Cousin Eddie from ‘National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation’ makes an appearance during the parade.

Holiday cheer filled Islamorada’s Founders Park during the 19th annual Holiday Fest on Dec. 1, presented by the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce. Children and families enjoyed a towering Christmas tree that blew snow. Others waited in line to see Santa, and kids flocked to the snow mountain. Other activities included an ornament auction, a bustling holiday bazaar and a glowing parade around the great lawn. Capt. Skip Bradeen served as grand marshal, leading a procession which featured more than 40 floats, boats, cars and trucks adhering to the theme “Happy Holidays and Best Fishes.” The esteemed accolade of “Best Holiday Parade Float” was awarded to TowBoat US Islamorada, with the Village of Islamorada securing second place and Ocean Studies Charter School claiming third place.

Photos by DOUG FINGER/Keys Weekly

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.