City ready for flood of fans downtown
RV City lines start early; JSO cuts won't be a problem
There's a certain feeling in the air when Georgia-Florida week arrives each year in the River City.
Fans wearing red and black or orange and blue are already piling into downtown Jacksonville, even though the game isn't until Saturday afternoon.
RVs have lined up days in advance, ready for a festive week, although RV City doesn't officially open until Wednesday.
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Bill Crawford is one of many in line for a week of fun in Jacksonville. He brought his RV down from South Carolina on Sunday to have a good spot in RV City, but he said he's not doing it for himself.
"Well, I am doing this right now for my grandchildren," said Crawford, a Gator fan. "I brought my son and two granddaughters last year. They had such a good time at (ages) 13 and 10."
Crawford isn't staying for the game but is taking a car back home and letting his kids take over. They will join thousand of others for the sold-out showdown, many of whom will take part in the activities throughout the week.
The mayor and others on Monday announced their plans for the game. Most of the roads near EverBank Field and the Jacksonville Landing will be open until Thursday. Then periodic lane closures and some parking limitations will be put in place.
Game day is a whole different story.
"You must arrive early to the game," said Sgt. Leonard Propper, of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. "Eighty-four thousand people in the sports complex for a game that starts at 3:30 (p.m.) is a challenge."
This year, there are concerns about police cutbacks affecting public safety and traffic flow because of the budget, but JSO and the city reached an agreement and said it won't be a problem.
"The staffing for this game is very similar to what we have had in the past," Propper said. "There is altercations sometimes after the game, and there is emotions in this game, but there are plenty of police officers able to address the concerns."
As in the last several years, there will be safety zones set up to help students who may have had too much to drink or find themselves in trouble. There will be officers there looking specifically to make sure those drinking are of age.
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