NAPLES — The Naples Holiday Festival drew a large crowd again this year, with a multitude of free and low-cost activities for children and their families on Dec. 8. From the Naples Holiday Festival Craft Fair to the fire station filled with games and activities, to Santa’s visit at the Naples General Store, cotton candy booth, and Christmas trees available for a donation, Naples was filled with fun and cheer.
A new addition to the festivities this year was a giant Christmas stocking, stuffed with goodies, that hung on the wall of the fire station.
“This year we bought the giant stocking filled with toys and allowed kids 14 and under to fill out tickets for the drawing,” explained South Boundary Fire Chief Tony Rohrwasser. “The kids were required to go to the store, the school, and the fire station to get stickers from each place before dropping it into the entry box. This year’s winner was Colton Alderman, a student at Naples School.”
The Naples Holiday Festival Craft Fair, which took place in the Naples Elementary School gym, drew 29 vendors this year.
“We have a lot of vendors that have come back this year, that were here last year, and a lot of new vendors,” said craft fair organizer Deedee Depue. “And people are already interested again, so it has been a good year this year.”
For those wanting to tell Santa their Christmas wishes, he was available at the Naples General Store.
“Santa sits with the kids at the store for at least a couple of hours and the store owners, Chad and Laura, take pictures and offer these free to kids,” said Rohrwasser.
For those wanting to take home a Christmas tree, the firefighters sold donated trees to the public by donation, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to the local Food Cupboard and 50 percent to the South Boundary Firefighter Association, which donates back to the community.
“This is our third year here. We always get our tree here and the kids go to Naples so we always come down and do the festivities,” said Shannon Daniel who was picking out a tree with her family. “We love the fact that we get to donate for the tree and it helps support the firefighters. We think that is awesome.”
The Junior High School Band played next to the South Boundary Fire station and inside there was a wide array of different games the kids could play for free.
“People could make caramel apples, glass ornaments, or work in Santa’s workshop painting wooden ornaments,” said Rohrwasser. “In the community room at the fire station there was food for purchase, free Christmas movies for kids, and chairs to relax on. The Helping Hands of Naples sold all kinds of baking and their earnings as always goes to help members of the community.”
The Naples Holiday Festival is operated by members in the community donating their time to help the kids have fun for very little to no cost.
“I am asked how the Fire District can do this event,” said Rohrwasser. “The Fire District allows us to use the location for the day while the firefighters volunteer their time and efforts on behalf of the South Boundary Firefighters Association which is a non profit organization that raises money to support the district and community members.”
“Many others like the BFHS Honor Society donate time to help, the staff at the Naples School run the kitchen and Santa’s workshop,” explained Rohrwasser.
“Each year it seems to grow a little more, next year hopefully we can add a little more fun for the kids,” said Rohrwasser. “I personally love seeing all of the kids having fun in this very festive season, the lights, the smiles and the fun makes it a very special event.”