President John F. Kennedy's most famous appearance at the Orange Bowl was during a ceremony to welcome back the freed prisoners of Brigade 2506 following the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. While obviously JFK's most significant trip to the now-destroyed historic stadium, it wasn't his only. F.I.L.M. Archives inc. has just released rare footage of the then President-elect enjoying the 1961 Orange Bowl game while shaking hands with fans and rooting for Navy.
The visit came after the 1960 election and before Kennedy was sworn in later that month. Kennedy did not attend the United States Naval Academy, but did serve in the Navy and came to cheer on the Midshipmen, then ranked number four in the country as they took on the fifth ranked Missouri Tigers. The Tigers ended up beating Navy 21-14.
"The film shows a smiling Kennedy (with very little obvious security) walking through the stands, shaking hands with attendees," writes F.I.L.M. archives. "After taking his seat, Kennedy is seen in sunglasses enjoying the game and keeping the famed Kennedy hair in order. A final shot shows JFK smiling for the camera. Also seen is color footage from the same event used by the Miami Visitors Bureau in a 1961 promotional film. It's JFK on the eve of Camelot!"
We can't embed the video, but you can view it in full here.
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It's just another reminder of how much history the Orange Bowl had, but like the days of Navy being ranked in the top 10 it's long gone now. We wonder when a president will visit Marlins Stadium?
>For added history, here's video of Kennedy's more infamous visit to the Orange Bowl following Bay of Pigs.