The Night Before Christmas in Manatee

Bradenton Herald – ‘T was the night before Christmas and all through Manatee

not a creature was stirring, even the homeless had a place to be.

Syesha Mercado snuck into town from her “Dreamgirls” tour without a care

while she and area residents hoped for St. Nicholas to soon be there.

Rick Kerby was nestled all snug in his bed

with visions of the theater completed and paid for — in his head.

The Downtown Development Authority dreamt of festivals to liven Bradenton’s rep

while Snooty the manatee just laid down for a long little nap.

When suddenly, out on the river, there arose such a clatter

that the band members from We The Kings woke up to see what was the matter.

Away to Bradenton’s riverwalk they flew like a flash

right after they grabbed their guitars and new CD stash.

The moon on the crest of the Manatee River below

gave a luster of light to “Twilight” fanatics — sans snow.

When, what to their wondering eyes should appear

but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a bearded old driver, so lively and quick

they knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than a Marauders pitch his coursers they came

and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!

On Comet! On Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the new theater! To the top of City Hall!

Now dash away! Dash away! And watch out for those palms!”

They flew around town as fast as a hurricane would fly,

brushing past Tropicana and the water tower in the sky.

Then up on the roof-top of the Players’ performing arts center they flew,

with a sleigh full of goodies, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, the whole town heard him on the roof. The noise startled Mayor Poston with each little hoof.

As Kerby was driving on his way with each sound

on the stage St. Nicholas came in with a bound.

He wasn’t dressed in fur. No, he had Crocs on each foot and his clothes were Floridian, with tropical palms. No soot!

With a bundle of gifts he had flung on his back,

he looked like a little Hulk Hogan opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples were merry!

His cheeks were like roses; his nose like a cherry!

He had a nice tan from the Florida sun fresh from Anna Maria Island, having some fun.

He held the stump of a pipe tight in his teeth. Out came some bubbles, encircling his head like a wreath.

Beneath the suntanned face, he had a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, making We The Kings’ Travis Clark laugh in spite of himself.

A wink of Santa’s eye and a twist of his head, soon let Kerby know he had nothing to dread.

St. Nick spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, completing the theater with just a power drill gone berserk.

When the venue was painted and finished, they started to sing, the band took the stage and began playing “We Three Kings.”

The Billy Rice Band joined in as Santa took the mic. Somehow Syesha got there, too, singing with all her might.

The whole town showed up in their PJs to listen.

So the mayor proclaimed this a festival to help the town glisten.

The tourists came, too, throwing their money in the air.

Suddenly no one was jobless, everyone had their fair share.

And with the new theater completed, the town’s options grew, thanks to Santa and his sleigh, some of our dreams came true.

Then, all of Manatee County heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all, and to Snooty, a good night!”

published Dec. 24, 2009


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