SAINT AUGUSTINE – In partnership with Florida Power and Light Company ( FPL ), several other local companies, and the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, St. Augustine businesses were able to bring back more holiday lights after the devastation from Hurricane Matthew. St. Augustine ’s Nights of Lights runs from Thanksgiving through the end of January and attracts visitors and shoppers from around the country.
According to the Chamber President and CEO Isabelle Rodriguez, other partners involved in helping to light more business this holiday season included Haven Hospice and Historic Tours of America.
“At FPL , we are constantly working with local communities where we serve. It is important that we help make Florida a best place to visit, work and raise a family,” said Jim Bush, FPL ’s Area Manager. “This year’s sponsorship of the Nights of Lights clearly assisted local businesses owners and enabled them to keep this annual attraction alive.”
Cathy Johnston, Administrator for Haven Hospice in St. Johns County , was very happy that Haven Hospice was able to partner with the Chamber and other businesses to provide support for the community during recovery from Hurricane Matthew. “Local businesses in downtown St Augustine rely heavily on the tourist traffic and holiday shopping that comes with our famous Nights of Lights. “Many businesses suffered loss and employees missed work as a result of the horrific storm,” she said. “So, it was important to me that Haven Hospice be part of the team that helped businesses recover and get their employees back to work while ensuring that Nights of Lights was as beautiful as ever. This was one way we could participate to accomplish the task.”
Dave Chatterton, General Manager at Old Town Trolley Tours and Historic Tours of America in St. Augustine , also dedicated his company’s support for business owners and staff who suffered during the Hurricane. “We are very proud to be partners with the Chamber and numerous organizations and individuals who made sure the lighting event occurred in the nation’s oldest city,” said Chatterton.
“Our company provided special funding for the Nights of Lights as we depend on visitors from around the world to come enjoy the holiday festivities and lights while riding the trolleys,” he said. “To ensure the continuation of the lights, we committed funds for the renowned event and believe in the economic support needed throughout downtown St. Augustine.”
“We are pleased to assist our members and hard working business people by bringing visitors to St. Johns County . This year, providing Nights of Lights lighting to businesses that were the most impacted by Hurricane Matthew in October has proven to be a success,” said Rodriguez. “The recent program helped bring more people into these hard hit businesses. The significance to economic impact for downtown businesses is tremendous. We’re grateful to FPL for seeing a need in St. Augustine and stepping in to fill that gap.” According to Rodriquez, funding amounts exceeded $8,000 through direct contributions and donations.
The City of St. Augustine ’s Nights of Lights has been proclaimed as one of the Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights according to National Geographic. Specifically, just six weeks after the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, many business owners feared the popular annual program might not happen or would be diminished. However, with long hours and dedicated work at the Chamber, FPL , the city’s Public Works Department, plus lighting contractor Angels in the Architecture, hundreds of property owners and business professionals were ensured that the lights would come on and the season began with renewed enthusiasm.