Thursday, June 21, 2012

Florida History: "Miami’s Nuttiest Tourist Bait"

(For more on the history of coconuts in Florida, see:

Posted by Jane Feehan

Coconuts played a part in promoting Florida tourism during the early 1960s. They were touted by the Miami News (Feb. 23, 1964) as “Miami’s Nuttiest Tourist Bait.”

It began in 1962 when 3,000 coconuts were distributed at the Seattle World’s Fair bearing labels urging “Follow me to Miami.” This public relations tactic made it to the front page of the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

The initiative, claimed by Miami City Manager Melvin L. Reese to be “an inexpensive way to extend the compliments of the city … and enhance the tropical image of Miami,” continued at different venues.

Two thousand were given away at New York’s Yankee Stadium during the Gotham Bowl Game December, 1962. Another 2,250 were distributed at the Florida Showcase in New York. Six hundred SS Hanseatic passengers, many of them Danes arriving at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, received coconuts as they disembarked. The Singing Mailmen of Miami gave them away on a trip up the Eastern Seaboard, resulting in one school dedicating a day of science class to the study of the palm tree and its fruit. A Rotary Club gave coconuts away to members winning club contests and more than 200 were presented to travel editors in 1962.

Miami tourism expanded in the 1960s; no doubt the coconut played a part in its growth. Perhaps 1962 may best be remembered by some South Floridians as the Year of the Coconut.

Tags: Florida tourism, Miami tourism, coconuts, tourism campaigns, history of Miami, history of South Florida, Miami in the 1960s, South Florida in the 1960s, coconuts in Florida

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