Historic Markers Across Florida

Paradise Park at Silver Springs

Marker ID: FLHM F-852
Location: SR 35/Baseline Rd at NE 24th St in Silver Springs, FL
County: Marion
Coordinates: N 29° 12.717    W 082° 03.458
  29.21195    -82.05763333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMPN01


Paradise Park was a theme park for African Americans established in 1949 by Carl Ray and W. M. "Shorty" Davidson, the owners of nearby Silver Springs. The park was located on the south side of the Silver River, about 1/2 mile away from Silver Springs. Because of segregation, African Americans were barred from Silver Springs, but at Paradise Park guests could enjoy similar attractions such as glass-bottomed boat rides and river cruises. From 1949 to 1967, Eddie Leroy Vereen, a former boat captain, managed the tropical setting and employed many of his own family members in the running of the park. Guests could also swim in the 100-foot crescent-shaped white sand beach, purchase souvenirs from the gift shop, have their picture taken by legendary underwater photographer Bruce Mozert, and visit animal exhibits and shows. Paradise Park was regarded by civic, business, and religious leaders throughout the nation as the finest park built specifically for African Americans. As one of three major Florida beaches that catered to African Americans, this park drew about 100,000 visitors a year. Paradise Park closed in 1969 as a result of integration.

A Florida Historic Site
The Felburn Foundation, Silver River Museum,
Rev. Ferdinand C. Graham, Cynthia A. Wilson-Graham, Pacesetters' Club Inc.,
Friends of the Marion County NAACP Branch, Family and Friends of the Vereen Family
F-852 and the Florida Department of State 2014