PALMETTO -- When a local program became unable to continue a yearly Christmas fundraiser in Palmetto, a holiday tradition in the community was on the verge of withering away.
As previous participants in the event, agencies belonging to the Palmetto Historic Park couldn't stand by and watch it end.
Since 2009, employees and volunteers working in the park, which includes the Manatee County Agriculture Museum and a historic library, have continued to present Palmetto's Christmas in the Park. This week, they've been busy preparing the park at 515 10th Ave. W. for the dozens of families looking to celebrate the Christmas season.
The event takes place to
day and Saturday from 5-9 p.m. The two-day holiday celebration is free and includes a Christmas light display, vintage toy exhibit, kids crafts, entertainment, food vendors, farm animal petting area, and on both nights, an appearance by Santa Claus.
The list of entertainment includes Granny Goose, a storyteller, performances by the Palmetto Elementary chorus, Saint Stephen's chorus and band, the children's and adult choir from First Baptist Church of Parrish and a demonstration by local blacksmith Steve Burglund.
Today outside the library, children can join Sarasota Chalk Art Festival chairwoman Denise Kowal in creating Christmas artwork on the pavement. Kowal will also create a Christmas design. The library will also have a book giveaway for children and hand out Christmas goodie bags.
"The community counts on Christmas in the Park every year to kick off their holiday season," said Diane Ingram, museum director and supervisor. "There is something for everyone, and it's a great way to get into the holiday spirit."
"Anytime we can promote the library to the community, give back to the community and involve children and the community in the library is important," said Jane Connolly, Palmetto's children librarian.
Among the food vendors are Alex's Lemonade Stand, which will be raising funds for children's cancer research, and the Sweet Shop, which will raise money for family programming at Palmetto Historic Park. Visitors are asked to bring canned goods for First United Methodist Church of Palmetto's food pantry.
"The community would have been disappointed and sad if there wasn't anything in Palmetto," Ingram said. "This neighborhood is filled with kids and older people who look forward to this. We're fortunate to have volunteers and money so that we don't have to charge for it."
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams