COMMUNITY PROFILES / OSCEOLA COUNTY

County Offices
One Courthouse Square
Kissimmee 407-742-2ASK
www.osceola.org

Chamber of Commerce
1425 E. Vine Street
Kissimmee 407-847-3174
http://kissimmeechamber.com

Those who appreciate communities that are livable and enjoyable as well as the wide-open spaces associated with a rural setting will appreciate Osceola County. Affordable, still developing, and filled with natural beauty, Osceola is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. In the decade between 1980 and 1990, the county grew a phenomenal 132 percent! In spite of this influx of newcomers, the residential communities represent only 5 percent of the available land.

A large portion of the county’s 838,000 acres are dedicated to wildlife preserves, wetlands, and hardwood hammocks.
Another 100,000 acres are covered by fresh water, and many more thousands of acres are devoted to citrus groves and land for ranches. The cattle industry, cowboys, and rodeos have traditionally played a major role in Osceola County. By the middle of the 19th century, pioneers were herding wild cattle in the palmetto prairie. Today, the Silver Spurs Rodeo is distinguished as the largest event of its kind east of the Mississippi. Osceola County is also the state’s largest beef producer. The advent of Disney World and other major theme parks not only shifted the demographics of the county but continues to affect its economy.

The most pronounced development in the county has occurred along the northeast border near the Disney dominated mecca of entertainment centers and theme parks. In fact, nearly one-fourth of the Disney property is actually located in Osceola County. While more than half of the county’s population is employed within the tourism industry, numerous businesses and corporate giants that boast recognizable household names also call this region home.

Services
Affordable, still developing, and filled with natural beauty, Osceola is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. The advent of Disney World and other major theme parks shifted the demographics of the county and continue to affect its economy. The most rapid development in the county has occurred along the northeast border near the internationally famous entertainment mecca. In fact, about 20 percent of the Disney property is actually located in Osceola County. While over half of the county’s population is employed within the tourism industry, numerous businesses and corporate giants call the region “home” as well.

Osceola County Public Schools is one of the nation’s fastest-growing districts and boasts one of the lowest dropout rates in Florida. A strong core curriculum combines with several special or alternative facilities for a full range of programs. The new state-of-the-art Celebration School at the Disney-developed Celebration community serves as a national benchmark for excellence, combining the best of traditional education with high-tech learning tools. Opportunities for higher education and post-secondary training are abundant in the surrounding area, including career institutes, community colleges, and major colleges and universities.

Throughout the county, full-service hospitals combine with local clinics and highly skilled professionals in every specialty to meet every healthcare need. The Florida Hospital System operates facilities in Celebration and Kissimmee, while Orlando Regional Health oversees St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud. In addition to advanced treatment and diagnostics, these leading hospitals provide a wealth of wellness programs and health benefits to the entire community. Skilled nursing, home health, sports medicine, rehabilitation, counseling, long-term care, and nursing facilities are part of the comprehensive regional network.

Lifestyle
Newcomers to Osceola County will find delightful contrasts at every turn. While the community of Celebration is one of the most innovative examples of high-tech living in the nation, antique shops abound in St. Cloud and Kissimmee welcomes cowboys from surrounding ranch country to its weekly cattle auction. Retirees can easily find the ideal setting in an adult community. At the same time, families appreciate the kid-friendly neighborhoods, lush parks, and recreational facilities. Resident passes to the major theme parks are common — not to mention stops at many of the smaller attractions like Reptile World, Tupperware Dish Museum, Xanadu, and the Alligatorland Safari Zoo.

The beauty of the county can be enjoyed from the front porch, a car window, a bicycle seat, a marina, or a hiking path. Boaters will never lack for a place to launch. The Kissimmee Waterway, a 50-mile long series of lakes, eventually connects Lake Tohopekaliga in Osceola with Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida. The waterways continue on via the Lucie Canal to the Atlantic Ocean or via the Caloosahatchee River to the Gulf of Mexico. Each year, boaters gather for a seven-day cruise called the Kissimmee Boat-a-Cade along this meandering waterway, complete with barbecues, live music, and competitive games.

The selection of housing in Osceola County provides enough diversity to meet every lifestyle and budget. Affordable older homes are available in long-established communities, while luxurious single-family estates and handsome townhomes or condominiums offer every amenity. Many homes and residential villages are designed to complement Florida’s abundant sunshine and balmy weather with open floor plans, generous use of glass, decking, porches, patios, courtyards, and outdoor living areas.

The northern and southern section of Osceola County present a sharp contrast. Surrounding the Disney property is a vast build-up of commerce that supports the hospitality and tourism industries, but also a proliferation of residential neighborhoods and communities. The south is home to sprawling ranches and citrus groves, a place where the pace of life seems slower and more relaxed. Nevertheless, twice a year the cowboys of the county shine their spurs for the semi-annual rodeo in Kissimmee. From its roots in 1944 as a fund-raiser for war bonds, the Silver Spurs Rodeo ranks in the top four percent of all professional rodeos. Today, proceeds go to local charities and educational organizations.

In spite of tremendous growth and expansion, the county has managed to preserve the friendliness of days gone by. In addition to the leading cities of Kissimmee and St. Cloud, a number of small cities or townships provide the close-knit atmosphere where neighbors stop to chat at the local grocery store. Newcomers to Osceola County will be impressed by many features, both natural and handcrafted. However, it is likely to be the welcoming spirit and friendliness of their new neighbors that will enable them to feel immediately “at home.”

Celebration
Town Hall
407-566-1200
www.celebration.fl.us

Chamber of Commerce
407-847-3174
http://kissimmeechamber.com

Disney’s flair for style and quality is now embodied in a community that harmonizes the old-fashioned charm of a “Mayberry” with cutting-edge technology. Bringing the ultimate in high-tech convenience into a master-planned residential environment, Celebration has the capacity to electronically link every resident to education, shopping, and health services. Designed to incorporate the charm and comfort of days gone by, homes blend traditional southeastern exteriors and inviting porches with interiors that offer every modern convenience and amenity. The community hub of Market Street is a showcase for some of the world’s leading architects, creating a dazzling lakeside promenade surrounded by quaint shops and eateries. Patio dining is readily available in an atmosphere that mirrors the intimacy of a small European village. The spirit of friendliness pervades the entire town, where neighbors gather in recreational areas or converse from a front porch swing. Celebration Boulevard is the emerging commercial center of the community, offering 110 acres and 1.8 million square feet of prime office and business space.

Kissimmee
City Hall
407-847-2821
www.kissimmee.org

Chamber of Commerce
407-847-3174
http://kissimmeechamber.com

Newcomers who want all the world-class amenities of a major metropolitan area but the relaxed pace and feeling of small-town living will enjoy Kissimmee. Few towns can claim the nearby attractions that residents of Kissimmee enjoy, including leisure activities, recreational facilities, shopping outlets, dinner shows, and internationally famous theme parks. Even closer to the community are unique attractions ranging from the World of Orchids and Chinatown to the Flying Tigers Warbird Restoration Air Museum. The Osceola Center for the Arts anchors a strong cultural community. Outdoor enthusiasts will find riding stables, golf courses, tennis courts, water sports, and crowd-pleasing spectator sports. The Osceola County Stadium is the spring training home of the Houston Astros baseball team, and hosts summer games for the Astros’ minor league team. Festivals and celebrations brighten every season, highlighted by one of the nation’s most famous rodeos. Residents and visitors alike enjoy strolling through the restored downtown district with its quaint shops and cafes. A diverse selection of housing ranges from cozy bungalows in the heart of town to magnificent estates or luxurious condominiums in beautiful new developments.

Poinciana
Chamber of Commerce
407-847-3174
http://kissimmeechamber.com

One of the most dynamic of the fine master-planned communities that dot Central Florida is Poinciana, located just 20 miles from Orlando’s amusement centers. A variety of spacious and handsome family homes are available in Poinciana, in single-story and two-story models. This self-contained community meets every social and recreational need by providing great golf, tennis, parks, playgrounds, and schools as well as opportunities for boating and fishing. Many of the residents of Poinciana are commuters to Orlando employment centers, drawn to the community for its exceptional lifestyle, natural serenity, close-knit spirit, passenger rail service, and convenient location. Situated just south of Orange County, Poinciana is taking advantage of its close proximity to Orlando and the booming metropolitan economy by developing a beautiful office and industrial park. A medical center and the Poinciana Towne Shopping Center add to the flavor of a “hometown” environment.

St. Cloud
City Hall
407-957-7300
www.stcloud.org

Chamber of Commerce
407-892-3671
www.stcloudflchamber.com

Historic St. Cloud is located east and slightly south of Kissimmee, preserving an image of small-town America within a progressive and thriving region. Residents of St. Cloud are proud of the community’s legacy of vintage buildings that are filled with character and nostalgia, including an original post office built in 1909 and a 70-year old bank. Two other hotels were both constructed in the early 1900s. The Historic Museum of Osceola-St. Cloud is housed in one of these historic buildings, displaying the area’s pioneer artifacts and photographs. Lining the quaint downtown district is an array of wonderful antique shops, giving St. Cloud the distinction of the “Antique Capital” of Osceola County. Newcomers will discover first-rate recreational amenities close to home, since St. Cloud is bordered by East Lake Tohopekaliga. The lake is known for its world-class fishing but also offers picnic areas, a playground, bike and walking paths, and a beach area. The marina hosts the Annual Spring Fling, a three-day extravaganza filled with family entertainment. Boating and water sports are favorite pastimes for residents. The housing selection in St. Cloud ranges from older homes shaded by mature greenery to beautiful new construction in a variety of architectural styles.

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