By MARY THURWACHTER
Palms West Monthly
Posted Dec. 6, 2017
WEST PALM BEACH — It’s that time of year again. Boat parades, cookie bakes, naughty-and-nice lists, holiday shopping and – let’s not forget – Christmas tree lightings. What could be more merry and bright than gathering around a festively decorated tree and counting down the seconds until all those twinkling lights go on for the first time each season? It’s a magical moment and a great way to jump-start holiday spirit.
Every city, town and village hosts one. But West Palm Beach’s tree lighting – on its waterfront – puts a distinct spin on the tradition with a unique star attraction appropriately dubbed “Sandi,” because the 35-foot tree is sculpted from 600 tons of sand.
This will be Sandi’s sixth year as part of West Palm Beach’s Holiday in Paradise promotion. She began taking shape in mid-November and officially begins performing for the public at the holiday tree lighting ceremony Thursday, Nov. 30, from 6-9:30 p.m. at Clematis by Night.
Sandi’s story unfolds more each season. This year, her admirers will find out that the saucy babe – the only Christmas tree in the world made of sand – has fallen in love. What has yet to be disclosed, however, is the object of her affection. All will be revealed at the tree lighting.
“Every year we reveal a new chapter about Sandi that helps to tell her unique story,” says Mary Pinak, Community Events manager for the City of West Palm Beach Department of Parks and Recreation. “A few years ago, we expanded her adventure to include her kingdom of Sandi Land. Last year, we highlighted that she was the star of the show and introduced Sandi’s Dressing Room. This year, she’ll surprise everyone with the reveal of her new love she met while away on vacation since last December.”
Revealing more and more about Sandi keeps Holiday in Paradise fresh and exciting, while continuing to create Sandi’s persona and establishing her as a South Florida holiday icon, Pinak says.
And this social media-savvy icon (aka @sanditreewpb) has a lot to say via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. During an exclusive email interview, we found out a few things about Sandi most folks probably don’t know.
For starters, we asked what she was looking forward to most this holiday season.
“What I look forward to every year, bringing holiday joy and laughter to thousands of my fans in South Florida while creating tons of lasting memories,” Sandi replied.
How does she feel about starring in so many selfies?
“The more of me the merrier we will ALL be!!!,” Sandi wrote back. “A girl can’t be the star in enough holiday photos! I’d like to thank Team Sandi for making me shine all the time.”
Tell us a little more about your new heartthrob, we pressed.
“My new BFF was a gift from an awesome new gal friend I met shortly after I left the West Palm Beach waterfront in January,” Sandi answered. “He’s quite naughty,” Sandi continued. “That’s why we have to keep him under wraps until my Clematis by Night tree lighting on Nov. 30. I’m super excited to introduce my BFF. Ya’ll gonna love him as much as I do!”
What makes Sandi happy, we wondered.
“Glamping out in my sparkly kingdom of Sandi Land all of December, showing the world I am the hottest holiday tree in the land,” she boasted.
Guess it’s hard to be humble when you’re sculpted perfectly in every way. What don’t we know about Sandi that we should?
“I’m not your average cup of woman,” Sandi reflected. “I’m all about play and fun, but this year I’m hoping to make a difference in the lives of many in West Palm Beach. Wait for it … you’ll see.”
What’s your work schedule like, girlfriend?
“One month of work and 11 months of vacation,” Sandi gloated. “I travel to tropical destinations around the world hoping to make regular holiday trees jealous.”
Good work if you can get it. One last question: What irks this festive sand castle of a tree?
“Well, I’m not too fond of being slapped by The Big Wind,” Sandi admitted. “That blowhard and I are going to have a little chit-chat this year.”
Though Sandi is the main attraction, visitors to downtown West Palm Beach in December will discover additional sand sculptures in Sandi Land. Visitors can also experience a backstage peek into Sandi’s dressing room, play Glow FORE It mini golf, participate in Reindeer Games Trivia Night and create Florida-style snowmen in SnowieVille.
At the Palm Beach Waterfront Activity Station, there’s plenty of water activities to choose from, including kayaking and paddle board rentals and a nightly catamaran cruise on the Hakuna Matata from 5-6:30 p.m., complete with hot chocolate, eggnog and plenty of holiday cheer.
For a complete schedule of Sandi Land activities and times, go online to wpb.org/events or follow the City of West Palm Beach on Facebook.