Librarians Co-author Cypress Gardens History
LAKELAND, Fla. (Nov. 27, 2006) — Florida Southern College librarians Mary M. Flekke and Randall M. MacDonald, with Sarah E. MacDonald, have authored Cypress Gardens, a book of vintage images drawn from the Cypress Gardens archives and personal collections. Detailed captions accompany the images.
Florida's first theme park, Cypress Gardens, was the brainchild of Richard Downing "Dick" Pope Sr. With his wife, Julie Downing Pope, he transformed a marshy, lakeside property in Winter Haven into a magnificent garden. The park's first visitors in 1936 toured pathways surrounded by lush plants from around the world. Two years later, electric boats meandered through the park's winding, hand-dug canals. Water ski shows commenced in 1942, and the park became the "Water Ski Capital of the World." The Florida-shaped Esther Williams Swimming Pool still graces the shore of Lake Eloise.
The park was a set for dozens of short feature films, a stage for beauty pageants, and a site for special television broadcasts. A butterfly garden, zoo, rides, and the small-town Southern Crossroads shopping and dining area remain popular features. Kent Buescher purchased Cypress Gardens in 2004, and today's expanded Cypress Gardens Adventure Park preserves the family-friendly appeal of Dick and Julie Pope's magnificent park.
Flekke and Randall M. MacDonald are senior librarians at Florida Southern College, with a combined 44 years of service to the college. Sarah E. MacDonald is a student at Florida State University.
Cypress Gardens is available at area bookstores, independent retailers, on-line bookstores, online through Arcadia Publishing, or at 888.313.2665.
Cypress Gardens by Mary M. Flekke, Sarah E. MacDonald, and Randall M. MacDonald