By LOIS KINDLE
Southside Baptist Church in Ruskin will once again host Star Towne Village – an old-fashioned, community-wide celebration of all things Christmas. The family-friendly event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m., Dec. 1-3, at 4208 U.S. 41 S, Ruskin.
Star Towne, an enchanting old-time Christmas village straight out of a Hallmark movie, offers visitors a chance to step back in time and have the opportunity to embrace the true meaning of the Christmas holiday.
“Christmas has become so commercialized these days and focused on everything but Christ,” said The Rev. Brad Clark, Southside Baptist Church pastor. “Star Towne is all about family and reflecting on what Christmas truly means.”
The free, festive event will feature twinkling lights and a wide array of old-fashioned shops and activities for folks of all ages. These will include a sweet shop of cookies donated by Detweiler’s; free gift shop and gift wrapping for children 14 and younger; a textile booth demonstrating ropemaking and crocheting; pottery shop where Pastor Brad will be demonstrating his newfound skill; woodworking shop; target shooting gallery; family photo-op stations; hot cider and cocoa booth; corn popping; firepits for roasting marshmallows over an open fire; Christmas hay rides, farm animals and a live nativity around 7 and 8 p.m. each evening.
It will also feature costumed performers, including street caroling by the Riverview High School Choir, guitarists Jorge Otoya and Matt Hayes and others.
“We look forward to Star Towne each year because there are tons of unique family-friendly activities,” said Seminole Heights resident Kendra Conze, mother of two children, ages 3 and 5. “It really feels like stepping back in time to a small town out of Hallmark movie!
“From woodworking to archery to roasting marshmallows, it’s a very heartwarming event,” she said.
Visitors are encouraged to register in advance online via the Get Your Free Tickets link at www.startownechristmas.com to avoid having to do so at the event. Attendance is expected to be high, so advance registration will help visitors avoid having to register at the event.
Everyone receives tickets for a free snack and beverage. Kids 14 and younger get an additional ticket to the view the Nativity, where there is limited seating. Afterward, they get a token to use in the free gift shop to choose something for their parent or grandparent and have it wrapped for Christmas.
Last year, about 2,800 people attended over three days. More than 4,000 are expected this year.
Star Towne Village is unlike anything you’ll see in South Shore this holiday season. So circle the dates on your calendar, register your family or friends, and plan on spending a few hours enjoying the unhurried pace of an old-fashioned celebration of Christ and Christmas.
“Star Towne is a way for our small church to serve the community in a number of ways,” said Kendra Clark, the pastor’s wife.
“This year we’ll be collecting diapers, formulas and canned goods for the One More Child ministry [at the entranceway].
“We encourage people to help out in whatever way they’re able,” she said.
For more information, visit www.startownechristmas.com/.