Named an All America City in 1995, Ocala is the seat of Marion County. Drive down Fort King Street in the historic district and you will be impressed by the obvious care taken with the renovation and preservation of the areas home properties. In 1998, the Ocala/Marion County Veterans Memorial Park was dedicated on Fort King St. near 25th Avenue. The four-acre park is just north of the Marion County Governmental complex and has been created to honor veterans from all military conflicts and serves as a gathering place for special celebrations.
The revitalization of downtown Ocala has made it a popular destination for residents and visitors alike. In addition to the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce building, the Ocala Public Library and the Discovery Science Center (for children of all ages), a variety of large and small restaurants, the Brick City Center for the Art, shops, financial institutions and commercial businesses are located around the square or within a short walk. The center of Ocala comes to life in the evening with a number of restaurants, clubs and entertainment bringing people back downtown.
One canít come to Marion County without becoming immediately aware that this is "Horse Country." Horses are big business in Marion County. In 1999, Ocala/Marion County was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture census as the "Horse Capital of the World" and as having more horses and ponies than any other county in the nation. Between 45 and 50 different breeds are represented in the area. More than three-quarters of Floridaís 600 Thoroughbred breeding and training facilities are located in the Ocala area. The county is one of only four major Thoroughbred centers in the world, and is equal to Lexington, Kentucky; Newmarket, England; and Chantilly, France.
Ocala is widely known for its natural resources including the Ocala National Forest and the world-famous Silver Springs with its unique animal presentations and glass-bottom boats.
Since 1950, Ocala has had its own community theatre that is the second largest in the state. The Ocala Civic Theatre offers live, professional-quality musical and dramatic productions. Each year 44,000 people attended at least one Civic Theatre show. The theatre also has a youth program, a program for seniors, and shows by professional touring companies.
Over the past two decades, Marion County has experienced tremendous manufacturing and industrial growth. This great economic diversity, combined with rich agricultural and natural resources, has made Marion County one of the fastest growing areas in the country.
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