For the past few years I’ve spent the first weekend of December in St. Augustine, Florida where I get to enjoy their annual Christmas parade and participate in the British Night Watch event. St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, also holds the distinction of being one the most charming and my favorite place to visit in Florida. (www.oldcity.com)
I like their parade because it’s full of a variety of floats. I appreciate how all of St. Augustine is either in the parade or watching and waving to people in the parade. It’s very community oriented. There are more groups then I could list, but here are a few highlights:
■ A live tiger paced inside of a cage atop a float that rolled down San Marco Avenue.
■ The package peanut snowman and the bubble wrap princess got some laughs from the crowd. The princess wore a tiara and a bubble wrap cape.
■ Mayor Joe Boles wore a Santa hat as he waved to the crowd from a horse-drawn carriage, and another carriage pulled St. Augustine’s Royal Family.
■ A goose that was part of a bed-and-breakfast float later took a walk on a leash. Honestly!
■ A gingerbread man on horseback waved to the crowd along the route.
The Christmas parade coincides with the first December Saturday evening’s Grande Illumination and British Night Watch. The British Night Watch celebrates the British taking St. Augustine from Spain. Everyone is encouraged to join in and march behind the British Redcoats as they secure the town. The celebration is followed by muskets firing singing Christmas carols in Government Plaza.
■ A British re-enactor read a proclamation from the King from a balcony at Government House and another told the crowd to light their lights.
■ Candles and lanterns lit up the crowd. People followed a group of re-enactors who carried guns, torches and played fife and drum around the Plaza de la Constitution and down St. George Street. Then we sang Christmas Carols
I always stay at the Pirate Haus Inn where I typically climb the 19 steps (up and down) at least 7 times a day. Last year I met an Italian woman who stayed the month and a woman from Amsterdam that had just biked across the country from California for her first visit to the U.S.! We went to the Grand Illumination together which was interesting. They didn’t know the history, so it was fun for all of us. Of course, I stopped into Savannah Sweets for a fresh praline…so delicious!
Check out the photos of St. Augustine on the photo page. I hope you’ve been inspired by my little holiday adventure to take one for yourself.