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Police urge vigilance as crowds gather for fireworks

Fireworks to launch from Acosta Bridge, moving best viewing to west

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tens of thousands of people will gather along the St. Johns on Monday evening for the city's Fourth of July fireworks display.  In addition to the usual traffic and parking concerns downtown for the annual, city officials announced some changes and additional safety efforts this year.

"With all of this going on in the country, with safety, we need to be aware in calling anything in suspicious that they may see, hear or talk about," Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Public Affairs Officer Melissa Bujeda said.

Officers will be out in force Monday to help ensure nothing happens beyond citizens having a good time.

Rather than the fireworks being launched from barges between the north and south banks of the river, this year they will go up at 9:45 p.m. from the Acosta Bridge. The bridge will be closed Monday from 9 to 11 p.m., but all other downtown bridges will remain open throughout the event.

To accommodate pedestrians, several northbank streets will be closed Monday afternoon and evening, including: Hogan Street between Water Street and the St. Johns River, Independent Driver from Hogan to Laura streets and Coastline Drive from Liberty to Market street.  Coastline Drive will also be one-way southbound from Market to Newnan streets.

Because of the launch location, the best viewing will be from the Northbank and Southbank Riverwalks, east of the river, from the Fuller Warren Bridge to the Main Street Bridge, west of the Fuller Warren, in Brooklyn, Riverside and San Marco.

State transportation officials will suspend major construction project from Saturday through Tuesday to free up lanes for holiday traffic.

If you’re using public transportation, the JTA has extended its free Skyway service until midnight on Monday.

Authorities remind those enjoying the celebration by boat to have a life jacket for everyone on board, along with whistles and flares in case of an emergency. State officials remind boaters that there is a zero tolerance for drinking while operating a boat.

For those heading to Jacksonville Beach instead, the fireworks begin at 9 p.m. Lifeguards will be working a late shift Monday night, mostly to help with lost children and first aid. Police said to expect limited turn lanes and slow traffic leaving the beach.

"I think it a great time for everyone to get out and enjoy everything that Jacksonville has to offer," said Beth Davenport, who said the fireworks display has been a family tradition for years. "I think people are just going to be out to enjoy themselves and, hopefully, take a break from all of the craziness.

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