Commissioners Corner: Mike Miller
The New Year was an appropriate time for recall and reflection. I have been recalling the events of 2014 and reflecting on the accomplishments of Cocoa Beach. My thoughts keep returning to Gus Edwards, Henry Flagler, and Walt Disney. Gus Edwards founded Cocoa Beach with a wooden bridge and casino to draw visitors to the beach. Henry Flagler brought vacationers to the east coast of Florida with a railroad and luxury hotels. Decades later, Walt Disney attracted tourists to the interior of Florida with air travel and theme parks. These visionaries offered visitors three things: a way to arrive, a place to stay, and something to do. Cocoa Beach advanced the something to do chapter of this trilogy during 2014.
The Space Coast Art Festival found elbow room and adequate parking at Port Canaveral to celebrate their 50th anniversary over Thanksgiving weekend. The festival was replaced by the Cocoa Beach Arts Show featuring local artists and musicians. Both events were highly successful, which was living testimony of the demand for something to do. Artists at the Cocoa Beach Arts Show found an appropriate price point for holiday shoppers. The age and experience of the musicians ran the gamut. Audiences enjoyed the frequency of oldies performed by “Bandwidth”, a group which only improves with age, coupled with the colorful performance of “Blue”, featuring the emerging talent of Cocoa Beach teens. The Friday night party has been named “Minutemen Mingle”. Patrons who purchased tickets in advance could do just that, mingle among local bars and restaurants offering admissions, discounts, and prizes. It served as a prime example of how local merchants benefit by working together.
The Cocoa Beach Surfing Santa event began as in informal gathering of friends and family five years ago. The traditional Christmas Eve event has gained popularity and outgrown the 16th Street location. In 2014 it became officially sanctioned by the City of Cocoa Beach and relocated to a more appropriate location at the end of Minutemen Causeway. The event drew over 300 participants and 4,000 spectators. Surfing Santa’s became a holiday news sensation, attracting local TV and media coverage nationwide. A promotional video went viral on YouTube, highlighting the communications power of the internet.
I see the vision of Gus Edwards smiling down on Cocoa Beach.