Children played drums, rang hand bells, sang, clapped rhythmically and even did a little dancing to entertain the crowd that gathered for the Christmas Card Lane celebration in downtown Lutz.
Hundreds gathered for the event, which also featured a visit from Santa, a few remarks by the community’s honorary Lutz Guv’na, and the ceremonial flipping of the switch to illuminate 16 giant holiday cards.
The 8-by-4-foot cards are posted along the edge of Memorial Park, across the street from the Lutz Depot Building, where the crowd watched the children from Lutz Elementary School perform.
The event marked the revival of the old Christmas Card Lane tradition in Lutz. The tradition ceased some years back, but a special edition of the event was done this year to mark the community’s 100th birthday.
The Christmas Card Lane celebration was the fourth and final event to mark the community’s centennial.
Ligia Grams was there to watch her son Dakota, 8, perform.
She gave the event high marks.
“It’s a good community outing for everyone,” Grams said. “It just brings everyone together. The kids will have a blast.”
Diane DeMarco and her husband, Dan, also came out to watch the Lutz Elementary children perform, which included their son, Joseph, 8. DeMarco also thought the event would be a good way to get into the Christmas spirit.
Her family moved to Lutz three years ago because of the community’s reputation for having a small-town feel.
Indeed, as chronicled in local history books written by Eliabeth Riegler MacManus and her daughter, Susan A. MacManus, community gatherings have long been the social glue for Lutz.
So, when the Lutz Centennial Committee was planning how to celebrate the community’s 100th birthday, they reasoned that community gatherings would be the way to go.
The first centennial event was a food truck rally in March. Next came the community’s massive Fourth of July Celebration, with its many traditions. Like always, it drew thousands of spectators.
After that, the committee had a chili cook-off and classic car show.
Suzin Carr, honorary Lutz Guv’na, was delighted by the turnout at the Christmas Card Lane event. Indeed, all of the celebrations have been well received by community residents and businesses, she said.
“We had fun during all of them,” said Bob Moore, chairman of the Lutz Centennial Committee.
The chili cook-off and classic car show had to contend with morning downpours, causing Moore to nickname it “Rain Fest.” But even that turned out to be a good event, he said.
“We’re from Lutz, we can party in the rain,” he quipped. “We can party under any conditions.”
The collection of giant cards on Christmas Card Lane reflects the community’s stalwart organizations and some local businesses. The GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club’s card, for example, depicts Santa riding in a train — a tribute to the community’s deep history involving the movement of goods through it by rail cars.
Troop 12 of the Boy Scouts, and Pack 12 of the Cub Scouts also created cards. There’s also a card from the Civil Air Patrol – North Tampa-Lutz Cadet Squadron.
The Citizens for the Old Lutz School also posted a card, as did Lutz Elementary, Maniscalco Elementary and Learning Gate Community schools.
The cards show varied artistic styles and holiday themes.
One sign that seems perfect for a Florida Christmas depicts a pink flamingo wearing a Santa’s hat, while hanging out under a palm tree at the beach.
There’s a bucket on the sand nearby, chock full of paintbrushes. That card, fittingly enough, was sponsored by The Florida Suncoast Decorative Artists.
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