By the late-80s, Daytona Beach had overtaken Fort Lauderdale as the top destination in the country for college students on Spring Break, drawing in over 350,000 breakers annually. During this time, MTV began televising high-profile concerts and Spring Break specials from the Bandshell, which saw the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., and Heart take its stage. The springtime flood of students and MTV into Daytona Beach continued until the turn of the century, when city officials discovered that the costs of spring break outweighed the revenue generation.
This history of one of Daytona’s most iconic traditions, Bike Week, dates back to 1937 with the inaugural running of the Daytona 200. The event took a hiatus during WWII, and when it returned, began to develop a rugged edge. In 1986, tensions heightened; locals feared the visitors, and law enforcement and city officials were likewise displeased with the environment. Thus, city officials and the Chamber established a special task force aimed at improving relations between locals and visitors, expanding the magnitude of the event, and bringing some formal organization to Bike Week. Since 1988, the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce has been the official sponsor of Bike Week.
By the late 1980s, in an effort to increase the Chamber’s relevancy in a changing community, George Maribel led the organization through a redevelopment of its vision. The new enterprise, known as the Directions 21 Initiative, centered on the philosophy that new ideas for community development would come from the community, not just the Chamber.
Out of the Directions 21 Initiative came the historic move of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) headquarters to Daytona Beach in 1989. Armed with the slogan “We Want You,” the Chamber campaigned to bring LPGA from Texas to Daytona. The efforts of Maribel and the Chamber paid off, and LPGA has called Daytona Beach home for 30 years.
“Spring Break, Daytona Beach” Photo courtesy of Rindy Nyberg, Florida Public Memory, https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/243919
“MTV Spring Break Concert, 1986”
“Bike Week” Photo courtesy of Gamweb, public domain.
“LPGA Golf Course” Photo courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/243601