A New Winter Wonderland hitting St. Augustine

By Kelly Goddard | gargoyle@flagler.edu

After six years of hosting the highly anticipated “Winter Wonderland”, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre is taking a break from the ice rink. Instead, there will be a series of free events hitting the stage.

“It will still carry the same vibe, just no ice rink or slide,” said Ryan Murphy, the general manager of the St. Johns County cultural events division. “It is giving us a chance to re-invent the idea—we want to see what is more appealing to the public.”

“A December to Remember” will be sponsored by Community First Credit Union and will offer free-live theater, dance performances, concerts and movies to the public. It will begin with a concert by swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Other performers such as David Benoit, a jazz pianist, will be playing “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

Murphy says that the area will still be dressed initially the same with festive décor and lights.

Winter Wonderland took place from mid-November to the first of January. It cost around $300,000 to create every year—quite a sum for an event that is believed to have worn off in popularity.

Murphy says that the effort and upkeep of putting on the event was extensive.

“It is exhausting to the staff with all of the natural resources and man-power used to set up and run the event,” said Murphy.

“A December to Remember” is believed to be more financially beneficial to the Amphitheatre. The absence of the Ice Rink has disenchanted many who stick to tradition.

Mike Boss, a Flagler College junior from Niagara Falls, looks forward to skating at the Amphitheatre every year.

“We always go skating—it was like a little taste of home,” said Boss.

Brian Swenson, a former hockey player and a true fan of the Christmas season, will also be missing the annual ice rink.

“It just always felt good to be back on the ice,” Swenson said.

Boss and Swenson are just two of many who will be saddened by the absence of ice in St. Augustine.

“I was really hoping to take my grandson skating for his first time this year at the amphitheater,” commented Robin Burgart of Middleburg, Fla.

Despite the missing rink, the Amphitheatre staff believes that the public will still celebrate the holidays with them.

Murphy is excited about what “A December to Remember” will bring to St. Augustine. He hasn’t eliminated ice-themed events altogether.

“It all depends on the public’s thoughts,” said Murphy, “Cool ideas we’ve been looking into for the future are ice shows.”

For more information in concern to the performance line-up, visit www.staugamphitheatre.com.

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