A Lignumvitae Key Christmas

Capt. Samantha Zeher- Island Jane Magazine

Our weather here in the Florida Keys is starting to cool off and the seasons are changing. We don’t have a drastic change here like other states do, but the temperature is in the 70’s during the day and the breeze is now out of the north rather than the south. Along with the seasons changing, the snow birds are flocking in with the tourists and now here it is, time to celebrate the holidays. In Islamorada, Christmas is a little different. We don’t get snow!

Throughout the Florida Keys there are tons of holiday events to partake in; boat parades, tropical festivals and Christmas-themed parties. One of my favorite happens to be the Lignumvitae Christmas Celebration. It takes place on Lignumvitae Key every year on the first Saturday of December. The island is located off of Lower Matecumbe and has a long history. A house built out there by the Matheson family in the early 1900’s is neat to see any time of the year, but for this special occasion the park decorates it to replicate what it was like to celebrate a Christmas there a century ago.

There are angels and wreathes made out of palm fronds along with ribbons and bows everywhere. The staff is dressed in 1900’s attire taking part in activities throughout the island. Some are playing carols with dulcimers, which are handcrafted string instruments that look similar to a violin. Others will be making ornaments for the Christmas tree out of sea grape leaves and sea beans that have been collected from around the island. There is also an option to tour the island and its botanical hardwood hammock trails with a well educated park ranger. Lunch is included with limeade and tons of baked goods for purchase.

This year the date is December 6th from 9am-3pm. There will be a boat ride from Robbie’s Marina on the Happy Cat. The “Friends of the Park” will be offering this event along with the state park for only $5.

The reason I enjoy this activity so much is because it brings you back in time to when the Keys were first becoming a popular place due to the railway. It is neat to get out to the island and see the way people dressed back then and to take part in the making of the ornaments on leaves found on the property. With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas in today’s advertisements of what to buy starting in October and all the lights and expensive decorations, you almost forget what Christmas is all about. Going to the Lignumvitae Christmas just reminds me of how special this time of the year is and makes me appreciate the Keys and their humble beginnings.

For more information on this event visit the state park website, http://www.floridastateparks.org/lignumvitaekey/events.cfm


Owner of a sightseeing eco-tour business out of Islamorada. Samantha grew up playing on the waters off of Lower Matecumbe. She learned to fish and snorkel at a young age. She loves being on the water and enjoys educating people about the importance of the marine environment.