Problem your self to discover Jacksonville

David and Vickie Zuckerman came up with an idea that I really like. They call it the “Jacksonville 20 in ’20 Challenge”.

The idea came to them while relaxing at their Jacksonville Beach home in late 2019. They had already planned a big vacation for 2020. They talked about where else to go in the New Year for a new adventure, something that could be done in a long weekend.

They were looking for places to fly non-stop from Jacksonville.

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Then we said, ‘Wait a second. What about Jacksonville? Asked David Zuckerman. “We have been here for 27 years and there are so many places, so many things that we have never seen or done in this city.”

They decided to put together a list of 20 activities for 2020. It’s a personal challenge, just the two of them. (They know that convincing kids to spend a Saturday with mom and dad once they reach a certain age is another challenge.) But they hope that others in town will try their own similar challenges.

“They’re talking about all of Jacksonville’s problems,” said David Zuckerman. “I think if more people got out and explored our city, maybe it would help them appreciate Jacksonville better and understand other people better.”

He described it as kind of a variation on what I did when I was walking around Jacksonville, forcing me to explore new areas in the process.

“The goal is to get out there and see Jacksonville,” he said. “Get out of your comfort zone.”

They started looking at lists of things to do in Jacksonville, then made their own list – things they had never done in Jacksonville.

Your only rule: a shop or restaurant doesn’t count.

They didn’t want to make it to go downtown, step into 20 stores they’d never been to before, and call it a completed challenge. But everyone can make their own rules. And I think I’d be fine if I included a couple of local shops and restaurants.

For example, if you weren’t downtown and checked out the candy at Sweet Pete or the books at Chamblin, I would count that. Or if you’ve never been to the Rail Yard District, I’d count exploring Eco Relics and grabbing a beer at one of the three breweries (Engine 15, Tabula Rasa, Lemonstreet).

But I’m with Zuckerman: You can’t count eating in the Cheesecake Factory and shopping in the Apple Store.

The list they made includes history (Camp Milton, Norman Studios), museums (MOCA), theaters (ABET), parks (Tillie Fowler, Walter Jones), activities (kayaking in the Timucuan Preserve) and just parts of town, the they ‘I’ve never been before.

“We’re beach people,” said Zuckerman. “We tend to stay on the beach.”

He grew up in New Jersey. Vickie is from Tennessee. They moved here from Dallas to be closer to the water, and David turned his background in television video production into a business called Easy Edit Video.

So I met him in his office on Baymeadows Road.

I had a couple of old tapes – OK, I think old tapes are a little redundant – with an interview with Willie Browne.

Before Browne died in 1970, he donated his land in Arlington to all of us. It is now part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. I wrote about the hope that in late 2020, shortly before the 50th anniversary of his death and gift, we will have some kind of Willie Browne Day.

The valet service is already working on it. And some people have said they want to help in their own way.

Zuckerman offered to convert the tapes into digital files.

Zuckerman sat in his office and remembered when business started. At first they were busy duplicating videotapes. Now you are busy duplicating DVDs.

“If you show up here in five years, I don’t know what we’re going to do – unless we’re going to be here,” he said.

He and his wife are now in their 60s. While his hair is thinning on top, he has a ponytail on his back and a youthful enthusiasm – especially when he talks about the challenge.

“Jacksonville has so much to offer,” he said. “There are so many things that we drive past every day and never stop and see.”

He challenged me to develop my own challenge.

Part of the beauty of my job is that as a natural introvert, I am forced to go to lots of places that I would otherwise never have gone.

For some ideas, I looked at Jacksonville.com’s “26 Things Every Jacksonville Resident Should Do At Least Once” list. I think I did 25.5. (I’ve been to the Ritz Theater and Museum but haven’t seen a show there. I’ll add this to my own to-do list.)

There are definitely places in Jacksonville that I haven’t seen, things I haven’t done. Some are almost embarrassing to admit.

I have a theater daughter and haven’t seen a show at the Alhambra or Players by the Sea. I’ve never been to the Kona Skate Park. I haven’t been to the Catty Shack yet. And while I’ve explored many of our parks, there are still a few that I’ve never set foot, bike, or paddleboard in. I am sure there is a lot more on my list.

That’s one of my goals for 2020. To follow the lead of the Zuckermans and find some new (for me) places and activities here in Jacksonville.

With her 2020 plan in mind, my editor also asked me to make another type of list: 20 of my favorite things to do in Jacksonville. That was an interesting challenge. These are things that I’ve not only done before, but keep doing. In the end, my list ended with a decidedly outdoor flair – paddling downtown, hiking the Willie Browne Trail, Gate River Run, and so on.

But I would add one thing inside that I didn’t include, a plug for the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts “extravaganza”. It’s Friday evening at the Times-Union Center. Even if you don’t have a kid at DA, someday you should do it in Jacksonville.

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THE JACKSONVILLE 20 IN ’20 CHALLENGE

David and Vickie Zuckerman decided to challenge each other in 2020 to visit 20 places in Jacksonville they’d never been to before. The list they made:

Camp Milton, Westside

Braddock Blueberry Farm, Northside

Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park, Northside

Ribault Garden Club

Kayak in the Timucuan ecological and historical nature reserve

Cradle Creek Preserve, Jacksonville Beach

All Beaches Experimental Theater, Neptune Beach

Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park, west side

Ortega / Avondale

Anheuser Busch Brewery (Note: This could be a challenge as the brewery stopped offering public tours about a year ago.)

Catty Shack Ranch Conservation Area, Northside

Museum of Contemporary Art, downtown

Ritz Theater and Museum, LaVilla

JP Small Memorial Park, Durkeeville

Sightseeing cruise by St. Johns River Taxi

Walter Jones Park in Mandarin

Mandarin Point and the Sunken Maple Leaf (Note: The Maple Leaf Wreck, a National Historic Landmark, is located in the middle of the St. Johns River about 12 miles south of downtown. The best way to learn more about the ship is to is a visit to the Mandarin Museum in Walter Jones Park)

St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse (restored and relocated to Walter Jones Park in 2015)

Tree Hill Nature Center, Arlington

Norman Studios, Arlington

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