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Bicentennial Bell to be unveiled in commemoration of city's 200th birthday

The Jacksonville Historical Society will unveil the 'Bicentennial Bell' at the Jacksonville Main Library on June 7 at 6:30 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With Jacksonville's 201st birthday right around the corner, the manufacture of a 225-pound bronze bell will soon serve as the centerpiece of a monument to Jacksonville's bicentennial milestone.

During 2022, 38 donors raised more than $30,000 which fully funded to have the bell cast and shipped from the Verdin Company in Cincinnati, Ohio to Jacksonville, according to a release. However, more money would have to be raised for the next phase, which include site location and preparation, creation and engraving of markers, and installation of the bell.

The bell has been tucked away at the Jacksonville Public Library since late February, but will be unveiled to the public in the library's promenade on June 7 during Art Walk. Following the unveiling, the bell will be on display at the library for an undetermined length of time until plans are underway to secure a permanent site.

The 'Bicentennial Bell' was the combined idea of the Jacksonville Historical Society and Aaron Gibson-Evans, a Riverside resident whose family goes back five generations in Jacksonville. Gibson-Evans began promoting the city's 200th birthday on social media back in 2013.

"Jacksonville is the oldest city in Florida of the modern era, factually predating admission to the Union," Gibson-Evans said in a news release. "I think it's important we set a statewide precedent of tasteful and timeless landmarks for future generations."

Gibson-Evans says although similar to the Liberty Bell, the commemorative nature is different. Instead of ringing the bell for freedom, it will be a significant landmark to herald the city's bright future.

"It's not too late to make a donation to the Bicentennial Bell," said Gibson-Evans. "Donors at the personal level of $1,000 or business level of $2,500 will be recognized with a permanent inscription of their choosing on the monument and publicly acknowledged at the unveiling."

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