featured image, above: The holiday season kicks off with parades downtown.

Q: What are your favorite ways to celebrate the holidays in Venice?­

“Only in Venice will people show up an hour and a half before the annual holiday parade to have fun in the streets. From coloring the streets with chalk to playing games and line dancing, this community knows how to have fun.”—Kathy Lehner, real estate broker, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty 

“Every year I give out 1,500 cloth Santa stickers to friends and strangers. I started doing this 23 years ago. I begin at the holiday parade and then give them out wherever I go until Christmas.”

– Dave Farley, owner, Farley Funeral Home

“About two years ago my wife, Deb, got a street-legal golf cart, leading us to start  a Christmas ‘non-parade’ of golf carts driving around the island to admire the holiday lights. We stop at Venice Wine & Coffee, where their staff and patrons judge the carts and award the best-decorated.”—Bill Willson, president/associate agent, Roberts Insurance Group LLC

“The Christmas Boat Parade along the Intracoastal Waterway kicks off the holiday activities for our family. Other activities include the annual open house at Caldwell Trust, shopping downtown, and walking the beach after a delicious turkey dinner.”—Andy Britton, attorney

“I set up at least seven Christmas trees, each with a different theme. My husband, Tom, and I host a medieval dinner fund raiser featuring the Venice High School Madrigal Chorus to raise money for the high school. It gives me great pleasure to share our home, fully decorated for the season, with family and the community.”—Jean Trammell, longtime Venice resident 

“The annual holiday symphony concert is our favorite way to start the holiday season. This year it will be the symphony’s first holiday in the Venice Performing Arts Center. Gee Dee and I enjoy watching the families in the audience change each year as the children get older. The music just fills the hearts of everyone.”—Doug Kerr, executive director, Venice Symphony

“My father was from Sweden, so our holiday traditions have always had a Scandinavian flavor, such as the Christmas smorgasbord featuring Jansson’s Temptation [a potato and onion casserole], pickled herring and Swedish meatballs. Our decorations are vintage craft items from my husband David’s family combined with my own handmade miniature books, plus Swedish straw and wood ornaments sent to us by my Swedish cousins.” —Nancy Pike, founding member, Sarasota County Library Foundation |||

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