San Marco holiday double-header draws huge crowds

“Snow” swirled around San Marco Square as celebrants from near and far turned out Dec. 9 for the annual Holiday Magic event, sponsored by the San Marco Merchants Association, and the Festival of Lights Road Races in Balis Park.

Prior to the celebration was the Festival of Lights 5K, where more than 2,000 runners from age 5 to 78 turned out to participate in the mile-long fun run and 5K race, which benefited Children’s Miracle Network to support the pediatric programs at UF Health Jacksonville and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

The top three overall female runners were Laura Ragland, 28, Amela Drakulj, 33, and Michelle Krueger, 42; top male runners were Dylan Nelson, 15, Terrance Sessoms, 18, and Nicholas Gonino, 28.

While Santa Claus listened to Christmas wishes by the shimmering Christmas tree under the Balis Park gazebo, families enjoyed horse-drawn sleigh rides and train rides, jugglers and toy soldier stilt walkers, a petting zoo, bounce house games and a lot of food and music.

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