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Amelia Islander

Celebrating the Joys of the Season on Amelia Island

Dec 10, 2019 01:35PM
By Karen Miller • Photo by Deremer Studios

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Amelia Island! The leftover Thanksgiving turkey is gone, the shopping season has begun, and the holiday decorations and lights have been carefully placed. Look around the island and you will see historic bed-and-breakfast inns decorated with garlands and greenery, Salvation Army volunteers ringing their bells, and children trying their best to be as good as possible. Amelia Islanders are doing what they do best – enjoying their beautiful island paradise during the busy Christmas season!

DICKENS ON CENTRE

The Historic District’s holiday season is already in full swing, kicked off in November with its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Black Friday Pajama Party. Once again, you can make memories as you travel back in time with Dickens on Centre, held this year from December 13 to December 15, complete with costumed characters, themed entertainment, visits from St. Nick, and a variety of vendors selling seasonal gifts.

Inspired by Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol, Dickens on Centre transforms downtown Fernandina Beach into a classic English village. Think chestnuts roasting, carolers strolling, and readings of The Night Before Christmas. Shop for gifts from downtown merchants or in the vendor marketplace in Peddler’s Village on Centre Street or Artist Alley on North 2nd Street. While you’re out and about, be sure to stop at the local galleries during Second Saturday Artrageous Artwalk for local art and unique gifts. Don’t miss gift wrapping by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church to make you holiday shopping a breeze!

Kicking off this year’s festivities is the inaugural Illuminated Procession, set for Thursday, December 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. The procession will begin near the Welcome Center on Front Street. From there, parade-goers and their lanterns will enjoy a leisurely stroll up Ash Street and into Fernandina’s Historic District before turning down Centre Street and back to the waterfront. A limited number of lanterns will be available for sale, and participants are welcome to bring their own lanterns. (No open flames or candles allowed, only battery-operated lights and lanterns.)

St. Nick has a new hangout this year! St. Nick’s Grotto, sponsored by Handi House Yulee, is guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of children everywhere. Experience snow falling while awaiting your visit with St. Nick, held in Tiny Tim’s Kid Zone. 2nd Act Stage will be located at the end of Artist Alley on North 2nd Street, featuring additional entertainment like the stage production The Legend of St Nick. Look for this performance and many others throughout Dickens on Centre.

Experience the magic and meaning of the holiday season by making a special wish at a Christmas Wish Booth with Paisley Grace Makery. Create your Christmas wish and hang it on the Christmas tree. And while you’re there, watch the talented Street Painters, also called Chalk Artists, as they draw incredible scenes from A Christmas Carol, right on Centre Street.

Dickens After Dark features “A Twisted Dickens” event for adults (age 21+) at the historic Florida House Inn. This Scrooged-up version of A Christmas Carol and singalong will help you let go of your guilt and regret as you tell your past misdeeds (anonymously), and then during the show, hear Jacob Marley share them with the world. For tickets and more information about Dickens on Centre events, visit www.ameliaisland.com.

CHRISTMAS PLAYS AND CHRISTMAS MUSIC

No holiday season would be complete without live theatre performances of our favorite Christmas stories. A Christmas Story is on stage at select dates and times at Amelia Community Theatre during the month of December. This classic family story is based on Jean Shepherd’s memoir of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940s and the quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun. For information and tickets, call (904) 261-6749 or visit www.ameliacommunitytheatre.org. Amelia Musical Playhouse will present Scrooge the Musical from December 6 to December 15, adapted from the music and screenplay of the 1970 musical film Scrooge starring Albert Finney. For tickets, visit www.ameliamusicalplayhouse.com or call the box office at (904) 277-4355.

America’s Youth lights up downtown Fernandina Beach with its annual Lighted Christmas Parade on December 21 at 6 p.m. The parade route begins at Central Park and travels west down Ash Street to 2nd Street, turns north to Centre Street, turns east down Centre Street, and ends back at Central Park.

The Island Chamber Singers present Christmas Joy featuring “The Many Moods of Christmas, Suite Three,” arranged by Robert Shaw and Robert Russell Bennett. ICS will present classical Christmas music from the Renaissance through the twenty-first century, extremely accessible to every listener. The concert concludes with Rutter’s “I Wish You Christmas,” a favorite of ICS audiences for several years. The chorus of fifty members will be accompanied by a large orchestral ensemble. Performance dates are Friday, December 6 and Sunday, December 8 at Amelia Plantation Chapel, 36 Bowman Road. For tickets and more information, visit www.islandchambersingers.org.

This year marks the 23rd year of “An Evening in December,” which will be presented Friday, December 13 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 15 at 4 and 7 p.m. at Amelia Baptist Church in Fernandina Beach. The community is invited to enjoy this annual celebration of the Christmas story, which is presented each year in a unique blend of choral music, instrumental music, and drama. The theme of this year’s presentation is “A 1940’s Christmas.” Each year, the church offers an evening of music and drama as its gift to the community. No admission is charged. Veterans will be recognized at this special WWII commemoration. For more information, contact Pam Helton at (904) 261-9527. Amelia Baptist Church is located at 961167 Buccaneer Trail.

On December 20 at 7:30 p.m., Crescendo Amelia Big Band will be performing their annual holiday variety show, “How the Big Band Stole Christmas.” Featuring over twenty-five musicians with a variety of professional singers, entertainers, and acts, this family-friendly holiday show is sure to get everyone in the spirit! This full theatre production will include all your favorite holiday songs, local celebrity singers, dancing, acting, and a few surprises! And if you’re nice, maybe St. Nick will pay a visit. “How the Big Band Stole Christmas” will be held at Fernandina Beach Theatre, 315 Citrona Drive. Tickets are available at www.crescendoamelia.com.

Story & Song Bookstore Bistro has lots of holiday happenings going on throughout the month of December. On December 7, Debbie Rider performs “A Linda Ronstadt Christmas,” featuring songs from Ronstadt’s Christmas album. On December 11, voice actor Ron Kurtz presents “A Dickens of a Christmas,” featuring selections of Dickens’ Christmas-related short stories. On December 21, enjoy a tribute to composer John Freeman Young, who wrote “Silent Night” and also had ties to Fernandina Beach. On December 28, vocalist and pianist Nanette Autry will perform a tribute to African-American legendary women singers. For more information on these and other events or to purchase tickets, visit Story & Song at 1430 Park Avenue, online at StoryandSongBookstore.com, or call (904) 601-2118.

HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS

On Saturday, December 14, take your favorite four-legger out for a morning of holiday revelry for Nassau County Humane Society’s famous Parade of Paws, held during Dickens on Centre. Dress your pup (and yourself) in holiday garb and register for the parade at 10 a.m. at the Welcome Depot downtown on Centre Street. The parade starts at 11 a.m., up and down Centre Street. Cost is $15 per dog, and prizes will be awarded in all sorts of categories for creative holiday costumes. For more information, call (904) 321-1647.

Mark your calendars for the 13th Annual Amelia Island Museum of History Holiday Home Tour, held on December 6 and 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year only, the Museum is offering a Special Combo Ticket for both the Holiday Home Tour and the 2019 Southern Living Idea House. Visit five beautiful homes in historic Fernandina Beach, each decorated for the holidays by a local florist/designer. Combine your Holiday Home Tour with a tour of the 2019 Southern Living Idea House by Crane Island for a truly memorable experience. For tickets and more information, call (904) 261-7378 or visit www.ameliamuseum.org/holidayhometour/.

On December 22, join members of the Jewish community of Amelia Island for their annual Chanukah Party, held the American Beach Community Center, 1600 Julia Street. Participants are asked to bring their own menorahs and a dish to share. (Please, no pork or shellfish!) All ages and families are welcome to attend. There is no charge for this event, and soda, punch, and coffee will be provided. For more information about time and to make a reservation, contact Debbie Price at (203) 313-3925 or (904) 310-6060, or email her at [email protected] Space is limited, so reservations are essential! The Jewish community of Amelia Island also meets monthly for Shabbat Services and for high holidays.

At Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, enjoy the magic of twinkling lights while you shop and dine there this season. A very special “Truffle Weekend” will be celebrated December 13, 14, and 15, when adventurous foodies can indulge in a variety of dishes and cocktails incorporating this flavorful fungi. Reserve a seat at The Sprouting Project dinner, available each night during the weekend and enjoy an artfully crafted, five-course truffle-focused dinner. The truffle doesn’t stop there as you can experience a variety of truffle creations offered exclusively during the weekend at many of Omni’s restaurants. Learn more at www.omnihotels.com/hotels/amelia-island-plantation/things-to-do/truffle-weekend.

The S.S. Amelia Gingerbread Pirate Ship “sails” once again in a sweet tradition created by The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island pastry chefs. This 17-foot culinary masterpiece is crafted with over 600 pieces of handmade gingerbread planking and adorned with sugar-sculpted pirates wearing bright fondant clothing. Treasures and many sweet surprises are found on the ship, which is on display in the hotel’s lobby through December 29. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island is sparkling with holiday allure, enhancing the numerous events held there throughout the season, like Santa’s Storybook Tea, Build a Gingerbread House Workshop, Breakfast with Santa, and more. And if you’re looking for an elegant way to ring in the New Year, the resort’s very special Black & White Gala features luxurious food buffets, including a seafood ice bar, sushi station, living salad station, appetizers, dinner, desserts, live music, open bar, and fireworks. You can find all of the resort’s upcoming events at www.ritzcarlton/ameliaisland or call (904) 277-1087.

After the gifts have been opened and the Christmas roast has been consumed, ring in the New Year with the City of Fernandina Beach and Light Up Amelia for a unique, family-friendly New Year’s Celebration at the downtown waterfront, ringing in the New Year in conjunction with the Greenwich Mean Time stroke of midnight, which is at 7 p.m. The event will feature live music, a Kid Zone, vendors, holiday food and drink, all leading up to the dropping of the LED-lighted shrimp.

Visit www.ameliaisland.com for updates on these and other holiday events. Be sure to check with the local churches for the dates of their pageants and craft shows, and don’t forget our local charities. The Barnabas Center, Micah’s Place, Joy to the Children, Hope House, and many other charities need donations of time and gifts this season. Enjoy the season here on Amelia Island, and spread some holiday cheer of your own!