Tonight is the official kick-off to the holiday season for downtown Sarasota.
A new business organization, Sarasota Downtown Merchants Association, will light the holiday tree at Marie Selby Five Points Park between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The merchants association is a new group that formed out of the parking meter controversy earlier this year and "works to facilitate and advance economic goals, build and create a rewarding shopping and dining experience," according to the group's Facebook page.
The association spent the afternoon on Nov. 17 decorating the tree in preparation for tonight's event.
Downtown merchants along with the Downtown Improvement District and Sarasota Holiday Celebrations will host several holiday events during the next week:
Santa's Elves Complementary Gift Wrapping Station
3 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Nov. 23, 24; Dec. 1, 2
17th Annual Holiday Parade
7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 on Main Street from U.S. 301 to U.S. 41
Pictures with Santa Claus
3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1; 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2