Tybee Island is all aglow this time of year as it celebrates Tybee for the Holidays.
"This is the fifth year for this," says Tybee Main Street coordinator Chantel Morton. "Every year, the city has done the lighting of the Christmas tree and the parade.
"A few years back, we had a meeting as we were starting the Main Street program with all the merchants and nonprofits and residents. We said, 'What can we do for the whole month?'
"We developed Tybee for the Holidays and secured the website and Facebook page," she says. "Now we're seeing a lot of different activities during the month."
Tybee for the Holidays runs from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. One part of the program is the Community of Giving.
More than 15 locations are collecting donations for Rising TYde Community Food Pantry, Toys for Tots and Tybee's animal shelter throughout the season.
"This year we reached out to the merchants to ask if they wanted to be a donations site," Morton says.
"It's growing and evolving. With more than 15 locations, this is a great opportunity for people to share the true spirit of the season."
Lights On for Tybee begins at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 when Mayor Jason Buelterman lights the tree at the Tybrisa/Strand Roundabout.
After the ceremony, live entertainment, extended store hours and free refreshments will be available downtown. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will also make a special appearance.
At 10 a.m. Dec. 7, Jane Coslick's Holiday Cottage Tours will begin. The tours, which benefit the Savannah Humane Society Low Cost Community Spay Neuter Clinic, highlight historic Tybee Island cottages as restored by renowned interior designer Jane Coslick.
At 1 p.m. Dec. 7, the Tybee Island Christmas Parade will begin. The Clauses will be led from the 14th Street beach parking lot to the Tybee Gym.
"The parade is Tybeefied, so it's wonderful," Morton says. "Some churches come out and people march with their pets.
"The veterans march and there are floats. Mr. and Mrs. Claus ride in a fire truck at the end of the parade, keeping a watchful eye on everyone ahead of them.
"We have a whole set-up for Santa Claus as well as Mrs. Claus," Morton says. "There are different activities going on at the gym."
Children can have photos taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and Tybee YMCA will offer snacks and activities.
Tybee Island will welcome 2014 at midnight Dec. 31 with a fireworks display. On Jan. 1, the annual Tybee Polar Plunge will take place, with people in costumes plunging into the Atlantic Ocean.
"Tybee Island is an ideal year-round beach destination," says Keith Gay, president of the Tybee Island Tourism Council. "We offer beautiful sandy beaches, warm Southern hospitality and a wide range of activities. The holiday season is an ideal time to visit this coastal paradise, with so many exciting events taking place during Tybee for the Holidays."
No matter if you're from Tybee or just visiting, these events make people feel at home, Morton says.
"Tybee for the holidays is nice because it brings people together," she says. "It brings in people from the surrounding areas, as well.
"The island is all decorated along the main streets and also in the residential neighborhoods. It feels like home for the people who live here and for people who are visiting.
"... Tybee for the Holidays offers the perfect way for families to spend quality time together on the coast during the holiday season," Morton says. "Every year, Tybee Island sparkles with holiday magic and beach-town charm."