The 2020 yuletide season kicked off this month with The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach Holiday Shoppes. This year’s event marked the Shoppes’ 30th anniversary. It was held Nov. 12-14 at the center, 50 Executive Way.
Local residents look forward to the annual fundraiser, where they can find a variety of items for sale, including men’s and women’s apparel, homemade children’s toys, unique jewelry, home goods, holiday decorations and more. It’s the ideal place to find one-of-a-kind gifts.
This year, local students provided impromptu entertainment, and food trucks were on hand to keep hungry visitors fed. In addition, Divine Spirits, a mobile bartending service from Jacksonville, brought its Unbridled Bar – a vintage horse-trailer-turned-bar – to serve drinks, including a signature beverage created for the event.
Vendors offered their wares at stations in the courtyard and inside the center itself. In the main gallery, the Cultural Center had its own booth. This has always been the place to purchase homemade items from member artists. But this year, the selection was expanded to special holiday items purchased in Atlanta and donated by Hilah Autrey.
That, combined with a special balloon display created for the event by Anette Saalman of Sparkle Balloons by Anette, gave this year’s Holiday Shoppes “a wow factor,” according to Executive Director Donna Guzzo.
To keep shoppers and vendors protected from the coronavirus, a number of measures were put into place.
In past years, shoppers could simply show up, but this time they were asked to pre-select a time when they would visit. This helped to manage attendance so that social distancing could be observed. Also, the preview reception, normally reserved for Cultural Center members and donors, was opened up to anyone who might be at high risk and wanted to avoid the crowds.
Cultural Center staff also wore masks, disinfected surfaces, took visitors’ temperatures and asked the now-familiar COVID-19 questions.
Sponsors of the Holiday Shoppes were Publix Super Markets Charities, La Macaron French Pastries and Claude Nolan Cadillac.