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Ever wonder what happens to all those strands of lights when the Nights of Lights comes to an end?

It simple: we recycle!  In similar fashion to how carefully the lights are hung, the lights also must be carefully taken down. To prepare the city for the annual Nights of Lights season, the Streets and Grounds Division in the Public Works Department, along with the city’s contractor, Angels in the Architecture, spend several weeks getting the city ready for Light-Up! Night, the annual kick-off event that marks the beginning of the 10-week season.

Recycling Nights of Lights

City crews decorate the entire Plaza de la Constitución, including the Gazebo and the very dramatic lighting of the live oaks as well as wreaths and garland on all the city’s lampposts. Angels in the Architecture installs lighting displays on city owned buildings, all the light-wrapped palm trees, the hedges in medians and in front of City Hall, and the Bridge of Lions.

Now, at the conclusion of Nights of Lights, displays above 10-feet on the exterior of buildings in historic districts may remain, but those below must be removed. Many lights can be reused after being tested and stored away, usually those on palm trees, buildings and some in hedges. But the light strands in the Plaza’s live oaks cannot be removed in-tact; therefore, they are not reusable.

That’s where the Solid Waste and Recycle Division steps in to collect and recycle all those light strands from the Plaza’s trees as well as those removed by Angels in the Architecture that are deemed unsuitable for reuse. In fact, it’s not unusual for as many as 1,200 50-foot strands to be bundled and transported to a recycling facility.

These operations employ a procedure that focuses on processing spent holiday lights through a shredding technique which sorts by type of component, typically plastic/PVC, glass and copper. The materials are further processed and repurposed back into useful products.

The City of St. Augustine and its partner, Angels in the Architecture, take great pride in ensuring these lights, which brought so much beauty to the city during the Nights of Lights, do not go into our landfills.  If you would like information about recycling your own holiday lights, visit our Recycle Your Holiday webpage or contact the Recycling Division at 904-825.1049. Send email inquiries to