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Celebrating 200 years: Here's the schedule for Jacksonville's bicentennial

Jacksonville in the late 1800s, before the city was destroyed by a fire on May 3, 1901.
Jacksonville Daily Record
Jacksonville in the late 1800s, before the city was destroyed by a fire on May 3, 1901.

This weekend will bring a celebration that's been 200 years in the making.

Jacksonville will celebrate its bicentennial with music, art, history, food and fireworks.

The city's name appeared for the first time on a petition dated June 15, 1822, asking U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams to designate "Jacksonville" as a port of entry in the U.S. territory of Florida. Until then, the area had been known informally as "Cow Ford" or "Cowford," signifying a place where cows could cross the St. Johns River.

Adams denied the petition, and it took nearly 10 years before the territorial legislature granted a local government charter to Jacksonville. But the name had caught on, and historians cite June 1822 as Jacksonville's founding.

Here are highlights of the weekend celebration:


  • Noon-3 p.m.: Street festival with music performances, food trucks, vendors, historical re-enactors, artists and more at James Weldon Johnson Park and along Laura Street. (Stop by the Jax Today table and say hello, would you?) 
  • Noon-4 p.m.: Art installations and live-art exhibitions at various locations. 
  • 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.: Historic Downtown tours led by a guide portraying Isaiah Hart, one of Jax’s founders. (Sign-ups start at 10 a.m. near the Jacksonville Public Library — look for the gentleman in the frock coat and top hat.) 
  • 3 p.m.: Opening ceremony including a reading of the original petition to rename the city.
  • 4:15 p.m.: Parade from James Weldon Johnson Park down Laura Street to Riverfront Plaza.
  • 5 p.m.: “The 1822” — Jacksonville Bicentennial Celebration Concert at Riverfront Plaza, with four bands.
  • 10:15 p.m.: Fireworks display.

Other events will take place about the same time.

CIVIC PROTEST: The group Take 'Em Down Jax will hold a rally at 2 p.m. at City Hall to focus attention on Confederate monuments that remain standing in Jacksonville. Organizers also maintain that some Black organizations were left out of bicentennial planning, obscuring some of the more unsavory events in Jacksonville's history.

DeSANTIS FLOTILLA: Supporters of Gov. Ron DeSantis will motor down the river from Metropolitan Park toward the Hyatt Regency from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dean Black, chair of the Republican Party of Duval County, expects hundreds of boats flying “Keep Florida Free” flags. The flotilla coincides with the quarterly meeting of the Republican Party of Florida, the first time it has been held in Jacksonville. DeSantis was born in Jacksonville and grew up in Dunedin.


The First Coast Wind Symphony, a symphonic band of 60 volunteers, will perform at 5 p.m. at St. John's Cathedral, 256 E. Church St. The program includes music of former resident and British composer Frederick Delius, James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," as well as new music by Jacksonville composers. Admission and parking are free.