Cypress Gardens: America’s Tropical Wonderland

Presented By Lu Vickers

When Dick Pope transformed the swampland on the edge of Lake Eloise in Winter Haven into Cypress Gardens, he created an attraction that would become world famous, and in the process, cemented Florida’s reputation as the land of sun and fun.  He achieved these feats with the unlikely combination of flowers, water skiers and Southern Belles. Lu Vickers’ talk on Cypress Gardens will feature a slide show of vintage photographs from the Garden’s archives that will take the audience on a journey through Cypress Garden’s history from the 1930s to 2009 when it was sold to Legoland. Vickers will discuss the creation of the world famous waterski show, the Gardens, and the iconic Southern Belles, and will explain how Dick Pope, Cypress Garden’s flamboyant owner, became known as the “Man who Invented Florida.”

Lu Vickers is the author of one novel and several books on Florida history, including Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids, and Cypress Gardens: America’s Tropical Wonderland.  She has also received three Individual Artists Grants from Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs for fiction.  In 2014, as she was in the final stages of editing her latest book, Remembering Paradise Park: Tourism and Segregation at Silver Springs, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for excerpts from a novel in progress.

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Lu Vickers

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