A young Light Up Key Largo attendee meets Santa and Mrs. Claus in front of “Holly” the Christmas Tree. CONTRIBUTED

Some holiday season magic is returning to the Upper Keys before Thanksgiving with a visit from Santa Claus and the lighting of “Holly” the Christmas tree during the 14th annual Light Up Key Largo on Saturday, Nov. 18.

There will also be several new additions to an event that’s captivated children for more than a decade. The hard-working elves with the Key Largo Preservation Foundation have put together an event they say will be remembered for years to come. 

New attractions to this year’s Light Up Key Largo festivities include a Christmas train that families and their children will be able to ride around the tree. In addition, children will hunt for hidden Santas and solve the puzzle for a prize. Giveaways will be available for all ages while supplies last. Golden Santas will be hidden after the tree lighting for a chance to win grand prizes. Added to the holiday magic will be a snow machine, inflatable games and bounce houses.

Like every year, children attending the holiday festivities will receive a free hot dog or hamburger. Light Up Key Largo will also have a craft booth, cookie decorating and story time, as many kids have come to enjoy throughout the years. 

A Christmas tree lighting will take place at 6 p.m. Performances of “Elf Jr.” by the Key Largo School Drama Club are set for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

More information is at Light Up Key Largo on Facebook. 

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.