Attention, long time Central Florida residents. Come back with me to a better time, a simpler time, when we were Growing Up In Orlando Before Disney:
The year is 1971.
- The US Census recorded 560,000 people in the Greater Orlando area (The 2010 Census documented 2,134,411).
- Some of the popular songs include Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven, Imagine – John Lennon, Aqualung – Jethro Tull, It’s Too Late – Carole King, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys – Traffic, Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin.
- The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.
- Cigarette advertising on television was banned.
- All in the Family, Columbo, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and Soul Train made their debut on TV.
- And, of course, Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971.
Also in 1971 there was a gathering place in Orlando called Orlando Youth Center. Built in 1958, it eventually became a central location in the 1970’s where local bands would perform on Friday and Saturday nights at the Rock Haven Dances. “WLOF Channel 95” would help promote the events through the airwaves. The bands included Tin House with Michael Logan, We the People, Marshmellow Steam Shovel and Birnim Wood. Some band members went on to perform with legendary rock groups like The Allman Brothers Band, Rush, and Johnny Winter. Today, the old Youth Center is called the Lockhaven Community Center.
Ahh…the good old days!
That’s the spirit behind Growing Up In Orlando Before Disney, an organization dedicated to nurturing the friendships from those simpler times for the greater good of the community.
And that’s why long time Central Floridians like Cathyrn Buchanan, Wendy Wadsworth Swanhart, Ann Kellogg Helms, Mike Logan and a host of others decided to organize annual reunions at the scene of so many great memories.
This past May, the 4th annual GUIOBD Reunion was held for those folks who remember and for those folks who still like to party. Orlando’s original high schools including Boone, Oakridge, Jones, Colonial, Edgewater and Evans were represented as well as Winter Park and Apopka. This year’s crowd was the biggest ever enjoying live music, good food and good friends.
GUIOBD organizer, Wendy Wadsworth Swanhart, says, “As we age, we sometimes feel like all of our friends are gone from the area or have long since passed away.” For the group, re-gathering serves as a way for them to help bring back the old neighborhood atmosphere and the old friends that helped to make the “growing up” years so deep with fond memories. “It was a way to remember Orlando as it was before Disney changed so much”.
Of course, putting on events like these is a labor of love but it also requires funding. Donations for next year’s event are being accepted now through the GUIOBD PayPal account at: [email protected]
As you can see, rock and roll never forgets.