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GreaterJax™ Rings in the Holidays: December 4-10

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Despite the 80-degree temperatures, December and the Christmas holidays are with us here in northeast Florida.

To keep your holiday spirits up, here are the fun and family-friendly holiday events planned for just this weekend.

So what if you’re in shorts for your picture with Santa this year?

Best to play it where it lays.

GJE

ALACHUA COUNTY

  • Christmas Tree Village – Through Dec. 25, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Greathouse Butterfly Farm, 20329 NE State Rd. 26, Earleton, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public, sleigh rides FREE with any purchase. See Santa's workshop, the Sweet Shoppe, a snow scene and so much more. Choose your Christmas tree, create a Christmas craft, and enjoy one of our yummy Santa snacks. Plus, let the kids write a letter to Santa and they will even get a letter back from Santa himself. Santa visits every Sat.and Sun. until Christmas. Photos with Santa printed while you wait. For more information, please call 352-475-2088.
  • Mr. Jack Daniels Original Silver Cornet Band: Hometown Christmas – Wed., Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m. University of Florida Auditorium, Gale Lemerand Dr. & Museum Rd., Gainesville, Fla. Admission: Call Box Office for prices at 352-392-ARTS (2787). Holidays favorites and an affectionate re-creation of a small-town band from Lynchburg, Tenn., around the turn of the 20th century, Mr. Jack Daniels Original Silver Cornet Band has been transporting audiences to a bygone era for more than 30 years. For more information, please call 352-392-ARTS (2787).
  • St. Andrew's Day Evensong – Sun., Dec. 1, 5-6:30 p.m. Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 100 NE First St., Gainesville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. The Holy Trinity Choir, bagpipers, and Scottish singing and dancing. A reception (wine and hors d'oeuvres) follows the service. For more information, please call 352-372-4721.

CLAY COUNTY

  • 10th Annual Parade of Trees Lighting – Sat., Dec. 7-Jan. 1, 2014. Historic Spring Park, Magnolia Ave. behind City Hall, Green Cove Springs, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. A display of 150 trees adopted and decorated by residents, business and other groups and organizations. For more information, please visit www.greencovecivic.org.
  • 14th Annual Christmas on Walnut – Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Historic Spring Park at Walnut St. & Magnolia Ave., Green Cove Springs, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Ring in the holidays with live music local artists and church and school choirs, food, arts & crafts and FREE photos with Santa. For more information, please visit www.greencovesprings.com.
  • 46th Annual Green Cove Springs Christmas Parade – Sat., Dec. 7, Noon. Magnolia Ave. from the old Revels Chevrolet dealership to Palmer St., Green Cove Springs, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Old of the oldest Christmas parades in northeast Florida. This year’s theme is “Home for Christmas” with floats, marching bands and dance teams, and, of course, Santa’s official arrival. Co-sponsored by the City of Green Cove Springs and the Soul Food Festival Foundation, Inc. For more information, please call Kim Thomas, Parade Coordinator, at 904-797-7500, ext. 3325 or visit www.greencovesprings.com.
  • Beautiful Light: A Christmas Concert – Sun., Dec. 8, 6 p.m. First Presbyterian Church, 300 Gum St., Green Cove Springs, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. For more information, please call 904-284-9261.
  • Holly Hill Memorial Park Luminaria Service – Tues., Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m. Holly Hill Memorial Park, 3601 Old Jennings Rd., Middleburg, Fla. A unique outdoor service to honor loved ones. Southeast Area Navy Band Saxophone Quartet performs holiday music from 6-7 p.m. Reading of names begins at 7 p.m. For more information, please call 904-282-9336.
  • O Little Town – Fri., Dec. 6 & Sat., Dec. 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Orange Park Methodist Church Youth Facility, 2060 Astor Ave., Orange Park, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. A Bethlehem experience for the whole family. For more information, please call 904-264-2241 or visit opumc.net.
  • Orange Park United Methodist Hall Bell Choir – Tues., Dec. 9, 6:30-7:30 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.

DUVAL COUNTY

  • 12th Annual Gingerbread House Extravaganza – Mon.-Sat. through Dec. 21. Old St. Andrew’s 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: $5 Adults, $3 Kids, FREE parking. Presented by the Jacksonville Historical Society. Themed holiday trees by the Junior League of Jacksonville. For more information, please call 904-665-0064.
  • Christmas in Avondale – Sat., Dec. 7, 6 p.m. St. Johns Ave., Riverside, Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Volunteer carolers from local organizations, horse-drawn carriage rides, music, an ice slide and more. For more information, please visit on.fb.me/ZnCjkY.
  • Christmas with the Sassy Tappers – Thurs., Dec. 5, 2:30 p.m. St. Catherine Laboure Manor, 1750 Stockton St., Jacksonville, Fla. For more information, please visit sassytappers.com.
  • First Coast Nutcracker – Fri., Dec. 6 8 p.m., Sat., Dec. 7, 2 & 8 p.m., Sun., Dec. 8, 2 p.m. Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, 300 Water St., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: $18-$50. With the Jacksonville Symphony. Accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys for the Salvation Army. For more information, please call 904-354-5547 or visit jaxsymphony.org.
  • Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra Holiday Concert – Tues., Dec. 9, 7-9 p.m. Jacoby Symphony Hall, Times-Union Center, 300 W. Water St., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. For more information, please visit jaxyouthorchestra.com.
  • Jax Illuminations – Through Jan. 5, 6-10 p.m. nightly. Morocco Shrine Center, 3800 St. Johns Bluff Rd. S., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: See website for rates. Over 400,000 LED lights that dance, twinkle and sparkle to some of your favorite holiday songs. For more information, please call 904-316-5673 or visit www.jaxilluminations.com.
  • Living Nativity – Fri., Dec. 6, 7 p.m. & Sat., Dec. 7, 7 & p.m. Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church, 4001 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. 20-minute performances for the whole family. Live music, costumed cast and live animals. For more information, please call 904-396-7745 or visit www.habchurch.com.
  • A Yappy Hour Christmas Paw-ty – Sun., Dec. 8, 2-5 p.m. Jacksonville Landing, 2 Independent Dr., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Dog photos with Santa for a donation. Holiday drink specials, a pet food drive and live entertainment. For more information, please call 904-353-1188 or visit jacksonvillelanding.com.

NASSAU COUNTY

  • Amelia Island Holiday Home Tour – Fri., Dec. 6 & Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Historic District, Fernandina Beach, Fla. Admission: $25 before Dec. 6, $30 days of event. Tour several of Amelia Island’s loveliest, private homes in Fernandina Beach’s historic district during the Amelia Island Museum of History’s seventh annual celebration of the holiday season. For more information, please visit www.ameliahometours.com.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY

  • 45th Annual Christmas Tour of Homes – Sun., Dec. 8., Noon-5 p.m. Downtown St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: $20 in advance, $25 day of tour. Visit six private homes in the Historic Downtown within walking distance of each other dating from the 1800's with eye-catching seasonal decorations and floral arrangements designed and hand crafted by members of The Garden Club of St. Augustine. Includes Afternoon Tea and a visit to our “Unique Boutique,” which features delicious homemade treats and beautifully hand-designed items created by our members. For more information, please call 904-825-4614 or visit www.gardenclubofstaugustine.org/TourofHomesInformation.html.
  • 59th Annual St. Augustine Christmas Parade – Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-Noon. Plaza de la Constitución, 1 King St., St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. One of the oldest and largest Christmas parades in north Florida. Floats, marching bands, cars, horses and the arrival of Santa. Pictures with Santa in the Plaza following the parade.
  • Charles’ Dickens A Christmas Carol – Fri., Dec. 6 & Sat., Dec. 7. The Pioneer Barn at Ft. Menendez, St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: $25. A Classic Theatre Benefit. For more information, please call 904-829-5807 or visit oldfloridamuseum.com.
  • Holiday Sing-Along with the Friday Musicale Chorus – Fri., Dec. 6, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday Musicale, 645 Oak St., Jacksonville, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. For more information, please call 904-355-7584 or visit www.fridaymusicale.com.
  • The Holly Jolly Holiday Trolley – Through Jan. 4, 2014, 6-8 p.m. Visitors Information Center, 10 W. Castillo Dr., St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: Adults $9/$12 weekends, Kids $4, includes tax, fees, hot apple cider, homemade cookies, magical viewing glasses & a visit with Santa. New this year: A stop at the Colonial Quarter by Candlelight with complimentary admission to the new admission. Vote for your favorite holiday lights display in our Light Up the Night! contest. For more information, please call 904-257-8595 or visit www.TrustedTours.com.
  • Nutcracker Tea – Sun., Dec. 8, 1-4 p.m. The Palencia Club, 600 Palencia Dr., St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: $25 pre-paid reservation. Proceeds benefit Palencia Elementary School. Dancers from the St. Augustine Ballet’s Nutcracker will perform at a special Nutcracker Tea with refreshments and hot chocolate. Guests can have their pictures taken with a ballet dancer. Two seatings available. For more information, please visit www.palencianutcrackertea.com.
  • Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train – Through Jan. 6 (excluding Dec. 25). Sun.-Thurs. 6-8 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 9 p.m. Ripley’s Believe It or Not, 19 San Marco Ave., St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: Adults $7, Kids $4, Dec. 2-20, Fla. residents 50% off with ID. Fmaily-friendly movies, marshmallow decorating and a visit from Santa on Friday and Saturday nights. For more information, please call 904-824-1606 or visit ripleys.com/redtrain.
  • St. Augustine Beach Surf Illumination – Sat., Dec. 7, 4-7 p.m. St. Augustine Beach Pier Park, 350 A1A Beach Blvd., St. Augustine, Fla. Admission: FREE & open to the public. Complements the seasonal lighting of A1A in St. Augustine Beach. Includes lighting of the town tree by the mayor, food and beverages offered by local restaurants and many local arts and crafts venders. Visits with Santa, live music and traditional carolers. For more information, please visit www.thecivicassociation.com.

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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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