This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Palatka City Commissioners opened the way for more liquor-serving establlshments and longer Sunday hours at Thursday’s meeting. What was to be an ordinance change for just the so-called entertainment district on St. Johns Avenue and along the riverfront downtown now goes for the whole town after a unanimous vote by the commission. Bars and other liquor-serving establishments can now be within 100 feet of each other or a church or a school. Currently it’s 300 feet. Times for serving liquor on Sunday will be from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., matching the rest of the week. Before, serving began at noon. A number of Putnam County Chamber of Commerce members and related organizations spoke in favor of the new downtown ordinance. Repeated clarifications regarding the changes had to be made during the meeting. The ordinance will have to be redrawn and advertised but it will go to a second and final reading at the December meeting of the commission.
Flags are at half-staff in St. Augustine today as the city honors former mayor Eddie Mussallem, 97, who died this week. Mussallem, who believed in preserving the history of St. Augustine, restored Villa Zorayda Museum, The Zavier Lopez House and the historic Solla Carcaba building. His family still runs Villa Zorayda. Under his leadership the zoning code including the creation of the Historic Preservation Districts began and he worked toward the creation of traffic signals, sightseeing motor vehicle franchises, one-way streets and tourism taxes to fund city parking operations. His leadership led to construction of the lighthouse boat ramp. A longtime businessman in his native St. Augustine, he was a Rotarian for 54 years and a World War II veteran.
The big news in St. Augustine has to do with the flip of a switch Saturday night. That flip will turn on three million lights and begin the two-month-long Nights of Lights. National Geographic magazine has called it one of the 10 best light shows in the world and thousands of people will see it. Celebrations begin Saturday at 4 p.m. in front of Lightner Museum with Showtime USA and continue at 5:30 p.m. with The All Star Orchestra playing in the gazebo at the Plaza de la Constitution. At 6:30 p.m. the Light-Up Ceremony takes place with health care professionals chosen to flip the switch. Afterward the All Star Orchestra will play again. A Free Park & Ride Shuttle will be running from 1-11 p.m. You can park and catch a shuttle from St. Johns County Health Department, San Marco Lot in North City or Broudy’s Lot. For Saturday only a shuttle will run from Anastasia Island from 4-11 p.m. Park at Anastasia Baptist Church, St. Augustine Amphitheatre and R.B. Hunt Elementary.
In Flagler County tonight it’s Let’s Hang On!, a tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Let’s Hang On is considered the preeminent Valli tribute group. The show is at 7 p.m.
The first annual Flagler Fall Festival opens tonight at Flagler County Fairgrounds and will run through the weekend. Carnival rides, food, games, craft vendors and entertainment are set with gates opening tonight at 5 p.m. Cost is $5 per car for parking with Sunday free.
River City Players take to the stage at the Scarlett-Hill Theatre tonight at the Larimer Arts Center 216 Reid Street in Palatka. They’re offering up the comedy-mystery Death By Golf tonight and Saturday with a matinee Sunday.
The Putnam First Cancer Fund golf tournament is Saturday at the Palatka Golf Course. Money raised supports Putnam First helping Putnam County residents fighting cancer.
Putnam County Historical Society holds its monthly program Saturday this time showing how telephone books can help with family research. County archivist Mischa Johns presents the program at 11 a.m. at the Bronson-Mulholland House, 100 Madison St. The meeting is open to the public.
On Sunday take a trip to Broadway at Florida School of the Arts as the school’s Theatre Vocal Company presents Back to Broadway. The free one-day show is at 2:30 p.m. on the main stage of the school on the Palatka campus of St. Johns River State College.
If you’re looking for the perfect dessert for Thanksgiving, don’t forget St. James United Methodist Church at 400 Reid St. in Palatka resumes its famous cake auction this Sunday at 6 p.m. in the church fellowship hall.