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Mike Kraus

Florida Ski Show & Dick Pope

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Little blurb in todays issue of Fair News (WFCS) on the richard Pope produced shows at the 39 & 64 Fairs. Pope was the founder of Cypress Gardens. CG is closing forever this month, due to poor attendance.

Residential & commercial going in. Gee, what a surprise!!

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richard Pope is something of a legend in Florida, having founded Cypress Gardens in the 30's. Back in the 70's when I lived in Florida, the state legislative awarded him some kind of recognition as 'showman of the twentieth century'- which is saying something since Ringling Brothers makes Florida their home too.

Here's a couple of Dexter postcards of the NYWF water ski show, I think from 1965.

That's Barbara Clack, 5-time national water ski champion, carrying Florida oranges as she skis by the camera.

98073-B_Barbara_Clack,_Five_Time_U.S._National_Champion.jpg98074-B_Florida_Citrus_Water_Ski_Show.jpg

Although Tommy Bartlett produced the water ski show at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, not richard Pope, Tommy signed up many of the key Cypress Gardens performers to go to Seattle for the '62 season. What was unusual was that they built an above-ground tank on top of the running track around a high school football field, and used the football stadium (right next door to the World's Fair park) to stage a water ski spectacular. A sports official in the Puget Sound area told me that that stadium used to be great- they staged the high school state championships in both football and track & field there, but after the World's Fair the infield was supposed to be restored, but it was a mess and never drained right afterwards, and they moved the state Finals elsewhere after '62.

C13107_Water_Skiing_in_Memorial_Stadium.jpg

And to finish off this note, here's a 3-D postcard from the '64-65 Fair. I don't have this postcard, but I think Bill does. 3-D was pretty innovative in 1964- this technology I think was similar to the lenticular rings, but served to simulate depth in the picture instead of just 'switching pictures' when you tilted the card. This card has little prisms in it that reflect the light back at odd angles, to achieve the 3-D effect. NOT the same technology as the Japanese came out with around 1970.

3-D_Postcard.jpg

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Mike,

I just saw a news report on Cypress Gardens and while it is closing, the State of Florida is actually examining the possibility of purchasing and operating it. In an age of huge state deficits, it is interesting to hear of this possibility. The place may have a future but I suspect it is far from certain. If I correctly recall, along with the water and skiing shows, Cypress Gardens introduced the glass bottom boats for tourists to view underwater coral and aquatic life.

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I think the glass bottom boats came from Silver Springs in Weekee Wachee (or some such spelling). They're still around, at least for now.

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Glass bottom boats were introduced in 1928 by Paul Rogers at the Spring Lake Hotel, Spring Lake, Texas.

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It's a national treasure, I hope it can be saved!

Few of you have seen "This Is Cinerama" (1952), but most of the second half of the movie was shot at Cypress Gardens. Wildly entertaining, just drips with 50's atmosphere.

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From WESH2000.com:

"State officials began a process Wednesday that could save Cypress Gardens.

The 67-year-old theme park, Florida's oldest attraction, closed Sunday because of declining attendance, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported.

Gov. Jeb Mickey Mouse's office received thousands of e-mails asking that the park be saved, and the state is now attempting to do just that.

A representative from the Department of Environmental Protection met with the park's chief executive officer and said the state will move quickly to determine if the park can be preserved as a landmark.

The money could come from a conservation fund called Florida Forever."

My mother and Father went to Cypress Gardens on their honeymoon. I remember as a child looking at the brochures my mother had saved of the trip. It certainly seamed to me to be a beautiful and exotic place. I hope that it is saved.

[This message has been edited by Rose (edited 05-01-2003).]

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