Christmas Near The Beach, a South Florida-style celebration, returns to the Arts Park at Young Circle in Hollywood on Saturday, December 13 from 4 to 9 p.m. With more than 5,000 people in attendance last year, the free event will feature bands, dancers, singers, vendors, a classic car show and a free photo with St. Nick at his Beach House.
Now in its 8th year, Christmas Near The Beach is a production of Expressions of Joy, a Christian dance academy serving Broward and Palm Beach counties. Their objective is to boldly share the good news of the gospel in a Christmas celebration that is fun for the whole family.
Deena McDaniel, the event’s founder, shares the history of what has now become a South Florida tradition.
In 2007 this girl from a town with a population of 81 people in rural Missouri, decided to throw the South Florida community a Christmas party. “Christmas On the Beach” was born. I knew a few people who could sing and I could dance. I even had a “Grinchy” suit and presented the Gospel through the song “Grinchy Got Saved” while rollerblading! My husband and I believed that God’s arm was not shortened in providing the money or the crowd to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We had 150 people our first year on the beach in an old fashioned band shell.
After a few years we out grew the venue and in 2012 we “pulled the trigger” to go bigger, renting at the Arts Park theater, which could hold 20,000 people in downtown Hollywood and became Christmas Near The Beach.
God had provided again. The Gospel is free to those that receive it because our Lord paid for it. Like the gospel, our event is free to those who come. Our artists have always played for free, our staff works for free, I work for free and the festival is free, but the venue is not. Funds were raised through sponsors and donations made through friends, and last year we had over 5,000 people attend our “Hometown Christmas” party for all of South Florida.
Christ in Christmas
Folks in South Florida have seen us grow, knowing we’re about Christ in Christmas. Christmas (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ’s Mass”) is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed cultural holiday. Christmas Near The Beach has brought together the body of Christ, with many local churches teaming up for our common mission, to proclaim Christ and his glorious Gospel.
So why do we host this event? Here are some testimonies.
We had a free raffle for St. Nick’s Christmas tree. A single mom won! Her son fell to his knees, hands clasped in the sky shouting “It’s a Christmas MIRACLE!” He’d just found out that not only did they get to have a tree for the first time in years but the decorations too!
Another man who lives close by told our prayer warrior that he hears the music from his house every time there’s a festival, but this time he was “drawn” to walk over. He didn’t know why, but when he got closer a mime (me) was dancing and the song was about this “Jesus?” The guy following the dancer (Pastor Al) who was talking again about this “Jesus?” That man who was drawn to the stage that night was born again. Crazy as it seems, the man used the word “drawn” to the stage, which is used in John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
I’m sure there were many other stories of which I may never know, but if only that one man was saved, then all of the effort for the last eight years was worth it!
You can make this idea your own. Throw a Christmas party in your town, Christmas at the . . . (fill in the blank), then get to work. The fields are ripe for harvest. I’m only one person, but we are many as we stand together, winning the war on Christmas. I am here to help if you want to begin in your community.
For more information call 573-2880-8486 or visit www.christmasnearthebeach.com.