Heading out of Christmas, North Florida welcomed a sunny afternoon Friday, Jan. 3—one that gave beachgoers in Ponte Vedra Beach a chance to get a last bit of tan in before the weather turned a cold cheek.
Patrons of Mickler’s Beach eagerly came out to get their last sip of the sun, some even going so far as to brave the 60-degree ocean in a bikini. Crowds poured in to such an extent that the meager parking lot overflowed onto the streets by noon that day. The recent construction projects, combined with an influx of Tennessee tourists for the TaxSlayer Bowl, wasn’t enough to throw a spike in anyone’s beach plans, however. Mickler’s attracted hundreds of swimsuit-clad people, some there to brag to their northern friends about their afternoon plans to don sunscreen rather than scarves.
“I wish it was like this all the time,” said Mandarin resident Jasmin Incardona, who relocated to the area from Illinois. “The weather is part of the reason why I moved here, so I’m all for it.”
Incardona chose Mickler’s Beach specifically for the shelly beaches and crowds, which she deemed, “not as young as Jacksonville Beach’s.” Mickler’s tamer turnout may be a reason to venture there, but it also has many amenities coming its way. Current construction on the public access will provide a new boardwalk, new restroom facilities, showers and even changing rooms. The project also hopes to expand the parking lot, which regularly gets overcrowded.
One other enhancement to the area has been the addition of Tikiz Shaved Ice & Ice Cream, whose proprietor was there to take advantage of the warm weather crowds at the base of the beach walkway. Stephen Mapa said he makes sure to only serve Mickler’s Beach when he has a space out of the way of construction crews to set up. As one of the only vendors approved for the area, he said he has been welcomed by locals who are eager to enjoy a cold treat, no matter the weather.
“I have a few ladies that will come up and ask me what days I plan to be here,” Mapa said. “Even when it’s cold outside they still like a shaved ice.”
According to the long line in front of his truck, beachgoers believed the weather might be the only dish best served not cold. Based on the forecast for cold weather to return, they saw they better get the beach “while it’s hot.”
They were right. The balm was not for long.