By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- It will be easy for St. Lucie County residents to get in the holiday mood this weekend, as parades, Christmas tree lightings and more take place.
Fort Pierce starts the holiday season with a holiday festival open house and art sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 30 and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the A.E. Backus Museum and Gallery, located at 500 Indian River Drive.
Admission is free to the event, which will feature numerous local artists.
On Dec. 2, Fort Pierce picks up the holiday spirit with "Sights & Sounds on Second," the all-day Christmas festival and parade that takes place in historic downtown Fort Pierce.
The theme this year is the "12 Days of Christmas," and the events begin at 10:30 a.m. with a church service by Common Grounds Vineyard Church.
Afterward, the Sights and Sounds festival begins at 1 p.m. and runs through 4:30 p.m.
There will be children's crafts, games, bounce houses, art and craft vendors. Santa will make an appearance at 1:30 p.m. and Ronald McDonald will visit at 3:30 p.m.
The Christmas parade will begin at 4:30 p.m. at Tickle Tummy Hill, then travel south on Second Street to Orange Avenue, turn east to Indian River Drive, then head north to finish at the Riverwalk Center.
After the parade, Fort Pierce's community Christmas tree, located at the roundabout, will be lit.
The holiday light spectacular, a light and sound show featuring more than 100,000 light synchronized to holiday music, will begin at Marina Square following the tree-lighting ceremony.
The light show will run every night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Jan. 6.
The estimated cost of the holiday tree lighting and the light show is estimated to be approximately $50,000. In years past, business owners and city residents donated to the event.
"The community has been wonderful in stepping up in the past to help offset the cost of the tree and the lights," said Anne Satterlee, communications and marketing manager for the city of Fort Pierce.
"We look forward to working with everyone again this year. Any donation would be greatly appreciated."
In Port St. Lucie, the annual Festival of Lights and tree-lighting ceremony will take place from noon until 10 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center.
There will be live music, rides for the children and arts and crafts. At 6 p.m., just as it gets dark, the Port St. Lucie parade of lights will make its way through the streets of the civic center, and include floats, youth groups, bands and more.
About 30 minutes after the parade ends, the tree in the village square will be lit. Admission and parking are free to the event.
The Port St. Lucie Community Center, located across from city hall on Airoso Boulevard, is kicking off the season with its annual "Winter Wonderland."
This is a light and sound show the center provides every year, and it will begin every evening at 7 p.m. starting on Dec. 1 and running through Jan. 2.
Over in Tradition, holiday events are in full swing on Dec. 1 with the lighting of the holiday tree and menorah. There will be entertainment and food vendors and the fun takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with Santa making an appearance during that time. Fireworks will finish the evening.
For more information on how to make a donation, call Main Street Fort Pierce at (772) 466-3880 or the Fort Pierce city manager's office at (772) 467-3000.