Lights will sparkle and water jets will flow Feb. 15 as the newly renovated Friendship Fountain premieres the first phase of a two-year, $6 million renovation.
Downtown Jacksonville says the new light and water display at the 58-year-old fountain will kick on during the next Sip and Stroll, set for 5 to 8 p.m. that evening.
The fountain dates back to a 1965 design by architect Taylor Hardwick and once had huge futuristic mushroom canopy-shaded benches in a park that was originally 14 acres in size. The original fountain was also claimed to have the highest jets of water in Florida.
The park size was cut down when the River City Brewing Co. restaurant — now gone — was built there 30 years ago. Then in 2011, the fountain received a $3.1 million restoration with new pumps and pipes so it shot water 200 feet into the air, with heavily updated lighting and sound systems.
The latest renovation was set to start in 2020 but was delayed a year. What will be unveiled Feb. 15 includes a new fountain wall design with walkway, plus shaded seating on its east side and a children’s park along the Main Street Bridge side, parks officials say.
The next phase of Friendship Fountain’s park — a “whimsical garden” — is now set to open to the public by summer, city recreation officials said. Then a wedding garden and playground are the last part of the project,
Sip and Stroll includes live music, food vendors, bars and a picnic area along the Southbank Riverwalk.