ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Every year, 20 blocks of St. Augustine’s historic district are lit up with some three million lights during the annual Nights of Lights. The award-winning display lit up for the 27th season at dusk Saturday and will run each night through Jan. 31. In 2019. Nights of Lights was your choice for Jacksonville’s best holiday light event.
The usual Light Up Night ceremony was canceled this year due to COVID-19 precautions, but people still turned out Saturday night for a festive start to the holiday season. The Christmas Parade and Christmas Tour of Homes are also canceled.
It takes the city months to get ready for the tradition and brings thousands of visitors to the Nation’s Oldest City.
“I feel like Christmas is coming early,” said Krista Pickens of Tampa. “I think everyone needs some jolly time in their life, so I feel like Christmas is coming earlier, jollier, and better than ever.”
To prepare for Nights of Lights, the city maintains all the equipment year-round and then workers typically begin installing some of the lights as early as August. Several privately-owned buildings and businesses also choose to decorate for Nights of Lights on their own.
According to Visit St. Augustine, some of the best displays can be seen at Flagler College and the Lightner Museum, as well as side streets like Cordova and Orange streets.
“It feels so good to have St. Augustine having all these lights -- hundreds of thousands all strung up for us to enjoy," resident Brandon Kellogg said.
View from the water
News4Jax caught up with Sean Crofutt, owner of the St. Augustine Boat Tours, earlier in the week as he sanitized and prepared for the 27th coming of the event.
RELATED: View Nights of Lights on the water
“I think going downtown and seeing Nights of Lights is absolutely beautiful. I think seeing it from the waterway gives it a different perspective because you get that panoramic view, and you get to see the reflection of the lights on the water," Crofutt said.
Crofutt says St. Augustine Boat Tours has precautions in place.
“Last year I could have 20 people on the boat, blankets I handed out, and I had 3D glasses that people could use, and I would take them back," he said. "This year I’m not providing blankets. I went and bought over 1,000 pairs of the glasses, so now anyone who comes on the boat gets to take them back with them.”
Crofutt said he’s also reduced his capacity to 10-15 passengers.