Even if you don't usually take advantage of public transportation, you might want to make an exception in the coming days.
The annual Ted Nowosad Christmas Tour of Lights is set for Friday and Saturday. Manatee County Area Transit and the School District of Manatee County provide buses that will take Christmas revelers on a 90-minute tour, starting from the State College of Florida and rolling through the festively decorated neighborhoods of West Bradenton.
This is the 13th year for the tour, and it's one of the most popular holiday celebrations in Manatee County. Every year, between 1,500 and 2,000 people board the buses for the tour. It's such a popular event, in fact, that you're advised to get to SCF early so that you can be sure to get a seat on one of the buses. The buses pull away at 6:45 p.m., and it's a good idea to get to SCF no later than 6:30 p.m.
One of the great things about the Christmas Tour of Lights is that it's a good time for a good cause. You don't have to pay for a ticket; each person just has to donate at least one non-perishable food item or one new unwrapped toy. The food will be donated to local social service networks that feed needy families and the toys will be given to the Toys for Tots program.
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Details: 6:45 p.m., State College of Florida, 5860 26th St. W., Building 29, Bradenton. Tickets: Non-perishable food item or an unwrapped toy. Information: 941-747-8621, ext. 8114.
In addition, these Manatee County residents invite you to drive by their festival Christmas light displays:
Address: 7511 First Ave. W., Bradenton 34209
Name: Ruby Bass
Description: Thousands of clear lights with red bells and bows fluttering when the wind blows. Christmas Carolers and a Nativity scene. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will sing and dance for you. Hours are 6-10 p.m. daily.
Address: 5504 First Ave. Drive N.W., Bradenton 34209
Name: Julie Hunnicutt
Description: House is decorated in support of our troops and is guarded by soldiers with a parachuting polar bear looking over Mr. and Mrs. Clause. Rudolph and eight reindeer are waiting to deliver presents to everyone. Blue lights and Christmas Carolers singing around the fire. Hours are 6-10 p.m. daily.
Address: 12th Avenue Drive West off of 51st Street, Bradenton 34209
Description: For years, 12th Avenue Drive West off of 51st Street in Bradenton, has been known as Christmas Street. The entire neighborhood goes all out with lighted displays.
Address: 104 51st St. W., Bradenton 34209
Name: Ronald Perano
Description: Multiple air-blown Christmas figures and many icicle lights and other lights in the yard and on the home. Hours: 5:30-10 p.m. daily.
Address: 1821 First Ave. E. Bradenton 34208
Name: Clifford Majors
Description: Come and enjoy the lights and sounds of Christmas. Santa and his elves, along with Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch are there 7-8:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday including Christmas Eve passing out treats to children of all ages. Lights are nightly 6:30 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 31.
Address: 6910 36th Ave. E., Bradenton 34208
Name: Linda Perez
Description: We are having our annual drive-thru Christmas display from 6 to 10 p.m. daily.
Address: 2107 21st St., Palmetto 34221
Name: Charles Roy
Description: A large display with music on 8 acres in Palmetto.
Address: 6326 Yellowtop Drive, Lakewood Ranch 34202
Name: Ray and Patricia Papiano
Description: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Pink Flamingo leading Santa's sleigh, lighted oak tree with ornaments and decorations, Santa's plane up high coming in for landing, surfing bear, see-saw with characters, parachuting bear, pink flamingo pulling dog on sled, bear riding alligator, bear on carousel horse, blue dinosaur and many other decorations the kids will love. Hours: 6-10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 10.
Address: 7147 Spikerush Ct., Lakewood Ranch 34202
Name: Tim Cunningham
Description: Santa and three reindeer flying in between house and tree. A large lighted arch over driveway. Tree and presents up on platform above entry and several inflatables. Hours: On every night through Dec. 25 until midnight.