Light show on "Old Sentry" oak tree kicks off Christmas in St. Andrews

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ST. ANDREWS, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It's not your typical Christmas tree. It's not a noble fir or a white pine, but instead, it's "Old Sentry," the 250-year-old oak tree in St. Andrews.

Dozens came out to the Oaks by the Bay Park Friday night to watch the old oak light up with holiday cheer.

Oaks by the Bay Park was filled with Christmas songs, poetry and lights Friday night.

"I have the family out here to see some lights because there ain't many on homes this time of year because there ain't too many homes, we took a pretty hard hit," Panama City resident Ian Dixon.

Ian Dixon's home, like many, was damaged during Hurricane Michael and his family is having a tough time moving on. "It's been kind of hard to be put a smile on their face when their house, their toys are outside and their swing set's broken," said Dixon.

Dixon believes this event is a chance for his family to take their minds off the storm's devastation. "It was really good to get out and get the family out here and let the kids enjoy it a little bit, as you can see he's looking around and checking out all the lights," said Dixon.

Dixon and others also came to the park to check out the light show on the 250-year-old tree. Many trees were knocked over during Hurricane Michael, but the Old Sentry tree in this park is still standing. Event organizers said lighting up the tree will spread holiday cheer and let people know better days are ahead.

"It speaks to its endurance, its stability and for us that just goes right along with this community, the community of St. Andrews," said Historic St. Andrew Waterfront Partnership President Robbie Frehrenbach.

"That oak tree was there when I was as young as I could remember," said Dixon. "Coming out here and watching my grandpa play once a month in a band."

He went on to say," To see that oak tree still standing, it's just phenomenal."

The Historic St. Andrews Waterfront Partnership also collected jackets and toys during the event to donate to children in need.

Many local businesses in St. Andrews are getting into the holiday spirit.

Many stores on Beck Avenue have put up Christmas decorations for the Light Up St. Andrews event to spread some holiday cheer.

According to Sunjammers owner and event organizer Brad Stephens, some local businesses were heavily damaged during Hurricane Michael and unable to participate. The local businesses want to come together and support for their community.

"Just having an event for all the small businesses to latch onto, we thought it would be really good to once again offer that hope and light to the community," said Stephens. "We will be back, we will be stronger than what we were before."

Stephens said every Friday in December, participating stores will be open up later and they want people to wear Christmas lights, bring candles and anything else that lights up so they can join in the fun.