ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- It's August and it's time to get ready for the holidays -- at least for the Nights of Lights Festival in St. Augustine.
Chris Fitts owns the Angels in the Architecture company and the City of St. Augustine contracts him and his workers to put up and maintain all of the lights for the holiday attraction, Nights Of Lights.
And he and his team are hard at work already.
Tuesday, he took First Coast News to the roof of the tallest building in St. Augustine, Cathedral Place.
It is a whopping seven stories tall.
But getting to the roof is a bit of a challenge.
He takes the elevator, then a skinny spiral staircase which leads to a room, and then to a steel door, which takes him to the roof. But even on the roof, he has to climb even more in order to get to the tallest tower on the roof.
"We are out in the dog days of summer fixing holiday lights, he chuckled. "It doesn't make you feel cooler to say 'we're fixing Christmas lights.' It's still hot!"
How many lights are they maintaining? Three million.
So he and his team start inspecting early -- like in August. No jacket necessary to deck the halls and the roof. But he does need sunscreen and lots of water.
"We leave a lot of this stuff (light bulbs and strings of lights) up because it is custom cut for each building," Fitts explained. "When you take lights on and off you compromise the integrity of the structure of these buildings."
So, each year about this time, he and his team inspect to make sure every bulb and string is still working.
Fitts was also looking for any hurricane damage to the lights on the roof, damage that he couldn't tend to last year.
"We patched up everything as best we could," he recalled.
With Hurricane Matthew right off the coast, Fitts thought for sure there would be some damage to the lights on the roof. But he's actually finding a lot less damage than he expected. He thinks that's because the storm brought more water damage to the city instead of wind damage.
"Most of the damage was actually below us, on our power equipment," he noted.
Amidst the year round maintenance, the millions of bulbs, the high wire acts, and the blazing sun, Fitts does find some time to take in the city he loves to decorate.
"Sometimes you just have to stop and take a breather and enjoy the place you live.
It's a place where the holidays come to life with light, because of men like Fitts and his team who have an office with a view.
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