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The City of St. Augustine remains committed to providing accessibility to all and provides for handicapped accessible parking in the city. For a map of accessible parking locations, Click Here To notify the city regarding accessibility concerns contact: Will Franke, Building Official, Phn: 904.825.1065, Fax: 904.209.4335, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Todd Grant, Public Works Deputy Director, Phn: 904.825.1040, Fax: 904.209.4286, Email: email@example.com. You may also write either of these contacts at City of St. Augustine, P.O. Box 210, St. Augustine, FL 32085-0210.
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With the flip of a switch and to the cheers of thousands, St. Augustine launched its 20th annual Nights of Lights in a ceremony know as Light-Up! Night.
What started as a suggestion by then City Commissioner Bill Lennon two decades ago as a way to distinguish St. Augustine for an extended holiday season by decorating it with white lights, the Nights of Lights has become one of the Southeast’s most recognized holiday events. The 2013-2014 season of Nights of Lights will continue through Sunday, February 2. The 11-week long lighting event was named by AAA as one of its 12 Favorite Places to Catch the Holiday Spirit in the USA and Canada, recognized by the American Bus Association as one of the nation’s top 100 events several times, and was identified by National Geographic magazine as one of the top 10 places to see holiday lights.
Light-Up! Night activities began 4:00pm in front of City Hall/Lightner Museum with a spirited holiday performance by Showtime USA, a high energy, fun filled singing and dancing troupe of children and teens that has delighted audiences at Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, and Six Flags Over Georgia and for a decade of Light-Up! Nights. Then at 5:30pm the center of action moved over to the Plaza de la Constitucion's Gazebo where the All Star Orchestra a popular 16-piece band, filled the air with big band sounds all in grand holiday style.
At 6:30pm, the lighting ceremony began, first with the thousands counting down to light the city's tree and then to light the city.
This year to light the city's tree, Mayor Boles invited Matthew Conner of St. Augustine, a sixteen year old who has spent his entire life fascinated by the city’s annual holiday lighting. In fact it was his enthusiasm for the Nights of Lights that caused him to write Mayor Boles and ask if he could assist in the lighting ceremony. Matthew, son of Robin and Virginia Conner, is a student at the Keystone Academy, Jacksonville. To read more, click here.
Posing together just moments after launching the 20th year of the Nights of Lights
Then, to “light the city,” Mayor Boles invited former Mayor Len Weeks and former Commissioner Bill Lennon to share the duty of turning the switch that launches the 20th annual Nights of Lights. Weeks was Mayor during the early years of the Nights of Lights, serving from 1995 until 2000. Lennon, who served the city as a city commissioner for over a decade, was the one who originated the proposal for the Nights of Lights to his fellow commissioners.
“These members of our community truly demonstrate the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the Nights of Lights,” said Boles. “Had it not been for Bill Lennon’s original idea and Len Weeks’ and his colleagues’ willingness to follow-through with that idea, we likely would never have had the Nights of Lights. And Matthew’s excitement and enthusiasm for this great holiday tradition is the reason, or the ‘why,’ we produce the Nights of Lights and have done so for twenty years.”
Certainly there is pleasure enough walking St. Augustine's old world streets anytime of the year, but during the Nights of Lights when historic buildings, downtown parks and the city’s historic Bayfront and Bridge of Lions sparkle with millions of lights, the delight is greater than ever. As is often overheard from visitors during the Nights of Lights, “It makes a special place more special.”
St. Augustine's success with the Nights of Lights lies partially in the fact that the city has such a large volume of unique historic structures in a very compact area. When outlined in light, the sweeping Bridge of Lions, the many arched doorways of Spanish Colonial homes, the sturdy towers of the 19th Century hotels together with the huge oaks in the parks and the tall straight palms that line the streets, they all contribute to what is a seamless display of light.
But Nights of Lights is more than something to see; it is something to do. Boasting a full calendar with a wide array of special events and activities there is nearly always something to do day and night. Truly it is one of the most festive times of year for a city that thrives on festivals.
Night-time tours of ancient buildings and inns led by storytellers in period clothing, rollicking train and trolley tours through the narrow brick streets, art walks featuring more than 30 galleries serving free holiday refreshments on the First Friday in December and January, special Saturday night antique shopping events, a dazzling regatta, holiday concerts, even a Christmas parade, are among the special events to be added to the memory books of visitors and residents alike.
For a calendar of events of all the activities during the 10-week long Nights of Lights, and visitor information for dining, shopping, lodging, attractions, and tours, visit www.nightsoflights.com.
Additional information regarding the St. Augustine & St. Johns County Visitor Information Center and adjacent Historic Downtown Parking Facility visit www.vicparking.com.
Nights of Lights is funded by the City of St. Augustine and the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. The City of St. Augustine manages the installation and maintenance of displays at over 100 locations, including buildings, parks, and gardens throughout the city, but credit for the success of the Nights of Lights is dependent on businesses and residents who voluntarily participate at their own expense truly making the St. Augustine a city of light.