Merry and Bright

Sturart holiday parade
Ho, Ho, Ho, and Joy to the World from a giant jack-in-the-box on a float in the Stuart Christmas Parade hosted by the Visiting Nurse Association. VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION

Celebrate the season by land and sea along the Treasure Coast


Clara falls asleep at the start of The Nutcracker on the Indian River, danced by Ballet Vero Beach this holiday season. BALLET VERO BEACH

The Polar Express, The Messiah, The Nutcracker, lots of parades, many thousands of twinkling lights, festivals, and The Star of Wonder at the planetarium: yes, the holidays on the Treasure Coast are here with all the cheer you could want. Expect the season to be merry and bright now that COVID-19 is mostly in the rear view mirror. 

If you’ve never heard of a holiday boat parade, prepare for a joyful surprise. Cruising after dark, lines of decorated and brightly lighted boats float past viewing points on the Indian River Lagoon leaving sparkling trails of water in their wake. Each county has its own parade at about 6 p.m. on a Saturday — Dec. 10 for Indian River County and Dec. 17 for Martin and St. Lucie counties. 

In Indian River County, go to Royal Palm Point or the Vero Beach City Marina on Dec. 10. On Dec. 17 in St. Lucie County, see the parade from restaurants, parks and other locations along the route including along the inlet, by Harbor Town, the city marina and Causeway Cove Marina. In Martin on Dec. 17, view the parade from Stuart Causeway, Jensen Beach Causeway, Sandsprit Park, or anywhere in the Manatee Pocket. Participating Martin County vessels will assemble just south of the Jensen Beach Causeway.


Ahh, time for your favorite holiday shows and music. Theaters across the Treasure Coast are back in full force with more holiday offerings than ever. Ballet Vero Beach is presenting its version of The Nutcracker on the Indian River adapted to place part of it at the Indian River Lagoon. See the delicate and beautiful Swan Lake presented by the State Ballet Theatre of the Ukraine at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce. The Lyric Theatre in Stuart has several Nutcrackers presented by local dance companies. The Lyric is also offering A Christmas Carol with Scrooge. The Messiah will be sung by Treasure Coast Community Singers at Trinity United Methodist Church in Jensen Beach on Nov. 19.

The Treasure Coast Community Singers provides a seasonal treat with its four-day Holiday Spectacular at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Stuart. Featuring popular holiday music, the singers will bring the right spirit to audiences on Thursday, Dec. 8, and Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 11, at 3 p.m. 

College students perform Holiday Kaleidoscope in Concert at the McAlpin Fine Arts Center on the Indian River State College campus in Fort Pierce on Dec. 3 and 4. 

Have you seen Star of Wonder at the Hallstrom Planetarium? It’s the 30th anniversary of this starry show that has become a tradition. The script was written by planetarium director Jon U. Bell and it’s a treat to behold.

Fort Pierce Main Street Parade
Mrs. Claus and an elf take time out from their busy holiday schedule to spread some cheer during the Fort Pierce Main Street Christmas Parade. MAIN STREET FORT PIERCE


If you love the magic of the Polar Express movie, you have a chance to see it on Friday, Dec. 9, at the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center in Port St. Lucie. It’s an outdoor movie at 6 p.m. 

Port St. Lucie bursts out with holiday cheer featuring a parade and fireworks at Festival of Lights on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center. It’s going to be an all-out festival with the Parade of Lights, singing and dancing, a carnival, music, vendor booths, fun photo opportunities, food truck, tree lighting and more. Free parking and no admission charge. 

The city hosts a huge party, PSL in Lights, for residents on Friday, Dec. 16, starting at 6 p.m. at the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center. See a dazzling light display, enjoy a visit from Santa, loads of children’s activities, and feast your eyes on an interactive tour of the most over-the-top residential holiday light displays in the city. Yuletide refreshments include steaming cups of hot cocoa, cookies and candy canes. Letters can be dropped off at an official North Pole mailbox. 

Food trucks will be offering menus filled with hot dogs, barbecue, coffee and ice cream. Several groups will present music and dance throughout the evening. Spice things up, put some costumes on those pets and let them strut their stuff at 7:30 p.m. in a competition for the most festive pet hosted by the humane society.


PSL Jewish star fest
The beautiful Star of David makes the perfect place for a holiday photo op during the Port St. Lucie Festival of Lights at MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center. CITY OF PORT ST. LUCIE

Let’s talk parades. They’re pretty spectacular so you may wonder if you can see more than one. You can, if you get your timing right. The Stuart Christmas parade at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, organized by the Visiting Nurse Association, will satisfy any desire for big fancy floats, loads of lights twinkling in the dark, bands, cheerleaders and more. 

But on Saturday, you’ll have to scramble around. The Hobe Sound Christmas Parade starts at 1 p.m. on Bridge Road; it’s a long one and definitely great if you want to take your little ones to a daylight parade. The decorations are fun and creative, the marchers have a good time and so do the parade watchers. To get an advance peek go to and look for Christmas Parade, where you’ll find loads of photos at the bottom of the page.

There is also a parade Saturday during Festival of Lights at the Port St. Lucie MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center. 

Next, you’ll either have to pick one or see part of each. The Vero Beach Christmas Parade starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, and heads down Ocean Drive, a caravan of big floats, lighted figures and twinkling lights everywhere. You can get a tempting preview by going to and enjoying some videos from previous years. The Vero Beach Sunrise Rotary is hosting the parade this year, and it will march along the traditional Ocean Drive route from Flamevine to Live Oak starting at 6 p.m. 

At 6:30 p.m., the Sebastian parade’s floats roll along Indian River Drive from the boat ramp south to Riverview Park. Costumed characters, lights and all the trimmings are there for everyone to enjoy.

Bonsai trees at Heathcote Botanical Gardens
Bonsai trees at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Fort Pierce create a unique display, making it a spectacular evening for family visits. HEATHCOTE BOTANICAL GARDENS


McKee holidays
In addition to the thousands of lights throughout its gardens, McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach has a display of large-size model trains, holiday treats at its cafe and intermittent snow flurries. Check for dates and times. MCKEE BOTANICAL GARDEN

Expect magic in the air and music all around during the 34th annual Sights and Sounds on Second Street in downtown Fort Pierce. The parade marches at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, and the holiday festival runs from 1-6 p.m. The Country Christmas theme will be reflected in the parade’s floats and costumes. After the parade, enjoy the lighting of the Christmas tree. Dance groups and craft vendors will be on hand on 2nd Street before the parade. 

There are amazing light shows at the three botanical gardens in Vero Beach, Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie. Visit Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Fort Pierce to see expertly handmade lighted displays that represent anything from a swan to a creek. The Holiday Lights event at Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens features music, performers, food, more than 2,500 lights and 17 lighted ice sculpture trees.

Magic of McKee Festival of Lights at McKee Botanical Garden has a display of large size model trains, thousands of lights, an antique 1924 Wurlitzer band organ, visits with Santa, intermittent snow flurries, performances by local entertainers, holiday treats at the Garden Café and much more. Its website at will outline what they have and when. 

While there may not be snow, the Treasure Coast holidays contain all the merry cheer you could want wrapped up with a bow just for you and your family.



See original article in print publication

Nov. 14, 2022

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