BRADENTON BEACH -- 'Tis the season of giving, but shopping with a more festive and local flair was the way to go Saturday night in Bradenton Beach.
The Christmas tree was lit, the band was jamming out, many folks were dancing off those extra Thanksgiving calories, but most importantly they were still shopping all without stepping inside a mall.
Many, like Anna Maria Island resident Brenda Rose, preferred the shopping at the The First Lighting of The Bridge Street Christmas Lights event Saturday, a celebration of Small Business Saturday, over what Black Friday had to offer.
"I've bought some gifts
but I have to find just the right thing," Rose said. "I always go to the arts and crafts festivals."
While she did admit to do giving in the Black Friday madness, she still likes do some of her holiday shopping at local shops.
"I like to support the local artists," Rose said. "You come to something like this and you know they put their blood, sweat and tears into it, It's absolutely wonderful."
The Manatee Memorial Hospital nurse smiled as she found her personal treasure at her favorite local vendor, the Gayden Shell.
The inaugural event featured the lighting of a Christmas tree along with food, drinks and shopping from various local vendors. The night's festivities included music from the band Ted Stevens and The Doo Shots.
Vendors were bustling with the holiday shoppers, all in an effort to promote shopping local for Small Business Saturday.
Lisa Seaboyer with Great Finds 4 You said it was a very busy night for her handmade jewelry.
"I've been very pleased," Seaboyer said. "They have such a good crowd here."
One of her biggest sellers: "neck rings," hand-made by her parents.
Cindy Lee was enjoying a glass of wine while listening to the band.
"We came to see it all," Lee said.
She had already done some shopping.
"I bought two books by a local author," Lee said. "One is a gift and one is for me."
Gary Paul, a snowbird from Maine, was enjoying the band before making his rounds, having just walked to the event.
"I am enjoying everything," Paul said. "Shopping, not yet, but we will be."
Freelance photographer Nick Donatelli welcomed the extra holiday business Saturday. "It's been a good evening, great weather," Donatelli said. "There has been a lot of international trade, getting a lot of German and English shoppers."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-749. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.