The start of the Christmas holiday season commenced Friday in Apalachicola in fine fashion, as both local and vacationing children alike queued up to sit on a patient Santa Claus’ knees.

Arriving on the shrimp boat Buddy’s Boys a little after 4 p.m., Santa, whose visit was carefully arranged by Mark Parsley, was joined by two elves, Raegan Solomon and Issy Nations, in handling the line that awaited Santa.

No sooner had the children stepped off from Santa’s knees were they greeted by a representative of the Dinner Divas – Elaine Kozlowsky, Cecilia Harris, Adelea Colston, Shirley Richardson, Bunnie Ison and Kathy Rushmore – so that each could be presented an age-specific book as part of the Bring Me a Book Franklin.

Apalachicola Chamber of Commerce Director said he and his volunteer staff ran out of hot dogs, as the crowd gathered and lingered. Many took advantage of free trolley rides from the newly introduced Main Street trolley, that took them around to shops and sites throughout downtown.

Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson flipped the switch on the gigantic “tree” that features an array of lights on a shrimp net, in the shape of a ree, in Riverfront Park.

Not all of the fun last Friday was in Riverside Park. Although Black Friday, as always, centered on Santa’s arrival by shrimp boat, there was lots more going on in Apalachicola as businesses and attractions got into the holiday spirit.

The Raney House was the site of the final bidding on wreaths and trees during the Festival of Trees which helps provide the Apalachicola Area Historical Society with funds to maintain the 1838 home of the Raney family. This year, in addition to beautiful hand decorated trees, there were wreaths created by talented Franklin County artists and sponsored by local businesses.

Dot Bless, a descendent of David G. Raney, who built the house in 1838, was on hand to serve wine and sweets.

Across the street, the On The Waterfront Gallery held open house with Randy Mimms providing musical entertainment and there were drinks and snacks for browsers.

“The Shop” on Commerce Street offered hors d’oeuvres and carolers roamed the streets.

The Orman House was also decked out in holiday finery with period garland and other decorations installed by members of the Philaco Woman’s Club. There was food and drink available and like the Raney, Orman House was open until 8 p.m.