Key Largo’s Murray Nelson Government & Cultural Center transformed into a winter wonderland on Nov. 18 for the 14th annual Light Up Key Largo. Organized by the Key Largo Community Preservation Foundation, young attendees ran through fluffy, fake snow generated from a machine. Craft stations were set up for the tykes to decorate cookies and crafts, and a long line of children eagerly waited to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. The night was highlighted by the lighting of “Holly” the Christmas tree. Hundreds circled the tree, counting down to the tree’s illumination. Surprising the crowd was an iguana that served as the official tree topper alongside the star.


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.