The book was part of the City of North Port's 50th Anniversary celebration, which took place throughout 2009.
The book offers a unique view of the city’s history beginning with its archaeological and history dig sites and initial creation by General Development Company. It provides a look into the past struggle to get schools in the area, recreational activities for kids, and the early battle to get even simple amenities such as a police department and a fire department started.
Even the book’s title is not without its own history.
For more than twenty years, starting in 1982, hot air balloons were a fixture on North Port’s horizon. In those days, North Port’s woods and lack of power lines made it the perfect site to launch and land balloon rides. An old photograph of a hot air balloon rising out of the trees with “North Port!” emblazoned on the side inspired the book’s title.
To Groves, the balloon coming out of the trees represented a city coming out of the wilderness.
“It says to me ‘Here’s a nice place, let’s build a city.’” He said. “That’s pretty much what happened.”
Below are two excerpts from the book:
The man most responsible for North Port’s beginning brought his 10-year-old son to the Port Charlotte subdivision in the mid-1950’s. Frank Mackle Jr. showed the area to his son and proudly told him, “Someday, this will all be a great city.” His son looked at the flat Florida cattle land and pine trees and thought to himself, “He’s got to be kidding me.”
The depths of Warm Mineral Springs were first explored by retired Air Force Colonel William “Bill” Royal, a resident of the community. Royal was a diver and an amateur archaeologist who started diving in the spring in 1958. He found stalactites and stalagmites well below the water line in its 230-flood depths, evidence it has been a dry cavern during the Ice Age.
The rock strata in the walls date back 20 million years.
In 1959, to convince skeptics of the archeological value of the spring, Royal brought to the surface a 10,000-year-old human skull with preserved brain tissue. Below 20 feet, the water contains no dissolved oxygen, preserving human remains and artifacts.