The Winter Haven

Hansen House in Burlington circa 1972

While I was growing up, my Dad (Arnie) was an auto mechanic and he worked a lot of overtime to pay for our family vacations. A lot of them were road trips South. While these migrations typically took place in the summer when school was out, with the winter now upon us I recently sought respite by diving into a stack of old scrapbooks, which I borrowed from my Mom (Elise).

The books feature Dad’s photography along with Mom’s handwritten narration, some postcards, and even advertisements for some of the various attractions.

Advertisement for the Cypress Gardens waterski show distributed circa 1972

Flipping through them now, the pages act as waypoints on the roadmap in my mind, augmenting my memories as I reminisce about childhood treks to Silver Springs, Busch Gardens, Magic Kingdom, Kennedy Space Center, Citrus Tower, and Key West.

While Dad’s 35mm SLR camera was the primary means for documenting our adventures, he also used a Super-8 motion picture camera. After reviewing some of his footage, I was inspired to produce a short “retro vacation” film, set to original music to accompany this post (see the video below).

The opening and closing scenes are at Fort Lauderdale beach, with most of the action taking place in Cypress Gardens–Florida’s first commercial theme park, located in the City of Winter Haven. While Cypress Gardens has since closed, Legoland Florida opened in its place while preserving the botanical gardens, and reviving the waterski show.

Fort Lauderdale beach, vintage postcard

Legoland, Feb. 2016

by Van Hansen

Next Episode is The Space Historian

About the Author

Van Hansen

While Van is not allowed to sing, he is allowed to write songs and stories. Mostly stories. Published in magazines such as Canadian Aviator, Canadian Geographic, Costco Connection, Photography Monthly, and The Walrus, Van now shares with you the Profiles and everyday adventures of the People in Your Neighbourhood™, Community Spotlights, plus News & Reviews in the NEW Hansen House Blog! Van is a Certified Executor Advisor, and a Real Estate Broker with the full-service boutique brokerage Apex Results Realty Inc. in Burlington, ON.

People in Your Neighbourhood™ is presented by Jen & Van Hansen, Brokers with Apex Results Realty Inc., proudly affiliated with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. We’re Local We’re Global™

Jen & Van Hansen


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