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Celebrating Christmas on the Square in Live Oak

Live Oak’s Festival Park was magically transformed into Santa Land for this year’s Christmas on the Square festivities.
-Photo by Jeffry Boatright

Hundreds gathered to watch as entertainment was abundant throughout the day at Christmas on the Square.
-Photo by Jeffry Boatright

By Jeffry Boatright

The lingering warmth of North Florida certainly didn’t melt the Christmas spirit as the joyous season was officially introduced with Friday evening’s lighting of the Christmas tree in Live Oak. The event, which officially kicked off the 33rd Annual Christmas on the Square, was presented by the Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce.

Friday night’s festivities were significantly increased from those of previous years with bounce houses, vendors, fireworks and tons of snow. Of course, the traditional lighting of the tree, along with Santa’s annual arrival, was met with hundreds of anxious little ones, and the grownups who accompanied them.

The official lighting of the Christmas tree set the stage for Santa’s imminent arrival. After leaving his sleigh at an undisclosed location, the jolly old fellow made his way into Downtown Live Oak atop one of Live Oak Fire Department’s shiny red fire engines. Making their way through the crowd, Mayor Nobles escorted Santa Claus to Festival Park, which had been magically transformed into Santa Land. There were elves, lighted trees, and endless requests from little ones. Those requests ranged from Matchbox toys to world peace. There were even requests for restored families and happiness.

Of course, many children took advantage of the opportunity to tell Santa how good they have been all year and some even left the magical old elf with clear instructions or a convenient letter. One delightful little girl even told Santa that Christmas is her favorite day because it is the birthday of Jesus.

While children played in the snow, enjoyed the bounce houses and spent quality time with Old St. Nicholas, many adults found entertainment in Millennium Park. Austin Park, a popular North Florida-based band, livened up the stage in Millennium Park, providing live music for the event.

After countless photos had been taken with Santa, and multiple children had petitioned their Christmas wishes, the enchanted evening drew to a close with an impressive display of fireworks. Of course, it was one night that the City of Live Oak really never slept as vendors, festival organizers and public safety workers diligently labored to ensure everything would be in place and ready to go as festival goers converged on Downtown Live Oak for the 33rd Annual Christmas on the Square.

It didn’t take long for the quiet Saturday morning streets of Live Oak to become crowded with patrons from Suwannee County, as well as surrounding areas. The aroma of barbeque, funnel cakes, sausage and an array of other mouthwatering food creations infiltrated the morning air and gently swept through the downtown streets, appealing to the senses of those in attendance.

Meanwhile, vendors began promoting and selling their wares as potential customers relished in the beauty of so many arts and crafts. From face painting to creative woodworks, there was literally something for everyone. Those in attendance were able to visit the booths of many clubs, churches, agencies, organizations and businesses, where there were ample opportunities to win prizes.

The annual event did not disappoint with its availability for tasty food and amazing crafts, nor did it disappoint when it came to entertainment. Live music, dancing and choreography accented the events in and around Millennium Park throughout the day. In addition to the entertainment, a remarkable display of antique and classic cars were exhibited for car enthusiasts to secretly hope that Santa might leave such a production from Detroit beneath their tree.

Indeed, the 33rd Annual Christmas on the Square event did offer a little of everything. The impressive agricultural display was only fitting for a predominately agricultural community and the organizers did not overlook entertaining the little ones in the park. The bounce houses and Santa Land were again a huge hit on Saturday among Live Oak’s little ones.

“This is something the community needs,” Suwannee County resident Kin Weaver explained. According to Weaver, considerable efforts of many workers and volunteers go into the event each year, but those efforts are what make Christmas on the Square such a successful event and cherished tradition year after year.

In keeping with that cherished tradition, the annual event concluded with the lighted parade on Saturday evening. Parade entries from churches, organizations and businesses delighted thousands of enthusiastic onlookers with the colorful, sparkling displays of their parade entries.

While Christmas on the Square activities have become quite a tradition for Live Oak and Suwannee County, many friends and families have also established their own traditions that are associated with the annual event. Perhaps that is what makes Christmas on the Square so special to so many. Of course, the most special part of the event was resounded when one sweet little girl told Santa that Christmas is her favorite day because it is the birthday of Jesus.

This boy enjoyed going down the snow slide as Friday night’s festivities were significantly increased from those of previous years with bounce houses, vendors, fireworks and tons of snow.
-Photo submitted by Karen Hurst

Officers playing basketball at the US Army booth at Christmas on the Square. -Photo by Jeffry Boatright

Hundreds gathered to watch dance performances and other entertainment at and around Millennium Park during Christmas on the Square, Saturday in Live Oak. -Photo by Jeffry Boatright

Antique and classic cars lined Howard Street in Live Oak during Saturday’s Christmas on the Square event. -Photo by Jeffry Boatright