St. Augustine tourists and residents poured into to the city’s historic downtown district Saturday, Nov. 23, battling it out for the best spots to wait for and celebrate this year’s Nights of Lights countdown.
“This is my second time at the actual lighting ceremony, but I've been a few times just to see the lights,” said Jacksonville resident, Leeann Walker. “I just love historic St. Augustine and Christmas is my favorite time of year, so to celebrate the love of both of those things was really special.”
Nights of Lights attendees crowded around the gazebo at the Plaza de la Constitucion, overflowing into the streets, where children played, pranced and jammed to the All Star Orchestra, which performed before the official lighting by the city.
During the Orchestra’s cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” the crowd burst into song and dance.
“Everyone around me started dancing and singing along,” Walker said. “It was a good time.”
When the moment the city was waiting for finally arrived, guests shifted their attention from the gazebo to the tall, decorated tree there, packing even closer.
Former mayor Ramelle Petroglou had the honor of turning on the city lights, along with Paul K. Williamson, St. Augustine’s retired and former public affairs director, who had the honor of lighting the tree.
After the countdown, a burst of applause filled the plaza and holiday lights illuminated the ancient city. They lit the cheerful crowd of visitors and residents, young and old, from all paths of life, who came to celebrate with loved ones and enjoy the start of St. Augustine’s festive and giving season.
“St. Augustine does a great job of bringing people together to celebrate the holiday season,” Walker said. “I witnessed people from almost every different culture you could think of, and that was really beautiful.”
For more information on St. Augustine and Night of Lights, visit www.floridashistoriccoast.com/nights-lights.