A Gulf Coast Holiday Tradition in Pensacola
The holidays are a special time of the year for most people, myself especially. Indulging in some well deserved rewards of delicious home cooked meals and gifts with your friends and family is the perfect way to end a year well done. Indeed, the holidays are a time when we do our best to create a paradise here on Earth, paying tribute and giving thanks for all the good things and people we have in our lives. While family and friends are at the top of my list of what I am truly blessed to have in my life, in third place is where I live, and a close third at that! The fact of the matter is, living off of Florida’s Gulf Coast, also known as the Emerald Coast, is a feeling unlike any other. I have traveled a great deal across this great country, and have seen beauty from all parts of God’s green Earth, but the beauty off the Gulf of Mexico is unparalleled. Obviously, I’m incredibly pleased to call this wonderful area home, so let me describe to you one of my favorite holiday traditions here in the Gulf Coast: The (famous and fantastical) Pensacola Winterfest!
If I could only use one word to describe the Pensacola Winterfest, it’d be “fun”! But since I can use much more than one word, let me tell you a bit about this magical affair. Starting things off is our annual Elf Parade, which marches through the streets of downtown Pensacola. Costumed kids of all ages are accompanied by a brass band, and of course they are joined by Santa, Mrs. Claus and a host of other holiday characters. This extravaganza covers four city blocks, and those fortunate enough to witness it are treated to a Christmas song battle, tumbling snowflakes and the perfect amount of holiday cheer.
My favorite part of Pensacola’s Winterfest is the fantastic trolley tour. This once a year treat features sixteen performances throughout its sixty minute journey through historic downtown Pensacola. The guides sing as they show you the sights and during the ride and are joined by the Grinch, characters from some of your favorite holiday movies such as “The Polar Express” and “A Christmas Story”, “The King” Elvis Presley and of course, the man in red himself, Santa. During the week before Christmas, the Santa’s Express Tour is a quintessential ride for younger children. Santa, Rudolph and more take the night off from their toy factory in the North Pole for this remarkable excursion, as lifelong memories with your children are some of the best gifts he could give us folks who were able to avoid Santa’s “naughty list” for the year. Of course, no holiday season is complete without a host of reindeer games, and here in downtown Pensacola, all of Santa’s reindeer come to compete for our enjoyment, and they bring gourmet cocoa, a snow machine and more with them! To learn more about Pensacola’s Winterfest, check out the Visit Pensacola website at https://www.visitpensacola.com/.
If you happened to miss The Pensacola Winterfest this year, fear not, as it is a yearly tradition, one many local residents share year in and year out. The holiday season proves what I am known to say year around: white sands are always better than white snow!