Jacksonville University’s sailing and rowing teams, the Marine Science Research Institute and OCEARCH have partnered to produce the first Waterfront Celebration to support and promote their programs.
The event is open to both the University and the greater Jacksonville communities.
“I’m very excited to see all of the different programs working together and see a lot of the alumni and community members coming out,” said Maggie Dwyer, the Women’s Rowing Assistant Coach and one of the event’s organizers. “It will be fun to have all of the people involved at the event.”
The two-day event kicks off tonight with the Rock the Docks gala that offers food, drinks, a silent auction, live band, and the opportunity to mingle with alumni and the Jacksonville community at the River House. The gala also serves as a fundraising opportunity for the rowing and sailing teams, OCEARCH, and the Marine Science Research Institute.
Saturday at the Negaard Rowing Center, the Waterfront Family Festival brings bounce houses, a live DJ, a rowing and sailing regatta and tours of the OSEARCH vessel.
“The rowing team has been hosting the waterfront festival for a few years now in March,” said Dwyer. “Our sailing team did their first fundraising gala last spring, and we thought we should combine the two events and make a fun waterfront fest over one weekend.”
Jon Faudree, the Head Sailing Coach and Waterfront Director, initially discussed bringing the waterfront programs together for a festival with President Tim Cost ’81.
“President Cost and I had a conversation last year about planning a sailing fundraising event,” said Faudree. “We wanted to get more of the waterfront involved, too, but we ran out of time for planning and agreed we would plan for this spring.”
After following up with President Cost last summer, they agreed to create for the waterfront programs what they hope becomes an annual event similar to the University’s Homecoming & Family Weekend.
“My role is mostly the big picture stuff and trying to get everyone excited about participating,” said Faudree. “I’m working with the President’s Office, but I would definitely say that Julia Wiesner, Caroline Busker, and Maggie Dwyer have really been doing a lot of the more intricate behind the scenes planning for both Friday and Saturday.”
Faudree anticipates 200-250 guests for Rock the Docks and around 400 for Saturday’s Waterfront Festival.
“I think it will be a fun way to showcase all of the programs we have at the waterfront since JU’s focus is turning more towards the water,” said Faudree.
Faudree said JU’s unique location on the St. John’s River offers opportunities to promote the University’s successful waterfront programs with events such as the Waterfront Celebration.
“Even if you haven’t registered yet you can register the day of the event,” said Faudree. “It will be a lot of fun, and we look forward to hosting.”
By Christina Sumpter