by Jamie Rich | February 25, 2019

Editor’s Note: Fresh-Squeezed Icons

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Photography by Mary Beth Koeth; Makeup by Jennifer Comee with the Rosy Cheek

What is a Florida Icon? Mickey Mouse? Naval oranges? Or our favorite bird—the pink flamingo? You don’t even have to cross the state line to know that these beloved symbols universally represent Florida. But for those of us who grow up here, raise our families here, go to college here, take our first jobs here, retire here or even just regularly vacation here, the people, places and things embodying the spirit of our home (or home away from home) are more complex than your average recipe for Key lime pie.

Florida icons mean something different to everyone, depending on which part of the state you live in, your age and how you spend your time.

The profiles and stories awaiting you in our pages might surprise you, but they all have deep roots in our sandy soil, storied history in our collective memories and new prominence in our cultural fabric.

Our cover story, “The House Versace Built,” takes us behind the gilded gates of one of the most famous homes in the world. Situated in the heart of South Beach, The Villa Casa Casuarina, also known as the Versace mansion, has enjoyed a renewed public obsession with the popularity of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, which won a Golden Globe for best motion picture made for television in January. We decided to take a firsthand look inside the villa and experience the legacy of one of our favorite adopted Miamians.

In our feature “Love Game,” we get to know Plantation native and tennis phenom Sloane Stephens, who at the time of this issue’s printing was ranked No. 4 in the world. The 26-year-old Grand Slam champion has earned a place among the world’s tennis elite while advocating for equal pay in the women’s sport. We’ll be cheering her on as she continues to make her climb to No. 1, and especially as she defends her title at this year’s Miami Open.

While Stephens takes it to the net, a different type of play is unfolding on the grass across the state in Tallahassee. Ever since Floridians voted to legalize medical marijuana a little more than a year ago, an entire industry has sprouted up—one with a little-known history here and one that might soon unlock new sources of revenue as well as people serving time behind bars. In our story “Weed the People,” we talk to some of the most influential figures in Florida’s cannabis advocacy movement and visit one of the state’s biggest production facilities to find out if greener pastures lie ahead.

And finally, some of the newest faces to become synonymous with the Sunshine State are those of teenagers. The students who survived the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become household names across the nation with their campaign against gun violence. In our piece “The Faces of Change,” we caught up with some of the founding members of March for Our Lives to find out what’s next for the movement and where they are now.

We tell these stories, and many more, of the new forces and old classics that truly reflect how Floridians live, what brings us joy and what causes us concern. And while we will always have big love for our favorite plastic yard ornament, we hope this edition inspires fresh-squeezed thinking on what constitutes a Florida icon.

University Press of Florida