Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Save Beach Driving: Daytona Beach, Florida

I am a new resident. My husband and I moved from the Chicago area to Ormond Beach, Florida, in January.

And one of the reasons we chose this town is that my husband has always loved Daytona Beach.

It is one of the few beaches where cars are allowed to drive - directly on the sand and next to the ocean.

Every year, we would vacation in Daytona and try to get a hotel room that looked directly at the Atlantic Ocean. It was the only time of year my night-owl spouse would rise early. He'd jump out of bed, grab a blanket and cup of tea, and watch the sunrise.

Then we'd pack up the car and head to the beach.

In Daytona, you can park right where you are relaxing. You can keep your belongings in your car and return to it as often as you'd like. No need to lug your children and belongings from a hot parking lot and trek to the sand.

We'd open the trunk and maybe play the car radio. He loved to watch the cars drive by. Some have their windows tightly shut, air-conditioning on. Some are jeeps - no windows or doors - teenagers wearing sunscreen and blaring tunes. There is the occasional vintage convertible - much to my husband's delight.

There is so much to watch and enjoy.

Cars drive very slowly - and become part of the bustle that is Daytona. It is historically a part of this beach. As new residents, we went to the Granada beach entrance and walked through the tribute to the Ormond Beach races that happened here first.

I did not realize that the first land races in automobiles were in Ormond . . . on the beach. How incredible it must have been to see these cars flying on the sand. Certainly - in those days - it was a spectacle.

There isn't racing now, and I'm afraid there won't be driving either.

We've learned that the city council is planning to shut down beach driving. Motivations are masked by environmental concerns, but it appears this all comes down to money. Big hotels are moving in - and they want private beaches and no cars.

That is sad.

I hate when the one unique feature of a place is destroyed. It is the shopping mall syndrome where everything starts to be like everything else. Nothing is forever, of course, but couldn't we preserve the one unique feature of Daytona Beach?

There is a group fighting to allow residents to vote on this matter. Currently, they have little say or influence. There only recourse is not to reelect a government that refuses to listen.

Hopefully it won't be too late.

For more information, see and follow their Facebook pages: FREE Daytona Beach and Let Volusia Vote.

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