Holiday Happenings in St. Augustine Beach
• Christmas with Cops and Claus, an event hosted by the St. Augustine Beach Police Department, offers children (with a parent or an adult) a chance to meet and greet Santa Claus from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today. The event includes free photos with Santa, a North Pole Christmas list mailbox and goodie bags for children. There will be seasonal music and a holiday movie. Police vehicles and a fire truck will be on display. An arts and crafts table will be provided by the Anastasia Island Branch Library. The Police Department is at 2300 A1A South. For information, call 471-3600.
• That old saying about Santa, “He’s everywhere” will become a reality as hundreds of runners, joggers and walkers take over the streets at the Santa Suits on the Loose 5K run/jog/walk on Saturday. Starting at 8 a.m., participants of all ages, some dressed in colorful Santa suits and holiday shirts, will dart through the streets of St. Augustine Beach starting from the St. Johns County Beach Pier Park. The charitable event benefits St. Augustine Youth Services which provides residential therapeutic services to boys who have been the victims of child abuse and/or extreme neglect. Registration fee is $30 through Friday, and $35 on the day of the race, Children in strollers do not have to be registered. Spectators are welcome to the event that drew 600 colorfully dressed runners, joggers and walkers last year. For registration and other information, go to http://www.racesmith.com/races/SantaSuitsOnTheLoose5K.html or email [email protected]
• St. Anastasia Catholic Church invites the public to two Christmas concerts. The St. Augustine Concert Band will perform at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15. The band was originally established in the early 1900s as a small military style band of about 16 members. Today, and after nearly 65 years of dormancy, the 70-member St. Augustine Concert Band is back in full force under the baton of Maestro Geoffrey S. Magnani. Members range in ages from 16 to 80 including high school students, amateurs and semi-professionals from all walks of life.
The choirs of St. Anastasia Catholic Church will perform a Christmas concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 22. The Metzger-Schmitz Christmas Concert featuring the Choirs of St. Anastasia and special guests will honor the memory of two members of the adult choir who both passed way last year, Clarence Metzger and Ron Schmitz.
The concert will feature Christmas favorites, an audience carols sing along and performances by the parish chorale, choristers, Sunday Ensemble, soloists Carolyn “Cal” Brown and Joe Colsant, Helen Morin on violin and Michael Harper on trumpet. Peter Morin will conduct and lead from organ, piano and harpsichord.
The concerts and parking are free. Donations will be accepted to cover expenses. The event will take place in the church sanctuary, 5205 A1A South on Anastasia Island. For information, call 471-5364.
• Greet the first day of winter as the sunrises over the Atlantic at Washington Oaks Gardens Beach at a Sunrise Solstice Celebration from 7 to 8 a.m. Dec. 21. Join Ranger Joe for a discussion on using the changing of the season to reconnect with nature and natural cycles, all while (hopefully) enjoying a beautiful sunrise at the beach. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is located at 6400 N. Oceanshore Blvd., off A1A South in Palm Coast. The beach event is on the beach side, across from the park’s main entrance. For information, go to www.washingtongoaks.org or call 386-446-6783
• Expect some parking changes and adjustments if you plan to attend Beach Blast Off into 2020 at St. Johns County Pier Park on New Year’s Eve. The festivities including music, food and beverage options, and a Kids’ Zone will begin at 5 p.m., all leading up to the main attraction—fireworks over the Atlantic at 8:30 p.m. The party will continue until 10 p.m.
Getting there will be half the fun. Limited parking will be available in and around Pier Park, however, organizers offer a new plan this year. Free parking with free shuttles will run from 3:30 to 11 p.m. from three locations. The Orange route includes parking and pickup from Anastasia Baptist Church, RB Hunt Elementary, and the St Augustine Amphitheatre. The Yellow route starts and ends at St. Anastasia Catholic Church and is handicapped accessible; and the Pink route is from the Amici’s Shopping Center.
The St. Augustine Beach Police Department advises that both A Street and Ocean Trace Road beach entries will be closed to vehicle traffic. The gates will close at sunset. Vehicles will need to leave the beach prior to the gates closing. “We have lots of pedestrians on the beach for Beach Blast Off and with the lack of sand in some places it’s pretty dangerous for vehicles and so many people to be out together,” St. Augustine Beach Police Commander Thomas Lee Ashlock explained.
Drivers should be aware that a change in traffic pattern can be expected around 4:30 p. m. Drivers will not be able to travel East onto A1A from 312. Also, only northbound traffic will be allowed on A1A Beach Boulevard past Pope Road and around the bend to Old Beach Road. This traffic will utilize the northbound A1A Beach Boulevard lane. The southbound lane and the center lane will be closed from 4:30 to 11 p.m. to accommodate pedestrians and shuttles. For information, go to www.sabevents.com.
• The Marineland Right Whale Project continues its organizational and informational meetings as it gears up for the whale watching season. Season 20 for the Marineland project begins January 5 and continues for 10 weeks. During that time, locals, including winter visitors, team with scientists in conservation efforts and stewardship for the endangered whales. Volunteers are trained to help sight the right and humpback whales that may venture into near shore waters from St. Augustine Inlet to Ponce Inlet. Volunteers are invited to attend one of the two remaining training programs scheduled for 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, Ormond Beach Environmental Discovery Center, 601 Division Ave., Ormond Beach or 11 a.m. to noon Jan. 11, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area, 3100 S. Ocean Shore Blvd., Flagler Beach. A kick-off meeting for volunteers, new and returning, will take place from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Center for Marine Studies, Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, 9505 Ocean Shore Blvd. in the Town of Marineland. At that time volunteers will be given whale watching site and time assignments. For information, go to https://marinelandrightwhale.blogspot.com.
• Tickets are available for the dinner concert featuring the Outta Sight music group from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. The group will once again perform at the Sons of Italy, St. Augustine Lodge 2780, annual January dinner concert starting at 6 p.m., Thursday, January 16, at Celebration Hall in the St. Enda of Aran Formation Center on the campus of St. Anastasia Catholic Church, 2015 A1A South, on Anastasia Island. Members of Outta Sight are totally or legally blind — and naturally talented. Their performances include rock and roll, soul and other music.
The event is open to the public. Tickets are $18 per person and include an entrée, desert and the performance. Soft drinks at $2 and beer and wine at $3 per serving will be available for purchase. Proceeds of the event will be used by the Sons of Italy for its continued donations to worthy St. Johns County charities and to support its scholarship fund. Tickets are on sale through Dec. 27. For ticket information, call Josephine Scher at 904-460-0975.
• The City of St. Augustine Beach will have a new mayor in 2020. By Dec. 31, Mayor Undine George will have served two consecutive terms in that post, the maximum allowed by City Charter. The commissioners selected Margaret England to serve as Mayor and Maggie Kostka to serve as Vice Mayor in 2020. They will be sworn in at the 6 p.m. Jan. 6 Commission Meeting at St. Augustine Beach City Hall, 2200 A1A South. The meeting is open to the public.