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What Gainesville has planned for annual lighting of the chicken
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Fireworks light up the sky during the lighting of the chicken Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, at the annual Jingle Mingle in downtown Gainesville. - photo by Lindsay Howard

Downtown Gainesville has found a way to safely keep the annual lighting of the chicken alive this season. 

Instead of asking crowds to gather in the square, people can watch the ceremony online at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20. The video will be streamed live on Downtown Gainesville’s Facebook page.

The tradition usually takes place at Jingle Mingle, kicking off the beginning of the holiday season. But with its recent cancellation because of the pandemic, the city looked for another option to celebrate the lighting of Gainesville’s favorite chicken, which perches atop Main Street Market on the square.

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Virtual Lighting of the Chicken

What: Online video of chicken lighting with a behind the scenes look at Gainesville’s favorite holiday bird

When: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20

Where: Live via Downtown Gainesville’s Facebook page

Nicole Ricketts, Main Street Manager, said the video will be pre-recorded and offer more than a quick flick of the lights. 

“We thought, let’s do something most people don’t get to see during the lighting of the chicken ceremony,” she said. “They’ll get a behind the scenes tour on the rooftop.”

Ricketts said the video will also offer historical information about the 1,100-pound chicken, including how the tradition started and why the original was replaced in 2017.

Starting on Friday, the chicken will light up the square every night this holiday season. 

Although chicken lighting festivities won’t be happening downtown on Friday, Ricketts said people are encouraged to come out to the Thanksgiving Gainesville Farmers Market, taking place from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the square.

“The chicken will start being lit up, but there won’t be anything going on in the physical area,” she said. “That night is the Thanksgiving Farmers Market, if you want to support local farmers.”