SJC Parks and Recreation Holds Kickoff Event for “Enjoy, Don’t Destroy” Anti-Vandalism Campaign

On Friday, April 5, the St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Department celebrated the launch of its “Enjoy, Don’t Destroy” anti-vandalism campaign with a kickoff event at Julington Creek Plantation Park.

Vandalism has cost the County over $70,000 in expenses since fiscal year 2023. Enjoy, Don’t Destroy will encourage park visitors to take pride in where they play and help Parks and Recreation staff focus on bringing them improvements and new amenities, rather than cleaning up after needless damage.

Parks and Recreation Director Ryan Kane spoke of the impacts of vandalism on the wider St. Johns County community.

“So many people love their little piece of paradise,” Kane said. “Vandalism is not a victimless crime; it affects everyone and their park experiences.”

St. Johns County Sheriff Robert A. Hardwick emphasized the commitment of the Sheriff’s Office to tackling vandalism.

“The partnership we have with St. Johns County Parks and Recreation is very important, and thank you for allowing us to part of this great campaign” Hardwick said. “Parents, it’s important that we watch our children and keep them accountable.”

Sheriff Hardwick also noted that vandalism is categorized as criminal mischief, and it is considered a third-degree felony if it causes a least $1,000 in damage.

District 1 Commissioner Christian Whitehurst reaffirmed the commitment of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to investing in the County’s park system.

“These are not our parks—these are your parks,” Whitehurst said. “Your parks are special places people gather to improve their quality of life. Your parks provide a platform to create memories with family and friends. Your parks enhance the value of your community and the County. Let’s all rally together as one community to protect and preserve your parks.”

As part of the BOCC’s investment in St. Johns County parks, Whitehurst reminded those assembled of the recent $123 million investment in five new regional parks and community centers to be built around St. Johns County.

Enjoy, Don’t Destroy will include videos filmed at various County parks, featuring residents who cherish them and want to see them preserved for others to enjoy. They will encourage parkgoers of all ages to cherish these places themselves, and how to take action when they’re defaced: Use our new SJC Connect app to report vandalism, and use the non-emergency number for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (904-824-8304) to report people caught in the act of vandalism.