Jacksonville is our city of pride, growth and potential. As residents, we need to appreciate the crown jewel at its epicenter. It’s one of the few outdoor spaces that can host an event for the few or for the many. It’s an ideal spot for live music. It has a relaxing atmosphere. There are food vendors a-plenty and an outdoor café from which to enjoy the sights and sounds of our city. The place is Hemming Park.
Yes, the park in the middle of Downtown is rich in cultural history. Presidents have spoken here, and popular musicians have performed here. Cultural festivals are held here regularly. Hemming Park offers a staging area for a variety of entertaining events for young and old, from concerts to kids’ book readings.
Day-to-day operations are overseen by the nonprofit organization Friends of Hemming Park. It needs us to come together and enjoy what our park offers. If you’re wondering why I say “our park,” it’s because, quite frankly, it is our park. The park gives various cultural groups a place to come together and enjoy a wonderful day filled with events, allowing us an opportunity to learn more about each other while we gather as one community.
The Friends of Hemming Park folks are dedicated to making sure people have a wonderful experience regardless of who they are and what they do. They believe in helping others. They are knowledgeable and in tune with the heartbeat of the city. Their vision is to make the park a vital Downtown Jacksonville hub, a beautiful, welcoming place for residents and visitors. They want the park to be so cool that people want to come Downtown for a day of fun.
I know some of the crew members. Randy, Ebony and their team keep the park clean and safe. Those who avoid Downtown because of various safety concerns, fear not. Central Security Agency patrols the grounds. One of the officers, Mr. Grater, assured me that he and his coworkers strive to make everyone feel safe and secure while attending any function at the park. He encourages people to learn about the park’s history and, like everyone else at Hemming, hopes events will grow in number and size, and the park will thrive. This will take time, and the community must lend a hand.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s our park and we all must nurture it so it can reach its potential. The official resources given by the City of Jacksonville are not nearly enough to reach the goals the staff envisions. Hemming Park needs grassroots support: event volunteers, sponsors for musicians and performers, and—above all—visitors to be there, joining us in enjoying the park itself. Let’s come together and make it a wonderful place for all.