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A Tradition Continues - Luminaries at The St Augustine Lighthouse

Luminary Night St Augustine Lighthouse

The tradition continues at the St Augustine Lighthouse with thousands of luminaries gracing the grounds of the Lighthouse and the streets along the famous Lighthouse Park neighborhood. The Lighthouse staff opened their doors to the citizens of St Johns County and welcomed everyone to a holiday treat of music, food and of course Santa Clause. The tower doors were open to anyone willing to climb the over 200 steps to the top. Although the fog was thick blocking the sight of the city lights, many hardy souls made the climb into the clouds.

Luminary Night St Augustine Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Beacon Welcomes All

For over a decade the St Augustine Lighthouse has been opening their doors and treating their neighbors to the luminary display. In the past, just as today with the lighthouse beam, a luminary served as a beacon to welcome weary travelers. It was said that thousands of years ago shepherds marked their way to the manger of the Christ Child with small bonfires. To continue the tradition, people in Mexico gather on Christmas Eve in the village center to light a bonfire in celebration and as a welcome to baby Jesus. When they return home, small bonfires are lit in front of each home to continue the welcome. Today luminaries are utilized to keep the tradition alive.

Luminary Night St Augustine Lighthouse

St Augustine Highs School Guitar Ensemble Play

With over 2000 luminaries illuminating the way to the lighthouse, the sight is breathtaking. “It is a great way for the community to come out and celebrate and learn about the Lighthouse.” said Shannon O’Neil, St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum staff member. “This lighthouse is YOUR lighthouse.” she continued. The visitors came out in droves to take advantage of this holiday event and learn more about the “goings-on” at the lighthouse.

Thousands of visitors took advantage of the opportunity to see the museum  up-close and decorated for the season and the fog made it truly seem like a winter night along the coast. To continue the holiday festivities, music was provided by the St Augustine High School Guitar Ensemble. This group of budding musicians performed as if they were professionals. Dressed in their Sunday best, these young people made us proud to be a part of a community that understands the importance of the Arts.

Luminary Night St Augustine Lighthouse

Boat Building A Part Of The Museum

Education is a main factor at the St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum and tents were set up to inform the public about the numerous programs the St Augustine Lighthouse & Museum support. The staff of the Maritime Archeology Project, which is housed on the museum grounds, shared with the crowd the latest underwater treasures that have been uncovered in and around the waters of St Augustine. Under two enormous tents the community was able to see the awe-inspiring boat building program sponsored by the museum. With three boats under construction, visitors are able to see first hand all phases of the boat building process. If it is smaller scale boats you are interested in, the second floor of the Keepers House is full of miniature model boats with hand-sewn sails and carved tiny sailors.

Of course the holidays are all about the children and the Lighthouse staff really know how to cater to the youth in this community. The children were treated to a hands-on craft tent as well as special holiday treats. You could feel the excitement in the air as the line to see Santa grew. With the magical atmosphere between the lights, the music and the fog, it was apparent that childhood memories were most definitely made that night.

The St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum has come a long way since it was founded over thirty years ago, in 1980 by the Junior Service League of St. Augustine. With a small number of dedicated volunteers, the group was able to restore the Keepers’ House that was destroyed and gutted by a vandal’s fire. Today, under the direction of Kathy Fleming, the museum’s director, the St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum has expanded to be one of the most relevant light station and maritime museum in all the world. And to think….all we have to do is look up to see the beacon that welcomes us all.