Water Skiing celebration
LAKELAND — The summer season is now here, and in Polk County, that means the number of people having fun water skiing will rise just as surely as the temperatures do.

A lot of visitors coming to Central Florida for the theme parks might not know this, but the state has a great history when it comes to water skiing. In fact, it’s an active sport that attracts visitors throughout the year.

And Polk County Tourism officials want everyone to know that. Central Florida’s unique history with the sport is about to go into the spotlight.

Starting in June, the tourism industry in Polk County is hosting special events to mark this active and beloved sport.

Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, the official tourism agency, is sponsoring the kickoff First Friday event in downtown Lakeland’s Munn Park on Friday, June 3, from 6-9 p.m. This special event will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the invention of Water Skiing, and the sport’s special relation to Polk County and its many lakes.

This sport, after all, became popular at at Cypress Gardens, the popular venue in Winter Haven that hosts members of the original Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team, who continue to pass on their water skiing skills to the next generation.

Polk County is now all about recognizing that.

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Water Ski in 2022, as the Cypress Gardens Water Ski show returns to the newly remodeled Martin Luther King Jr Park on Lake Silver in Winter Haven. Shows will be held on the third Saturday of every month.

In the meantime, the June 3 celebration is a free evening of family-oriented activities that will help launch a year-long calendar of events designed to celebrate the centennial anniversary. 
What would be a celebration without special guests, and the June 3 event will feature an appearance by Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel, in addition to a live DJ and local artist Bump Galletta, who will be on hand creating live drawings.

Munn Park will be overflowing with Water Skiing-related vendors, while the county’s popular tourism destinations — Legoland Florida Resort, the lush Bok Tower Gardens, Camp Margaritaville RV Resort, and Ridge Island Groves among others — will be offering prize giveaways to tourism lovers.

“Miss Florida 2021 Leah Roddenberry, and other candidates vying for the 2022 title, will mingle with the crowd for photo opportunities,” Polk County Tourism noted in a news release. “The year-long anniversary celebration will culminate with the 2022 International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation World Water Ski Show Tournament, Oct. 19-23, 2022, being held in Winter Haven, the Water Ski Capital of the World.”

To learn more about these upcoming events, log on to https://visitcentralflorida.org/waterski100/ 

Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, also known as Visit Central Florida, is the county’s official destination marketing organization.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com

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