The Voice of the Gem City

May 24, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Memorial Day is Monday. That means government offices – local, state and federal – will be closed as will post offices, banks and many businesses.

In Palatka Memorial Day Weekend equals the Blue Crab Festival. Last year the festival wasn’t held. It’s back this year under new leadership and with the backing of the city. At 5 p.m. today the festival gets underway, continuing through Saturday and Sunday. Arts and crafts, food trucks, a carnival, river cruises, entertainment, helicopter rides and music are scheduled. Saturday there’s a fireworks show at 9 p.m. on the riverfront. Gatorland Ski Show is Sunday at 12:15 and 2 p.m. and the New Vision Duck Race is 3 p.m. Sunday. That benefits the Lions Club eye program.

On Saturday St. James United Methodist Church holds a Boutique Sale and Vintage Faire in the church fellowship hall and parking lots at 400 Reid Street. Pancake breakfasts and pulled pork luncheons also are available.

On Monday, ceremonies honoring American men and women who died in active military service are scheduled throughout the area.
In Flagler County Palm Coast holds a ceremony at 8 a.m. at Heroes Memorial Park, at 10 a.m. the Flagler County ceremony is in front of the Government Services Building in Bunnell and at 1 p.m. Flagler Beach holds a ceremony at Veterans Park.
In St. Augustine on Monday the annual Memorial Day Observance is at the St. Augustine National Cemetery at 10 a.m. with Brig Gen. (Ret.) Valeria Gonzalez-Kerr speaking. The cemetery is next to St. Francis Barracks, Florida National Guard headquarters on Marine Street.

In Palatka a 40-year tradition continues at Palatka Memorial Gardens from 2-5 p.m. with ceremonies honoring the nation’s fallen. Masters Funeral Home puts on the ceremony. On Monday there will be a Memorial Day Parade organized by various veterans groups in town. Participants gather at 9 a.m. at 11th Street and St. Johns Avenue. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and heads toward the riverfront where a Memorial Day observance will be held.

The search for a new city manager for Palatka continues. For the third time since the commission fired manager Zeriah Folston last year, commissioners are seeking to hire a city manager. They’ve called for proposals from search firms to help. City Clerk Betsy Driggers has been doing her job and serving as interim city manager. Palatka city commissioners have decided to hire someone to be interim city manager but Thursday found out no one has applied for the job.

Water safety and fire safety are on the minds of authorities. Memorial Day weekend traditionally is the start of beach season. In both St. Johns and Flagler counties the weekend normally marks when life guards go on duty for the summer. Large crowds are expected at beaches in both counties. In St. Johns County officials are hoping buses will help ease the expected traffic congestion at beaches. Boaters are being reminded to obey safety rules and not drink and drive. Meanwhile what’s being called the Yellow Bluff Fire on the Duval-Nassau County line is a reminder to be careful. Hot weather and dry conditions have authorities urging people to be cautious. No rain is in the forecast for the next week.

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