The Jacksonville Beaches’ community wastes no time transitioning into the Christmas season. The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the first day of Deck the Chairs (DTC), an annual tradition featuring a display of locally decorated American Red Cross lifeguard chairs. Why the chairs, you ask? Kurtis Loftus, DTC founder and 30-year beaches resident, explained the idea came to him during one of his regular beach runs in July 2013. “I spent some time photographing a lifeguard chair and considered its iconic value.” Loftus shared his idea with the Neptune Beach Mayor and the birth of a new tradition took place later that year.
Over 50,000 visited Latham Plaza to view the inaugural holiday spectacle. Throughout the month of December, attendants were able to experience the outdoor exhibit of over 20 lifeguard chairs decorated in seaside-themed designs. Lights, glitter and holiday cheer greeted attendants as they strolled through the venue. This year will be no different.
DTC expects attendance to double this year. To accommodate this expected increase, the second annual event is increasing its display to 40 chairs and expanding into the Sea Walk Pavilion, where a 22-ft handcrafted “Seaville” tree will be the focal point. Each chair will be sponsored by a local business, which includes Players by the Sea, Sunrise Surf Shop and Native Sun.
The opening ceremonies begin the day after Thanksgiving where construction and decoration begins on the chairs. The finished products are revealed in an official lighting ceremony accompanied by music and hot cocoa. An awards ceremony will take place December 14, and the chairs will remain on display until January 3, 2015.