Change up at the St. Augustine Amphitheater

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Changes are in store for the St. Augustine Amphitheater this winter.

The popular Winter Wonderland - with its ice skating rink is not on the calendar, but another similar event is scheduled. It's called "A December to Remember".

"This year we're taking a break from Winter Wonderland," Amphitheater General manager Ryan Murphy said.

Winter Wonderland has been at the St. Augustine Amphitheater for six years, running for weeks during the winters.

The ice rink even expanded last year and so did the ice slide which sprawled through the seating area.

Murphy said each Winter Wonderland costs about $300,000, and over six years, the losses and gains balanced out. However, he added Winter Wonderland was not about the money.

"It's mainly a big community event," he said.

But this year, Winter Wonderland is not on the books. However, "A December to Remember" sounds similar. It's a holiday community event that just won't have the ice slide and ice rink.

"We'll decorate and have the elf village, train, and visits from Santa," Murphy explained.

And there will be snow, concerts, a movie, local theatrical productions. And it's all free, except for one concert.

"The feedback is going to be mixed," Murphy noted. "We know that."

"I think it's a good move. I know everybody loves the ice skating rink," Dottie Acosta said. She is president of the Friends of the St. Augustine Amphitheater (FOSAA), a fundraising group. "But when [Murphy] started talking about all the stuff he's trying to bring in associated with art and culture, I was excited. FOSAA is excited."

And for this facility that is owned and operated by St. Johns County and its taxpayers, this year's event is paid for already.

Murphy explained, "All the events are paid for by sponsors, community grants. We're going into this being able to give back and not worried about the finances."

And so - like elves in a workshop -- Murphy and his staff are hard at work trying to pull off a different but similar event this year.

A preliminary website for December to Remember states events start November 29.


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