House approves renaming A1A as ‘Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway’

buffett
‘(He) will always rightfully be remembered as one of history’s greatest Floridians.’

Florida State Road A1A won’t be undergoing any changes in latitudes anytime soon, but it may get a new title to honor beloved singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett.

In a cheerful and at times playful motion, House members voted unanimously for a bill (HB 91) to rename the thoroughfare “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway” from its tip in Ferdinand Beach to Mile Marker 0 in Key West.

“This may be the most fun bill of the day,” said Islamorada Republican Rep. Jim Mooney, one of the bill’s two prime sponsors. “Everybody in this room’s a Buffett fan.”

If approved in the Senate, the measure would direct Florida Department of Transportation personnel to erect “suitable markers” for the designation across 13 counties spanning the state’s east coast by Aug. 30.

A House staff analysis determined that installing the markers would “have an insignificant negative fiscal impact” on the state.

The A1A renaming would be especially meaningful in Buffett’s case; it was the title of his fifth studio album. He also referenced the road in one of the record’s songs called “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season.”

“(Buffett was) a poet, a writer, a musician, an environmentalist, a businessman,” said Newberry Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons, the bill’s other prime sponsor. “While we don’t begrudge any other state — like, let’s say, Alabama — from trying to claim (him) just by accident of birth, that he was born in Mobile. In our minds, however, will always rightfully be remembered as one of history’s greatest Floridians.”

Mooney and Clemons declined a request from Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon to commemorate the vote with an a cappella rendition of a Buffett song.

“Singing?” Mooney said. “Come Monday, you’ll have that answer.”

Buffett first became a star in the 1970s with songs that blended country, folk and rock. Though he was not born in Florida, he became ubiquitous with the Key West lifestyle. His fans were called “Parrotheads.”

Buffett also became deeply involved with environmental causes in his adopted home state and campaigned for Democratic candidates.

After his death at 76 in early September following a four-year battle with skin cancer, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered flags in Tallahassee and Key West to be flown at half-staff.

An identical companion bill (SB 84) by Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book has one more committee hearing before heading to a floor vote. Book’s father, lobbyist Ron Book, was a longtime friend of Buffett’s.

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Christine Sexton of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


11 comments

  • Josh Green

    February 15, 2024 at 4:23 pm

    Shhhhhhh. Nobody tell them that Jimmy Buffett was a massive liberal who even held fundraisng concerts right here in Florida for the Obama campaign.

    But that’s just another I love the guy.

    • Mayorkas Impeached

      February 15, 2024 at 4:45 pm

      Hate his politics but loved the man, music, and lifestyle. RIP Jimmy.

      • Josh Green

        February 16, 2024 at 12:29 pm

        I loved his politics too.
        But I’m not a billionaire, so there’s that.

  • Larry Williams

    February 16, 2024 at 6:19 am

    Jess, it’s Fernandina Beach not Ferdinand Beach.

  • Elmo

    February 16, 2024 at 10:24 am

    Fernandina Beach -DO BETTER

  • Margaret

    February 16, 2024 at 11:07 am

    This unbelievable pandering to the lowest common denominator is so insulting to the image of Florida, unless you are someone who is completely ignorant of some of the really great Floridians, such as Claude Pepper…look up his greatest accomplishments of which millions of Floridians are today beneficiaries; or, Bob Graham, or, goodness, knows, just take out your history books, if you have them, or google.
    This country has lost any sense of dignity and proportion in its celebration and slack-jawed worship of celebrities with mediocre talents. They are famous because of commercialism, corporate sponsorship, and media ignoring higher level accomplishments of Classical musicians, social-change activists, etc., etc., etc.
    And….. Astronauts!
    Our Legislature, as it were, is composed of ignoramuses.

    • The Dunning-Krugers of Florida

      February 17, 2024 at 7:43 am

      How can you insult the ‘image of florida’?

      You are the butt of planet-wide jokes.

      The secret is out.

      #floridaman

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 16, 2024 at 12:29 pm

    Rename it to Rhonda Road, ’cause it’s a dead end road that ends in gay town.

  • Solange Ritchie

    February 16, 2024 at 2:27 pm

    I had the honor of meeting Jimmy when I was living in Key West. My dad, Paul Levy, owned a store on Duval Street and developed all of Jimmy’s photography. This is back in the day before cell phone were invented. Back then, I was Solange Levy. One of my dad’s employees, Clayton, used to tune his guitars for him. Jimmy was kind, lovable and really did ride around Key West on his bike. Everyone knew him and loved him. He never took himself too seriously. I think that is what endeared him to so many people. He will be forever missed by all the Conchs in Key West!!!!

  • TJC

    February 18, 2024 at 4:25 pm

    If Buffett can inspire a bipartisan effort in Tallahassee, he’s a better leader dead than the live ones up there.

  • jane s

    February 20, 2024 at 12:45 pm

    I cannot believe the Legislature has this ability to do this without giving the public a choice. I’m not a parrot head but I appreciate his music-just not enough to take a highway that has been known by so many for decades. The State named it Atlantic Blvd in 1927 because it follows the Atlantic Ocean and helps so many people with directions. And how about hotels and condos, you change the name and confuse hundreds of thousands of tourist! Point, I am a Realtor so I know this for a fact. And…not the whole world has heard of Jimmy Buffet or are fans…..
    The need to think and put out a petition or survey.

Comments are closed.


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