Jacksonville Beach, Florida has more to offer than just a pretty beach (although that was the main reason we stopped). The city by the sea is host to many attractions that include a museum, art gallery and outdoor amphitheater called Seawalk Pavilion.
My traveling buddies and I happened to be lucky enough to witness a unique display at the Seawalk Pavilion. I didn’t know what it was at the time of our visit, but I knew it was something special.
It was around one o’clock on a December afternoon when we pulled into a parking lot off 1st Street in Jacksonville Beach, FL. We happened to park next to some sort of Winter light display that reminded me it was still the holiday’s. The warmth of Florida with its lush green vegetation and colorful flowers made it easy for me to forget that a mere 24-hours earlier I had passed out Christmas gifts and ate turkey and pumpkin pie.
Once we had removed ourselves from the vehicle and did some leg stretches we started across the street to make our way to the beach. I couldn’t wait to get my toes in the sand! As we approached the Winter display I noticed a variety of holiday favorites covered in lights; a gingerbread house, a huge Christmas tree and a sled to name a few. What added a unique flare to this Winter exhibit was that red lifeguard chairs were adapted into the display and had been transformed into a beautifully sculptured piece of holiday joy. The attraction was stunning.
The Seawalk Pavilion is host to the annual Winter lights festival, called Deck the Chairs. The festival started in 2013 and began out of a desire to enhance the holiday spirit in Jacksonville Beach.
I think what impresses me the most about this event is the thought and care that has gone into putting it together. It’s safe to say that Deck the Chairs serves many purposes: it entertains the public, it boosts collaboration between businesses and artists, and all proceeds go to an organization dedicated to protecting the beach; the Jacksonville Beach Life Saving Corps.
Since its launch, Deck the Chairs has become a non-profit entity whose mission, according to its website, “is to build community pride and strengthen local economy while fostering the arts and public safety through a lighted lifeguard chair display.” (http://deckthechairs.org/about)
Genius. The idea to turn something so familiar and comforting as a lifeguard chair into a work of art that enhances holiday spirit and brings joy to others is pure genius.
The Seawalk Pavilion not only hosts the annual Winter lights festival but also hosts a variety of events throughout the year that include a classic car cruise, family movie night, and the summer jazz concert series. If you would like more information on these events and when they are taking place, I encourage you to visit http://www.jacksonvillebeach.org/visitors/special-events.
Jacksonville Beach is one of those cities where you can leave your worries at the city line and enjoy some peace and serenity. I am so glad we were lucky to be able to stop for a while and take in some of the pleasures the city by the sea has to offer.
Text and Photos Copyright 2016 Jodi Hughey