Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thanksgiving Day Party Plan on Hold; Neptune Beach Bar Owner Frustrated That She Can't Get a Permit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thanksgiving Day Party Plan on Hold; Neptune Beach Bar Owner Frustrated That She Can't Get a Permit

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

For 27 years, the crowds have gathered inside and outside of Pete's Bar in Neptune Beach to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Actually, they celebrated Thanksgiving morning and early afternoon. While the turkey cooked, they gathered on First Street dressed as turkeys themselves, or Pilgrims.

"We have one senior citizen Pocahontas who comes every year in a bikini," said Nancy Jensen, the owner of Pete's.

But this year, that tradition, that annual gathering is in doubt. When owner Jensen called the local office of Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco to get the application as she does every year, she was in for a surprise.

"The woman just yelled at me, she told me that's illegal and I couldn't do it," she said. "I asked to be transferred to someone else and was told that they knew they'd given it to me before, but that it was in error."

She spoke to someone in Tallahassee, then someone else, and got the same story. She could not get the permit called a temporary extension of premises.

"But no one could give me a clear explanation why," she said. "I'm thoroughly confused."

The bar didn't even have a permit for the party for years. But a few years ago, Jensen said someone complained. So she's gotten her state permit and Neptune Beach City Council has given her the OK to close that stretch of First Street.

The past few years, other businesses have taken part. But it's all ended at 2 p.m., when the police called through the bullhorn for everyone to go home. And they did.

But not after several thousand of them gathered and wandered.

"It's always our busiest day of the year," said Jensen. "It's how we pay our property taxes."

It's become enough of an event that people fly in for the weekend, just for those few hours in the street.

"It's where you see people who moved away 10 years ago," said Damon O'Connor, who happened to be sitting at Pete's about noon Sunday.

Pete's Bar, a Neptune Beach institution, is a real bar. …

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