Menorahs made of marshmallows, break dancers and a giant dreidel running down the street are just a few of the fun community events that will mark the start of Hanukkah in Tampa Bay this year.
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins at sundown on Sunday and ends the evening of Dec. 14. It's one of the more whimsical holidays on the Jewish calendar, said Rabbi Levi Hodakov, director Chabad of Clearwater.
"Hanukkah in general is a joyous time," Hodakov said, "especially because there is a focus on the kids."
His Chabad of Clearwater is also hosting Hanukkah on Ice at Countryside mall in Clearwater on Sunday with free ice skating and the Ironman Robot, one of two upcoming celebrations on ice.
Hodakov said they worked hard to top last year's ice cream cone menorah on Clearwater Beach, and said they are "pulling out the stops" this year with a huge marshmallow menorah on the third night of Hanukkah.
Some Hanukkah events coming up:
Hanukkah in the City: This celebration lights up the night in downtown Tampa's City Hall Plaza on Sunday with professional break dancers, a gyroscope, live music, cotton candy, popcorn, a latke demo by Publix, a balloon and spray paint artist, a caricaturist, crafts and the Hebrew Academy Choir. It's free from 5:30-8 p.m. at City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
Hanukkah Extravaganza: For its 13th annual celebration of Hanukkah, a giant eight-foot "candy land" menorah will be set up in South Straub Park in St. Petersburg on Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. There will also be a tightrope walker, live music and free doughnuts, latkes, raffles and crafts at the park at 250 Bayshore Drive NE, St. Petersburg.
Chase the Dreidel 5K: Runners will chase a life-sized dreidel (a volunteer in a dreidel costume) as it spins down the streets of St. Petersburg on this 5K run that also includes a Diaper Dreidel Dash for pre-walkers. Entry is $45 at tinyurl.com/chasethedreidel. The race begins at 4 p.m. Sunday at Congregation B'nai Israel, 300 58th St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 648-6545.
Hanukkah Wonderland: Chabad of Brandon will ignite a glow-in-the-dark menorah at the Westfield Brandon mall starting at 6:15 p.m. Sunday, followed by a celebration featuring latkes, chocolate coins, face painting, Tony the Balloon Guy and glow-in-the-dark Hanukkah gifts. Free at 459 Brandon Town Center Drive.
Hanukkah Rocks: Temple Ahavat Shalom will have an interactive, multimedia concert that combines food, holiday treats, crafts and other activities from noon to 2:30 p.m. Sunday. $10 advance, $15 at the door, 12 and younger free. For tickets call (727) 785-8811, ext. 2, or email [email protected] 1575 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor.
Hanukkah on Ice: The Ironman Robot will entertain the kids, and there's free ice skating and a menorah built entirely of cans of food. It is free, but RSVPs are required. Visit the website YIChabad.com/ice to register. Skating is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sunday at Westfield Countryside mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. Free.
Hanukkah at Clearwater Beach: The giant marshmallow menorah will be underway Dec. 8 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for this grand family Hanukkah celebration with food, music, dancing, and a Nerdy Noah comedy show at Surf Style Megastore at 311 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. Free.
Young Israel of Tampa's Hanukkah on Ice: There will be a menorah sculpted in ice for the seventh night of Hanukkah, plus skating to Jewish music around the flaming menorah, a kosher food stand, latkes and a special raffle on Dec. 12, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy, 255 Forest Lakes Blvd. N, Oldsmar. $5, includes skate rental.
Night of 100 Menorahs: Temple Beth David in Spring Hill is inviting families to bring their own menorahs and light them all at the same time. Songs, prayers and a meal will be shared. Reservations required at (352) 686-7034. Free at 5 p.m. Dec. 12 at 13158 Antelope St., Spring Hill.
A Taste of Hanukkah: Bring a menorah and enough candles to light for the eighth night of Hanukkah on Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. at Beth Israel Sun City Center, 1115 Del Webb Blvd. E, Sun City Center.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] or (727) 893-8595. Follow @SharonKWn.