Tree lighting celebration helps bring holiday cheer to Captiva

Published: November 25, 2022 10:02 PM EST
Updated: November 25, 2022 10:20 PM EST

An island resort wasn’t letting Hurricane Ian steal their Christmas tradition.

The Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa on Captiva suffered damage during Ian. They, like many, were resilient and have reopened.

On Friday night, the resort held its 27th annual tree-lighting celebration with a live band and beachside fireworks.

“This is my favorite time of the year that I wait for this whole night. We’ve been here since 2018. And I’m just so thankful that they did this tonight. The tree used to be huge, but it’s just so beautiful,” said Jamie Senkeleski.

This marks Tween Waters’ 27th year of Christmas tree lighting, but the hurricane almost broke that streak.

“I don’t think anyone would have thought that tonight would have happened two months ago, but that just shows how strong the whole community is and like how much everyone’s coming together just to, like, be able to like build our new normal,” said Bridgit Lanigan.

The staff at Tween Waters was unsure if they would pull it off.

“It’s not like our normal traditional. However, it will still be very memorable for, you know, residents and linemen that are staying here with us,” said Michele Berger, operations director at Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa.

Captiva locals and their loved ones gathered the day after Thanksgiving with even more to be thankful for.

“For Tween Waters to put on an event like this is such a treat for us because we have nowhere to go, yeah, we just have nowhere to go. We’re home raking up dead trees and doing yard work, and there’s garbage everywhere. So it’s nice. It’s nice to see something open,” said Janice Gregg.

“I don’t know if you know, but this little Christmas tree just shows you how strong the island is. It’s usually a lot bigger, but it’s like showing that we’re starting all over again,” said Caitlyn Lanigan.