Key Biscayne’s 26th annual Winterfest appeared to be a big hit Sunday night as a large crowd enjoyed the rides, the Christmas tree lighting and – of course – a visit from Santa.
Parks Director Todd Hofferberth said the main difference this year is Paradise Park that is lit up for the holiday season. “And it allows us to get more rides and spread out more,” he said.
The Village is more festive this year thanks to an additional $15,000 that allowed nearby Village Hall to be decked out in holiday cheer with wreaths and other adornments, Hofferberth said.
Hofferberth said there was no estimate of the crowd but it was elbow-to-elbow at times.
It may look like a carnival, but the food certainly rose above the corn dog with vendors like Vinya Wine, Mestizo, Novecento, and Milanezza.
Lines of dozens and dozens were formed, filled with excited children and parents anticipating to ride on the zip lines, play in the bouncy houses, go down the slides, and have fun with other rides available.
The presence of the Key Biscayne Police and Fire Department added an extra layer of assurance to the celebration, with uniformed officers and dedicated firefighters scattered throughout Civic Center Park, ensuring a safe and secure environment for all attendees.
Santa Claus made his presence known, keeping the tradition of having children sit on his lap and have them tell him what they want for christmas.
Local children in martial arts and gymnasts performed before the grand nutcracker performance, which caused a crowd of hundreds to form. The nutcracker dancers were introduced by Suki Lopez, who plays Nina on Sesame Street.
After this, the Key Biscayne Community Foundation and children a part of the special needs program greeted the crowd.
Then, at 6pm, Mayor Joe Rasco lit the tree to officially launch the Key Biscayne Christmas season.
Winterfest 2023 concluded in a shimmering spectacle, leaving the community with cherished memories and the perfect start to a festive, Christmas month.
Winterfest was just a start of an eventual December for the island with following events on tap:
- Thursday, December 7: Key Biscayne Piano Festival Holiday, Monaco Reflection Pools
- Friday, December 8: Movies on the Green presents Arthur Christmas
- Sunday, December 10: Chanukah Celebration at the Village Green
- Saturday, December 16: Emerson Fittipaldi Concours D’elegance Key Biscayne
- Saturday, December 16: Seraphic Fire Concert, Crossbridge Church
ANASTASIA IVANOVA is a junior at the School for Advanced Studies and is part of the Key Biscayne Independent's student journalism program. She earlier attended MAST Academy and was a staff writer for the school newspaper, The Beacon, and loves traveling, appreciating art, consuming and producing writing, and developing a greater understanding of the world.