St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver told local Historic City News reporters that choosing this year’s honorees to kick off the city’s signature holiday tradition wasn’t difficult at all.
For the past 15 years, the city’s mayor has bestowed the honor of flipping the switch in a ceremony that officially begins the annual Nights of Lights celebration. Last year, incoming fire chief Carlos Aviles and police chief Loren Lueders joined Mayor Shaver for Light Up Night as the city was still reeling from the aftershock of Hurricane Matthew.
“After a second hurricane in as many years, I am proud to announce that I have asked two people who represent the theme -Serving our community near and far- to kick off this year’s Nights of Lights,” said Shaver. “They are the Executive Chef Michael Lugo, and Wanda Bray, the city’s Event Administrator who, after more than 15 years, is retiring in early 2018.”
Light Up Night is Saturday, November 18th with the lighting ceremony scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Plaza de la Constitutión.
- Chef Lugo, is a native of Puerto Rico. His restaurant, Michael’s Tasting Room, was established in 2006. After Hurricane Maria struck Manati, where he has family, he raised several thousand dollars in donations for the relief effort. Lugo secured a Jacksonville shipping company to deliver food, water, toiletries, batteries and pharmacy items, directly to those he knew were in need and the effort is continuing today. Closer to home, Lugo opened the doors to his restaurant to help feed city crews after Hurricane Matthew. Many workers put in long hours without a break.
- After she joined the Department of Public Affairs in 2002, there has not been an event held on city property that has not felt the guidance and assistance of Wanda Bray. She has helped the city play host to hundreds of official visitors, including following the protocol of royalty, always quietly behind the scenes making sure everything went smoothly. Her self-effacing graciousness, and kindness, combined with her knowledge, made the difference between success and failure for many events. Her smile has been her trademark. As much as any person, her work has helped to elevate the cultural resources and activities of St. Augustine.