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The Student News Site of Cape Coral High School

The Seahawk's Eye

The Student News Site of Cape Coral High School

The Seahawk's Eye

Festival of Lights celebrates 30 plus magical years

Image+courtesy+of+Elizabeth+Kominar.
Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kominar.

On Saturday, December 2nd, from 4-10 PM, the annual Festival of Lights took place, closing down the majority of Cape Coral Parkway. The Festival of Lights has been a community staple going back more than 30 years. 

Dan Sheppard, Cape Coral City Council Member who has been attending the festival since 1999, explains that the festival allows people to come together. “All the families that come out, being together instead of being at work and their jobs, things like that. It’s time for everybody to relax and enjoy, like a cultural event.”

The Festival of Lights is hosted every year by the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral, with the support of several sponsor organizations. The festival consists of a plethora of stages, including constant holiday performances, sponsors, vendors, a diverse range of activities, attractions, and more.

“I just wanted to have a good time with my friends so I invited them to come out and spread some Christmas Spirit,” stated Isiah Della, junior at Cape Coral High School. “We’ve bought funnel cake, fried Oreo, and my friend Preston got a lightsaber.” 

Mary Anne Cipressy, who was at the festival for her fourth year in a row, was there speaking to the public about EHL Fragile X, a nonprofit organization. 

“We’re promoting our Touch-a-Truck event in April. We’re also collecting some donations to help with our smile program that we have at Christmas and birthday time to send cards and gifts to children who are developmentally disabled.” 

Not only that, but as attendees walk around they can purchase food from the catalog of vendors offering their services. At the same time, local businesses also have the opportunity to set up tents and distribute marketing materials. 

There were three different performance stages: Candy Cane Park Community ​Stage, Christmas Town Center Community Stage, and Snowcap Square Community Stage, all sponsored by local radio stations. During the festival, there was a diverse amount of musical groups that were given the chance to perform. 

Two Cape Coral High School teams were able to perform with the Cheer Team performing around 5 PM and The Hawkettes Dance Team performing at the center Cape Coral Tree Lighting stage a few hours before the Christmas Tree was lit. 

The highlight of the festival of lights is always the tree lighting ceremony. Before the ceremony, the mayor, city council members, and youth council members. A few minutes later, the large tree was lit by Santa, illuminating the crowds surrounding the stage. 

CCHS senior Oliva Arevalo, Cape Coral Youth Council chair, was present at the festival stage as a representative of the youth in the community. 

“I  believe that it is important for attendees to see the youth at this festival because it shines more light on the fact that our community’s younger population is growing. For instance, throughout the night, attendees, both older and younger, can see teenage volunteers running around the event trying to help,” said Arevalo. “These volunteers represent a vast majority of our city’s youth and allow others to get a new perspective of our younger population and see that they are helpful, resourceful, and kind.”

The layout of the festival was divided into separate sections. The Christmas Town Center was sponsored by LCEC and encompassed the main area with the tree, Santa, and pictures. 

Several volunteers were present ensuring that the process for pictures with Santa went smoothly, one being CCHS senior Leilani Washington.  

“I wanted to help my community out and just be present, it’s my senior year, I’m leaving and I want to help out as best as I can. We have been standing [next to the Christmas tree] as security, just giving out candy canes, and spreading the joy. You see the little kids running around and just having fun.”

Meanwhile, Snowcap Square had the Snow Drift, Food, Stage, Vendors, and Tiny Tot Train sponsored by Cape Coral Kiwanis and Technology at Work (TAW). 

Kiwanis, a community volunteer organization, has been the steady sponsor of the Tiny Tot Train. Kiwanis and Key Club members help run the train while providing games and free face painting. 

 “Today I’m just volunteering with Kiwanis, we’ve just been giving out prizes to children, letting them play games, helping them onto our Christmas train, and giving out free face painting,” said junior Sabrina Dong, Key Club Secretary at Cape High. “My favorite part of the whole thing is definitely seeing the smiles on children’s faces. It’s so nice to see that we’re helping make just a small difference in their lives.”

Free Kidz Zone, sponsored by Cape Christian, was made up of bounce houses, face painting, and fun other activities. Cape Christian has been a sponsor for over 16 years,

Jordan Bush has been the Cape Christian volunteer coordinator for a year and a half. 

“Most of our volunteers come from our church. We have a very large congregation and we did reach out on social media and then through email, and so they got volunteers to tell us when they wanted to sign up, and this is the kickoff of our Christmas Village.”

Faith Generation provided the kids with free popcorn and cotton candy, face painting, snow slide, and a slime station.

“At first we were kind of just helping set up like the slime stations and then we had to put out the board and we’ve just been helping like with the photo booth, taking pictures and stuff,” said sophomore Brianna Denic who was volunteering for Faith Generation for the first time. 

Although the Festival of Lights has been a community staple it has changed throughout the years, Contrary to years before, the amount of attendees has gone up substantially. 

“There’s definitely a lot more people now because when I first started volunteering, it was right after COVID so this year, we definitely expected more people, but we had more than expected,” said Dong. 

Arevalo agreed saying, “Furthermore, I believe that the event has definitely changed in terms of attendance and production scale. While walking down Cape Coral Parkway this year, I noticed way more vendors participating,” said Arevalo. “The crowd definitely seemed bigger but that didn’t affect my experience that much.”

Throughout the years of its celebration, the Festival of Lights has been a consistent event for the community to mark the beginning of the holiday season. 

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