JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A big birthday bash is planned to celebrate Jacksonville’s bicentennial today.
The River City officially turns 200 on June 15, but the party starts early with a string of events to commemorate the major milestone on Saturday. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, along with the Jacksonville Historical Society and Airstream Ventures, teamed up for the city’s bicentennial celebration.
Much of it will take place downtown throughout the day and will include a large bicentennial program in James Weldon Johnson Park. It will all be free and open to the public.
WEATHER UPDATE: Organizers say the events listed below are being pushed back by an hour because of weather. Click here for live radar
Historical figures, so to speak, were there during the announcement. There was someone dressed as Henrietta Dozier — an artist who often changed her name.
And we also bumped into William Duval, a former Florida governor who Duval County was named after.
This year marks 200 years since Jacksonville came into existence. The city was founded in 1822, and one of the things the Historical Society is struggling to find is whether Jacksonville did much of a celebration 100 years ago for its centennial in 1922.
SLIDESHOW | Celebrating Jacksonville’s bicentennial: Here are documents from 1822
Curry told News4JAX that they’ll do much better for the city’s 200th birthday.
“Two hundred years, I think the Historical Society has got a great story to tell. I hope they can find something on what they did one the 100-year mark,” the mayor said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
The city has spent the last couple of months celebrating its heritage but there’s been some division over how much African American history has been celebrated.
“With the city celebrating 200 years, it’s really important that we celebrate the African American history that we have here as well and to be part of the process,” Jacksonville City Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman said. “When you think about the churches and LaVilla and Hollywood of the South that we want to make sure that the communities are addressed and celebrated as well.”
Our team has spent two months bringing you features about Jacksonville’s unique 200-year history, complete with historic photos (big thank you to our friends at the Jacksonville Historical Society).
Here are some of your favorites stories (and ours):
For more of our coverage of Jacksonville’s history leading up to the bicentennial celebration, including an interactive timeline, check out our Jax200 page.