As local folklore goes, "Old Joe" was a stand-out. He was a legendary alligator that patrolled Lake Dora at the turn of the nineteenth century.
The record-breaking, fifteen-foot reptile was rumored to have eaten small animals and even some livestock. Captains of the paddle-wheel boats that steamed across Lake Dora were reportedly familiar with Old Joe, the largest, fiercest and most respected gator on the lake.
Thank to two donors, who wish to remain anonymous, a cast copper replica of ‘Old Joe” will be placed at the entrance of the city's Palm Island Park just south of the lighthouse. The sprawling park includes a recently renovated boardwalk where visitors often see large alligators in their native habitat.
Old Joe was cast at American Bronze Foundry in Sanford with a cost of $52,000 and was donated to the city. The generous donors wanted to give something back to the community in a way that can be interactive and long-lasting while showing the personality of the city.
Old Joe will have a public unveiling on February 20 at 2 p.m. in front of the Palm Island Park at 411 S. Tremain Streeet, after which visitors can view the legendary gator and have a fun photo op.