ARPP open house activities

By Alyssa Martinelli and Tammy Montes

The highlight of every field season is the open house. We look forward to sharing our experiences with those who may not be acquainted with the workings of the day-to-day operations, as well as presenting the current season's accomplishments. Our guests come from all over -- biologists, fossil buffs, sign painters, students, members of the Florida Congress, attorneys, former volunteers and other archaeologists.

One of our goals is to heighten the knowledge of the general public, as well as to show our sponsors and dignitaries the importance of supporting underwater archaeology projects like this.

Some activities of the 1996 open houses include: On-site tours given by Project Director and Co-chief Scientist Dr. S. David Webb; complete with a live action video presentation of what the divers were doing so all of us non-divers could view the underwater site. We were especially fortunate in having been able to host the fall Open House at all, considering that the Aucilla River had been above flood stage for quite some time after Tropical Storm Josephine hit us head on.

Several presentations were made to outstanding members of the project for their significant contributions to the project's success:

Long-standing ARPP benefactors Buster Herlong and Bubber Bailey were each presented a display of artifact replicas created by the project's student staff.

Jack Simpson was presented with his very own 'Gator' projectile point.

Joe Latvis was presented with an inscribed copy of A Naturalist in Florida: A Celebration of Eden by Archie Carr.

Fossils, lithics and other artifacts including a fiberglass casting of a mastodon's footprint were on display; compliments of Dr. S. David Webb, the Florida Museum of Natural History and Jack Simpson.

Learning to throw an atl atl has become a big hit at the open houses, especially trying to spear the giant mastodon target. Just imagining what it was like throwing this atl atl as a giant mastodon came closer and closer toward you was quite awesome. Official results of the June '96 Open House competition are posted on this page.

Thanks to Jim Dunbar and Andy Hemmings for the use of their atl atls.

Our most favorite part of the day was eating Bill Gifford's good 'home cooked' food (Mastodon burgers!). We were also treated to Bill's famous bar-b-que, hot dogs, various salads and a cake smothered in 'Gator' colors.

All in all, we could not have asked for better weather at both the spring and fall open houses. The sunny warm weather made for a nice relaxing day spent by the river observing the wonders below.

We would like to thank everyone at ARPP for the wonderful opportunity to learn about this area's first residents. Never in ten thousand years did we think of the friendships we would form right here at the Aucilla River Prehistory project.