By Iris Tufano
Island life on Little Gasparilla Island and Palm Island is preserved and illuminated by a generous holiday spirit. As Christmas quickly approaches, and the New Year is not too far behind, there are a number of events taking place on Little Gasparilla Island and Palm Island.
Little Gasparilla Island is of course just a boat ride away, or you can take Pirates Water Taxi with Capt. Emmett, who runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Eldred’s Marina on the Boca Grande Causeway.
Christmas on the Island is held by the Preserve Island Chapel on Little Gasparilla on Friday, Dec. 22. The pre-service activities will begin at 5:30 p.m. where free pizza, cookies and drinks will be served; the service will start at 6 p.m., led by Pastor Dan Turpin. This special service will feature a saxophonist, a quartet, a teen vocalist, a performance from a guitar soloist, congregational singing. There is also Holy Communion and a candle lighting.
On New Year’s Eve, the Little Gasparilla Island Carts’ annual New Years Eve party goes all out. Islanders decorate their golf carts, meeting at Hideaway Bay Beach Condos beach access at 9 p.m. The parade ends at their golf cart shop, but the fun does not stop there. A special band will perform in front of the shop at 10 p.m., until the ball drops at midnight.
Connected to but separated from Little Gasparilla by Don Pedro State Park is Palm Island. Palm Island is easily accessible via the Palm Island car ferry or by boat. Come unwind with the Island Ladies, enjoy some holiday fun at 540 N. Gulf and take part in a Sip & Paint on Friday, Dec. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. No prior painting experience is needed, all supplies are included with a fee of $35 per person, and appetizers and nonalcoholic drinks provided. Text “Ladies” to (806) 302-0040 to secure a spot.
Santa will be busy on Palm Island on Saturday, Dec. 16. Join Palm Island Estates for their annual Donuts with Santa 2023 from 9 to 11 a.m. This is held each year at Palm Island Firehouse, 101 Gasparilla Way. The Firehouse asks to please bring food donations for the local food pantry.
After Santa takes time for his lunch break, he will make his way up to Palm Island Resort for Santa’s Golf Cart Parade. The line up starts at 4:30 p.m that day; the parade starts at 5 p.m. The Annual Golf Cart Holiday Parade will be held within the Palm Island Resort. Meet in the resort parking lot, registration is required by emailing your name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org
Following the parade, the group will gather at Rum Bay Restaurant for the judging of the best holiday themed cart.
Into the New Year, locals can also take part in the annual PIE Golf Cart Parade as it rolls into town on Monday, Jan. 1. Guiding the parade will be Charlotte County’s Station 10 Fire and E.M.S. The line up starts at 10:30 a.m. between the bridges on the corner of S. Gulf Blvd and Bocilla Dr. The parade starts at 11 a.m. Islanders can decorate and show creativity and enthusiasm for the New Year by accessorizing golf carts for the New Year. Following the event, there will be a judging, prizes and food.
The holiday spirits are alive and well on Palm Island and Little Gasparilla Island. These isles aglow with enchanting lights and displays during the holidays, as the sun sets on the beaches the decorations come to life in the night. From twinkling weaving lights through the tropical plants to creative decorations accentuating the island charm, the attention to detail is nothing short of a magical paradise.