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Bridge Of Lions Statues Help Spread Social Distancing Message In St. Augustine

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BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS
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The statues on the eastern side of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine were adorned with facemasks over the weekend.

A Jacksonville factory managing director and his wife helped spread the message about the importance of social distancing in St. Augustine, while also helping the area’s first responders.

Face masks adorned the lions at the base of the east side of the city’s historic Bridge of Lions over the weekend.

Wolfgang and Micki Schau, who live in St. Augustine’s Davis Shores neighborhood, asked a crafty neighbor to create the lion-sized face coverings to bring attention to the need for social distancing.

“Look at the lions, they maintain social distancing. They are 20 feet apart,” Wolfgang Schau told WJCT News.

Schau said  he realized in late February the coronavirus was going to hit the U.S. hard after watching international news reports, so he ordered face masks for all of his employees at Hans-Mill Corp., a Jacksonville factory that makes housewares.

Then in mid-March after speaking with St. Augustine City Manager John Regan, he found out the city’s first responders didn’t have the safety masks they needed.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

“Micki and I said, ‘You know what, this cannot be,’ so we donate," he said.

In total, Schau said he and his wife have bought about 10,000 masks, donating many of them to St. Augustine’s first responders, including police and firefighters, and Flagler Hospital.

This isn’t the first time the Schaus have given back to the St. Augustine community. In 2015, they donated the same lion statues that were wearing the masks at the eastern base of the Bridge of Lions to help commorate the city’s 450th anniversary.

The statues on the eastern side of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine were adorned with facemasks over the weekend.
Credit Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News
The statues on the eastern side of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine were adorned with facemasks over the weekend.

Previously the bridge only had lions at the western base.

“The bridge was out of balance. Have you ever seen a bridge in this world, which has only two statues on one side?” Schau said.

As for the face masks on the lions, they didn’t last long. Schau said they went up Friday, and then, “Guess what? Last night [Sunday] some evil mind has stolen these face masks.”

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.