After years-long closure, revamped Friendship Fountain reopening Thursday night

After repairs and delays forced it to remain closed for roughly three years, the new and improved Friendship Fountain is set to officially reopen Thursday night. The city of Jacksonville announced the unveiling will take place during the city’s “Sip and Stroll” event on the Southbank.

If you’re one of the many people who have recently taken a walk or jog around Friendship Fountain, you probably noticed the area around it looks different than before it closed.

Many would agree the sight is beautiful. Mario Harper takes a stroll in the area every chance he gets.

“Oh man, it’s nice,” Harper said. “I can’t wait to bring the kids out here at nighttime and just look at it.”

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News4JAX got an early nighttime look when one of our photojournalists shot video during some of the final testing in early February. The vibrant colors and lights are reminiscent of a show in Las Vegas.

Lori Boyer, the executive director of Downtown Investment Authority, will be at Friendship Fountain on Thursday night for the official unveiling.

“I think it puts back into service an attraction in Downtown that everyone always enjoyed,” Boyer said.

Boyer said before these renovations, if there was even a minor mishap with the fountain’s functionality, it had to be turned off. She said that won’t be the case now because the mechanics are stronger, more resilient, and backups are in place.

“We also added some redundancy, so that there will always be functioning parts of it even if one part of the system is down,” Boyer explained. “It also has greater functionality and greater show potential, so I think it will be a real attraction that people can count on whenever they bring visitors or family or anyone to downtown.”

Boyer said another phase of the fountain is forthcoming that will really add to the show and entertainment factor.

“The additional fountain phase will include the projection of video content on the water, so the water serves as a screen,” Boyer said. “Looking forward, that will probably be within a year.”

The area around the fountain looks completely different. The pavement leading up to and encircling the fountain has a new pattern. New landscaping has been added and circular seating has been placed around the fountain’s perimeter.

Harper said seeing this come to fruition is just another reason to look forward to the future.

“It’s a nice view,” Harper said. “I hate that they took The Landing away, but they’re building bigger and better things though.”

The city’s “Sip and Stroll” event kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday. City leaders, including Mayor Donna Deegan, City Council members, and the Downtown Investment Authority, will be there to mark Friendship Fountain’s unveiling.

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