8 Things You'll Understand If You're From Ocala, Florida
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8 Things You'll Understand If You're From Ocala, Florida

Ocala has its little quirks that make it what it is.

8 Things You'll Understand If You're From Ocala, Florida

My hometown of Ocala is like most semi-small towns. Most people know each other or at least have mutual friends. It doesn’t have too many attractions, but we have a couple. Like most small towns, ours has something it’s known for, horses. Sometimes we have small town charm sometimes we don’t. Our city, its inhabitants, and their customs and quirks make it what it is. There are certain things only real Ocalans would know or remember. They have become part of our day to day lives.

1. The Horse Capital of the World

Most people think that Lexington, Kentucky, is the Horse Capital of the World. Actually, Ocala is. SO many of the thoroughbred racing horses come out of Ocala farms and/or training stables, it’s hard to keep count. Horses are the main industry in Ocala.

2. The painted horses in various places around town

When riding around town, it won’t take long for you to spot one of elaborately painted horse statues. Each horse has a theme and each horse is completely unique. It’s part of the Horse-Capital-of-the-World theme.

3. The high school nicknames

Each high school in Marion County has a nickname used by students of the other schools. For example, my sister’s school, North Marion High School, is nicknamed “Cow Patty High” because of its unfortunate placement next to and across the street from cow pastures. The school smells strongly of cow patties.

4. “Slocala”

The nickname for my little town comes from its lack of things for young people, mainly teenagers, to do. We have movies and bowling, but you can only do that so many times before it gets old.

5. John Travolta

One of the town's claims to fame, other than the horses, is the fact that John Travolta owns a home in Jumbolair, an expensive housing development for multimillionaires with private planes in Marion County. It requires you own a plane just to live in the community. It’s very exclusive. But that doesn’t keep John Travolta from leaving his home to venture into town. Although I have never personally seen or met him, I know many people who have and I’ve always heard he’s one of the nicest people they’ve ever met.

6. Wild Waters and Silver Springs

Because Ocala is still in Florida, we had to participate in the pull for tourism. Our attempt was Wild Waters and Silver Springs. Wild Waters is a water park that has a wave pool and several slides. In its prime, it was incredibly fun. Now it’s a little run down but still operating. Silver Springs was the self-proclaimed “Nature’s Amusement Park.” It had animals and rides, there were glass bottom boat rides to see the springs along the Silver River and to show the wildlife and the movies props from all the movies filmed on the Silver River. At one point they had a giraffe named after my Uncle Johnny. His name was John Thomas and he was born the same day my uncle passed away. Now, Silver Springs is a state park. They still have the glass bottom boats but no longer have the animals. It’s still beautiful and the river is as beautiful as ever.

7. The Villages

Described as “Disneyland for Old People,” the Villages retirement community is no longer just a retirement community. It is its own city. They have different themed sections of the city. You have to be above a certain age to live there. It’s somewhere between 55-65 minimum age to live in the Villages. If you visit, take my advice and always, always, ALWAYS be on the lookout for golf carts. It’s how they get around and they throw caution to the wind when they are on a mission.

8. Tas-T-O’s Donuts

Whatever opinions you have about all the other donuts you’ve ever had in your life will be invalid when you have your first Tas-T-O donut. There are freshly made daily. They are a little family run shop on State Road 40. They have been there as long as I can remember. They are always warm and perfectly sweet. They are the perfect start to the morning. If you ever get the chance, try one. You won’t regret it. I promise.

Our little town has its little quirks and things that make it unique, but I wouldn’t change a whole about it. The little things in or around this town make it what it is. I couldn’t be happier with it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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