I moved to Clermont in Lake county in 1999. Most of Hwy 27 was orange grove plantations and just a few neighborhoods. Driving south on Hwy 27 from State Road 50 was a pleasant ride. No stop lights, the speed limit was 65 mph and you could drive with your windows open and take in the fresh breeze of the fragrant orange blossom or the freshly mowed grass on an early morning drive. There were very few vehicles, too. Most of the vehicles you’d encounter were trucks. As long as you stayed out of their way, you were fine. There were only two lanes north and two lanes south, however, there was never any traffic buildup - unless there was an accident.
I recall a particular area on Hwy 27 driving from north to south where there was a tree on the right side that resembled the image of Clifford's (the big red dog) head. That's no longer there. My children brought it to my attention. They knew how close we were to home once they saw the dog's head.
I remember people telling me not to look to Clermont in Lake county for possible relocation because it was too far from Orlando and there was nothing to do. I had plenty to do with a house, a job, three children, and a husband, therefore; it did not phase me. Besides, I loved the feeling of safety I felt being away from large, populated cities.
Also, there were not many shopping options too. Winn Dixie, Wendy’s, Texaco, and 7-11 were the most recognizable businesses between State Road 50 and W. Irlo Bronson Hwy (192). If we wanted to shop at Walmart, we had to take a trip to Orlando, Kissimmee, or Haines City. It was like a trip for us and we'd make it with a few other business stops. Yeah, those were the days.
Now Hwy 27 is populated by subdivisions, commercial properties, and residential buildings, plus an array of vehicle flow with many angry drivers. Accidents are almost a daily occurrence even though the speed limit went down to 55 mph and there are many stop lights. Though you can still drive with your windows down, you will no longer take in the breeze of the delicate fragrance of the citrus blossom because they are no longer there. Now there are three lanes going north and three going south. What used to take me 15 minutes to reach State Road 50 now takes 26 minutes - almost double the time.
I still feel safe, at least in my neighborhood, and I still love Clermont regardless of its exponential growth. I’m all for growth and change in positive ways. Unfortunately, it is harder to travel through Hwy 27. Traffic is so hectic and for a person who does not enjoy driving, it is worse. Though things have changed, Clermont still is my home and will be for a long time.
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