Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

200-Foot Yacht Will Add to Super Bowl Celebration

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

200-Foot Yacht Will Add to Super Bowl Celebration

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

The arrival of the Capt. J.P. II, a New York-based dinner cruise yacht, gave Eve Szymanski and Joe Hapi just the right vantage point to see the future of what is now a large, vacant field at Reynolds Park Yacht Center.

Looking over the side of the ship's top deck, Szymanski, Clay County tourism director, and Hapi, Reynolds' special-events coordinator, did not see the empty field or the aging telephone poles along its perimeter.

They saw an 80-foot Ferris wheel. They heard concerts with big-name country music acts. They saw lines of concession stands and thousands of people celebrating the Super Bowl in Jacksonville without actually being at Alltel Stadium.

They saw the Riverfront Festival, the major cog in Clay County's Super Celebration, planned in February to coincide with Super Bowl XXXIX.

And they saw the kind of event they hope will be a regular occurrence at Reynolds in years to come.

"I see a carnival!" said Szymanski, eyeing the dirt across from the Capt. J.P. II's dock. "Fabulous, fabulous! I can't wait. I want to see all those people at the Super Bowl -- from the top of the Ferris wheel!"

The Capt. J.P. II is just the first arrival, Hapi said.

The ship's owner, James Pledger Jr., and his father, ship captain James Pledger Sr., saw potential in Northeast Florida. So they brought their Troy, N.Y.-based dinner cruise line to Florida, where it will be based at Reynolds through April.

"This is the first year, but they will be back every year," Hapi said.

The ship will be available for dinner cruises at dockside or in the St. Johns River and will be a part of the Super Celebration activities Super Bowl weekend at Reynolds.

"It seats 500 for dinner, can take 600," Hapi said. "It cruises up and down the Hudson River. They've been in business 30 years."

The 200-foot yacht is available for corporate and private dinners and parties for Christmas, New Year's and the Super Bowl. To reserve a date or get more information, call Hapi at 284-4667.

The arrival of the yacht is the latest Super Celebration-related news out of Reynolds. …

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