Saturday, July 2, 2011

July Fourth during Pioneer Days

Independence Day in Central Florida historically has been celebrated with not only much patriotism but also team spirited recreation. Many Orlando residents would travel to the East Coast for for their celebrations. A preview of the historic newspapers for this holdiay provides the reader a journey of discovery into a local community at play.

More than a hundred years ago, an account of the area's fanfare can be found in the historic newspaper, Florida Star.
On July 10, 1890 the headlines read, " A Glorious Fourth; An Exciting Regatta which is very closely contested."

Although the regatta was by far the most popular event, other more unusual, but picturesque games were held. This newspaper account reflect the joviality of our community at play. Close your eyes after reading these ac count and you just might be able to hear the laughter and shouts of a bye-gone age.

One instance is a game called "Pigs in the Clover". This festive game which required contestants to coral three live pigs from one circular fence to another circular fence inside in the first one .Also, a rifle shoot was held at the old ice factory in Melbourne where Winchester rifles were used.The paper lists the entries with the well recognized pioneer surnames of L Chandler,S.L.Jeffords,W.Spies, J.M.Fields, and others.

In these days no holiday would be complete without a community baseball game. The story continues that a baseball game between two teams with names of "Fats and the Leans." The Fats were arrayed in Mother Hubbards (A woman's loose, unbelted dress.) and wide brimmed hats. They attributed their defeat not to the dresses but to their lack of practice in playing.

Back to the main event - the sailing regatta. There was a complete account of the seven sailing vessels involved and a poke at the weather clerk at the Indian River Hotel for not being more generous in his weather reports. No capsizes for that year though, unlike the previous year.

The paper reports, "In the second class the Rosie H, was of course the favorite and with George and Frank Houston aboard she is a sure winner. The Windward did good work, and the Alta was well handled but evidently is not molded or rigged to sail with other boats on the river which come in her class. Shortly after two o clock the judges gave the signal for the start. The Alpha crossed the line followed by the Arrow, the Naide and the Spray. The course was perfect, the boats having to sail in six directions. The wind was very light from the southwest, and after the judge's stage was passed all interest centered int the race between the Alpha and the Naide. The start was a beautiful one and the seven boats laying to the south on the wind, formed a sight long to be remembered."

In the 20th century the Cocoa Tribune on July 6th, 1933 report that a good crowd visited the Canaveral Harbor area for the fourth. An account of some good fishing on this date."The Harbor Hotel, under the management of Mr. and Mrs. John Spies, had a full hotel from Saturday night until Tuesday night. The majority of the guests came from Orlando. There were several from Cocoa who spent the holiday at the hotel. Tarpon and jewfish were good at the harbor over the weekend which provided a lot of entertainment for the ladies and gentleman."

This July 4th, take time to join our community at play. No matter where you live in Florida, there is a July 4th celebration for you to participate in.