Winnebagos crawled along the chalky-gray asphalt of a downtown RV park last week as another RV City was built.
RV City, a temporary motorhome park managed by the city next to Gator Bowl Boulevard in Jacksonville, Fla., springs up every year for the Georgia-Florida game, according to a report by the Florida Times Union. This year’s edition saw the Bulldogs pull out a 23-20 win last Saturday (Nov. 2).
Longtime denizens of the park, which is a parking lot picked for its vicinity to EverBank Field, say there’s a special atmosphere that they can only find in RV City.
Like a real city, there are pedestrians, police officers, party animals, grill masters, grandparents and sports fanatics. There are houses divided and baby Gators and actual bulldogs adopted to be Bulldogs. There’s even lakefront property.
The SEC showdown has attracted hordes of football fans every year since the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs began duking it out in Jacksonville in 1933. But those in RV City like to get the party started well before the other revelers arrive.
Rent can get expensive — $125 a space per night, not including utilities — but visitors say it’s worth the price. Move-in day was Wednesday, and each area of RVs is said to have its own personality.
The subdivisions go like this: the north side has the best parties, the east bend has the best decorations and the south end is the place to be for a calmer, quieter cookout.
On the northern end of RV City sits Alligator Alley. Orange-and-blue golf carts dot the Gators-only strip of motor homes, and the stories of parties past linger in the hot midday air.
Linda Shiver, a Callahan resident who parked at the end of Alligator Alley, said a neighbor is expecting at least 70 guests.
“We hear it gets really crazy,” said Shiver, 55.
Nancy Wall, a Hawkinsville, Ga., resident and Georgia fan, said Alligator Alley regularly gets packed with fans shoulder-to-shoulder.
“They have to put their chairs up and everything because there are so many people,” said Wall, 62. “It gets wild up there.”
On the eastern end of the lot, next to a small lake under the shade of a highway overpass, the visitors deck out their temporary homes for the decoration competitions. Some aim for Halloween themes, while others opt for truckloads of SEC decor.
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They range from the smallest single-unit campers priced at $20,000 to the most elegant, high-tech motorhomes that can approach seven figures.
As reported by the Florida Times-Union, recreation vehicles of all sizes, shapes and price ranges are back in Jacksonville this week. They’re all squeezed into RV City, where for five days and four nights, Florida and Georgia fans co-exist despite strong allegiances to their respective schools.
Naturally, that all changes today for a five-hour period when fans for both schools make their way to EverBank Field to watch the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs meet in a crucial SEC showdown.
“I only see some of these people once a year, but I consider them my friends, even if they are Bulldog fans,” said Donald Joiner, a project manager for a Jacksonville construction company and Gator fan who’s been taking a week’s vacation this time of year for the past 23 years.
“It’s a fun week of kidding each other, swapping stories and reliving past games, and stays here. It’s all fun for a week, but then it’s the Hatfields and McCoys come Saturday,” Joiner said.
Joiner and his wife, Charlotte, have been in the same location along “Alligator Alley” since 1989. He’s part of a group of 15 motorhome owners who take up residence in the same spot every year.
“We’re a close group,’’ Joiner said. “It’s the same people every year unless we happen to lose someone due to a death or moving away, in which case, there is always someone ready to take that spot.
“For four days, we bond, socialize and eat together every night,” he said. “We know exactly what the menu is for the week and we all bring side dishes that we share. One big happy Gator family here.”
Other than a love for football, the one common bond for the 150 “four-day-homes” for these fans that make up RV City is the vehicle they brought to the lot adjacent to EverBank Field.
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Today’s Video #2 and the story below come courtesy of WALA-TV, Mobile, Ala.
Nearly 200 campers pack RV City in Mobile, Ala. It’s a Mardi Gras tradition that draws in new people each year.
RV City in Mobile is as much a part of Mardi Gras as the beads.
But what is it that keeps people coming back year after year?
Nestled under the Water Street overpass, in the shadow of the city skyline sits RV City.
Rows and rows of vehicles are packed in like sardines for the carnival season.
Rob Vereen has been coming for three-years.
Every Mardi Gras he drives over from Spanish Fort and sets up shop.
“It’s wild, it’s crazy, like a big party. Like Talladega for a month,” said Vereen.
Camping here isn’t cheap. Vereen said he paid about $500 for his spot. And seeing that the lot is nearly full, that is a lot of money. But most agree it is worth the price.
Darrin Oshea said this is the place to be during Mardi Gras.
“Right now everybody is sleeping. Everyone was up into 2:00 a.m. partying it was wild,” said Darrin Oshea. “There is a DJ too.”
Oshea is an RV City rookie so is Diane Neal.
She’s always wanted to experience Mardi Gras here and so she talked her husband into it.
Neal said it has been worth it.
And with Fat Tuesday still to go, the fun is far from over.
Close to 200 campers signed up to move in under the Water Street overpass during Mardi Gras.
A stream of Canadian-owned recreational vehicles heading south on Interstate 15 as Darcy Turgeon returned from a recent California RV vacation gives him hope for strong sales in the RV industry.
Turgeon, chairman of the Edmonton RV Exposition and Sale, said he couldn’t believe the number of motorhomes heading for a place in the sun. Baby Boomers are part of the group heading south. They have long been a commercial force in any market category they enter, and they’re expected to exert more influence on RV sales, The Edmonton Journal reported.
“Boomers want to enjoy the RV lifestyle,” said Turgeon, saying that he expects boomers will buy more motorhomes than travel trailers.
Several factors have come together to help sales in Canada’s fourth largest province, such as low interest rates, banks starting to loosen up on making loans and longer terms on loans, he said.
Dan Merkowsky, executive vice president of the RV Dealers Association of Alberta, expects prices will be attractive since there is more competition in the industry and dealers have sharpened their pencils.
On the eve of the 31st annual show, RV dealers are “pretty optimistic,” Turgeon said. “All indications point to a better year this year than last year.”
That continues the turnaround that began in 2010. Merkowsky said last year was better than 2009, when sales suffered due to the economic slump.
The RV show will be held at the Edmonton Expo Center (formerly known as the AgriCom) at Edmonton Northlands from Feb. 10 to Feb. 13. The show will fill all ground-level halls of the Expo Center.
“Edmonton and area consumers will be guaranteed a great selection of new RVs, with more than 400 RV units on display, including tent trailers, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, park models and motorhomes,” Merkowsky said.
“The show’s varied exhibitors will showcase many related RV services, products and tourism destinations,” he said. “The popular RV Lifestyle Theater will present speakers with topics ranging from solar panels and maintenance tips to travel destinations.”
There will be one change in the dealer displays, since Otto Mobiles shut down during 2010. That exhibit space has been taken by All Star RV.
Merkowsky said Otto Mobile’s product lines have been picked up by other dealers, with Trailblazer RV now selling Bigfoot trailers and truck campers, RV City selling Pleasure-Way Industries Ltd. camper vans and Grove RV handling Triple E motorhomes.
Bigfoot has resumed building RVs with a smaller product line after being closed for more than a year.
Roadmaster RV will have the largest display, with 29,000 square feet of exhibitor space, while Woody’s RV will pack the most units of any dealer at the show into its 24,800-square-foot space, Merkowsky said.
He expects there will be many new units for consumers to check out, including about 20 new products. There will be a variety of revamped floor plans and new colour schemes.
Both Turgeon and Merkowsky expect to see more lightweight travel trailers. Turgeon expects to see lots of lightweight units, but perhaps not as many big fifth-wheel trailers. These lighter trailers mean campers don’t have to buy a large tow vehicle.
Show visitors will have the opportunity to participate in several contests in which they could win a $2,000 shopping spree at Safeway, a one-week stay at Alberta Beach Golf Resort and RV Park or $50,000 toward the purchase of any RV on display at the show.
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RV City, an RV dealership based in Morinville, Alberta, and Jayco Inc. recently teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Northern Alberta branch, to make a young girl’s dream come true.
RV City, assisted by Jayco Inc,. donated a 2010 Jay Flight trailer to Make-A-wish, a charitable organization that grants wishes to children with life threatening illnesses, allowing a child with a brain tumour to fulfil her wish of trading in hospital treatments and appointments for a summer of fishing, swimming and roasting marshmallows over an open campfire, the Morinville News reported.
Julia, whose last name was not released by the organization, arrived with her family at RV City to find the trailer decorated with balloons and a sign bearing her name.
RV City owner Ross Hodgins said he was proud to be a part of what he felt was an amazing day. “We are honored to participate in making Julia’s wish come true,” he said. “We are thankful for the support of Jayco Inc., a family-owned, family-focused company who were instrumental in making Julia’s wish a reality.”
In addition to donating the trailer, RV City gathered together many of the essentials for the family’s camping trip, including a set of dishes, camping chairs and other camping supplies.
Make-A-Wish Northern Alberta is one of nine wish granting chapters across Canada with trained volunteers dedicated fulfilling the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. To date, the organization has granted more than 4,000 wishes to Canadian children.