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Contact: Chris Cate

Secretary Detzner Designates Kissimmee as Florida Main Street Program of the Month

Recognizes organization’s contribution to preservation and restoration

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner today announced Kissimmee Main Street as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for November 2012. The selection for this award is based on the Kissimmee program’s involvement and active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.

"Kissimmee Main Street does an outstanding job to make sure its historic downtown remains a great place to live and visit," said Secretary Detzner. "Kissimmee is a valued asset to the Florida Main Street Program because the city understands the importance of preserving Florida’s cultural and historical heritage."

Kissimmee was founded in the 19th century as a town called Allendale. It was renamed when it was officially incorporated as a city in 1883. Both citrus and cattle became strong industries for the area and Kissimmee developed a reputation in Florida as a "cow town." Cattle ranching continued to expand greatly even after 1900, and brought with it the Florida cowboy. As late as the 1940s, citizens were petitioning the city commission to keep cows from roaming the city streets. Florida cowboys caught the imagination of artist Frederick Remington, whose art work captured them for future generations. To this day, the Silver Spurs Rodeo is an important community tradition.

In addition to its emerging role as Florida’s cattle capital, in the late 1800s, the city of Kissimmee became a shipbuilding hub when developer Hamilton Disston dredged the Kissimmee River and established his office in Kissimmee. For the next 40 years, steamboats chugged from Lake "Toho" (Tohopekaliga) and downtown Kissimmee, to the Gulf, and on to ports around the nation and Cuba.

Kissimmee experienced the land booms and busts that affected Florida in the 1920s, but by 1935, the population in Kissimmee had grown to nearly 4,000 residents. In the 1940s, many servicemen stationed in Florida during the war returned to make Kissimmee their home. Winter tourism was another important industry in the city, but few could have predicted the major impact that Walt Disney had on the area when he chose Kissimmee for the location of his new Florida theme park in 1970.

Moving from a citrus and cattle community, to becoming one of the major tourism destinations in the world has created a number of opportunities for the community today. Kissimmee is well-known for its amusement parks and outdoor recreation. The city’s thriving historic downtown includes pedestrian shopping areas, rehabilitated historic buildings, and year-round community events and celebrations.

The Florida Main Street Program designated Kissimmee as a Main Street Community in 1997. As a Florida Main Street Community, Kissimmee has attracted a net gain of 268 new businesses and 606 jobs, as well as investments totaling nearly $31 million dollars in 412 public and private construction projects. Dedicated community members have contributed nearly 13,000 volunteer hours in their Main Street Program.

To learn more about Kissimmee Main Street, contact program manager Kelly Trace by phone at 407.846.4643 or email [email protected].

About Florida Main Street

Florida Main Street is a technical assistance program of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, managed by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. The bureau conducts statewide programs aimed at identifying, evaluating and preserving Florida’s historical resources. Main Street, with its emphasis on preservation, is an effective strategy for achieving these goals in Florida’s historic retail districts. Since 1985, the bureau has offered manager training, consultant team visits, design and other technical assistance, as well as the benefit of experience gained by other Florida Main Street programs.