Fond memories include cows and crops, hot air balloons and small-town holiday parades.
By JEANA BOONSTRA
Published February 13, 2004
My family moved to the Brandon area in the late 1970s.
Oh, the changes Brandon has undergone in 25 years!
We fell in love with the country quiet of Brandon. Back in the 1970s, Brandon was more of a farming community than a bedroom community. There was far more undeveloped land at that time, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Land was used for grazing or was planted with various crops, including orange groves. Small groves dotted the area from Seffner to Riverview. Most have now been plowed under to make way for the many businesses and housing developments.
Driving down Lumsden, from Kings Avenue to U.S. 301, you would have passed cows grazing, a polo field and a sod farm. Quite often, you would see hundreds of paratroopers from MacDill Air Force Base jumping out of airplanes. People would stop their cars to get out and watch. It was an awesome sight.
The town had mostly family-owned businesses at that time, including the majority of the restaurants and shops, a movie theater, a bowling alley, several bookstores and the skating rink. They had been around for years and served the community's every need. Sadly, most of them have closed. A sign of the times, I suppose.
The Fourth of July parade had a typical small-town feel to it. If I remember correctly, you could decorate a little red wagon and march down the street. Professional soccer players from the Rowdies were more than willing to join in the fun along with all the kids from the Brandon Area Youth Soccer League. The kids marched along with their team banners and the Rowdies rode on a firetruck. The local school bands were willing participants, along with the law enforcement agencies and anyone who wanted to walk the route.
It was common to see hot air balloons flying overhead on a Saturday or Sunday. You only were aware of them if they weren't terribly high and you heard the distinctive sound of the pilot giving it more "gas."
Brandon has certainly gone through some changes in the years we have lived here. Interstates and the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway have made it much easier and faster to travel. However, there is no longer any need to leave the area to find your favorite shop or restaurant - it's here!
Although Brandon has changed dramatically in recent years and we'll never see some of the sights of years past, I wouldn't live anywhere else. This is home.