Jacksonville Beach discusses pub crawl controversy

Published On: Jun 17 2013 09:18:26 PM EDT
Updated On: Jun 18 2013 09:57:04 AM EDT

The mayor of Jacksonville Beach says he's trying to save 4th of July festivities at the beach. But some say how he's doing it is a threat to their freedom.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -

The mayor of Jacksonville Beach handed out a letter to that he sent to local businesses asking them not to participate in a pub crawl this 4th of July. 

Mayor Charlie Latham's idea is that if the pub-crawl ends, it will make the 4th of July at the beach a more family friendly atmosphere this year. Latham told the Jacksonville Beach City Council Monday night that events like the pub crawl jeopardize the safety of the public during busy beach weekends, like the 4th of July. 

"The pub crawl is king of contrary to what we want to get across and signal we want to get to the community," said Latham. 

The Mayor was backed by former Jacksonville Beach Police Chief, Bruce Thomason. Thomason was the first to propose canceling the fireworks show last year because he said the crowds were just too big to keep everyone safe, and now that the fireworks are back for 2013, Thomason doesn't favor an Independence Day pub crawl. 

"Increases in arrests, over consumption. I've always been curious why it's called a pub crawl, seems to imply knee-walking drunk," said Thomason. 

The promoters of the pub crawl, 904-HAPPY HOUR, are fighting back. The promoter sent Channel 4 a statement Monday night about the controversy surrounding the up-coming crawl."There have been many pub crawls in the past in Jacksonville beach, and we have yet to hear of any incident reflecting negatively on the community."   

One member of the city commission questioned the Mayor's letter to the businesses, and his hint that the fireworks could be canceled in the future if there is a pub crawl this year.

"That's not a decision for you personally to make, that's a decision for all of us to make," said City Commissioner Phillip Vogelsang. "I think that's threatening, because that's all that's going to be discussed and talked about."

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