Jacksonville Beach mayor seeks no pub crawl on July 4

Bar owners say doing so won't help

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Fun and good for the local economy. That's how Habibi Bar and Cafe manager Jamar Wrice describes pub crawls.

"Pub crawls are fun because it really gives us more publicity and gives us a lot of new opportunity for anyone looking for jobs, which gives us more revenue," Wrice said.

His bar has only been open for about a month, so it has yet to participate in a crawl. But he supports them and says his bar will be participating in the future.

Wrice's bar, along with others in Jacksonville Beach, will soon receive a letter from Mayor Charlie Latham asking businesses "not to participate in the pub crawl" that is scheduled for July 4th." He adds in the letter that the pub crawl "falls directly against the 'family friendly' environment we hope to create for visitors and it could create some ugly behavior by the pub crawl participants."

The mayor is trying to promote a more family-friendly atmosphere after crowds got out of control on Memorial Day.

Many bar owners, patrons and even City Council members don't think asking businesses not to participate in the pub crawl will help.

Councilman Phil Vogelsang will be at Monday night's council meeting, where the mayor will address the letter. Vogelsang said there haven't been problems with pub crawls in the past. He also doesn't think a business should be told what to participate in, but he does agree with the mayor asking bars to be diligent when serving.

"I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to encourage them -- within the letter he talks about -- encouraging the businesses to not over-serve their patrons," Vogelsang said.

Not only are pub crawls great business for the bars and restaurants, they're also good for people like Ryan Emling, who manages a local band called Be Easy.

"Well, from my perspective because we are trying to get our name out there as a band, we want the most people to be visiting these bars as possible," Emling said.

Another councilman and manager of Lynches said there were nearly 3,000 people at the last pub crawl and not a single arrest.

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