John Thornton, Board Member for the Committee for the Night Watch reported to Historic City News that the 35th annual Grande Illumination – British Night Watch Parade sparkles to life on Saturday, December 5th.
More than two million tiny white lights will glow along the ancient streets and historic buildings of the Nation’s Oldest City.
Thornton said, “This beautiful display of traditional colonial pageantry and St. Augustine’s lighted historic architecture is the perfect setting to begin your family’s holiday celebration.”
The Grande Illumination – British Night Watch is an annual event held the first Saturday of December. It recalls an archaic yet necessary duty of life in 18th century British colonial & revolutionary America.
Also known as the British Nightwatch, it features the British Troops posting guards at the city gates and along the ramparts of the fort then delivering the city keys to the principal official of the town thus ensuring the safety of the town and its inhabitants and keeping order for the night. Not an easy feat during such a rough and violent environment as a town along the fringes of King George III’s North American colonial frontier, given the frequent threat of attack by Indians or the Patriots in northern colonies.
Come and join British Troops, Native Allies, Civilians and Distaff as we march, lighted candle in hand, to secure Saint Augustine. Be a part of the only Historic Parade on the eastern seaboard you can actually join in and march! Celebrate the Holiday season in a truly unique way. Festivities for the weekend include:
December 4th Father Son and Friends 8 O’clock until Later
Free to everyone. Featuring nationally known recording artists Father, Son and Friends on the stage at City of St. Augustine’s Spanish Quarter Museum St. George Street in the British Camp. Refreshments and libations available at the Tavern.
December 5th BRITISH ENCAMPMENT
An encampment of 18th century British troops in the Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum on St. George St. is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Field demonstrations, musket firing, raising the King’s standard, mass troop movements, bayonet drills, changing of the guards and cannon firing take place throughout the day at the Museum & Castillo de San Marcos. In addition, there will be a Country Dance Presentation, Fife & Drum music, games and crafts of the period.
GRANDE ILLUMINATION Dec 5th 7:30 Pm Government House The Plaza Downtown
This ceremony is an impressive pageant of color and light that reflects the customs of the 18th Century British when they occupied the city from 1763 to 1784. At 7:30 PM everyone can purchase a lighted candle as they follow the torchlight parade from the Government House around the Old City and back to the Plaza to hear the British Governor’s holiday proclamation. Soldiers fire their muskets in a Volley of Joy to salute the season! For the grand finale Residents and Visitors sing
Christmas carols in the Plaza.
December 5th 55th ANNUAL ST. AUGUSTINE CHRISTMAS PARADE
A festive parade featuring marching bands, holiday floats and Santa Claus himself begins winding through the downtown historic district at 10:00 a.m. Pictures with Santa will follow in the Downtown Plaza. Produced by the St. Augustine & St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.
Also on December 5th PAL DAY
Military service personnel and families enjoy a free day at area attractions on the town, sponsored by the Greater Jacksonville USO. Please bring your military i.d. A free lunch will be provided at The St. Augustine Elks Lodge, free to all Military families please call 904- 246-3481 or 904-778-2821.
Stacked Drums – 18th C Anglican Church Service 9:30 AM British Encampment at the City of St. Augustine’s Spanish Quarter Museum St. George Street. Come and meet the Revolutionary Anglican! Free to everyone.