Wednesdays are for history

Bonita Springs celebrates Florida's 500th anniversary with weekly program

David Albers/Staff
Curator of education and "blowing things up" Dave Southall fires of a canon as part of a Seminole Indian War skirmish reenactment during the 19th annual Old Florida Festival in 2008.

Photo by DAVID ALBERS // Buy this photo

David Albers/Staff Curator of education and "blowing things up" Dave Southall fires of a canon as part of a Seminole Indian War skirmish reenactment during the 19th annual Old Florida Festival in 2008.

— The State of Florida is marking the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon's arrival by promoting Viva Florida 500, a celebration of the Sunshine State's history and heritage throughout the year of 2013.

Not to be outdone the Bonita Springs Historical Society, in partnership with the City of Bonita Springs, is sponsoring a 14 week series of Florida history programs at the Bonita Springs Community Center on Old 41 across from Riverside Park.

If you go

Wednesdays are for History!

What: Stories from history to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s arrival. Click here for the program schedule

When: 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays through April 24

Where: The Bonita Springs Community Center, on Old 41 Road across from Riverside Park

Cost: $10 adults, $5 BSHS members. Tickets can be obtained at the Liles Hotel or by calling 239-992-6997.

The sequential series of 90 minute presentations will feature little known stories of Florida's role in the European colonization of North America and the eventual development of modern Florida and of the United States of America. Each Wednesday at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m., program presenter David Southall will introduce a different historical era along with the interesting characters and events that influenced those times with a Florida perspective.

Through historical re-enacting and living history, Southall has shared his knowledge of historic crafts, skills, traditions, and customs of the past over the years. Retiring from business in 1998, he took the job of museum educator at the Collier County Museum in Naples. Southall's programs were extremely popular with both the school children visiting the museum and the adults attending his weekly presentations. He retired again in 2010 to pursue his many interests. After many pleas from the Bonita Springs Historical Society and his many fans convinced him to develop and present this series of programs for the Viva Florida 500 celebration.

Believing that learning about our history should be interesting and fun, Southall said he avoids lists of facts and dates to concentrate on cause and effect as well as the humorous or ironic historical events.

Preferring to avoid the term "lecturer" he claims to be a "pretty good story teller" who is happy to share his knowledge of the past in an informative and interesting way.

The programs begin today, Jan. 9, and will continue with a different program each week, culminating on Wednesday, April 24.

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