Cypress Gardens: America’s Tropical Wonderland

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 water ski 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.” A book signing will follow her presentation.

This program is a part of the Florida Humanities Council speaker series “Weird, Wild, Wonderful Florida.”

Lu Vickers is the author of “Cypress Gardens, America’s Tropical Wonderland: How Dick Pope Invented Florida” and the novel “Breathing Underwater,” winner of the 2010 Bronze Florida Book Award for Florida Non-Fiction. She is coauthor of “Weeki Wachi Mermaids: Thirty Years of Underwater Photography,” winner of the 2012 Gold Florida Book Award for Visual Arts.