AN ISLAND CHRISTMAS
by: Davis Yancy Clegg
The Holidays are in full swing and downtown Fernandina Beach is lit up with the Christmas spirit. We don’t get as much of a winter season as most regions, so we take advantage of the winter weather that we do get. It’s enthralling to witness the transformation of the island vibe as the Christmas tree lighting takes place. In an area so full of rich history, decorations of every season bring people to a state of Nostalgia on sight! Horse-drawn carriages parading down Centre Street and leafless trees draped in white lights, warm the soul on the coldest of nights. As in any close-knit town, our locals strive to create events and an environment that bring true meaning and celebration to the season.
One of the most charming events is “Caroling at Clinch.” Ft. Clinch, though it has never seen battle, has seen plenty of jubilant celebration. As one of the main attractions that Amelia River Cruises is proud to feature, it hosts concerts, social events, tourism, and in the Christmas season it hosts “Caroling at Clinch.” In the first part of December, many gather beside the crackling fires to listen to the carolers – the visual is excellent. The popcorn-strung Christmas trees and complimentary hot cocoa and cookies are enough to put the most avid scrooge in the Christmas spirit! The only thing that Caroling goers are asked to bring for their admission fee is canned goods – just one can. The canned goods collected are donated to the Barnabas food pantry, which displays the true meaning of Christmas – giving.
Who doesn’t love a carnival?! The Winter Wonderland Carnival is a kid’s Christmas wish come true! Sponsored by the City of Fernandina Beach, the carnival is held at the Atlantic Avenue Recreational Center. There are all sorts of activities for the entire family to Enjoy! Your little ones can have their faces painted with a Christmas tree, everyone’s favorite perishable hero – Frosty the Snowman, the jolly fat man himself, or a number of other characters and symbols of the holiday season. There are enough games and delectable treats to entertain little Timmy for hours. I don’t know why I chose “Timmy”, it’s just the most Christmas-like name I can conjure up! And what Winter Wonderland carnival would be complete without a special guest appearance from Santa Claus himself! And yes, it’s the real one! …We talk.
Live theater is one of the original forms of entertainment, unless you have gestures mutilating themselves to amuse the king in his court during medieval times. Thankfully, we have a community theater here on the island that performs some very interesting productions. “Sherlock Holmes and the case of the Christmas Carol” is one of those productions. And as the name suggests, it is taking place this holiday season. You can catch a performance on December 18-20 at 8pm. In this take on Sherlock Holmes mystery-story telling, Holmes is suffering from a “coldness” in his heart. This would make him the proverbial “Scrooge” of the play. It takes visits from the beloved ghost of Christmas present, past, and future to turn Holmes in the right direction. I will most likely have to attend one of these performance as I am a die-hard fan of Sherlock Holmes.
There are many ways to enjoy the holidays. Truly, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you spend them with the ones you love. I remember like it was yesterday. I am sitting on one end of the couch with my dad seated at the other end. His hand is hanging over the edge, out of sight of course, clutching a string of bells. Mom was across the living room in the other chair trying not to give away my dad’s upcoming trickery. Suddenly, I hear the jingling of bells nearby. Dad turns to me and says, “Yancy, what is that?! If it’s Santa and you aren’t in bed, he isn’t going to stop and you won’t have any presents!” I’m pretty sure I hit my head on the ceiling as fast and high as I jumped off the couch, racing down the hall to my room. I flung back the covers, jumped underneath the sheets, and shut my eyes so hard my nose crinkled!
I hope you all have the chance to make memories like the ones that I am so grateful to have made and continue to make. Whether they be made enjoying the local island events, a Christmas tour, or just sitting round the living room exchanging looks of love and returnable gifts!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Everyone! Stay Salty!