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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Location: Online

7 p.m.- 8:30 p.m.

Members: Free

Nonmembers: Free

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This meeting of the Appleton Book Club will discuss “Remembering Paradise Park: Tourism and Segregation at Silver Springs” by Lu Vickers and Cynthia Wilson-Graham.

Led by Museum Educator Hollis Mutch, the book club is open to everyone. Buy or borrow the book and read at your own pace. Register for the Appleton Book Club meeting here on Eventbrite. Login details for the Zoom session will be sent in your confirmation email.

About this book:

Paradise Park was the “colored only” counterpart to Silver Springs, a central Florida tourist attraction famous for its crystal-clear water and glass bottom boats. Together the two parks comprised one of the biggest recreational facilities in the country before Disney World. From 1949 to 1969, boats passed each other on the Silver River–blacks on one side, whites on the other. Though the patrons of both parks shared the same river, they seldom crossed the invisible line in the water.

Full of vivid photographs, vintage advertisements, and interviews with employees and patrons, Remembering Paradise Park portrays a place of delight and leisure during the painful era of Jim Crow. Racial violence was at its height in Florida–the famous Groveland rape case happened right as Paradise Park opened–and many African Americans saw the park as a safe place for families. It was a popular vacation spot for the area’s black community, one of the most cohesive and prosperous in the South.

Tracing the color line through Florida’s most famous spring, this book compares the park to other tourist destinations set aside for African Americans in the state and across the country. Though Silver Springs was Florida’s only attraction to operate a parallel facility for African Americans, Paradise Park has been just a whisper in the story of Florida tourism until now.

Lu Vickers is the author of Cypress Gardens, America’s Tropical Wonderland: How Dick Pope Invented Florida and the novel Breathing Underwater. She is coauthor of Weeki Wachee Mermaids: Thirty Years of Underwater Photography. Cynthia Wilson-Graham is an educator and lecturer, whose advocacy was instrumental to the installation of a historical marker by the Bureau of Historic Preservation at the former entrance to Paradise Park.


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