Merry Makeovers

Heathcote Botanical Gardens
Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Fort Pierce creates knock-out dazzling light displays each year, all done by volunteers who work on them for months. It’s a fantastic holiday experience. HEATHCOTE BOTANICAL GARDENS

The Nutcracker goes from stage to airwaves while McKee goes from night to day


take pictures
Port St. Lucie has several places where you and the kids can take pictures. This one is at the Port St. Lucie Community Center. The others are at city hall, the botanical gardens, the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center and St. Lucie West, 400 feet west of Country Club Estates. In all cases CDC guidelines must be followed.

A series of sparkling after-dark boat parades will light up early December nights on the Treasure Coast this holiday season. That’s great news for everyone who longs for a sense of normalcy. Bring the whole family and cheer for the boats you like best as they go by. Eager to make plans to see them? Put these dates on your calendar: Dec. 5 for Martin and St. Lucie counties and Dec. 12 for Indian River County.

The holidays are a welcome distraction from the coronavirus pandemic. While not all of our favorites are on this year, many are. Some have changed format from previous years giving fans a new experience.

Ballet Vero Beach took one look at the looming pandemic and rushed to find a way to bring The Nutcracker to audiences anyway. The innovative company found it: Film the ballet instead of presenting it live onstage, CEO and artistic director, Adam Schnell says.

The energetic Schnell and company moved fast, changing their special localized ballet from in-person theater audience to film viewable on TV-30 [a local broadcast channel], and YouTube or Vimeo or both online. Its performance is an adaptation of the venerable favorite, setting it along the Indian River Lagoon. Schnell says parts of the popular show, now in its fourth year, were filmed outdoors. It features a cast of 16 professional dancers and 12 student performers from Riverside Theatre’s dance education program and Ballet Vero Beach’s own community engagement initiatives.

The adaptation follows the story of young Marie Stahlbaum as she journeys from New York to Vero Beach in December 1919 to spend the holidays with her eccentric Uncle Drosselmeyer, Schnell says.

“The production has always been a love letter to the beauty of our natural surroundings, and it is an extraordinary privilege to be able to offer a version of the show for free this holiday season,” Schnell says.

Tentatively scheduled for release Dec. 23, Schnell says to watch the Ballet Vero Beach website for exact dates and ways to view the film. It should be a treat.

Ballet Vero Beach
Ballet Vero Beach changed its annual Nutcracker on the Indian River from a production performed on stage to film viewable on TV-30 and YouTube and/or Vimeo. The classic story’s setting is relocated to the Indian River Lagoon.

McKee Botanical Garden’s board deliberated and then decided to switch its long-running Nights of Holiday Lights to a new daytime event instead. Calling it Holi-DAYS at McKee, emphasis on the “days,” the nearly monthlong event features a whirlwind of activities that change weekly. No one will lack for sights to see and things to do during this year’s December show.

Kids will love the character breakfasts and lunches. Dec. 1-6 will bring the Grinch and Cindy Lou along with Buddy the Elf to the tables. Other characters follow on Week 2, Dec. 8-13; Week 3, Dec. 15-20; and on Dec. 22-23. The many live musical performances include the First United Methodist Handbell Ensemble, school groups and more. Long-time fans of the McKee holiday show will be pleased to learn that the 1924 Wurlitzer Band Organ is back. Beloved holiday movies on the schedule include Frozen, The Grinch, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and lots more. Masks are required and space is limited for the movies.

Go take a peek at the McKee website at where you’ll find plenty more details.

Fort Pierce’s Sights and Sounds on Second
Fort Pierce’s Sights and Sounds on Second will again host a colorful parade with all the holiday trimmings on Indian River Drive. MAIN STREET FORT PIERCE

The holidays in Fort Pierce are the traditional scene of a parade and the lighting of a tall tree in the roundabout at Avenue A and Indian River Drive. This year the parade starts at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6; the tree lighting follows. Because of COVID-19, the afternoon festival part of Sights and Sounds [on Second Street] won’t take place this year. But look for it next year.

Port St. Lucie has built a tradition at the civic center, now called the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center, with its Festival of Lights. This year’s theme is Rockin’ Holiday Celebration. Although Santa won’t be able to ask the kids what they want this year, everyone will love the midway carnival, the parade with its many floats, the annual lighting of the tree and the fireworks. The festival is slated for Saturday, Dec. 5.

Port St. Lucie kicks off the holidays with a tree lighting, parade and fireworks. All CDC precautions must be followed when attending the city’s events.

In Stuart, the colorful Christmas parade with its creative floats has been canceled for this year, the Visiting Nurse Association says. The Vero Beach and Sebastian parades are also canceled.

Pineapple Playhouse at the southern border of Fort Pierce offers Home for the Holidays, a musical show featuring a variety of holiday favorites. The playhouse is also accepting donations of new unwrapped toys for homeless children and used items for homeless adults and for veterans. Angels of Hope will collect the donations.

Treasure Coast Theatre, a new community theater in Port St. Lucie, presents A Christmas Carol and a concert of holiday tunes from Dec. 4-13. See its website for details.

One of the most unusual holiday experiences this year comes from the Environmental Learning Center in Vero Beach. Participants can paddle canoes through lighted mangrove tunnels on the Indian River Lagoon.

Look around — you’ll find some new and different ways to celebrate the holidays this year. Enjoy them!

See the original article in the print publication

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