THE HOLIDAY RUNDOWN: RINGING IN THE SEASON WITH EVENTS AROUND MARATHON

Thanksgiving’s in the rearview mirror, and Mariah Carey has finished her defrost – and that means it’s full-tilt holiday madness here in Marathon. For a tiny island, the heart of the Keys has plenty to keep everyone occupied in the final month of the year. Ever have trouble keeping track of it all? We’ve got you covered. Tear this schedule out, stick it on your fridge, and enjoy the best events of the most wonderful time of year in the Middle Keys. Nearly all events listed here are free to the community, with ticket prices noted otherwise.

Photos by ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

Until Saturday, visitors can enjoy a menagerie of decorated pines at the Zonta Festival of Trees.

Zonta Festival of Trees

When: Through Saturday, Dec. 2

Where: Marathon Garden Club

Details: Come check out Marathon’s most creative display of eclectic Christmas trees and enter to win your favorite. Viewing hours are 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 3:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. Come by on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon for cookies with Santa and the Grinch, with the winning tickets drawn at 8 p.m.

Santa Claus Comes to Coldwell Banker Schmitt

When: Friday, Dec. 1, 5:30 p.m.

Where: 11050 Overseas Hwy.

Details: Come say hello to Santa Claus for a photo opportunity as he and Mrs. Claus visit Coldwell Banker Schmitt in Marathon. Free gift bags and ice cream floats are available for children.

St. Columba’s Christmas Bazaar

When: Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: St. Columba Episcopal Church

Details: A day of Christmas shopping in the Florida Keys. The bazaar will have plenty of Christmas decorations, gifts, baked goods, homemade soup and more. The Christmas village will be set up across the entire church campus.

MCT Presents: A Holiday Event with Jaimie Roberts featuring Randy Morris and Jeff Dalton

When: Saturday, Dec. 2, 8 p.m.

Where: Marathon Community Theatre, 5101 Overseas Hwy.

Details: This one-night event will be a Christmas cabaret of jazz, comedy, Broadway and your favorite holiday songs. Randy and Jaimie have been performing together for decades and have traveled the world, bringing crazy onstage antics with them. Make it a holiday date night at MCT while supporting your local cultural arts. Purchase tickets for $35 at marathontheater.org. WARNING: if you’re under 18, you should probably stay home and watch worse on TV while your parents are here. 

‘A Christmas Celebration’ Concert 

When: Wednesday, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.

Where: San Pablo Catholic Church

Details: The Keys Chamber Orchestra and Lower Keys Community Choir will present a series of concerts in early December. “A Christmas Celebration” includes a collection of music and lessons to celebrate the season. A goodwill offering will be taken, and admission is free.

Pet Photos with Santa

When: Thursday, Dec. 7, 3 to 7 p.m.

Where: Keys Animal Hospital

Details: Join Santa and the staff of Keys Animal Hospital for a beloved holiday tradition. The event is a donation drive for the Florida Keys SPCA; donations are accepted in the form of cash, pet food, toys and bedding. Please have pets leashed or in a kennel at all times.

Marathon High School Band’s Winter Concert

When: Thursday, Dec. 7, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Marathon High School Performing Arts Center

Details: Come join the Marathon band as the school shows off all its ensembles, including all concert bands and new steel drum groups. Join the band before the concert for a $10 Italian dinner at 5 p.m. ($15 at the door). Scan the QR code to RSVP and purchase tickets.

QR LINK: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0D4CA5A62EA6FD0-45884391-italian?fbclid=IwAR0DEM_fnGQXa-bAdvDoR-cM5SOhEMxiUEFCqyFn0lpJNw1BoOoXlcPxD0A

Opportunities abound for pets to take photos with Santa – or the king of Mount Crumpit himself, the Grinch.

Pet Photos with the Grinch

When: Friday, Dec. 8, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Where: Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, 9141 Overseas Hwy.

Details: Have your pet strike a pose with the Grinch and receive an everlasting Who-tastic picture. The event is a donation drive for the Florida Keys SPCA; donations are accepted in the form of cash, pet food, toys and bedding. Please have pets leashed or in a kennel at all times.

Lighted boat parades in Duck Key, Boot Key Harbor and Key Colony Beach are set for the second weekend of December.

Duck Key Christmas Boat Parade

When: Friday, Dec. 8 at dusk

Where: Duck Key 

Details: Join Hawks Cay for the second annual Duck Key Christmas boat parade. A parade of lighted boats will begin at Angler & Ale restaurant and process past Hawks Cay and through the Indies canal before boats make a U-turn at the Seaview Drive bridge and return. Join the after party and awards ceremony at Angler & Ale. For more information, see duckkeyfishingclub.com

Havana Jack’s Christmas Tree Lighting

When: Friday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m.

Where: Havana Jack’s Oceanside Restaurant and Bar

Details: Join Havana Jack’s for the restaurant’s annual Christmas tree lighting. Fun starts at 6 p.m. with the tree lighting at 7 p.m. There will be a DIY ornament station, cocktail and food specials, and prizes for the best ugly Christmas sweater.

An evening stroll through the lights of San Pablo is a holiday staple in Marathon.

San Pablo Church’s Christmas Lights

When: Friday, Dec. 8 (estimated). Dusk to 9:30 p.m. each night.

Where: San Pablo Catholic Church

Details: Take a stroll through the gardens of San Pablo Catholic Church and witness one of Marathon’s most iconic signs of the season with opportunities for reflection and prayer. All are welcome.

Marathon Community Theatre’s Annual Holiday Show & Sing-A-Long Concert

When: Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8-9, 7 p.m.

Where: Marathon Community Theatre

Details: MCT proudly presents its annual holiday show and sing-along concert. Enjoy a family-friendly evening filled with cheer, joy and music. The family-friendly show will run for one hour and include numerous group and individual musical, vocal and dance performances. Doors open at 6 p.m., so come early and grab a hot cocoa, wine, beer or champagne at the concessions bar. Tickets are $10 and available at www.marathontheater.org.

Sunset Grille’s Breakfast with Santa

When: Saturday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m.

Where: Sunset Grille & Raw Bar

Details: Come see Santa arrive at Sunset Grille with his Coast Guard escort. Join in for a breakfast with the North Pole’s head honcho.

Boot Key Harbor Christmas Boat Parade

When: Saturday, Dec. 9 at dusk

Where: Boot Key Harbor

Details: The Boot Key Harbor boat parade will return on its traditional second Saturday of December. Exact parade route through the harbor TBA. Boats interested in participating may contact organizer Ilene Clark at 561-542-2727 or by email at [email protected]. A captain’s meeting is on Tuesday, Dec. 5. 

Key Colony Beach Christmas Boat Parade

When: Sunday, Dec. 10 at dusk

Where: Key Colony Beach 7th Street canal

Details: The KCB Fishing and Boating Club and KCB Community Association present the city’s annual lighted boat parade. Boats of all sizes and shapes are welcome to enter the parade for free. Cash prizes and gift certificates are available for Best in Parade, Best in Class (Under/Over 30 feet), Brightest and Most Colorful, Most Creative and Most Spirited Crew. To sign up, contact Steve DeCrow ([email protected] or 518-859-5662) by Dec. 9. Overnight docking is available for participating boats on Saturday and Sunday nights upon request.

Holiday dance numbers are on tap from Prodigy Dance Center at the Community Park for Tropical Holiday Fun Fest.

Tropical Holiday Fun Fest

When: Friday, Dec. 15, 6 p.m.

Where: Marathon Community Park

Details: Come out to the community park for a night of holiday fun. Watch performances by Prodigy Dance Center, see Santa and the Grinch, and have some food and fun snacks as kids enjoy bounce houses, music, face painting and cotton candy. 

Christmas Movies by the Sea

When: Friday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Pigeon Key

Details: Come one, come all to a special screening of “The Polar Express” under the stars at Pigeon Key. Purchase tickets online (pigeonkey.net) to watch the holiday hit movie surrounded by Christmas lights, and come dressed in pajamas for free hot chocolate. Two different train departures are offered from the Seven Mile Marina, along with walking/biking tickets. For more information, see the Pigeon Key Facebook page.

Santa and crew are once again set to pay a visit to Crane Point’s Winter Wonderland on Dec.16.

Winter Wonderland at Crane Point

When: Saturday, Dec. 16, 4:30 to 8 p.m.

Where: Crane Point Museum and Nature Center

Details: Predictions of snow are in the forecast as families can enjoy an evening winter wonderland. Attractions will include reindeer ponies, Santa and Mrs. Claus, performers from Marathon Community Theatre, sleigh rides, holiday decorations, a chocolate fountain, other seasonal treats and alcoholic drinks for purchase. Visit cranepoint.net or call 305-743-9100.

Pet Photos with Santa

When: Sunday, Dec. 17, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where: Marathon’s Courtyard Marriott

Details: A $20 donation to the Marathon SPCA will get you a quality professional photo of your pet thanks to Photo Design By Natalie. Be sure to dress festive and meet at the picturesque beach at 2146 Overseas Highway in Marathon.

Handel’s Messiah at St. Columba

When: Sunday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m.

Where: St. Columba Episcopal Church

Details: St. Columba’s Keyswide choir will come together with renowned local musicians to perform a Christmas masterpiece. Join the church for this free concert.

Christmas Eve Parade with Santa

When: Sunday, Dec. 24 at dusk

Where: Streets of Marathon & Key Colony Beach (exact stops TBA)

Details: Santa will make his annual travels through the streets of Marathon to visit all the city’s good boys and girls on Christmas Eve. Stay tuned for announcements of exact stops by the city of Marathon.

ARE WE MISSING ANY? Let us know by emailing [email protected]

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.