The lighting is scheduled for 6:25 p.m. on Dec. 4, a Wednesday, when it will coincide with Art Walk events, spokeswoman Nikki Kimbleton said.
The same tree – artificial, 56 feet tall with 78,000 lights – was a centerpiece of holiday events at the Landing, whose shops closed at the end of May. The riverfront mall is being town down now, with crews gutting restaurant space close to the courtyard where the tree stood during winter holidays beginning in the 1980s.
With the tree moving to the park in front of City Hall, revitalization nonprofit Downtown Vision Inc. is planning attractions that could complement the holiday display, including performances by local entertainers such as the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus and the Pine Forest Dance Ensemble, said Katherine Hardwick, Downtown Vision’s marketing vice president.
The tree display will build on changes the city and downtown enthusiasts began several years ago to make Hemming Park more appealing to visitors. The brick-laden park has been part of Jacksonville since the 19th century, and backers have argued it can serve a larger constituency as downtown’s population increases. Once shunned as a campground for homeless people, the park routinely features food trucks and musicians that encourage foot traffic.
More plans for the tree lighting are still being finalized, and should be announced next month, Kimbleton said.