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Avondale Begins Art Walks To Increase Foot Traffic At St. Johns Avenue Shops

Ryan Benk

About 7,000 people attended Avondale’s first-ever art walk Thursday evening, according to organizers.

The smooth sounds of live music echoed down St. Johns Avenue as thousands of people coursed through Avondale’s center of commerce.

One visitor was longtime resident Victoria Lovelace.

“I’m actually very excited that we couldn’t find parking because we’re excited it’s so busy,” she said.

Lovelace said she’s happy to see more events in her neck of the woods, instead of downtown or at nearby Five Points.

The idea of emulating downtown Jacksonville’s popular monthly gathering came out of a need to drive more foot traffic through the historic neighborhood’s shops. The Shoppes at Avondale, the association that represents the stores, restaurants and bars along the street, partnered with 904 Happy Hour event marketing to launch the event.

904 Happy Hour President Charles Wagoner said, “They were looking for ways to put Avondale back on the map and bring people into Avondale. We threw out all kinds of ideas, and the one that really stuck was an art walk.”

Wagoner said the event went off without a hitch, and the plan is to continue the art walks for a year, when the shops will decide whether to keep them running indefinitely.

By next month, he said, attendees may see street closures and lifting of open container laws, which were not permitted for the first event due to uncertainty about turnout.

Avondale will take place every second Thursday of the month.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.