Viva Florida 500 GreaterJax™ is a series of occasional pieces about Florida history and this year’s celebrations of 500 years of same in and around northeast Florida.
One of the many reasons that northeast Florida offers so much that is unique is that it’s been inhabited by so many different people for so long.
When Florida seceded from the Union before the Civili War, the Confederate flag became the seventh.
When the Confederacy ceded Florida back to the Union, the United States Flag became – and still is – the eighth.
Though these tribes practiced similar cultures, they weren’t the same, any more than their very similar encounters with Europeans were.
Overlaying the folk ways of indigenous cultures are the social structures imposed by Roman Catholicism and the Spanish and the French.
Often at odds, distinct elements of each survive, lending a quality to life in northeast Florida that’s called “exotic” and sometimes “foreign” in other parts of the country.
The coasts of Florida fed trade routes on the Spanish Main for the French, British and Dutch as well.
After the Huguenots landed near Jacksonville in the sixteenth century, French fur traders sailed down the Mississippi to the Gulf and across.
Cajun culture traveled east from Louisiana along the Gulf Coast inland.
British occupation and martial law during the American Revolution and the Civil War established western European folk ways as mainstream culture in northeast Florida.
Cracker culture migrated down the Appalachian Trail through Georgia.
This diversity of language and philosophy creates a sensibility that celebrates the eclectic, the odd, and the just plain tacky:
- Johnny Bremer’s Dancing Waters Restaurant – Fountains and colored lights “danced to Wurlitzer organ music.
- St. Augustine Fountain of Youth – What Ponce de León actually finds is one of about a bajillion sulfur springs.
- Bok Tower – Must be seen to be believed.
- Weeki-Wachi – Mermaids. Live ones.
- Silver Springs – Monkeys from the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan movies and glass-bottom boats the better to see the gigantic catfish at the bottom of the springs.
You don’t have travel as far away as near-south Florida to experience the exotic.
Finding the unique and unusual is more about how you look at things.
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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years, most recently in Texas, is a successful grant writer, knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design and wants to work in the public sector. Contact: email@example.com