Buzz: Alligators, Bicycles, Dog Sledding, Ice Cream and More

See More of You Later, Alligators
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm & Zoological Park plans to add 10 acres to expand the popular attraction. The City Commission voted unanimously to rezone the property. A public hearing and second reading of the ordinance was held Jan. 28. One of the installations in the new area will be a kids’ zip line. The current zip line carries visitors over toothy alligators. Zipliners older than 10 must be of a certain height — anyone shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches tall is considered a “snack” by an alligator. Alligator Farm officials said they’d also improve parking and build a 50-foot native vegetative buffer abutting residential land.

Got a spare bicycle, a helmet or lock cluttering up the garage? St. Johns County Fire Rescue and Gears for Years are trying to collect 100 bikes to give to local children. Bicycles of all sizes are accepted and don’t have to be in working order to be donated. Donations are accepted all day and evening hours at county fire rescue stations. In May, Gears for Years’ bicycle assembly workshop will open. Kids will be paired with bikes and volunteers who’ll teach them how to assemble, maintain and safely use their bikes. Those interested in volunteering time and skill to Gears for Years can go to or call (407) 205-9407.

Mush, Mush, Mush
A Mayo Clinic oncologist who’s dreamed of racing a dog sled in the Arctic since age 10 will get his wish after winning a contest by the cold-weather gear-maker Fjallaven. Lee Daugherty, 37, of Jax Beach, will race a team of Huskies across Artic tundra between Norway and Swedish Lapland April 9-13, The Florida Times-Union reported. “It was genuinely a goal I had since I was a kid, but I never realized that moving here I would ever have an opportunity to race dogs.”

Who’s Selling Kids Ice Cream — or Cutting Their Hair?
City Councilmember Don Redman has introduced legislation requiring background checks on ice-cream truck operators to keep children safe. The bill would bar registered sex offenders, predators and people the state considers habitual traffic offenders. Councilmember John Crescimbeni quipped to a reporter that barbers also come into contact with children, so maybe barbers should have background checks. Redman is a barber.

No Longer Homeless
When the annual count of Northeast Florida’s homeless began last week, Michael Cochran remembered what it was like to sleep on the streets, in sheds and under trees. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Cochran was homeless himself. Cochran, 60, is special projects manager for Ability Housing of Northeast Florida, a nonprofit that provides affordable rental housing to those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless and adults with disabilities. Last year’s count estimated there were 4,500 homeless in Jacksonville. This year’s count was taken Jan. 25.

Ferry Still There
The folks who run the St. Johns River Ferry want you to know it’s still going strong. Last summer, thousands signed petitions and bought T-shirts reading, “Keep the Ferry.” Their efforts kept the ferry afloat, but that outpouring of support hasn’t translated into ridership. After fares were raised on Oct. 1, ridership dropped by 8.5 percent for October through December, when compared with the same three months in 2011, The Florida Times-Union reported. The St. Johns River Ferry Commission is looking for ways to recapture riders. HMS Global Maritime, the company managing ferry operations, gets about 20 calls a day asking if the ferry is still running.