Chanukah celebration at  HarborWalk Village continues to grow

Special to Gannett
Chabad of the Emerald Coast provides the giant Menorah, the music and entertainment and lots of food.

Close to 200 people gathered on the first night of Chanukah to celebrate the holiday at HarborWalk Village.

It's already the ninth year that Chanukah is celebrated at HarborWalk in Destin with music, inspiring talks and, of course, light the giant 12-foot Menorah.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the revered leader of the Chabad movement and the Jewish community around the world, encouraged that every effort should be made to spread the light of Chanukah everywhere, especially through lighting public Menorahs.

Eight and a half years ago, when Chabad of the Emerald Coast was established in Destin, they searched for a public and nice place to host the event.

A good friend recommended HarborWalk. That turned to be a perfect match. HarborWalk hosts and produces events and concerts all year round.

While Chabad of the Emerald Coast provides the giant Menorah, the music and entertainment and food, the HarborWalk takes care of the rest, professionally and generously. 

Young and old turned out for this year's Menorah lighting at HarborWalk Village.

All of these ingredients made it the largest Jewish event in Okaloosa and its surrounding counties.

"I remember the first time, when we had about 50 people attending," said Rabbi Shaya Tenenboim of Chabad of the Emerald Coast. "Many of them were surprised they were not the only Jew in town."

A couple of Chanukahs later there were already hundreds joining for this grand event. County and city dignitaries join the celebration and address the celebrants.

Many Jews and non-Jews of all ages travel from far and near to celebrate this magical night.

A Jewish philanthropist, Lewis Topper, sponsored this year's event after witnessing its success.

Next year's event is already being planned. 

On Dec. 18, 2022, the 10th annual Chanukah celebration will take place.