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This evening marks one of our favorite Sarasota holiday traditions: Holiday Splendor at The Ringling, where, for the price of a new, unwrapped, toy donated to Toys for Tots, you gain admission to a lovely, festive event throughout The Ringling property.

The Ringling grounds are pretty lovely at any time, but at night they're almost magical, and done up in holiday regalia, they're other-worldly. Also helping set the scene: musical performances at various venues throughout the property, showcasing bands and chorale groups from local schools. It's just festive. It's happy. 

Picture it: As the toys pile up in the welcome center, you walk under the stars, down illuminated walkways, past ancient banyan trees and Mable's rose garden, through the bayfront Ca d'Zan decorated as though to host the Ringling's holiday party in the 1920s, complete with live piano player and hundreds of guests. You wander out onto marble terrace overlooking the bay as a jazz band plays "Here Comes Santa Claus."

Later, back in the museum courtyard, in the muggy, 75-degree night, you'll watch elementary students sing "Feliz Navidad" under Michelangelo's David in courtyard of a museum created by a circus magnate. Because Sarasota.

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