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Light Up Lauderdale: Here in the nick of time

Maybe it’s not Clydesdales jingling down a snowy country lane, but paddleboarder friends say there’s nothing quite like a traditional New River cruise past the holiday twinkle of Light Up Lauderdale to get you in the mood.

The free community kickoff of the holiday season will take place Thursday at Light Up Lauderdale’s evening gathering at Esplanade Park (400 SW Second St.), featuring holiday sounds by the Girls Choir of South Florida, horse-drawn “sleigh” rides around the park, face painting and Santa’s first formal visit of the season. Light refreshments will be served, including candy canes, cupcakes and (yes, Mom) toasting portions of prosecco.

At 6:30 p.m., the holiday season will get an official start when Mayor Jack Seiler flips the switch on more than two miles of lights strung along Riverwalk on both sides of the river from Stranahan House to the Broward Center. The display will be up for 10 weeks.

“When the lights go up, no matter what else is going on, we have that cool, festive air,” says Genia Duncan Ellis, president and CEO of the nonprofit community organization Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale. “It’s all about downtown. It’s a reminder that good things are happening.”

More traditional holiday cheer is on its way in Fort Lauderdale, including the Las Olas Holiday Market at Broward College (111 E. Las Olas Blvd.) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday beginning Nov. 17; Light Up the Beach at A1A and Las Olas from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 26; Christmas on Las Olas at 5 p.m. Dec. 3; and Light Up Sistrunk at 5 p.m. Dec. 6. Go to or

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