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Deck the Chairs grows in popularity every year; What does the future hold for the annual event?

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — The Deck the Chairs just gets brighter every year. It’s an annual event held on Jacksonville Beach and it’s going on its 10th year.

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But some changes might be coming as the Jacksonville Beach City Council has some proposals in place.

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A new proposal for Latham Plaza could change the green space where this event is located.

Thousands of people enjoy the decorated lifeguard chairs at Jax Beach each year. The event director said this family-friendly event has exploded in popularity since 2013.

“Black Friday is always big for us,” Kurtis Loftus, founder and executive director of Deck the Chairs, said. “This is probably one of our bigger events.”

Loftus founded Deck the Chairs 10 years ago, creating an art exhibit in the heart of Jax Beach. It’s a tradition for some.

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“We come here every year and this is a family tradition, Karen Everett of Ponte Vedra said.

And it’s a vacation for others.

“I love coming here with my cousin, Dax and it’s fun to spend time as a family,” Raegan Kinsell, another visitor said.

The hot cocoa purchases are an indicator of how many people come through the Deck the Chairs event. Loftus said this year’s opening night on Wednesday had a 60 percent increase over last year’s opening. And it’s safe to say, that was thousands.

But the space could change in the coming years. The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) of Jax Beach has a proposal to recreate the green space.

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The original plan included a water fountain, an entertainment venue, and changes in elevation.

Mayor Chris Hoffman said the CRA is working on another design to find a balance between hosting big events and non-event days throughout the year.

“So the first concept plan went a little bit too far, it was beautiful, it was really creative, Mayor Hoffman said. “We’re gonna go back to the drawing board on that in a little bit to come upwith somethingg that’s truly going to accomplish our goal while preserving these great iconic events everybody loves.”

Loftus said he understands the changes coming.

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“If they say, hey, smaller event, smaller size will be okay with that, we can manage. We’re excited for the city. And I think it’s only going to improve what’s going on here in the beach area.”

The park has about 50 chairs including a student exhibit and 10 more chairs in the downtown space. About 80 sponsors are helping light up the event.

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Deck the Chairs runs every Thursday to Sunday for six weeks.

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