Families wearing Christmas T-shirts and sweaters filled downtown Miami Lakes to celebrate Small Business Saturday and enjoy the 35th Annual Main Street Festival of Lights.
The crowd gathered after sunset near the fountain on Main Street, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive and for all of the decorations to glow.
Liliya Passman of Tampa held her 16-month-old son Adam as they swayed to “All I Want for Christmas,” a tune spun by a DJ on the stage on Nov. 30.
Passman was in South Florida visiting Adam’s grandparents in Pembroke Pines and drove south for the fun.
“He likes clapping to music and bright lights,” she said.
Helen Hernandez of Hialeah carried a ‘Small Business Saturday’ branded tote and was headed toward Miami Lakes Jewelers, “to buy Pandora for my daughter Evelyn. I’m here because I’m supporting the small shops.”
At the Blacc Boutique, owner Stephanie Farah said her holiday sales spike began the day before, on Black Friday.
“We were really busy,” Farah said. “I don’t think we took a break. It was non-stop.”
The day of the festival, she said some of her regular clients stopped in while others shopped on Instagram. They would be by later in the week to pick up their items.
Farah said of the festival, “every year it gets bigger and bigger. All my friends come with their kids to see Santa.”
Dignitaries were present, too: Mayor Manny Cid and town councilmembers Luis Collazo, Carlos Alvarez, Joshua Dieguez and Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez as well as Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Jr.
Bovo presented Stuart S. Wyllie, president and chief executive officer of The Graham Companies, with a proclamation that recognized the support for the festival by the company and Main Street Merchants.
There were lines at the Publix Super Markets booth where a man dressed like an elf handed out blue and white cotton candy.
At a Boy Scouts stand people ordered hot dogs, and at the table for Girl Scouts Troop 436 of Hialeah, shoppers could get personalized Santa caps and stockings.
Puppies waited to be adopted through Miami-Dade County Animal Services.
Down the block, three members of the Pardo family of Miami Lakes posed in a super-sized decorated picture frame, while others took photos beneath an arch of balloons or next to the lighted wreaths that hung from streetlights.
John Rogger of Palm Springs North was there with his wife Claudia and their sons Dominic, 8, and Anthony, 6.
The boys got to see one of their favorite things: Christmas lights, their father said.
“This is the biggest light show in the area,” Rogger said. “When the lights came on, their eyes got really big.”
At the Santa House that was run by the Boy Scouts, parents and children lined up for $5 Polaroid pictures with Mr. Claus.
Jason Smith, 10, of Miami Lakes, posed with his grandmother Shirley McElroy and mother Shenika Smith.
Jason said he still believes in Santa.
If you do, too, Santa House, at the corner of Main Street and Bull Run Road, will be open every weekend day until Christmas.