One Ormond-By-The-Sea resident spent the last month adopting the quirks and charms of the very complicated President Theodore Roosevelt.
Larrie Tiffanie is not a history buff.
Though he’s a seasoned actor at the Daytona Playhouse, Tiffanie had zero experience playing historical characters when the Citizens for the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway called and asked him to portray President Theodore Roosevelt in an upcoming festival. But when he is summoned by the call of duty, he answers.
For the next month, the Ormond-By-The-Sea resident poured himself into the life of who he calls the “very complicated” Teddy Roosevelt.
“I’m not a student of history, but the more I read and researched, the more excited I got about the project,” he said. “Once I got into it, I found myself eating it up. He’s tremendously interesting and complex. I got books from the library and dove into it, bringing my theatre knowledge with me. I had a good time going through the process.”
During his research, Tiffanie discovered that they both shared a mutual love of nature. Both men are big advocates for historic and natural preservation and enjoy being surrounded by this nation’s forests.
“I like to think of myself as a amaturer archolegist,” Tiffanie said. “One of my favorite past times is parking next a space of woods and walking through them. No paths, just cutting through and being in the nature and the aroma of it all.”
Tiffanie took that shared interest and brought it to life at the Florida Black Bear and Wildlife Conservation Festival this past weekend in Umatilla. He reenacted Roosevelt’s tendency to punch the air and slam his fists down to make people listen to his passionate arguments about conservation. Jim Thorsen, vice chairman of the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway Corridor Management Committee, said the point of Tiffanie’s presentation was promote wildlife preservation by getting people to understand how to live with it.
“Think globally and act locally,” Thorsen said. “Be conservation-minded in all respects of nature and taking care of environment. Ormond Beach is the eastern terminal where the byway ends. There are bears along the road there, and they are like an umbrella species represent all the wildlife along the road like deer, woodpeckers and gophers.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a limited bear hunt in June to begin Oct. 24 in order to reduce the species increased population. Thorsen, who is against the hunt, said the commission should have collected more data before approval.
“We need more data to find out how many bears we have,” he said. “Sure, the population has increased, but by how much and why? We’ve protected bears for 25 years and now we’re gonna go shoot them. It’s not a good idea.”
Though Roosevelt was all for conservation, Tiffanie said he would be all for the bear hunt.
“He’s a complicated guy, and he would definitely shoot a bear,” Tiffanie said. “His adventures included shooting an older buffalo that couldn’t keep up with his herd, and putting the trophy on his wall. He was a hunter. But in my opinion, if you don’t like bears stay in the city. And if you wanna build out in a wooded area, do it so that it can’t be penetrated by a black bear. Just leave them alone.”
What is the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway?
The Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway is a product of a Florida Department of Transportation program that recognizes highways of historical preservation. There are 25 of these highways in Florida and over 2,000 in the nation. This byway is 126 miles long and includes State Road 40. It’s a preserved road because it runs through Ocala National Forest. The goal of the program is to increase the economy and tourism of the surrounding area and preserve historical nature.
A Century Apart: What do President Theodore Roosevelt and Larrie Tiffanie have in common?
Despite their similar facial features, President Theodore Roosevelt and Ormond-By-The-Sea resident Larrie Tiffanie do not share much in common.
- President Roosevelt was 5’8 and a 140 pounds, while Tiffanie is 5’11 and 225 pounds.
- Teddy loved to hunt while Tiffanie is against the sport.
- Roosevelt grew up in an aristocratic family while Tiffanie grew up middle class in Holly Hill.
The only thing Tiffanie says the two share in common is their love for nature and spirit of adventure.