Should Florida’s famous A1A be renamed Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway?

by | Oct 2, 2023

  • A House Republican in Florida, Rep. Chuck Clemons, has proposed renaming State Road A1A to “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway” in honor of the musician’s recent passing.
  • Jimmy Buffett, known for songs like “Margaritaville,” had a strong connection to Florida’s coastal lifestyle and the Florida Keys.
  • The renaming proposal has historical and cultural implications, as A1A has long been a symbol of Florida beach culture and is part of the East Coast Greenway, potentially leading to logistical challenges if approved.

A new proposal is stirring the waters in the Sunshine State, where a House Republican is seeking to rename Florida’s iconic State Road A1A to “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway.” The move comes in the wake of the famous musician’s death on September 1 at age 76. Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, filed the bill (HB 91) on Friday for consideration during the legislative session slated to begin in January. If passed, the renaming would span from Monroe County to Nassau County.

Known for hits like “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday,” Buffett embodied the island escapism that many associate with Florida’s laid-back coastal lifestyle. With a career spanning over three decades, eight gold and nine platinum or multiplatinum albums, and more than 20 million albums sold, Buffett was more than a musician; he was a cultural icon. The Mississippi-born artist and his Coral Reefer Band, had a close affinity with Florida, often capturing the vibe of the Florida Keys, and the broader Caribbean in his music.

State Road A1A is itself a symbol of Florida beach culture, offering lush tropical and subtropical scenery, and awe-inspiring ocean vistas. The road stretches almost 339 miles along Florida’s East Coast Barrier Islands, separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway. The highway’s significance goes beyond its natural beauty. It has historically been a hub for Florida’s Spring Break culture, especially in Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach, and today serves as a main coastal artery connecting beach towns along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

But the proposal to rename this legendary roadway has implications beyond honoring a beloved musician. Renaming State Road A1A would be a departure from a longstanding designation that has both historical and cultural value. Ironically, “A1A” is the title of a 1974 album by Jimmy Buffett; one of the album’s tracks, “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season,” mentions the road. But other musicians have also laid claim to the famous A1A, including the 1990 Vanilla Ice song “Ice Ice Baby” with the lyrics “A1A (Beachfront Avenue).” Two of Kenny Chesney’s songs, “Outta Here” and “Coastal,” both mention the road, as well as a mention in Patty Griffin’s song “Florida,” and in the opening lines of the song “Endless Summer” by the Elovaters.

The road was originally designated as State Road 1 in 1945, reflecting its position as the easternmost major north-south road in Florida. It was later renumbered to A1A to avoid confusion with the parallel U.S. Highway 1.

While Buffett is almost universally popular and the bill may not get much resistance from lawmakers early next year, there are practical reasons to oppose the renaming plan. SR A1A is also part of the East Coast Greenway, a trail system that connects Maine to Florida, and includes various scenic byways and trails, such as the A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway. Changing its name could require updates to numerous maps, signs, and literature, not to mention the significant costs and logistical challenges associated with such a change.


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