Jehova's Witnesses Spruce up Arena ahead of conference

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- More than 8,500 Jehova's Witnesses are in downtown Jacksonville for a district convention, which creates a huge economic impact for the River city.

The crowd comes from South Georgia and North Florida. Two of those people, include Daniel Dingwell and his wife, Vicky. The couple traveled to Jacksonville from Tallahassee for the convention. The Dingwell couple is joining thousands for this year's theme- Keep Seeking First God's Kingdom.

Dingwell said, "We want to apply these principles and show people that living according to God's standards can benefit anyone."

Dingwell says God has led him to find his wife of 19 years.

"I've had a lot of opportunity to see benefit in my life." said Dingwell. " I've had the opportunity to meet my wife by means of the different avenues of choices that I've taken."

Ahead of the three day convention, about 800 delegates arrived early to the River City in order to clean the arena.

Event spokesman, Mark McCumber, says this is done each year before the big convention.

"These people donate their own time out of their own day to come and scrape gum, mop, and clean," said McCumber. "And, last year, we even power-washed the entire outside of the entire Colosseum."

Not only did Jacksonville get a free cleanup job on the arena, the thousands of visitors are packing hotels around the downtown area, in turn, bringing several millions of dollars in economic impact to the city.

"Everyone here has been so lovely. The hotels, the's been a wonderful experience," said Vicky Dingwell.

According to Visit Jacksonville, 10,000 hotel nights were booked for the event. Roslyn Davis spent three nights downtown after traveling from Gainesville.

"It was just wonderful. We get to come back to Jacksonville and see our old friends and make new friends from different areas," said Davis.

Event organizers tell First Coast News, that there is another convention at the arena in two weeks and they are expecting another 8,500 people to attend.


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