Heritage Day returns today with fun, free admission

For the second year, the Orange County Regional History Center celebrates Orange County’s official beginnings with free admission and fun activities for the whole family.

This year’s Heritage Day marks a special anniversary, notes the museum’s director, Michael Perkins: “In January 2020, we’ll celebrate Orange County’s 175th birthday, honoring the day in 1845 that the Florida Legislature named our county after a beautiful citrus fruit instead of a pesky insect.”

The county that eventually became Orange originally occupied an immense part of Florida. At 190 miles long and 60 miles wide, Mosquito County once encompassed what’s now Volusia, Brevard, St. Lucie, Indian River, Martin, Seminole, Osceola, Orange, Lake, Polk and Palm Beach counties.

The insect-inspired name was derived from early Spanish monikers for the region’s waterways, such as Barra de Mosquitos (Mosquito Bar or Inlet), and was created by Florida’s territorial council on December 24, 1824 — not the greatest Christmas gift for early settlers. The population then in Mosquito County was less than two people per square mile, however.

Finally, the January 1845 legislative session had the good sense to designate Orange County, naming the area after something that would have great significance to Florida in the years ahead. At Heritage Day, the History Center will again celebrate those beginnings and salute the oranges that arrived on Spanish ships in the 1500s.

Admission is free all day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can munch citrus treats and enjoy fun family activities. Colton and Rachel McCormick will perform Florida folk music, Orlando’s Leu Gardens will be on hand with native plants, and Yaupon Brothers American Tea Co. will offer samples of homegrown Florida brews. Visitors can also learn about Orange County’s resources and services, including the Orange County Library System, and about other historic museums and sites, including the Lake Mary Museum, the Museum of Seminole County History, the Zellwood Museum, and the Holocaust Center in Maitland, which will present a VR experience about Anne Frank’s house.

For more information, visit thehistorycenter.org.

Information about the museum is also available by calling 407-836-8500 or 800-965-2030.

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