $5. Proceeds benefit Dreams Come True. Live music and food paired with the top 10 wines of the holidays. For more information, please call, 904-288-110 or visit wholefoodsmarket.com/Jacksonville.
  • Holidazzle! – Sat., Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Riverside Arts Market, 715 Riverside Ave. under the Fuller-Warren Bridge, Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Extended shopping hours, holiday lights, Christmas classics on a 32-foot big screen, hot chocolate and other treats, photo with Santa, strolling carolers and gift wrapping stations. For more information, please visit www.riversideartsmarket.com.
  • Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops – Fri., Dec. 13 & Sat., Dec. 14, 8-10 p.m. Times-Union Center, 300 W. Water St., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: $24-$58. Enjoy all of your favorite songs and carols of the season. For more information, please visit www.jaxsymphony.org/concerts/holiday-pops.
  • Polar Express at Pablo Station – Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m & Sun. Noon-3 p.m. through Dec. 22. Beaches Museum & History Park, 381 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public, donations are encouraged to help support family events at the museum. Meet Santa and the Conductor on a real steam engine and receive their own golden bell. Letters to Santa can be written and posted on the Polar Express. Santa will reply to each letter via email. Crafts, games, and refreshments available. For more information, please visit www.BeachesMuseum.org.
  • Riverkeeper Sunset Holiday Mingle – Thurs., Dec. 12, 4:30-7 p.m. Jacksonville University, 2800 University Blvd. N., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Tours, drinks and light hors d’oeuvres. Join staff members of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Riverkeeper and JU Marine Sciences faculty and members of the. Watch dolphins playing along the shore while the sun goes down and we celebrate the St. Johns River and the work of St. Johns Riverkeeper to protect and restore its health. For more informations, please visit www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org.
  • Saturday with Santa – Sat., Dec. 14, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Museum of Science & History, 1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: See website for prices. Meet and greet Santa from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. – visits with Santa, photos with Santa (bring cameras). Holiday train display holiday crafts. Holiday Planetarium program with Santa, a special science show in the JEA Science Theatre. For more information, please call 904-396-MOSH or visit www.themosh.org.
  • A Snow Day Ice Skating Show – Sat., Dec. 14, 5-7 p.m. Jacksonville Ice & Sportsplex, 3605 Phillips Hwy, Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: $10 General admission, $15 VIP. Holiday show headlined by the First Coast Skating Club competition skaters and Learn to Skate students. For more information, please call 904-399-3223 or visit www.jaxiceandsportsplex.com.
  • Tuba Christmas – Sat., Dec. 14, 2 p.m. Jacksonville Landing, 2 W. Independent Dr., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. More than 100 tubas playing holiday classics. FREE photos with Santa 5-8 p.m. For more information, please call 904-353-1188 or visit jacksonvillelanding.com.
  • Zoolights – Dec. 13-31, call or visit website for schedule. Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens, 370 Zoo Pkwy, Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: $9 Non-members, $7 Members. Celebrate the holiday seasons and create a new family tradition admiring the sparkling lights and brilliant hues at the Zoo. Thousands of LED lights transform the Zoo into a luminous winter wonderland filled with lighted trees and animal silhouettes. Ride the lighted train and the carousel. For more information, please call 904-757-4463 or visit www.jacksonvillezoo.org.

FLAGLER COUNTY

  • Holiday in the Gardens – Sat., Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, 6400 N. Oceanshore Blvd., Palm Coast, Fla. Admission: One non-perishable food time per person or a new, unwrapped toy for the Flagler County Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive. Includes arts and crafts, face painting, games with prizes, vendors a gingerbread contest and a holiday plant sale. “Tea in the Gardens with Mrs. Claus” at 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. includes tea, reindeer sandwiches and storytelling. $5, reservations. For more information, please call 386-446-6780.
  • Palm Coast Starlight Holiday Parade & Event – Sat., Dec. 14, 2-6 p.m. Town Center, 975 Central Ave., Palm Coast, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Family fun all afternoon, with night-time parade featuring lighted floats starting at 6 p.m. For more information, please call 396-986-2323 or visit www.palmcoastgov.com/events.
  • Santa’s Post Office – Sat., Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Meeting Room, Flagler County Library, Main Branch, 2500 Palm Coast Pkwy. N.W., Palm Coast, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Anyone young at heart who would like to send a note to the North Pole is invited to bring in a letter written at home for special delivery to the North Pole. Santa will be visiting the Post Office from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. After the close of the Post Office, a Santa movie will be shown at 1:30 p.m. For more information, please call 386-446-6763.

NASSAU COUNTY

  • Lighted Holiday Parade – Sat., Dec. 14, 6-8 p.m. Downtown Fernandina Beach, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. View the annual lighted holiday parade in downtown Fernandina Beach along Centre Street and Ash Street. This year's theme is the "Wonders of Christmas." For more information, please visit www.fbfl.us/index.aspx?NID=657.
  • 8th Annual Yulee Holiday Festival – Sat. Dec. 14. Yulee Sports Complex, 86142 Goodbread Rd., Yulee, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Parade starts at 10 a.m. Festival follows with arts & crafts, live music, bouncies, pony rides, Winter Wonderland, Santa appearances, food and fun. For more information, please call Connie Daughtry at 904-225-2516.

PUTNAM COUNTY

  • Country Christmas Opry – Sat., Dec. 14, 7-9 p.m. Pomona Park Community Center, 200 E. Main St., Pomona Park, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Christmas music concert featuring local performers to celebrate the holiday season. Intermission features a Christmas cookie buffet with fruit punch and coffee along with a raffle for a Christmas basket of homemade holiday treats. For more information, please mail Joyce Svingala at jsvingala@bellsouth.net or call 386-649-4902.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY

  • 20th Annual Bed & Breakfast Inn Holiday Tour – Dec. 14-15, 1 -5 p.m. Downtown St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: $25, good both days of the tour. Tour 24 historic inns bedecked in holiday decoration based on the culture, history and hoiday traditions of various countries during “Christmas around the World.” For more information, please call 904-374-6260 or visit staugustinebandbtour.com.
  • A Celtic Christmas Celebration – Fri., Dec. 13, 7:45 p.m. & Sat., Dec. 14, 1:45 p.m. The Cathedral Basilica, 35 Treasury St., St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: $20 Advance, $25 door Adults, $5 Kids & students. St. Augustine Community Chorus and the St. Augustine Children’s Chorus. Includes selections from Handel’s Messiah. For more information, please visit www.staugustinecommunitychorus.org.
  • Night in Bethlehem – Fri., Dec. 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Memorial Lutheran Church, 3375 US 1 South, St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Visit the ancient city of Bethlehem, an unforgettable marketplaces, bake bread, make crafts, visit a stable with real animals and talk with Joseph and Mary. Carolers singing favorite Christmas songs. For more information, please call 904-797-8777 or visit www.lutheranchapelschool.com.
  • Regatta of Lights – Sat., Dec. 14, 6 p.m. Matanzas Bay between the Bridge of Lions and the Castillo de San Marcos. St. Augustine Bayfront, 111 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Annual holiday parade of sailboats, trawlers shrimp boats and other vessels decorated with brilliant lighted displays ranging from patriotic to whimsical. Awards for best theme, most colorful, best in class and best overall. For more information, please visit sayc2000.com.
  • Santa Suits on the Loose 5K – Sat., Dec. 7, 8 a.m. St. Johns County Pier, 350 Florida A1A, St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: $35, sign up early to receive a FREE Santa suit for the event. Proceeds benefit St. Augustine Youth Services. For more information, please call 904-471-0932 or visit www.racesmith.com.
  • Sounds of the Season – Fri., Dec. 13, 8 p.m., The Lightner Museum, 25 Granada St., St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: $15 per person. The St. Augustine Orchestra and the Chancel Choir from Christ Episcopal Church perform selections from "Messiah" and "The Nutcracker," two competing versions of "Sleigh Ride, traditional carols featuring the orchestra's brass section. Enjoy Christmas spirituals, cowboy carols, and holiday music from operettas, musicals and movies. Encore Sun., Dec. 15, 3 p.m., Christ Episcopal Church, 400 San Juan Dr., Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. For more information, please visit www.staugustineorchestra.org.

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©2013 All rights reserved.

OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact: kt.4examiner@yahoo.com

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