Ho, ho, ho!

Annie Blanks | 315-4450 | @DestinLogAnnie | ablanks@thedestinlog.com
Parker Williams, 3, whispers in Santa's ear what he wants for Christmas. ANNIE BLANKS/THE LOG

As Gail Sheppard watched her granddaughters Sophia and Sienna Reed have their pictures taken with Santa Claus under the glow of multicolored Christmas lights Thursday night, she couldn’t help but reminisce.

“It’s so nice that I get to share this with my grandkids,” Sheppard said. “I remember when Cyron (Marler) and I were small, and I remember the things he taught us. I’m just so thankful to the city of Destin for continuing this tradition.”

Sheppard, a lifelong Destin resident, attended the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Destin Community Center with her kids and grandchildren Thursday evening. Sheppard has fond memories of Christmastime in the world’s luckiest fishing village. She grew up with Marler, a Destin city councilman and host of the annual ceremony.

“It’s just heartwarming to know how far Destin has come,” she said.

Her granddaughter Sophia, who is 9 and in the choir at Destin Elementary School, was equally as enthusiastic about Christmas.. She was able to recite the names of all nine reindeer before the large crowd and was first in line to sit on Santa’s lap.

“I’ve always really loved Christmas, it’s my favorite time of year,” Sophia said. “I love it. I love the lighting of the tree and the singing. It just gets everyone jolly. Sometimes around the year, people are a little bit angry, but around Christmas they just get jolly.”  

There was plenty of merriment for Reed and everyone else to enjoy Thursday night. The hour-long event had Marler telling the tales of the holiday season in old Destin, choirs from Noah’s Ark preschool, Destin Elementary and the Emerald Coast Chorus singing Christmas carols and, of course, the grand lighting of the Christmas tree.

“There are no empty seats,” Marler said in between breaks in a round of caroling. “It’s always great. I believe it’s a great thing to come out here and continue our tradition. Everybody loves to watch the little kids sing.”

The ceremony was the start of a month-long series of Christmas events in the city. The annual Destin Christmas Parade is Dec. 10, the Harbor Boat Parade is Dec. 11 and the city’s annual outdoor decorations contest is running now through Dec. 14.