Georgia-Florida Football Weekend, October 28-29th and Halloween 2011
Anticipation is thick and excitement grows during the last week of October every year on Amelia Island. Folks flock to Amelia Island like migratory birds each year for ritualistic football gatherings surrounding the big game. It’s perfect football weather here in northeast Florida with temps over the weekend expected to be in the high 60s. Football and Halloween celebrations are planned around Florida’s First Coast (see more about activities further below).
With Fernandina Beach High School’s homecoming football game just played, it’s time for the biggest faceoff of the year. The college game between the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs. (See a few photos of the Fernandina Pirate’s homecoming parade and game in slide show gallery below and autumn scenes around the island. Click on photo gallery, arrow through photos.)
It sure feels like autumn and all around nature’s signals abound. The island’s oak trees are raining acorns and migratory Monarch butterflies have arrived. Egans Greenway’s glasswort has been changing from green to red tint. Amelia Islanders are waking to heavy dew glistening on the grass. Beyond white picket fences, pumpkins flank doorways and line Fernandina’s charming front porches, ready to greet Halloween trick-or-treaters. Plenty of pumpkin treats will be part of weekend feasts, including the goodies being prepared at Fernandina’s newest bakery. The Pecan Roll this week (at 122 South 8th Street) is featuring pumpkin filled cookies, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin loaf with caramel topping and pecans, and cat, bat and pumpkin-decorated sugar and graham cookies.
Here on Amelia Island, the last weekend in October means a tidal wave of football fans filling Fernandina’s bars, beach rentals, and hotels. Although this is Florida territory, it appears there are more Georgia fans living and visiting here, than Gator fans. One need only look around at the car flags, banners and beach shelters bearing the Bulldog logo. All year long, Georgia tags on vehicles here on the island show the abundant presence of our Georgia neighbors.
Florida has dominated the grudge match for much of the last two decades. Is 2011 the year Georgia will get another victory (their fourth of the past 20 years)? If they do win, Amelia Island’s businesses may benefit even more, with happy fans hanging around longer and spending more in their merriment.
Celebrations will ebb and flow with the early birds starting the preliminary “warm up” pre-game festivities leading up to what has been dubbed “the World’s Biggest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” Kickoff is 3:30 pm at Jacksonville’s Everbank Field on Saturday, October 29, 2011. Already this morning (Tuesday before the big game), the stadium’s “RV City” has opened and campers are rolling in, ready to party for days in the parking lot leading up to the Saturday game.
Fans colored in Bulldog red and black, plus Gator blue and orange, will flock to the pubs in Fernandina’s historic district, head to local house parties, and to Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort for their traditional pre-game festivities. Nationally televised, enthusiastic fans will huddle around TV screens across the states of Florida and Georgia and locally at the beach bars like Sliders, Sandy Bottoms, and the Surf.
If Georgia pulls out a win, maybe the fans will be in a giddy mood and hang around through Halloween Monday. They can continue with spirits at the Palace Saloon’s annual Halloween Ball and $1,000 costume contest happening October 31, 2011. Florida’s oldest continually-operating saloon in Fernandina Beach invites folks to “dress in your sexiest and scariest and try to impress judges and the crowd to take home big cash prizes and bragging rights.” The saloon doors on historic Centre Street will swing open for the ball Halloween night at 9pm.
For lots more about all the Jacksonville events surrounding the Florida-Georgia game, visit the city of Jacksonville’s special events page. If you’re thinking about going to Jacksonville to hang out around the stadium or it’s your first time going to the big game, here’s handy info on where to park near Everbank field and catch a shuttle.
Enjoy the beautiful, mild weather as October slides into November. Before we know it, there will be days when the island is wearing its own seasonal mask of misty sea fog on cold winter mornings. Soon the salt bush of the Greenway, covered with white fluffy seeds, will only need a stiff breeze to take flight across the coastal landscape, blowing around like snow flurries. Folks will wear jackets and hats for walks along the beach to protect against the cold sea breeze, and sunglasses will glaze over with salt spray.
Wishing all a safe, merry football weekend and Happy Halloween!
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