Dozens of families grace the soccer field and amphitheater at the Community Park. JASON KOLER/Keys Weekly

Santa, a bounce house, a DJ and so much more all made their way to fill the soccer field on Dec. 16 for the first Tropical Holiday Fun-Fest at Marathon Community Park. The first of its kind for the Parks and Recreation department, the free event allowed families to come out and enjoy the type of community happenings that have gone missing since the COVID-19 pandemic. “We wanted to do something a lot bigger than what we normally do, since we’ve been in lockdown for so long,” said Parks and Recreation director Paul Davis. “To be honest, it was epic. The kids had fun, the parents had fun, and everyone had a smile on their face. That’s what we were hoping for, and we felt we were able to give the community what they needed.”

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.