Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Moving Dade City's Church Street Christmas up a week sparks criticism

DADE CITY — For more than 30 years, Church Street Christmas has been a December staple in Dade City.

Each year, the three days before Christmas Eve have been marked by carolers, twinkling luminaries and hundreds of strands of Christmas lights.

Until now.

Organizers have pushed up this year's dates from Dec. 21–23 to Dec. 18–20, the weekend before Christmas, in the hopes that the free event, which typically sees up to 40,000 attendees, will draw an even bigger crowd.

The plan is to host Church Street Christmas the weekend before Christmas Eve from now on.

"I think this is one of the best outreach events for the community," said organizer Steve Smith. "If you're trying to bring people to Dade City, why not get the biggest crowds you can?"

He hopes that local businesses, including Realtors, will benefit from the boost in attendance.

"It's one of the attractions that brought me to Dade City," said Smith, who moved here from Tampa 17 years ago.

But some of his neighbors aren't happy with the new dates.

"It's tradition," said Jim Ward, whose family has lived on Church Avenue since 1896. "You don't change tradition."

His sentiments were echoed by other Church Avenue residents, who say the last weekend before Christmas Eve is traditionally when they're busy putting the final touches on decorations and other preparations for the event.

Some go as far as applying a new coat of paint to their homes. Others settle for a good exterior pressure wash.

But almost everyone spends at least a few weekends trimming hedges, sweeping driveways and hanging lights so their homes are ready for the thousands of camera-carrying visitors.

"We love Church Street Christmas, but it is a lot of time, money and work to the residents," said Pat German, who has participated in the event for more than 20 years.

Smith said he hears the residents' concerns, but his goal is to get as many people in town as possible that weekend.

The new dates also benefit the core team of about 20 volunteers who put on the event.

Now, they no longer will have to spend the final hours before Christmas Eve cleaning up and breaking down stages.

"Not everybody's going to agree," Smith said. "But the general consensus among the people who put in the time is it's much better to have it Friday, Saturday and Sunday."

This isn't the first hiccup in the history of the event. Smith got involved in 2006, when Church Street Christmas was formally cancelled due to a lack of visitors and volunteers.

Smith and his neighbors wouldn't have it. After deciding the event was too precious to lose, they lined up sponsors and entertainment. Church Street Christmas went on.

The event is put on by residents, Smith said, but the city provides services like street closures and police security.

Even with the changed dates, none of the residents who spoke to the Times said they would not participate.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Moving Dade City's Church Street Christmas up a week sparks criticism 10/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 29, 2009 9:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.