Jacksonville bars are preparing for a very, very busy couple of days tonight and tomorrow.
Of course, bars are always a busy place on New Year’s Eve, but in Jacksonville, there’s the unique tradition of opening up early on New Year’s Day, and providing free food.
Chelsea Phillips, a manager at On The Rox, says tonight, they’ll have two DJs going all the way up until 2:30. There will be a balloon drop with cash prizes, a selfie booth, and a champagne toast.
Then tomorrow, On The Rox gets involved with the New Years Day celebration for the fourth year. Phillips says in addition to DJs, a live band, and nine bartenders at two serving stations, there will be a free mega-food bar at noon.
“It’s a really busy day, we all enjoy it. You get to see a lot of old friends, new faces, everyone comes back to town and celebrates and rings in the new year, and all of the bartenders work really hard to get the drinks across the bar for everyone to be happy, and we just hope everyone has a good time,” she says.
She says the free food is a way to give back.
“It’s just once a year, we do it, and it’s a free mega-food bar, and we put lots of food out for everyone to help themselves, and just for everybody that has supported On the Rox throughout the year,” Phillips says.
The New Years’ Day Jacksonville custom of providing free food for partiers began back in the 1970s with Mike Looker, who owned a bar on Morton Avenue called The Chalet.
Of course, there are plenty of transportation options if you’re going out tonight or tomorrow that don’t involve you drinking and driving, including the Alert Cab free ride sponsored by A. Gaudio and Sons distributors.