Weekly Comments from Dale Martin

Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
November 15, 2019

City Manager Dale Martin

With the onset of cooler weather and the end of the calendar year, several events of community interest loom on the horizon. Most of the events are centered in downtown, continuing to illustrate the attraction and importance of that area.

The month of November started successfully with the annual Petanque tournament and Veterans Day events, the traditional parade on Saturday and a newly-created event sponsored by Amelia Island Coffee to mark the official date. The cooler than normal weather did not diminish the crowds at any of those events.

The Farmers Market continues weekly (and year round) on 7th Street, showcasing not only great food and produce, but also the work of several local artists. The Market is open from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM each Saturday.

City offices will be closed on both Thanksgiving Day (Nov 28) and the day after (Nov 29), but activities will continue. Co-sponsored by Fernandina Beach Main Street and the Historic Fernandina Business Association, this downtown event isn’t simply for shopping (although it is highly encouraged, of course). I remember my first year here thinking, “Who the heck would wear pajamas to go shopping?!” Well, it turns out, on that day, pretty much everyone downtown is wearing pajamas. Couples and families wear coordinated outfits. Stores offer discounts for those playfully attired. It is a light-hearted and fun event to signal the symbolic start of the December holiday celebrations.

The following day, Saturday, Nov 30, brings people back to downtown (at the waterfront) for the annual Christmas tree lighting. Vendors and children’s activities set-up operations beginning at 2:00 PM. The Nassau Community Band takes the stage at 4:00 PM, followed by a performance of dancers from the Royal Amelia Dance Academy. The tree lighting countdown begins at 6:00 PM.

After having a “recovery weekend” in early December, the holiday activities return in force over the second weekend in December with the annual Dickens on Centre Festival, celebrating the spirit of Victorian days. A new event this year is the Dickens Illuminated Procession on Thursday, Dec 12. This parade will begin at the waterfront at 5:00 PM, proceed through downtown, and then return to the waterfront for more merriment.

The 5th Annual Dickens on Centre brings costumed characters, great food, and many vendors to Centre Street on Dec 13, 14, and 15. Entertainment is offered by a variety of performers. The atmosphere makes for a cheerful family event. Friday and Saturday evenings also include a Dickens After Dark party for those seeking even more holiday fun.

A new event thrown together last year was a community Christmas Day dinner. Dozens of area residents and visitors joined together to celebrate the season and the community in a welcoming potluck dinner. We’ll have that same event again this year and more details will be provided over the next few weeks. Everyone will again be welcome and encouraged to bring a favorite dish to share. The only food that I need to appropriately coordinate is meat to ensure sufficient amount to feed everyone.

New Year’s Eve is celebrated downtown with the annual Shrimp Drop. The lighted shrimp, sponsored by Light Up Amelia and Florida Public Utilities, drops at 7:00 PM (marking midnight, Greenwich Mean Time), allowing families with children (and even those without) to celebrate early. The event includes vendors, entertainment, and children activities, culminating with a grand fireworks display.

That event obviously concludes 2019, but the regular series of annual events (and probably more to be added) begin again in 2020.

One of the new events that the City has been invited to hosted is a gathering of northeast Florida government officials. The Northeast Florida League of Cities (NEFLC) brings local government officials together on a monthly basis, moving from community to community. The City’s participation with the NEFLC has been somewhat minimal over the past several years, but City officials have recently become more active with the organization. To the best of my knowledge, the City has never hosted one of the monthly gatherings, and the invitation to host the Jan 16 meeting will offer the City the opportunity to introduce other regional officials to Fernandina Beach.

Enjoy the festivities of the next several weeks and the wonderful sense of our community. I look forward to seeing you downtown soon.

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Chris Bryan
Chris Bryan (@guest_56134)
4 years ago

Thanks for sharing all the great events for our community. So proud of our city. Thank you to all who help.

Neil Borum
Neil Borum (@guest_56139)
4 years ago

It would make the community happier if the City and it’s management would quit ignoring the Beach Walkover #40. Please quit thinking that some posts and ropes are adequate. Besides , foot traffic over the dunes is against florida law.

Larry Myers
Larry Myers (@guest_56157)
4 years ago

Sat. Nov. 16 from 2 -5 pm The Taste of Amelia sponsored by the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club was SOLD OUT.
There were 30 restaurants participating and upwards of 500 ducats sold.
All the money raised, after expenses, goes to College Scholarships for students at the Nassau County High Schools.