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The Jacksonville Landing hoping for big 4th of July business

11:28 PM, Jul 4, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Preparations were underway early Thursday at the Jacksonville Landing for a crowd anticipated at 8,000 to 10,000 inside the Landing. The crowds will be right there for the July 4th fireworks show launched from a barge in the river right by the Landing.
Gary and Mimi Bonitz have owned Calvin's Cajun Express for 14 years and this is an important money maker.

"It is real important. Business down here has been slow we need all the special events to really come in and help us out, weather looks good so we are hoping for a good Fourth of July," Gary Bonitz said.

Bill Burbridge of Bill's Caricutures expects to be drawing faces fast on the evening of the 4th.

"I do really well, I could potentially draw until 2 in the morning. At the Landing, we depend exclusively on these big days because we are a special events venue," he said.

The Landing struggled when the economy soured in 2006, but marketing director Michael Chambliss said the marketplace on the river is slowly bouncing back.

"The past couple of years have been very  exciting years for the Landing. We have added several merchants, we have seen a couple leave but we have added more merchants than have left and right now in 2013, this is our highest occupancy that the Landing has seen in over a decade," Chambliss said.

The city has yet to provide the Landing the parking it was promised when it opened in 1986. Recent plans for a parking garage never materialized but owner Toney Sleiman isn't giving up.

"I think this administration is concerned about it, and we are working on it, we are talking about it and I think we are going to find some solutions here soon," he said.

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