The most notable thing that happened at the Holiday Party thrown by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and the Jacksonville City Council, which included scenes inside the St. James Building and outside in Hemming Plaza, was the least scripted.
As Curry began his remarks before throwing the switch to light the tree, an excitable gentleman called out to the mayor from the crowd.
The memorable line from his comments?
“I just got out of jail five days ago!”
Reassuring, to be sure. The mayor and his family continued on as if nothing had happened. Curry finished his remarks and threw the switch.
The first family of Jacksonville were gracious hosts: The inner sanctum of the mayor’s office was open, and people walked through the executive branch quarters. Curry gave tours of his office, decorated in a sort of modernist/minimalist aesthetic with furniture with clean lines. And Molly Curry read to a few dozen children from “The Minions: Snow Day,” which had its surreal moments as well, as media members snapped picture after picture of her sitting at the base of the City Hall Christmas tree reading.
Good stuff. The real party, however, was in the City Council offices, where new art was installed on the walls, including abstract works from Rob Middleton. Food, folks, and fun, as the slogan goes. As a Yule log cracked on a projection screen in the large conference room, the long wooden table usually reserved for agendas and gavels was covered with slider sandwiches.
Jacksonville, despite its population and its geographic expanse, is very much a small town in many respects. Party labels and philosophical differences, however significant they might seem in committee meetings or on the council floor, are relatively meaningless compared with the camaraderie necessary to ensure that local government functions effectively.