On the second Tuesday of every month here in the small coastal town of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, local artists set up shop along First Street in downtown for the monthly Jax Beach Art Walk.
This monthly Walk is actually one of the very many reasons my husband and I originally fell in love with our little beach town. It’s a small event, but a wonderful one. And we’ve always enjoyed seeing the unique pieces out on display. The event takes place from 5pm to 9pm; and I LOVE the December event the very best of them all... Because - Christmas - of course.
It’s an absolutely LOVELY way to spend a Tuesday evening. We had an early dinner - well, we always eat dinner early now - not really many exceptions to that. With my very healthy lifestyle comes a very early dinner - no late night eating or snacking - ever. So after we dined and feasted upon our very healthy and delicious homemade Taco Tuesday entree, we ventured out and proceeded to slowly walk and browse through the entire length of downtown Jax Beach.
And while the Jax Beach Art Walk takes place in the darkness of the night sky during this exciting and festive time of year, this December event it was not so dark after all while walking through the streets and past all the various shops and restaurants.
During the summer months, while the artists are still out at their booths as usual until 9pm, the sun is out nearly just as late to light the way. But during these Walks occurring during the cooler winter season, a stroll through the Art Walk in the dark is met by many kinds of unique ways artists try to light up their booths and displays. Lots of rope lights, holiday lights, twinkle lights, led candles, and icicle lights, etc. And let’s not forget all the iPhone flashlights showcasing lots of art while glancing up close. With the darkness of the December Art Walk, always comes these simple yet fun lighting displays.
And as a lovely added bonus, along with the beautiful sunset this Tuesday, we also had a breathtaking moon following us above in the night sky. Keeping watch over our quaint little town and providing additional light for shoppers and diners and tourists.
I met an artist who was selling at a large table set up with all kinds of various shaped little topiaries. The topiaries themselves were each lit with tiny, miniature pixie lights set as Christmas lights. He pointed to one of the topiaries for me and I noticed it was an AT-AT holiday topiary... That’s an All Terrain Armored Transport Star Wars vehicle topiary decorated for the holiday’s… but of course. I was very amused, it was adorable. And all the various creativity on display such as this was quite inspiring.
And then at the very center of town, sitting proudly on display for all, sits the Deck The Chairs holiday lights adventure. The Chairs were definitely all decked out in their holiday finest for the occasion, and many artists and shoppers commingled amongst all the exciting holiday festivities taking place. Lots of people were out to check out both the Chairs, as well as the Art Walk, so I highly recommend the December Walk if you are short on time and want to see two things at once.
I made one purchase that evening - a rose gold hematite ring from Artist Olivia Shore, who can be found at @livshoreart online. I haven't been able to wear my wedding rings in well over a year or really actually much longer now, as since my massive weight loss the rings no longer fit - and are quite pricey to be resized down. Someday I will get around to it though. So lately, and especially desiring some rings to wear, I’ve been very inspired by all the local artists selling various types of rings for some very reasonable prices. And the price from Olivia was definitely right for me. She was offering this ring for $12.00. But she mentioned that since I was buying directly from her and not from the shops she sells her merchandise in, she brought the price down to $7.00. Always happy to support an artist, but I cannot deny, mostly quite happy for the new jewelry too.
Most of the artists on the Walk sell in lots of local shops throughout town or the greater Jacksonville area. So as an added bonus to Art Walk patrons, if you purchase directly from the artist, instead of through their shops outside of this event, they tend to offer decreased pricing. This was offered to me without my asking… they simply offer better deals at the walk and state as much. So get on out to the next Art Walk, and support your local artists directly. But - still go to the shops as well, as they are magnificent in their very own and lovely ways of course.
I saw lots and lots of beautiful homemade Christmas ornaments for sale, delicate and burnt glass, some for only $3.00 a piece, lots of holiday paintings with lovely winter scenery, and tons of other unique and fun holiday decor. I especially loved the table selling the copper shaped coastal creations and was very tempted to make a purchase. I have a spot in my kitchen absolutely perfect for one of those pieces, and I love copper. They were all pretty expensive for me though so I held back and simply admired the pieces from afar.
Any of the art being offered at the monthly Walk would make a fabulous holiday gift. If you are still doing your shopping, and missed out on the Art Walk, consider one of the few remaining local upcoming holiday markets: including the Beaches Green Market, taking place at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach this Saturday from 2-5pm, as well as the mid-week Atlantic Beach Holiday Market next week on Wednesday, December 18th from 3pm-6pm at Bull Memorial Park. You’ll be supporting local creativity, and getting your shopping done all at once.
Overall, any day - or evening - strolling up and down through town is a fabulous outing indeed. The moonlit sky, the sound of the rough and choppy, high surf from that next windy and wild Nor’easter that we experienced this week, including the holiday lights of Deck The Chairs, the art on display of all kinds, shapes, and sizes, talking with everyone, it’s all a fabulous and peaceful way to end a day along the coast. Even if you don’t buy a thing, still get out there and check out all the beauty on display, and don't forget to look up at that moon, lighting and guiding your way through our amazing world. ~
11/25/2019 0 Comments
This past weekend kicked off the Grand Opening of Jax Beach’s Deck The Chairs for 2019! Wahoo! My favorite time of the year is officially here.
While Thanksgiving is just around the corner, Christmas can never really come too early for me. Lights and trees, garlands and bows, ribbons and wreaths galore, popping up in every town along the coast… and it's all beyond beautiful to me.
And throughout all of Jacksonville there is an endless list of holiday adventures for both young and old alike, and all are starting right now.
We have Jacksonville’s Light Boat Parade, the San Marco Festival of Lights, Zoo Lights, lots of turkey trots, and Santa and reindeer runs aplenty. We also have St. Augustine’s 26th Annual Nights Of Lights which began this weekend as well; and it runs all the way through February 2, 2020! And of course much, much more. There’s way too much to ever take it all in - inside of one holiday season alone.
That’s why I’ll try to aim to attend at least roughly one or two new things each Christmas, and I then have some must-do holiday traditions as well. And Jax Beach’s Deck The Chairs is one of those such traditions.
It’s my HOLIDAY MUST DO.
It’s my CAN’T MISS.
And I think most other folks in town feel the same way. Besides all of our local area town tree lightings, if you live in Jax Beach, or close by in one of the other area island communities, Deck The Chairs is THE event of the season… here at the beach.
The iconic symbol of our town - the lifeguard chair - utilized all throughout the year by our brave and all-volunteer lifeguards, are brought over to Seawalk Pavilion by more volunteers, and set into perfect and matching rows in the center of town square. The chairs become uniformed soldiers… just as in March of the Wooden Soldiers - only stationary - no marching needed or wanted.
All of those brightly painted orange and quite distinct and uniform chairs then become completely un-uniform and sculpted to holiday-themed perfection, by even more volunteers. A local area business or organization each sponsors a chair and decorates it to their heart's content. I LOVE the uniqueness each chair takes on. And it’s that uniqueness that excites me annually to witness the many differences from one year to the next, one chair to the next.
While the dancing and classic tree is the same, and now iconic to Deck The Chairs in its own way, the little white church is always there front and center too. And children love getting their pictures taken in front of the dollhouse style church, ringing the loud bell... a line begins to form its so very popular. And while that church and tree are always there... lots of the other chairs change decor each year. So it becomes very fun and surprising to see what everyone’s imaginations come up with.
As an artist who paints every day, I can’t help but think I would have quite a lot of fun decking out a chair myself. Each year I go to the event, I contemplate about how I would come up with a theme and design???
Paint onto canvas = holiday decor onto orange chair!
And this year, it is my opinion that Deck The Chairs brought their A Game to The Beach. I’ve attended 2017 and 2018’s events, and this year by far was the most impressive. They’ve definitely stepped it up a notch or two, and I believe we need to give credit where credit is due. The sponsors and volunteers make this event possible, and you could see the dedication toward community spirit in this year’s chairs.
In both previous year’s attendance of the event I saw some plain chairs and chairs with just a sign of sponsor, and lots of lights not working or even connected. I remember last year a whole section was completely unplugged for a very long time so my hubby tried to plug it in and fix it. But this year, each chair was super! Each chair has a theme, and a theme dedicated to their cause.
K9 Warriors has dogs pulling Santa’s sleigh into the sky. A car wash sponsor has bubbles squirting out, and a toy car being soaped up in the wash under the chair... So adorable. “DUUUVAL” is loudly and proudly out on display by our very own Jaguars. And ‘Beaches Go Green’ has a massive octopus made entirely out of plastic waste from the ocean.
In fact, Beaches Go Green was in a league all their own this year. I would guesstimate their massive display took about one quarter of the town square’s entire display space. In coordination with local area schools, they presented an informative walk-through experience, utilizing all recycled materials or garbage re-purposed as art and holiday decor. While also bringing awareness to how all that trash affects the coastal communities and creatures who inhabit them; it was very educational for the public too.
They had displays and posters made entirely of bottle caps, egg cartons, tooth brushes, and seemingly countless single-use plastic water bottles. And the classic jellyfish was back and still alive… thank goodness! The jellyfish is always my favorite part of Deck The Chairs and is also made entirely of trash and repurposed materials. Thank you to Beaches Go Green for the time and dedication it must have taken to put on such a splendid display.
Auntie Anne's Food Truck was selling very tempting food and drink - meaning lots of sugars and carbohydrates. Volunteers in the main event tent were selling hot chocolate and cotton candy, tees and candy canes, and the year’s traditional DTC ornament.
They had a fabulous holiday soundtrack playing on speaker throughout the entire plaza. And when *NSYNC started singing “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” I was beyond thrilled. Thank you from this nineties teen for adding some good ol’ Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC’s Best Song Ever to your beautiful and festive holiday music lineup.
It was lovely and impressive to see small children running up to the volunteer table by the donation box, and to witness a small child happily donate a dollar bill, etc. to the cause, and then run back to their waiting parents. It is by these most simple of acts that we teach future and up and coming generations to keep community traditions alive, and instill values of sharing and giving in our future adults.
I purchased the 2019 Deck The Chairs ornament for $10.00, plus three candy candles for a dollar for the hubby. I was glad to take home a reminder of this lovely event to hang on my tree this upcoming holiday weekend. But most of all, I was glad to partake in the event and donate to the event by purchasing. Always remember that EVERY BODY can do something. Some volunteer. Some donate. Some attend and spread cheer. Some put a quarter or some pennies in the donation box. Anything anybody can do to bring the holiday spirit to others and their community is a positive thing all around.
Overall, the mood was festive, and the community spirit was alive and well. It’s a fabulous way to kick off the holidays. Deck The Chairs is a most spectacular community event here at the beach. I’m still excited about it today and my experience there this weekend. If you are local to the Beaches communities, I highly recommend it; come on out through December nightly to see the brightly lit, and coastal, festive fun. And if you are farther away, do find your local town holiday event and attend it with that community pride and giving spirit that we all can spread to others in our own and unique ways.
Be sure to have some festive fun and spread holiday cheer. Say thank you to the volunteers, or volunteer yourself. Put some change or a paper bill in the donation box if you can, maybe in place of a coffee run this week. Buy a pretzel from Auntie Annes and eat those carbs if you must. Cause any way you slice it, those simple actions are the ones that mean the most. They all add up.
Small change equals massive action… and never forget that.
Be that change you wish to see in this our very own and shareable world.
Community starts with you. It starts and ends at each individual person.
and who you are,
and what makes you you inside,
we wouldn’t be whole.
While we all may celebrate many different and amazing holidays, and all believe in different things and come from very different backgrounds, there is one thing that we can all share with each other regardless of it all. It is in those differences that we make a community, and within a community then resides the spirit of giving, sharing, and family, and friendship. So go and get out there and attend your holiday must-do, give smiles and thank you’s all around, sing along to some JT and wish you and yours a “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” - and most importantly, don’t forget to leave some goodies out for Santa while you’re at it. ~
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