As we face the new, and exciting year, let’s take a moment to look back at all that OCHS has accomplished in 2017. The year opened with the winding down of the Buster Kenton temporary exhibit and the introduction of Step in Time: Marching Bands of Osceola County. The exhibit opening featured a fascinating talk from retired band instructor, Larry O’Grady, and a scintillating performance from a portion of the Osceola High School drum core. OCHS was off to a great start!
In March, the organization’s biggest annual fundraiser, Dine with the Departed, raised over $19,000 in funds to continue the mission of preservation of the county’s history and the education of residents and visitors in that history. If you missed last year’s event, don’t despair, Dine with the Departed will be making its appearance again this year at the historic Rose Hill Cemetery, whether you’d like to experience the event as a guest or volunteer, there are plenty of opportunities to take part in this unique event.
Once in full swing, spring brought with it History Month. May was a very busy month at OCHS. While officially debuted in April, the Early Learning History Trunk had already reached over 200 students. The Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek welcomed guests for free all month long, and hosted many student field trip groups. The Welcome Center and History Museum featured guest lecturer Kevin Gidusko from the Florida Public Archeology Network. The Tin Can Tourism exhibit exceeded all expectations as it opened with an educational presentation from Tim Heintz and an exclusive look at two vintage Tin Can “mobile homes”.
Just in time for June brides, the 1800s Historic Replica Church opened at the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek. The opening of the church closed out a $500,000 Cultural Facility Grant awarded to OCHS in 2015 by the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs to fund the building and furnishing of the Train Depot, Schoolhouse, Church, and a pavilion. This past summer also saw the ground breaking of another expansion project at the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek – the General Store.
By September, the dog days of summer were ending and the 2016-2017 Annual Meeting was quickly approaching. Chris Gent, Vice President of Corporate Communications for KUA gave an electrifyingly lecture on the history of KUA. For further details about the 2017 Annual Meeting, check out Krystal Baize’s writeup. With school back in session, the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek geared up for field trip season. The Living History experience was back and better than ever with the addition of the new replica buildings. Students were better able to experience life in a village in the late 19th century better than ever before.
Halloween was celebrated by OCHS in style. Revelers who attended Kissimmee Main Street’s Boo! On Broadway event had the chance to sign up for Twilight Ghost Tours of Downtown Kissimmee. The evening was filled with delighted shrieks as guests embarked on one of five spine-tingling tours through Kissimmee’s darker past. In October, OCHS welcomed new staff member, Facility Rental Sales Coordinator, Maggie Ferrara.
November proved to be jammed packed full of events and opportunities, the first temporary exhibit of the 2017-2018, Historical Health: Hospitals and Cure—Alls, was introduced at the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum. Robin Poole, professor at the Dental Hygiene program at Valencia College, gave a bracingly educational talk on the history of dental hygiene.
OCHS also hosted the 26th Annual Pioneer Day in November. Over 2,300 guests stepped back in time at the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek and spent the day perusing the Florida Market, making butter at the Lanier House, listening to the band at the Train Depot, and witnessing the opening of the General Store. The 1800s replica General Store opening closes out an $80,000 cultural facilities grant awarded to OCHS by the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. The General Store also affords guests a unique opportunity to “become residents” of the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek. By purchasing one of the authentic post office boxes prominently featured within the General Store, guests will not only receive their name on the box, but they will be contributing directly to OCHS’s mission.
2017 was an exciting year for OCHS, the organization has grown exponentially in just a short period of time. For the inside scoop on future events at OCHS, sign up to become a member. Stay tuned as we look ahead to what 2018 has in store!
Photo Courtesy: Krystal Baize, Chris Gent, Mary Harlow, Rachel McIntee and Larissa Bixby