Author Lu Vickers Will Speak at Annual Literary Luncheon

Lu Vickers, author of Cypress Gardens, America's Tropical Wonderland, will speak at Annual Literary Luncheon in Fernandina Beach.

Author Lu Vickers Will Speak at Annual Literary LuncheonFernandina Beach, FL ― Before the Magic Kingdom, Sea World, and Universal Studios, Cypress Gardens reigned as one of Florida’s premier attractions. Dick Pope, the founder of Cypress Gardens in 1936, transformed a remote swampland into a paradise where tourists could wander through lavish botanical gardens, gaze at southern belles lounging under tropical trees, and gasp at astounding water-ski shows. Images from this exotic wonderland appeared in magazines, newspapers, newsreels, and movies, catapulting the destination to the ranks of a playground for celebrities such as Joan Crawford, Don Ameche, Betty Grable and Esther Williams, to royals such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and King Hussein of Jordan.

At its Annual Literary Luncheon, the Friends of the Fernandina Beach Library will present Lu Vickers, author of Cypress Gardens, America’s Tropical Wonderland: How Dick Pope Invented Florida which won the 2011 Bronze Medal for Florida Non-Fiction. Utilizing a slide show of photos and videos, Vickers will share her motivations for writing this book and her research on Pope’s creation, along with the rich history of the landmark attraction and the dynamic people involved in its development.

Vickers will also discuss the park’s decline following the construction of Walt Disney World, the changes in management, and the evolving interests and vacationing habits of the nation, as well as its outlook for the future as part of LEGOLAND Florida.

Vickers earned a doctorate in creative writing from Florida State University and currently teaches English at Tallahassee Community College. She has published numerous essays and short stories in magazines and has received three Individual Artist’s Grants from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. In addition to her book on Cypress Gardens, Vickers is the author of Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida’s Oldest Roadside Attractions (2007) and the acclaimed novel, Breathing Underwater,/em> (2007). Deep in the Spring: 30 Years of Underwater Photography at Weeki Wachee, a collection of vintage photos Vickers put together with former mermaid Bonnie Georgiadis, is due out in 2012. Vickers is currently working on another novel.

The Annual Literary Luncheon, sponsored by the Fernandina Beach Branch Library and the Friends of the Fernandina Beach Library, is funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and will take place on Friday, January 13, 2012, at noon, in the Heron Room (Racquet Park near The Verandah Restaurant) at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, 6800 First Coast Highway, Amelia Island, Florida.

Tickets cost $35 for FOL members and $45 for non-members and are sold at the Fernandina Beach Library. A vegetarian lunch must be reserved in advance. After the luncheon, autographed books will be available for purchase.

Friends of the Fernandina Beach Library is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation whose main mission is two-fold, to promote literacy and life-long learning and to advocate and raise funds for the library.

For information on membership or events, send an email to or visit and click on Friends of the Library.

“Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities Council with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the Florida Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

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