Travelers down 30A will notice that the Seaside Amphitheater has become more of a construction zone lately.
"It's an enhancement project and we are installing a new drainage system in the amphitheater," said Lori Smith, Seaside's director of public relations and marketing.
When complete, the familiar bowl-shaped amphitheater, first constructed in 1988, will have a new underground drainage system and its first palm trees.
During the heavy rains of last summer, the area became so flooded that paddleboarders were photographed paddling through the standing water.
The amphitheater design will remain as it is, and the entire sloped area will be resodded, said Seaside's Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Lori Smith.
In addition to the drainage system, 44 Medjool palm trees will also be planted around the amphitheater, and the oaks that were there previously will be replanted elsewhere in Seaside.
"Medjool palms are not regular palms and are beautiful and spectacular," Smith enthused. "This enhancement is designed to make it better for Seaside guests and visitors."
Concrete parking pads, in place since the "Truman Show" days, will be removed and brick pavers put in their places. The area will also be widened to make more room for the farmer's market to set up each Saturday.
While founder Robert Davis' original vision included a tower as tall as 100 feet adjacent to the amphitheater, no modifications are planned for the stage area at this time.
"A final decision has not been made as to if/when the tower will be built or its location," said Smith.
The enhancement project began in mid-January and was originally slated for completion by spring break, but delays are possible due to the rainy winter, said Smith. She could not offer a cost estimate of the project.
This is the second project involving the amphitheater in the last few years. The Seaside Post Office was relocated closer to County Road 30A and an expansion of the amphitheater stage was complete in 2010.
"Seaside appreciates our guests’ patience while we work on this project and we welcome all locals and guests to continue doing business with Seaside merchants and restaurants," she said.
The power of pink
Assisting in moving the dirt for this enhancement project is a pink tractor. The pink tractor belongs to Beard Equipment Company, a John Deere equipment distributing company based in Mobile.
Through the company's Rent Pink project, which was launched on Oct. 1, 2012, Beard rents its special pink tractor to customers and businesses to raise donations, awareness, and support for the fight against cancer. All revenue from the tractor's rental goes to USA Children's Hospital and the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute. The Rent Pink project has reached its goal of $60,000 and the Beard family presented the check to USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital and Mitchell Cancer Center in Mobile on Nov. 12.
The Beard family has extended the Rent Pink program for another year and will split all rental revenue for the pink excavator between USA Children's & Women's Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital, and Wolfson Children's Hospital this year; three facilities that represent a portion of the Beard Equipment territory in Mobile, Pensacola, and Jacksonville.
"Seaside is now part of the project," said Smith.
For more information about renting the Pink Tractor, visit beardequipment.com or call Beard Equipment Company in Mobile at 855-GOBEARD (462-3273).