Social media personality Billy Johnson featured at Saturday’s History Festival

Billy Johnson
Billy Johnson will share memories of his childhood growing up on the Indian River in one of the history sessions at the Black Box at the Sunrise Theatre.

On any given day, Billy Johnson is likely to pull from his memory some long-forgotten piece of history that happened in Fort Pierce a half century ago and post it on the popular Fort Pierce Connection Facebook page.

The world of Johnson 50 years ago was idyllic: riding his bike downtown, plying the waters of the Indian River in his flats fishing boat, spending the weekend in his family’s cabin on one of the river’s spoil islands or dropping into the local bowling alley for a cherry Coke.


His posts range from the days the actor known as Lurch on the Addams family married a Fort Pierce girl to the type of boats the old gill net fishermen used, to details of Sandy Shoes Festivals past. The posts, which often focus on his family’s ties to Fort Pierce going back to the 1940s,  get dozens of comments and hundreds of likes.


“Your shares are always a joy, Billy, especially to us old timers,’’ Dawna McCarty recently replied on a post.


On Saturday, followers will have a chance to meet the 60-year-old Johnson during a presentation he’ll make at 9:30 a.m. at the Black Box of the Sunrise Theatre, 117 S. Second St., as part of the annual Treasure Coast History Festival. The session, “Billy Johnson’s Fort Pierce,’’ is free, though seating is on a first-come basis.

Johnson as a young boy on the Indian River
Johnson as a young boy on the Indian River in a boat known as a flattie.

The festival brings the rich and fascinating past of the Treasure Coast to life, beginning at 9 a.m., with historical re-enactors ranging from Seminole War soldiers from the 1800s to early settlers in the 1900s depicting life on the Treasure Coast, while authors of books on local history subjects will be spotlighted in the Authors Alley. The festival also features a Summerlin Family Fish Fry at $12 a plate.

Additional Sunrise Theatre Black Box sessions include archaeologist Alan Brech’s presentation on “The Ais of the Treasure Coast’’ at 11 a.m. , and “We Remember Backus’’ at 1 p.m. as friends, relatives and students recall the life and works of landscape artist A.E. “Bean" Backus.

Free and open to the public, the Treasure Coast History Festival is produced by Indian River Magazine in association with Sunrise Ford/Volkswagen, Main Street Fort Pierce, the St. Lucie County Historical Society and the Sunrise Theatre.
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