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Star-studded weekend in Havana

For those who were chomping at the bit to inflate the front yard Frosty, string colorful lights along your eaves and dig out the Christmas tree ornaments back in September – but refrained for fear of ridicule – no need to hold back your holly holly enthusiasm any longer.

In the tiny North Florida town of Havana, at least, it’s officially the “Christmas Season” – as indicated by this past weekend’s annual Yuletide seasonal traditions: the downtown merchants’ Holiday Open House and Sunday’s festive, carol-and-cocoa-drenched tree lighting ceremony. As always, ‘Ol St. Nick himself – as played by ivory-bearded former Herald editor Billy Blackman – made an appearance, enjoying a warm respite from subzero North Pole weather, no doubt.

This year, Havana’s mid-November holiday customs came with a distinctly rock-and-roll twist, as John, Paul, George and Ringo – or their uncanny doppelgängers, rather – jammed the night away under a starlit Havana sky, as a sizable crowd of Beatle-manic concert-goers sang along, bathed in the warm golden glow of downtown’s light-adorned holly trees. Nationally acclaimed Beatles cover band “The Return” – authentic early-era Rickenbacker guitars, moptop dos and all – performed Saturday, the first in a series of live music shows Havana Main Street, the hard-working nonprofit behind this past weekend’s events, hopes to bring downtown.

By Brian Dekle

Special thanks to Terri Paul / Havana Main Street for the photos below; click to enlarge.