Roaring Reptiles, Bountiful Citrus, and Neon Pies: An Unofficial Guide to Florida's Official Symbols

Roaring Reptiles, Bountiful Citrus, and Neon Pies: An Unofficial Guide to Florida's Official Symbols

by Mark Lane


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Florida Historical Society Charlton Tebeau Award

With an eye for the illogical and a flair for the irreverent, journalist Mark Lane aims his sharp wit at one of the most intriguing duties of the Florida legislature—signing state symbols into law. In Roaring Reptiles, Bountiful Citrus, and Neon Pies, he spotlights nineteen things that have been proposed and/or appointed to officially define Florida.

Lane guides readers through the often-comic historical events that led to the selection of Florida’s official fruit, tree, gem, bird, song, and other items ranging from the well known to the obscure, packing in personal stories and laugh-out-loud moments along the way. Did you know the state slogan was almost “the alligator state”? Or that a mailbox in the shape of the state marine mammal can tell you a lot about a person? Readers will also discover that the bill proposing the state soil caused a crisis in the Senate and that the state play—written in the peculiar genre of symphonic outdoor drama—puts a heroic spin on the grisly European conquest of St. Augustine.

“Full of the kind of unnecessary commentary that might cause trouble,” as Lane describes it, this book is also written with affection toward the wide diversity of lives and experiences that make up the state he calls home. He shows that deciding the things that represent us at any given moment is far trickier than it appears. Especially in Florida, a state aptly symbolized by “a lot of contradictions baked into a Key lime pie.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813066233
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication date: 10/08/2019
Pages: 152
Sales rank: 739,024
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Mark Lane, metro columnist and feature writer at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, is the author of Sandspurs: Notes from a Coastal Columnist.

Table of Contents


Helpful Letter to School Librarians ix

Preface xi

Key Lime Pie

Pie Wedge or Candy-Colored Wedge Issue? 2


Welcome to the Sunshine—Not the Alligator—State 14


The Fiercest State Symbol in the Whole Swamp 19


The Whole Orange Gets Its Due 25


Pain in My Eocene Heart 32

Marine Mammal

Welcome to the Land of the Manatee Mailboxes 36


Myakka Fine Sand, and a Fine Sand It Is 43

Florida Day

Ponce de Leon Schlepped Here! 47


Lost Holidays of the Lost Cause Linger 52

State Day

Florida Statehood Day Oration 57


Men in Tights with Cross and Sword 64


Florida’s Official Ol’ Plantation Song 70


In Praise of the State Treelike Plant 78


The Official State Sport Stalled in the Pits 83

Litter Control Symbol

The Short, Happy Life of Glenn Glitter 88


The Mockingbird Will Not Be Mocked, Tree Huggers! 92


In God We Trust (All Others Pay Cash) 98


Not a Great Seal, but Not for Lack of Trying 105


The Talisman of the Ancient Engineers 110

Afterword 117

Acknowledgments 119

Notes 121

Selected Bibliography 131

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“This old Florida boy has been waiting for such a book for a coon’s age. I learned a lot about the origins of our state’s symbols and laughed a lot while reading. It’s a great combination, like butter and grits.”—Jeff Klinkenberg, author of Son of Real Florida: Stories from My Life

“An iconoclast, Lane enjoys slaying sacred cows and bloviating politicians who take seriously the mission of designating official state pies, birds, and flowers. Bravo! Floridians need to read the clear and intelligent prose of Mark Lane.”—Gary R. Mormino, author of Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida

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