History of Cocoa Beach

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Cocoa Beach came to life during the 1960s

Cocoa Beach Vintage

The first real settlement in Cocoa Beach, Florida was started by a family of newly freed slaves following the Civil War, but a hurricane in 1885 discouraged settlement. Then, in 1888, a group of Cocoa men bought the entire tract of land. The land remained untouched until an attorney named Gus Edwards arrived. He bought Cocoa Beach and began to develop it. The City of Cocoa Beach was established on June 5, 1925, and was incorporated as a City on June 29, 1957.

Cocoa Beach Vintage Sign

Cocoa Beach came to life during the 1960s due to America’s space program. NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center is located approximately 15 miles away. The city became home to many young families where one or both parents worked on some aspect of the space program. Children raised here were sometimes referred to as “Cape Brats.” The community was once so full of children that the schools overflowed and portable class rooms were built to host them. It was not unheard of for there to be 45 children per classroom. After manned space flights, the town held astronaut parades. Before there was a “Silicon Valley,” Cocoa Beach and other surrounding towns were full of the best and brightest technical minds around. Today, many Kennedy Space Center workers still call Cocoa Beach home.

Cocoa Beach Pier

Vintage Canaver Pier

Built in 1962 by local businessman Richard Stottler, the Cocoa Beach Pier is a historical landmark on the Space Coast. Stretching 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, the Pier (originally known as “Canaveral Pier") was constructed with more than 2.5 miles of boardwalk planks and 270 pilings, each 40 feet in length. Since the beginning, the Pier has been a favorite of both locals and tourists, and has undergone many changes over the years. Longtime locals reminisce of the days in the early 1960s when visitors could drive their cars right up onto the Pier itself. The Pier also offered a “grandstand seat" for Mercury, Apollo and Space Shuttle launches at nearby Cape Canaveral (which was known as “Cape Kennedy" in honor of President John F. Kennedy between 1963 and 1973). Famous astronauts such as Alan Shepard, the first American in space, reportedly visited the Pier.

In addition, Cocoa Beach evolved into the “Surfing Capital of the East Coast" and the Pier became the center of surfing activity, drawing the likes of Dick Catri (widely considered the “Godfather of East Coast Surfing"), as well as Cocoa Beach native and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. In fact, one of the original Ron Jon Surf Shops opened directly on the Pier in 1963 (the small surf shop flourished and Ron Jon owner Ron DiMenna moved to a bigger location at Ron Jon's present location at State Road 520 and A1A). The first Easter Surfing Festival was held in 1964. In the early 1970s, the Pier was also home to a bustling dance club called Asylum, which boasted a cosmic lighted dance floor and live rock music. Many musical acts have played at the Pier over the years such as Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Edgar Winter Group, The Beach Boys, A Flock of Seagulls, UB40, Ratt, Ziggy Marley, Maxi Priest and others.

Cocoa Beach Pier

In 1983, the Pier underwent a $2 million remodeling and expansion, which included the opening of the award-winning Pier House Restaurant (now known as the Atlantic Ocean Grille). Over the years, the restaurant has been awarded “Best in Brevard" and “Best Restaurant with a View" numerous times by Florida Today newspaper readers. In 1984, the Pier changed its name from Canaveral Pier to its present name, Cocoa Beach Pier. The first Cocoa Beach Fest was held at the Pier in 1989.

Today, the Pier draws more than one million visitors annually and is home to four restaurants, five tropical bars, gift shops and boutiques. The Pier is also the site of immensely popular annual surfing, fundraising and social events. In the spring of 2014, David Siegel, President and CEO of Westgate Resorts, and his longtime business associate Jim Gissy purchased the Pier from the original owners, the Stottler family. Both men have strong ties to the Central Florida region and look forward to continuing and enhancing the wonderful traditions of the Cocoa Beach Pier.

I Dream of Jeanie Lane

I Dream of Jeannie

I Dream of Jeannie is an American fantasy and comedy sitcom starring Barbara Eden as a 2,000-year-old genie and Larry Hagman as an astronaut who becomes her master, with whom she falls in love and whom she eventually marries. Produced by Screen Gems, the show originally aired from September 18, 1965 to May 26, 1970 with new episodes, and through September 1970 with season repeats, both on NBC. The show ran for five seasons and produced 139 episodes. The first season consisted of 30 episodes filmed in black and white.

I Dream of Jeannie

Although the series was set in and around Cape Kennedy, Florida, and Nelson lived at 1020 Palm Drive[2][3] in nearby Cocoa Beach, locales in California were used in place of those in Florida. The exterior of the building where Healey and he had offices was actually the main building at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles.[4] "If you look at some of those old [episodes], it's supposed to be shot in Cocoa Beach, but in the background you have mountains — the Hollywood Hills," Bill Daily said.[5] In actuality, the home of Major Nelson was filmed at the Warner Ranch, in Burbank (on Blondie Street). Many exteriors were filmed at this facility. Interior filming was done at the Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood.

The cast and crew only made two visits to Florida's Space Coast, both in 1969. On June 27, a parade in Cocoa Beach escorted Eden and the rest of the cast to Cocoa Beach City Hall, where she was greeted by fans and city officials. They were then taken to LC-43 at Cape Canaveral where she pressed a button to launch a Loki-Dart weather rocket. They had dinner at Bernard's Surf, where Eden was given the state of Florida's Commodore Award for outstanding acting. Later, the entourage went to Lee Caron's Carnival Club, where Eden was showered with gifts and kissed astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the cheek, just two weeks before the Apollo 11 launch

I Dream of Jeannie Sign

The cast and crew returned on November 25, 1969, for three days for a mock wedding of Eden and Hagman staged for television writers from around the nation (timed to the airing of the nuptials episode on December 2) at the Patrick Air Force Base Officers Club.[5] Then-Florida Governor Claude R. Kirk, Jr., attended and cut the cake for the couple

Eden returned 27 years later, in July 1996, as a featured speaker for Space Days at the Kennedy Space Center. Cocoa Beach Mayor Joe Morgan presented her an "I Dream of Jeannie Lane" street sign, later installed on a short street off Florida State Road near Lori Wilson Park.

On September 15, 2005, the area held a "We Dream of Jeannie" festival, including a Jeannie lookalike contest. Plans for one in 2004 were interrupted by Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne. However, a Jeannie lookalike contest was held in 2004, with Bill Daily attending.

On August 24, 2012, Cocoa Beach City leaders honored the show with a roadside plaque outside Lori Wilson Park.

Ron Jon Surf Shop

Ron Jon Original

Ron Jon Surf Shop is a surfer style retail store chain founded in 1959 in Ship Bottom, New Jersey by Ron DiMenna.[1] The store specializes in surfing and bodyboarding equipment, and their Cocoa Beach, Florida, store is currently the largest surfing shop in the world.[2][3] Debra Harvey is the current President

Ron Jon Surf Shop was founded in 1959 on the New Jersey shore when a bright young man named Ron DiMenna was just discovering the sport of surfing with fiberglass surfboards. His pastime soon became a passion and homemade surfboards would no longer do. When his father heard that Ron wanted his own custom surfboard from California, he suggested, "Buy three, sell two at a profit, then yours will be free." Dad was right, and Ron Jon Surf Shop was born.

Cocoa Beach FL Ron Jon

"The Original" Ron Jon Surf Shop opened in Long Beach Island, New Jersey in 1961. DiMenna sold surfboards out of that tiny Jersey shore shop and supplied former customers with surfboards to open their own surf shops on the East Coast. When he headed to Florida two years later and opened the "One of a Kind" Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, he sold even more.

Today, Ron Jon Surf Shop has grown into a world famous surfing destination. "The Original" Ron Jon Surf Shop on Long Beach Island, N.J. is now a four-level surf emporium filled with a colossal selection of active lifestyle apparel and board sports equipment. It even features one of the world's largest surfboards (more than 24 feet in length). Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, Fla. is a whole water world of eternal summer fun, encompassing more than two acres, overflowing with more surfwear, sportswear and beach gear than is available in any other single venue. The flagship store in Cocoa Beach is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The addition of stores in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Key West, Fort Myers, Panama City Beach and Clearwater Beach, Fla., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Ocean City, Md. and Orange Beach, Ala. brings the Ron Jon mystique to loyal followers in those areas.

Ron Jon Cocoa Beach FL

The Ron Jon Surf Shop logo and name has become recognized around the globe for more than 50 years with only minor revisions. It has been spotted on the space station Mir 200 miles above the earth, and has purportedly embraced one of the long slender legs of the Eiffel Tower. And every day, it is seen on vehicles ranging from '65 Ramblers to '14 hybrids.

The company has established several licensing agreements resulting in Ron Jon Surf Shop store locations in Orlando, Tampa and Miami (Fla.) and JFK International airports, Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos and Las Vegas, Nevada. The Ron Jon Surf School by Craig Carroll in Cocoa Beach is also an extension of the brand.

Thousand Islands Conservation Area

Thousand Islands Conservation

This 338-acre site, located in Cocoa Beach, consists of a series of islands in the Indian River Lagoon on the south side of Minuteman Causeway. With the exception of a short nature trail along Fourth Street South, all access to the islands is by boat. The primary access point is from Ramp Road boat ramp in Cocoa Beach. A short nature trail exists on the northern most island (North Crawford Island), and a marked paddling trail is in development. The islands have many channels that provide great paddling opportunities.

  • Kayaking & Canoeing
  • 2 Hiking Trails
  • Wildlife Observation
  • Habitats: Indian River Lagoon, magroves, saltwater marsh
  • Wildlife: Wading birds, dolphin, ospreys, and manatees

Cocoa Beach Aquatic Center and Pool Complex

Cocoa Beach Aquatic Center

Part of the public Cocoa Beach Country Club, with a heated 50-meter pool, waterslide & spray park.

  • 50 Meter Pool - Heated in winter, cooled in summer
  • Jumbo water slide
  • 2 - 1 meter diving boards (Duraflex Maxi - B)
  • Water Spray Park
  • Children's pool (0 to 3 feet) with shower umbrella and spray lemon drops (Shaded in the Summer)
  • Bathhouse
  • Open air pavilion for gatherings and events adjacent to pool, with volleyball net
  • Playground
  • Concession Stand (Summer only)
  • Adjacent restaurant at golf course clubhouse.