Growing up in Jacksonville


By: Guy Barnhart

I’ve grown up in Jacksonville. I have always loved downtown. When I was a kid my family and I made the annual trip to the Landing to watch the lighting of the tree. We always got grilled cheese and milkshakes at Johnny Rocket’s afterward. Going Downtown was always so exotic. Being on the river, surrounded by brightly lit buildings, always captured my imagination. I remember the first time I went for a ride on the ferry on those cold holiday evenings. It was one of the coolest things I had ever done.

I grew up with a passion for the urban core. I remember having sketches of a “better” downtown, with various skyscrapers and condominiums populating the scene. The Times-Union published a story when I was in middle school called “Jacksonville in 2030”. It made my imagination run wild. I cut it out and put it above my desk.

Now that I am older, my childhood passion for downtown has become a reality. I manage a bar and music venue called Underbelly. I intern at the Chamber of Commerce. I go to every Jaguar game. And I have the opportunity to witness the genesis of a new event, Community First Saturdays.

Through my internship at the Chamber I have the privilege to help with the creation of one of the most exciting things happening Downtown right now. The first Saturday of every month, the North Bank Riverwalk is packed full of food and activities for the citizens of Jacksonville to enjoy. I believe Downtown is one of the most vibrant cultural centers of the city. The stubborn myth of Downtown being full of nothing can thankfully be put to rest. Now is the time to get out and enjoy your city. Come see what you’ve been missing.

Some of my favorite things about Community First Saturdays:

FREE Yoga, FREE Tai Chi, Craft Beer Bar, over half a dozen food trucks serving up delicious gourmet entrees. And all of the positive energy from every one who is there enjoying our river.

Click this to see a Community First Saturday in action:


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