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Village of Merrick Park Kicked off Christmas with Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

By Zachary Devita Illuminated with colorful bulbs, children wearing reindeer antlers and the echoing sounds of holiday music, the Village of Merrick Park kicked off Christmas in South Florida with their Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Hosted by former Miami Heat player Shane Battier and the Battier Take Charge Foundation, the night included performances by Coral Gables Senior High School, the Miami Royal Ballet and even a special visit from jolly old Saint Nick. Shane and his wife, Heidi, established the Battier Take Charge Foundation around six years ago and have been an integral and popular part of the Miami and Coral Gables community. “I’m a proud Miamian. I live here locally in Coral Gables and we’ve established roots here. This is home, so, I think it’s the responsibility of not just me, but everybody, to be a part of their community. To do what they can to make it better,” shares the former Heat player. When asked about the Christmas Wonderland the Village put on, Shane said, “This is a fun celebratory event…when I was asked to lead the tree lighting celebration, I took it as a huge honor!” The Battier Take Charge Foundation mission revolves around helping troubled youth by providing the necessary tools and resources to gain a good education and develop into effective leaders in society. “When I made it to the NBA, when I made it big, I felt like it was my duty to be able to afford access and opportunity to those who needed it.” This is just one of the many events the foundation is spearheading. Throughout the event, the crowd was able to see glimpses of the different outlets Merrick Park has to offer. The shopping center is home to such names as Crate & Barrel, Nordstrom and one of Coral Gables best restaurants Yardhouse. Despite the fact that the temperature was in the upper 80s, the atmosphere resembled that of any child’s North Pole. For more information on the Battier Take Charge Foundation, please visit For more information on the Village of Merrick Park, please visit