Fun4FirstCoastKids’ Picnic in Hemming Park

By Terri Mashour, Fun4FirstCoastKids

Photo by Terri Mashour

You never know what will happen at the Fun4FirstCoastKids “Picnic in Hemming Park!”

Once, a city council candidate bought ice pops for everyone while kids climbed and jumped their way through the Jumping Jax Gym obstacle course.

One picnic hosted the grand opening of Imagination Playground at the park. The next month, Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve had sea-turtle storytime, science experiments and estuary artifacts. And it’s all for kids in Downtown’s center: Hemming Park!

Picnic in Hemming Park is a free event 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. every third Wednesday. Fun4FirstCoastKids provides an activity for children age 5 and under and, afterward, families enjoy lunch in the park.

Kids meet other kids, play with life-size chess and checkers pieces, create with the new Imagination Playground blocks and ride the free Skyway.

Photo by Keith Marks

It’s not only a play date for kids and moms – it’s a way to facilitate exploration of Hemming Park. It exposes kids to Downtown and helps build attendance for other Downtown family activities. It’s also a great way for family-friendly businesses to promote their programs to kids!

Fun4FirstCoastKids’ team, myself and my sister Susie, had the idea for the program when the park contacted us to help promote another family event.

Our grandparents lived in San Marco and utilized Downtown often for banking and shopping. They rode the bus to and from Hemming Park for everything because it’s the heart of Downtown. Knowing the history of the park and wanting to be part of the movement to help revitalize Downtown, it hit us to come up with a regular kids program in Hemming Park.

If kids are able to enjoy the park, then anyone in Jacksonville can visit and enjoy, too! Also, there are always activities for children Downtown, many of which border the park. These include free Jacksonville Public Library programs, Sweet Pete’s Candy exploration and activities, MOCA Jacksonville’s kids area, and as mentioned earlier, the free Skyway.

Photo by Keith Marks

While “Picnic in Hemming Park” typically draws children not yet in school, this summer we aim to host fun for older kids, too, as they get out of school. Programs will feature playing on Imagination Station, bubbles and hula hoops, and storytimes.

Moreover, the summer programs for “Picnic in Hemming Park” will culminate with a huge back-to-school celebration at First Wednesday Art Walk Aug. 5 from 5 – 9 p.m. The “Back to School SmARTs” Art Walk will feature after-school programs and extracurricular activities.

For more information on the monthly picnics or to promote your family friendly business at a future picnic, visit or email See you and your little ones in the park soon!