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Remembering Paradise Park

Event Date:

February 27 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


West Osceola Branch Library
305 Campus Street
Kissimmee, FL 34747


Candice Casey
(407) 742-8806

Program Description:

In 1949, during the days of Jim Crow, when African Americans did not have access to many of the nation’s recreation areas, Silver Springs’ owners Carl Ray and Shorty Davidson did something no other Florida attraction did: they opened a parallel attraction for African Americans downriver from the headspring, calling it “Paradise Park for Colored People.”   They did so at the urging of their African American glass bottom boat captains who wanted their families and friends to have access to one of Florida’s most famous natural resources: Silver Springs.  Ray and Davidson put Eddie Vereen, a former Silver Springs’ boat captain, in complete control of Paradise Park and he made it into one of the most popular places for African Americans to visit from 1949 to 1969 when it closed. Presented by Lu Vickers, this program will use vintage photographs to cover the history of segregation in recreation areas across the country and then delve more deeply into the history of African Americans at Silver Springs from its earliest days to the heyday of Paradise Park, using vintage photographs, video and brochures.