2020 has finally come to an end.
It was a year of unprecedented challenges in which we lost several local businesses and, much more significantly, hundreds of residents as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – which we’ll talk about more later. It was also a year of slow but steady progress on a number of issues in Jacksonville, including riverfront development and racial equality.
As we look forward to a more positive year in 2021, let’s take a quick look at some of what made 2020 noteworthy locally – the good, the bad, and the in-between. Here are the five biggest stories from Jacksonville in 2020, in no particular order.
So, remember how we mentioned that COVID-19 was spreading all year long?
That fact wasn’t enough to deter Mayor Curry from throwing Jacksonville’s name into the hat when disagreements between the Republican National Committee and the city of Charlotte over COVID-19 protocols led the former to pursue a new venue for its national convention. Curry would get his wish when, in mid-June, Jax was named as the new host city for the 2020 Republican National Convention.
The announcement was not particularly well-received locally for two key reasons. The first, of course, was the ongoing pandemic that prompted the change in host cities. The RNC was seeking a more permissive venue, and Jax – or at least the mayor’s office – seemed poised to provide exactly that.
The second problem with the convention was its unfortunate timing. President Trump’s nomination acceptance speech was set to take place on the same say as the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday. Given Trump’s history of racially charged rhetoric, many saw this as problematic. (It’s worth noting that the speech had been scheduled prior to the event’s move to Jax.)
Weeks of ensuing chaos – over what the regulations for the event would be, how many would attend, whether there would be protestors, and so on – ultimately proved to be pointless, as the event was canceled in late July when it became abundantly clear that moving forward with it would be irresponsible. The convention was held virtually, with Trump’s speech taking place at the White House.