Countdown to 18th annual Nights of Lights

As the start of the 2011-2012 Night of Lights draws closer, there is a noticeable increase of activity in the community as city crews are joined by residents and business owners starting to inspect their lighting displays and their inventory of bulbs.

The reason is simple: No one wants to be in the dark when the Nights of Lights begins its 18th season on Saturday, November 19.

The Nights of Lights season begins with one of the city’s biggest events, Light-Up! Night, when thousands crowd into the heart of the historic downtown to countdown together for the lighting of the city. In the blink of an eye, the Ancient City instantly dazzles in the brilliance of holiday light.

What started as a suggestion by a city commissioner as a way to distinguish St. Augustine for an extended holiday season has become one of the southeast’s most recognized holiday events.

Nights of Lights was named by AAA as one of its 12 Favorite Places to Catch the Holiday Spirit in the USA and Canada, and last year the American Bus Association named the event one the nation’s top 100 events for the third time.

This week city crews began stringing lights in the Plaza de la Constitución’s oaks while others were working on City Hall, and others continuing preparations begun in mid-summer.

One area that is certain to garner attention is the return of the lighting displays on the Bridge of Lions and in the arbor parks on either end of the bridge. Darkened during its rehabilitation, the bridge and the parks have not been lit since 2005.

Light-Up! Night takes place in the Plaza de la Constitución on Saturday, November 19 at 4:00pm with entertainment by Showtime, followed by holiday and big band sounds of The All Star Orchestra. The lighting ceremony starts at 6:30pm with light-up set for 6:45pm.

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 goes to the area businesses and residents who voluntarily participate at their own expense in the annual event.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News contributed photograph by COSA

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