Florida is home to many unique, quirky, and interesting things. From beaches, to top attractions, interesting laws to crazy natural phenomena, join us as we answer questions and dive into many of the weird, wonderful, and wacky facts about the Sunshine State.

Monument of States

Photo Credit – Wikipedia Commons

Did you know?

The self-proclaimed “World’s Most Unusual Monument” is located in Kissimmee, Florida.

Planning for the Monument of States began in 1941 by Dr. Charles Bressler-Pettis who wanted to create an icon celebrating the unity of Americans throughout the United States of America after Pearl Harbor. After a year of collecting rocks, symbolic pieces, and décor from throughout the USA, the monument was dedicated by Governor Spessard Holland on March 28, 1943.

Over time, rocks were added to the structure and to this day, it contains twenty-one tiers of stones and includes rocks from all fifty states and twenty-two countries. It weighs approximately 100,000 pounds and is reinforced with 3 ½ tons of steel rails. The structure contains a human skull and a piece from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s estate in Hyde Park, New York.

Today, the monument is designated as a National Landmark. You can visit the site for free at 300 E. Monument Ave, Kissimmee, FL, 34741.

 

Spring Training in Florida

Spring Training in Florida. Credit – St. Petersburg Museum of History via floridagrapefruitleague.com

Did You Know?

During February and March, Florida hosts spring training for half of the Major League Baseball teams.

Visitors can enjoy seeing their favorite players at a fraction of the cost as they warm-up their skills on the field. This classic American game has used Florida as a destination to practice during the cold winter months since as early as 1888.

The “Florida Grapefruit League” as it is called today consists of the 15 teams which travel to Florida to practice for the upcoming season in the warm climate. Since 2000, over 31 million fans have enjoyed the Spring Training Baseball events in Florida.

The Grapefruit League includes:

  • Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista)
  • Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota)
  • Boston Red Sox (Lee County)
  • Detroit Tigers (Lakeland)
  • Houston Astros (West Palm Beach)
  • Miami Marlins (Jupiter)
  • Minnesota Twins (Fort Myers)
  • New York Mets (Port St. Lucie)
  • New York Yankees (Tampa)
  • Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (Jupiter)
  • Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte)
  • Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin)
  • Washington Nationals (West Palm Beach)

Welcome to Florida Sign

Welcome to Florida! Photo courtesy of Ken Lund, Flikr

Did You Know?

The nation’s first tourist welcome center was built in Florida.

As access to personal automobiles and the creation of interstate highways rose, more visitors began traveling to Florida. Visitors as far away as Michigan could travel the Dixie Highway into Florida. In 1949 just south of the Florida-Georgia line in Yulee, Florida, the first “hospitality house” was opened. This provided an opportunity for local Floridians to welcome and educate travelers about Florida. Stocked with brochures, maps, magazines, and friendly, knowledgeable staff, the centers were able to advise travelers on great Florida attractions and destinations. To this day, travelers are greeted with fresh, Florida Orange Juice on their way into Florida, and a last drink of cool water on the way out of Florida. The information centers have become a haven for weary travelers with clean restroom facilities and welcoming Florida hospitality.

 

Gasparilla Ship 1922

Gasparilla Festival, 1922 in Tampa Bay – Wikipeida.org

Did You Know?

Pirates storm Tampa Bay every year on the last Saturday January.

The “Gasparilla” event celebrates the famous pirate, José Gaspar, who pillaged and plundered the west coast of Florida in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1821, Gaspar and his pirate “krewe” attempted to seize one final ship in the Tampa Bay Harbor, which turned out to be an undercover Navy Warship. The battle was victorious for the United States Navy and the crew’s pillaging days came to an end.

In 1904, city officials planned a theatrical “invasion” of Tampa on horseback to honor the victory over the Pirates. Today, the Gasparilla Krewe sails the world’s only fully rigged pirate ship into the Tampa Bay Harbor and “attacks” the city. Pirates take over the city when the mayor ceremoniously hands the keys over to the Krewe and the city celebrates the capture with a full pirate festival.

The festival hosts the third-largest parade in the United States. The event is completely free to attend, and there are vendors, live music, costumes, and fun for all ages.

 

What do you think of this interesting information about Florida? If there are any topics you’d like to see us cover, any questions you want answered let us know in the comments below!

 

References:
“National Register Information System.” National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/15000862.pdf
“Monument of States.” RoadsideAmerica.com. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/6158
“History.” Floridagrapefruitleague.com/home/history. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
“Spring Training.” playinflorida.com/spring-training/. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
St. Petersburg Museum of History. Florida Grapefruit League. www.Floridagrapefruitleague.com/home/history
https://www.flasports.com/spring-training/
http://www.floridagrapefruitleague.com
“Welcome to Florida!”. Florida Memory Blog. State Library and Archives of Florida. July 28, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
Carlson, Charlie. 2005. Weird Florida Your Travel Guide to Florida’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. North Salem, New York: Barbara J. Morgan.
Silverstein, Andrew. “Gasparilla History | What is Gasparilla & Why Do We Celebrate.” My Area Network 813 Area. January 3, 2012. https://www.813area.com/travel/gasparilla-history-why-we-celebrate.html
“Gasparilla Pirate Festival.” Wikipedia.org. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Gaspar
https://www.813area.com/travel/gasparilla-history-why-we-celebrate.html