JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - What is more Florida than decorated lifeguard stands? Lifeguard stands decorated in Christmas lights with the intent of raising money for a good cause, of course.
You can walk along the Seawalk Pavilion and Latham Plaza and admire the decorated lifeguard stands starting Sunday for Deck the Chairs opening night. The event runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Organizers say they expect to see more than 60,000 visitors between now and January 1.
Attendance is important because, in the end, the event is all about raising money for a lifesaving cause: the Volunteer Lifesaving Core of Jacksonville Beach.
It was just a few months ago that lifeguards at Jacksonville Beach were urging people to stay out of the water after several drownings and near-drownings. The waters along the First Coast were churning with a lot of energy and dangerous rip currents.
"They are always there in their station, but they man schedules," said Executive Director of Deck the Chairs of Kurtis Loftis. "It’s all money and how much you can do to keep these guys in front of our visitors."
Although it's a free event, Deck the Chairs raises money through concessions and sales. The net proceeds go right back to keep our beaches safe.
“Hurricanes and what’s going on with the ocean and the ocean bottom, it is just a tougher year,” Loftis said.
Local businesses and non-profits become sponsors and decorate the stands. The Jacksonville Jaguars are new this year to the decorating game. They have become a sponsor this year and the team will have a chair on display.
“We gotta be careful with this, but we are thinking trophy like, we got a group of people working on the chair and then we have Jaxson De ville cutout, who doesn’t like him?” Loftis said.
The chairs will stay lit through January 1.