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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 18, 200112:00 PM EST

Downtown Live faltering

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Weather, circumstances sends attendance plummeting
by: Glenn Tschimpke

After three weeks of Thursday evening concerts in Hemming Plaza, Downtown Live is clinging to life support. Formerly known as Friday Fest, Downtown Vision, Inc. moved the outdoor party to Thursday, improved the live entertainment and offered a wider selection of beverages with the hope of drawing bigger crowds. So far the droves of people expected have been driving home.

“We’ve averaged about 100 people,” said DVI executive director Terry Lorrince. “At Friday Fest we averaged anywhere between 500 to 800. I think it’s a combination of the weather, the change of date and the rain.”

Downtown Live’s scant attendance hasn’t been for lack of product. Over the last three weeks, it has faced some stiff competition, bad timing and bad luck. Lorrince had the Bethune Cookman band lined up for Downtown Live’s premier on Aug. 30. The Jaguars played their final preseason game that night against the Dallas Cowboys, dark clouds loomed all day and the long Labor Day weekend awaited.

Attendance was poor.

Slim Goody played Sept. 6, but it wasn’t enough to draw locals out in the rain.

Last week, the last thing on any American’s mind was a party as workers excavated body after body out of the rubble in New York City, Washington D.C. and rural Pennsylvania. America wept. In Jacksonville it rained.

“We were considering canceling it,” said Lorrince. “The decision was made to continue.”

Downtown Live was moved inside to Snyder Memorial Church. The River City Band played, flags flew and the mood was patriotic. Sixty people showed up.

Still, Lorrince is optimistic for Downtown Live’s future. As fall approaches and with it cooler weather, she hopes the crowds will increase.

“I think it will take a couple weeks of good weather. So far luck hasn’t been on our side,” she said.

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