On December 1, 2023, the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce (GRCC) partnered with Winthrop Town Centre to present the first Light Up Winthrop Holiday Market at Founder’s Square Park in Winthrop. Over 100 vendors surrounded the square, festive lights were strung along their booths and multiple food trucks were present to offer delicious food and drink.
The highlight of the event was the lighting of the 18 ft. Christmas tree by Santa Claus himself. The tree was specially decorated by the children from A Children’s Kastle Daycare. Performers entertained the crowd, including award-winning recording artist Joe Zuniga; students from Alafia Elementary School, Winthrop Charter School and Music Showcase; and talented dance performers from the Academy of Dance Dynamics.
This amazing community event, sponsored by GRCC member Tampa Electric Company (TECO), garnered over 1,000 attendees — an amazing turn out for this event’s debut.
Along with the holiday market, the event offered many fun activities for the kids, including Christmas tree bowling, a reindeer antler toss and snowball fights. Many families lined up for photos with Santa along the candy cane lighted path. During the tree lighting ceremony, GRCC Chair of the Board Tammy See with OEL Heating and Cooling welcomed the large crowd and introduced John and Kay Sullivan, founders of the Winthrop community, who started the tree lighting at Winthrop over 30 years ago. Additional speakers during the evening included Ny’Kole Krivda, president and CEO of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce, and Representative Danny Alvarez.
Winthrop Liquors and the Manchesi family provided the homemade Gluhwein, a specialty wine served warm in special holiday mugs created specifically for the event. A special thank you to MJI Media, which was on hand to create a special video of the event, and to Boy Scout Troop 89, who assisted with the cleanup after the event. A nonprofit member of GRCC was randomly selected to receive a donation from the proceeds of the event, and this year’s recipient was the Outreach Free Clinic and Resource Center.
“This event came together for us in less than four weeks and took on a life of its own, indicative of the fact that this community was excited to support a great holiday event. We could not have done it without the help of Michael Broussard with The Flying Locksmiths, who helped us tremendously with setting up the lights and electricity, and with the logistics. I and my staff are incredibly grateful for his help, along with our GRCC member volunteers,” commented Krivda. She continued, “The generosity and love for this community by John and Kay Sullivan has been so tremendously demonstrated over the years. It was an honor for us to be asked to take on this incredible event and make it even better.”