"Pyramid" traditional show-closer was first performed in 1947, but with only three water-skiers! Photo; Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens: The Most Beautiful Day Around
Located in central Florida on 200 acres with
sparkling lakes and ancient cypress trees, Cypress Gardens
showcases more than 8,000 varieties of plants and flowers from more
than 90 countries. Founders Dick and Julie Pope carved the park's
original 16 acres of subtropical and tropical flora out of a
The gardens gained renown as the water ski capital of
the world, following a newspaper photo in 1943 that featured water
skiers being pulled by a boat in Cypress Gardens. Several soldiers
showed up the next day to see the water show. Although the park did
not have a show, Julie Pope rounded up her children and friends to
stage the park's first water ski show. The following weekend, 800
soldiers came to see the "new" water show.
Dick Pope had hatched his plan to create Cypress Park
during the Depression by using funds from a division of the Works
Progress Administration and the canal commission for the Florida
Lake region. Local opposition eventually caused the original
funding to be canceled and paid back, and deed the property to the
Florida Cypress Gardens Association. Working side by side with
laborers, Pope began constructing his dream garden in a marsh. The
press called him "Maharaja of the Muck" and "Swami of the Swamp."
Pope persevered and the park opened in 1936.
Its romantic gazebo, shimmering bougainvillea
curtain, and lovely Southern belles graced countless magazine
covers, newspapers, and newsreels worldwide, quickly becoming
Cypress Gardens symbols. Over the years, the park has been a
setting for several movies, which included
Moon Over Miami, Easy to Love and Cinerama. Stars
Arthur Godfrey, Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, and Jim Stafford have
also broadcast from the park. During the 1970s and 1980s, the park
expanded and added more themed areas to compete with new theme
parks in central Florida. After being sold several times to large
corporations, the park was acquired by local owners in 1995.
Documentation includes a press kit, newspaper
clippings, 18 slides, promotional material, 12 historic photos, two
videos, and promotional literature.
Originally submitted by: Charles T. Canady, Representative (12th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.