Orlando really is a small town…today our hearts go out to dear friend of the Festival Heather Rybka and her family, proprietors of Gatorland. This morning a fire broke out at the Orlando institution and destroyed their administrative offices, gift shop and cost the lives of two gators and two snakes.
Heather had her pre-wedding reception there a few years back and recently reuinted a bunch of friends for her mmm mmm birthday party there. My favorite image of her wedding event: A nun in full habit on the back of a live gator grinning ear to ear! Classic.
Two years ago, Gatorland brought gators to the FFF Awards Ceremony at Enzian. Documentary Jurors Susan Norget, Brian Yonce, and Paul Devlin couldn’t resist the photo op.
We always recommend filmmakers make a side trip to Gatorland. Way back in 1997, Keythe Farley, Brian Flemming and a lovely friend went to Gatorland to shoot a segment of John Pierson’s landmark Split Screen TV series called Gatorlando! Farley and Flemming wrote the off-Broadway hit Bat Boy: The Musical and are currently working on the film adaptation for director John Landis. In 1997 they were at the Festival with Hang Your Dog in the Wind which won an FFF Special Jury Award that year.
Again, from the entire staff of Enzian, our hearts and prayers go out to Heather and the entire Gatorland family.