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Downtown promises eventful Labor Day weekend, beach style

To most, Labor Day goes hand-in-hand with those two sweet sounding words “no school.”  However there is a lot more you could be doing besides catching up on a few z’s.  Take, for instance, the events in downtown Jacksonville. The city’s core is stepping outside the box and getting quirky this upcoming holiday weekend.

This week, and lasting through the weekend, the Landing courtyard will be covered in 100 tons of sand, which is being dumped there to re-create the feel of the beach, essentially generating a sea shore in the middle of air-conditioned shops, restaurants, live shows and games.  Although the water is void of salt, and the breeze lightened up, the Landing is sure to be transformed into an action-filled hot spot for this weekend’s Labor Day celebration.

Throughout the week, starting as early as Sept. 1 with ArtWalk, events are being held for people of all ages, from hula hoop contests to live performances and two chances at winning tickets to a Jags home game.   Here is a list of the events that are going on at the newly sanded dunes of downtown and also a special birthday celebration just south of J-ville.

Sept. 1:  The first Wednesday of every month plays host to a popular event known as ArtWalk.  Showcasing artwork and crafts made by local artists, along with live band performances on the streets and in showrooms, ArtWalk promises a great turn out.  And, if you decide to strap on your dancing shoes and zip up those party pants, Square One is the place to be to drink, dance and mingle with the artists after ArtWalk ends at 9 p.m.

Sept. 2: Now I know this event does not take place downtown, but it’s rude to ignore a birthday, right?  Happy 445th Birthday to the city of St. Augustine, dubbed the Nation’s Oldest City and founded by Don Pedro Menendes de Aviles in 1565.  St. Augustine is just an hour south and supplies a variety of sight-seeing opportunities, including the fort, Castillo de San Marcos. But if  the delicious taste of birthday cake lures you, perhaps a little live music will persuade.  A concert at the Plaza de la Constiucion from 7– 9 p.m. will follow the annual birthday cake cutting ceremony.

Sept. 3:  Attention Jacksonville Jaguar fans: this Sept. 3 and Sept. 4, you are eligible to win a free pair of tickets to a Jags home game. To get your paws on the prize, you must enter the Big Cat Sand Dig at 7 p.m. and win, of course.  If you don’t claim the tickets, don’t worry, there will be a live performance by George Aspinall from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. that will be sure to lift your spirits.

Sept. 4:  If you are interested in kicking back and starting your downtown beach day calmly, chill out and listen to the musical styling of Palmetto Catz from 2-6 p.m.  If you are feeling a little frisky, then you will enjoy the demonstration by the First Coast Shag Club from 2-3 p.m.  Don’t know how to Shag? The club is offering free dance lessons, now what’s your excuse?
And for those who missed out on the free Jags home game tickets Sept. 3, this might be your lucky day.  Round two of the Big Cat Sand Dig takes place at 7 p.m., with a chance to win another pair of tickets.  If you have any energy left, after shag dancing and sand digging, you can enter the Hula Hoop contest at 8 p.m.  It’s a great way to shake your hips and relive those childhood memories.

Sunday, September 5:  It’s Labor Day eve and the First Coast Shag dancers are back and ready for action, dancing from 2-3 p.m.  For a taste of something new, check out the Sauce Boss live from 4-8 p.m.  The celebrity gumbo chef and world-famous entertainer will show off his cooking skills on the Riverfront stage and even let the audience taste his creations.  To top off the night, wind down with your belly-full of gumbo to the sounds of The Rhythm Cure, performing from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Monday, September 6: With all the exciting events taking place this week, it’s hard to say if you’ll have enough stamina to last until the actual Labor Day holiday.  I guess that’s why HippStreet will be playing from 4-8 p.m. to end the jam-packed week/weekend in style.

So shake it up this year by experiencing a new and different Labor Day than you’ve ever had before. The best part is, you won’t have to worry about catching a terrible case of the Mondays.

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