Each year in December, a brightly lit holiday scene unfolds in downtown Clearwater. The shining lights bring cheer to all those who happen by.
“What’s that?” you may wonder if you’re new to the area. By now, it’s a familiar sight to those that live here – a happy event for children and adults alike.
For free, one can enter this magical world, which is hosted by the Clearwater Community Volunteers. Winter Wonderland is a toy and food drive, so donations are requested. Proceeds go to benefit the children of Pinellas County.
Here you’ll find many free activities – holiday music and concerts, a snow machine blowing snow around a towering Christmas tree, cookie decorating, and a play space.
Plenty of activities can be enjoyed for a small charge – an adorable petting zoo, inflatable slides, pony rides, small train ride, gyroscope and photo ops galore. Every year, more glitter and sparkle are added to the display.
Food and drinks are available for a nominal cost. Whatever you do, don’t leave without sampling the delicious hot chocolate!
This year, they’ve gone all out to celebrate their Pearl Anniversary of 30 years.
Pam Ryan Anderson works all year-round to help bring the Christmas village to life in Clearwater. “This year we have new 6-foot throne chairs for Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus – a red and gold loveseat for Santa so that kids and families can sit with him, and a beautiful white one for Mrs. Claus,” said Anderson. “Since they have new chairs, their porches need to be more beautiful than ever, and we are working on that on a daily basis. We have two new, huge and beautiful photo opportunities, but still have our old ones that have been wonderfully re-sparkled. Both of these houses will have really nice photo backdrops, making the houses much more enticing for picture taking.”
“There will be other new surprises too, and I think they will both become photo ops – two adorable little creatures outside of Mrs. Claus’s house and an animatronic reindeer for Santa,” Anderson added.
Something else that’s new – Winter Wonderland is now offering First Responders from fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and EMTs free wristbands for their children. They had already been offering this for military personnel. All that’s required is to just show ID at the ticket booth and all their children will have unlimited access to all the activities.
The Grand Opening of Winter Wonderland will be held on December 2 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. The weekly fun continues on December 3, 6-10, and 13-23, 2023 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Free parking is available at many nearby locations.
201 N Fort Harrison Ave, Clearwater, FL 33755
Feature photo courtesy of Winter Wonderland