Anastasia Boulevard businessman Bruce Maguire tells Historic City News that merchants along the Anastasia entrance corridor to St Augustine want to be included in the city’s Nights of Lights activities. He says that he and wife Virginia Whetstone are setting an example with three of their properties and he hopes that others will follow suit.
As St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights Celebration continues to garner attention from visitors, it’s also seeing increased interest from those who would like to see more visitors venture a few extras blocks outside the center of the city.
The city’s signature holiday display that is mentioned by various media outlets as a top Christmastime attraction is often credited to adding potential customers to downtown businesses. Some of those just outside the traditional core are looking for ways to be included in the festive spirit and decorations.
With a little help, it’s starting to happen, and could expand even more in future years. In past years, St. Augustine director of public affairs Paul Williamson has indicated that the City is interested in pursuing expansion of the popular event. Williamson said. “January is a wonderful time to take stock of where we are with (Nights of Lights). We’re always looking for a way to make it bigger.”
The display is more important than usual this year as many businesses in St. Augustine are recovering from damage from Hurricane Irma — some still reeling from Hurricane Matthew less than a year earlier. The business community can really use the added traffic.
“I strongly believe that every business and property owner wants something like this to be done on Anastasia Boulevard,” Maguire said. “Anastasia Boulevard has been a forgotten opportunity within the city and he will keep working to highlight the area.” Because the Nights of Lights has been such a huge success, Maguire said he hopes there is a way to eventually spread the beauty to several other parts of the city.
“The downtown concentration is wonderful, but it dies when you get out of the historic area,” he said. “We need to get that Nights of Lights attitude spread further out to the entrance corridors — all three of them.”