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Don Price worked in Orlando’s Records Department for 31 years. An Orlando native, Price also oversaw the 100-acre Greenwood Cemetery as its sexton and moonlight walking tour leader. He recently retired so we thought it’d be a good time as any to catch up with him.
How did you become Orlando’s cemetery sexton? I started working in the archives department with the city at 19 years old. It was 1987 – at the time, we had no computers so I learned Orlando’s history by combing through microfilms and reading handwritten documents. Then in 2003, Buddy Dyer became mayor and wanted to integrate the cemetery and the archives department — meaning he wanted the City of Orlando to have ownership of the cemetery, not the parks department. After reading and transcribing every document of Orlando’s history from the 1800s to 1918 into a recorder, my passion for storytelling grew. As the sexton of Greenwood Cemetery, I got to tell people’s stories, which to me, keeps them living.
Do you know of any creepy ghost/spirit still hanging around Greenwood Cemetery? Personally, no. I’ve been around the cemetery for so long that I’ve become desensitized to it. However, Greenwood Cemetery is considered one of the most active cemeteries with spirits, and I like to think the reason is that we keep their stories alive.
Who is your favorite person buried there and why? Charles Joyce. I don’t talk about him on the tour, only because we don’t get over to his side of the cemetery. He was the co-pilot of Col. Michael McCoy who crashed a B-47 bomber at the former Ben White Raceway near Trotter’s Park. According to some reports, McCoy had been drinking and was showing off but he still received full honors at Arlington National Cemetery; MCO is the airport code of Orlando’s International Airport, which honors his last name; and the city renamed buildings after him. The guy sitting beside him when the plane crashed was Charles Joyce. He is now buried at Greenwood Cemetery, alone. Joyce was a lieutenant colonel and left behind his wife and children who eventually became homeless. His wife later remarried and moved out of Orlando. So McCoy got all the honors and cost Joyce and another man in the plane their lives that day.
Maybe this is morbid but where do you want to be buried and what will your headstone say? I would love to be buried at Greenwood Cemetery. On my headstone, I want it to say “Storyteller.” It’s all I’ve known for 20 years.
What do you say to people who say Orlando has no history? A lot of people say Orlando’s history started in the 1970s when Disney arrived, but we’ve been a beautiful and thriving community since the 1870s. Every street we drive every day has history, every street name has a story. I share some of those stories on my blog Orlando Has History.
Price says that in “retirement”, he’s most looking forward to spending time with his family and telling Orlandoans’ stories through his blog and Instagram account. He gave us the inside scoop on an upcoming project and we can’t wait to share it with you. But, in the meantime, want to go on a moonlight walking tour of the Greenwood Cemetery? Price leads them every third Friday of the month and they’re FREE.
Job probs. More than 2,000 people in Central Florida have lost their jobs in the past eight years – the highest level of mass layoffs since 2010. Even with the low unemployment rate and growing economy, labor market experts say some industries are shrinking and automation is making some jobs obsolete. (Orlando Sentinel)
Music in mourning. The Orlando music scene has lost Richard Sherfey, a musician known for his merge of gospel, country, and rock. After moving from Athens to Orlando, the artist became well known in the local music and beer scene. Thanks for leaving our city with some beautiful music, Richard. (Orlando Weekly)
Good mews. A new cat cafe called ‘The Kitty Beautiful’ is headed to downtown Orlando. The main attraction will be a room full of cats, all of which are adoptable from local cat rescues. You’ll be able to stop by for coffee, beer, snacks, and cat yoga– it’s set to open in May. (Orlando Weekly)
70 years later. Governor-elect Ron DeSantis wants to prioritize making pardons for the Groveland Four at the start of the new year. Described by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio as a “grave injustice,” a pardon would forgive the four African-American men accused of raping a white woman in 1949. “Seventy years is a long time,” DeSantis said. “…though these men now lie in graves, their stories linger in search of justice.” (Orlando Weekly)
Mishandled funds. After UCF officials reported that they had misspent $38 million on Trevor Colbourn Hall, President Dale Whittaker reported that CFO Bill Merck was responsible. But Merck told the Orlando Sentinel that Whittaker knew where the money had come from. Merck says he and his colleague did the right thing for UCF — they feared that the aging building threatened the health and safety of students and employees. (Orlando Sentinel)
🥂 MONDAY, DEC. 31 Join us in ringing in the new year at Orlando Museum of Art at their NYE premier event, Nouveau. Champagne, fireworks, music and full museum access! (Loch Haven Park)
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TODAY – CHRISTMAS EVE
❄️ Through Dec. 31, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (Celebration)
🎅 Head to the beach to see surfing Santas (Cocoa Beach)
🎄 Attend a Christmas Eve worship (Downtown)
🐟 Eat all the fish at the 2nd Annual Feast of the Seven Fishes (Winter Park)
TUESDAY – CHRISTMAS DAY
❄️ Through Dec. 31, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (Celebration)
🎄 Celebrate Christmas with the crew at Will’s Pub (Mills 50)
🍻 It’s Christmas, have a Christmas beer (Ivanhoe)
🍿 Watch Enzian’s Cult Classic, Polyester (Maitland)
🎄 Not up for cooking? Head here for a Christmas buffet (I-Drive)
❓ How well do you remember the 90s? (Mills Park)
🍊 Volunteer to build the Orlando Citrus Parade floats (Downtown)
🎭 Watch Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at Orlando Shakes (Loch Haven Park)
🐷 Kids eat free at Pig Floyds (Mills 50)
🎤 Take a look at the “Man in the Mirror” (Disney)
🦖 Through Jan. 6 Dinosaurs and Christmas lights, oh my (Loch Haven)
😈 A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour (Milk District)
❄️ Take the kids to the Holiday Festival before it’s over (Lake Nona)
🎵 Thomas and Olivia Wynn perform at Imperial at Washburn Imports (Ivanhoe)
🏈 Watch West Virginia vs. Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl (Parramore)
🍷 Wine, cheese and chocolate lovers, unite (Mills 50)
😂 Watch America’s Got Talent runner-up and former Orlando comedian (I-Drive)
🚲 Join the masses on this bike ride across town (Loch Haven Park)
🎵 Meet William from A Star is Born Musical (Almond Milk District)
🍿 It’s a ride-in kinda movie night (College Park)
Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #pulptown on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and COMING SOON add your own events with a Pulptown membership.
We’ll be spending some much-needed time with our loved ones over the holidays. However, we still plan on seeing you in your inbox during the break, starting tomorrow morning with a very special Christmas Day newsletter — and to kick-off the celebrations early, we have some exciting news to share. Nine months after publishing our first newsletter, we’re now over 5,000 subscribers strong. 💪
Thanks so much for coming on this journey with us. We appreciate your support, and we’re excited to keep it rolling in the year ahead.
Happy holidays, Orlando.