Florida’s small towns and its residents have their share of local history and culture. Florida is known for its rich history, the industries that helped grow this state, from citrus, to railroads and more. The growth of Florida and Lake Placid throughout the generations have influenced the local artists to create picturesque murals, which have garnered national exposure for the preservation of history through visual art.
Small town living is alive throughout various central Florida towns, but Lake Placid, with its population of just over one thousand people, have delighted and awed viewers by trapping a moment in time.
Lake Placid is centrally located in Highlands County, 100 miles south of Orlando (on U.S. 27). Surrounding towns, known as the “triangle,” include Winter Haven, Lake Alfred, Lake Wales, Avon Park, and Arcadia.
Lake Placid stands out amongst the surrounding areas, for the forty award-winning murals, done by the Lake Placid Mural Society, make the town unique. Florida is home to many fine artists and in Lake Placid, they have painstakingly added a touch of class to an otherwise forgotten history in the technological and modern world.
The local residents and senior citizens born and raised in Lake Placid know of their local history, but the murals help to educate children and visitors who may not have realized just how diverse Florida’s Eco-system was before capitalization and land development.
Children can learn about the Florida panther and birds through their mural in its location, people shopping for groceries will be reminded of what makes their town and the state of Florida unique, for there are fascinating murals that grace the historic district and business buildings, including grocery stores throughout the entire town.
Lake Placid is proud of its local residents, and aside from show-casing Florida’s history, endangered animals and scenic landscapes, townsfolk are forever immortalized by the gifted painters. Doctors, prominent business people, philanthropists and local folk are depicted in the murals, most notably the now famous “Rose Man,” who was interviewed on August 3rd by CBS News with Katie Couric and correspondent Steve Hartman, within their Assignment America special.
The rose man is a quirky senior citizen named Willard Campbell, who grows and cultivates his own beautiful roses, picks two hundred every day, and distributes them to nurses and the patients at the local hospital, as well as many others. His kind image is lovingly depicted in one of the now most recognizable of the murals, due to media coverage and good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth.
If one cannot travel to Lake Placid, there is a great website that shows the murals and stories behind the works in their entirety. The website and listings of each individual mural is provided by theThe Home Town Network Inc and a VHS tape is available from the Lake Placid Mural Society.
Some historical murals to look for include: Our Citrus Heritage, Istokpoga, about the Seminole hunting a giant alligator, Cracker Cattle Drive, and a plethora of works that have made Lake Placid a most special place to visit.