Daytona’s Definition of Insanity

Another year, another headline.

This morning’s front page/above the fold banner in The Daytona Beach News-Journal screamed:

“Daytona Truck Meet Snarls A-1-A”

For the sake of brevity, I won’t get into the myriad Facebook comments describing the anecdotal evidence supplied by beachside residents this weekend – or the equally passionate competing views from those who enjoyed the event and see it as another temporary boon for our struggling hospitality industry.

Suffice it to say, the weekend was different depending upon which side of the brew-soaked truck bed you were sitting in. . .     

(It didn’t bother me. I’m not the smartest guy you know, but I’ve learned the valuable lesson of touching a hot stove twice – so, I got the hell out of dodge for the weekend.)

Let’s just say that (once again) the frayed nerves of area residents remain raw in the aftermath of the latest influx of rowdy (insert motorized conveyance here) enthusiasts who turned our streets into a congested dragstrip, and our beachside neighborhoods into Party Central, as the Daytona Beach Resort Area hosted three days/two nights of gridlocked debauchery. 

Look, I am not a stick-in-the-mud ‘you damn kids get off my lawn‘ badge carrying member of the Fun Police – but this situation has gotten out-of-control and simply cannot be healthy for the civic and economic viability of our community.     

Since at least 2013, the Halifax area has hosted various lifted truck meets – another evolving “special event” that began as little more than a social media flash mob – with thousands of custom pickup trucks descending on Daytona Beach, burning rubber on Atlantic Avenue and neighborhood streets, blasting obnoxious train horns, and “rolling coal,” spewing dense clouds of acrid black diesel smoke into the humid spring air, all while rowdy young boys and girls try desperately to see and be seen, drinking beer, cruising the strip, everyone doing their best to perpetuate the anything goes atmosphere our tourist gurus have spent lavishly to cultivate:

Wide.  Open.  Fun.     

In an example of history repeating itself, by Sunday afternoon, Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry issued one of his loquacious manifestos sidestepping any responsibility (…I take each complaint, inconvenience, and exposure to contemptuous activities associated with the event to heart. However, the most apparent misunderstanding among our residents is the erroneous belief that this event is sanctioned, sponsored, or benefits the city. The event takes place at the Speedway and has a promoter; none of its activities are approved or encouraged by the City of Daytona Beach. . .)

All while promising to do better next time (…While complaints came from every corner of our city, our beachside community experienced the bulk of the inappropriate behaviors.   We accept that this event must be revisited, and I will be fully engaged in ensuring that its current status does not become a standard…)

My ass.

(Note to Mayor Henry: This “inappropriate behavior” became the Daytona Beach Resort Area’s Gold Standard decades ago.  Our ‘powers that be’ invited it.  They cultivated it.  And now that Frankenstein’s monster is destroying our quality of life, we have no one to blame but you. . .)

Unfortunately, a few frustrated residents continued with the wrongheaded notion that the Daytona Beach Police Department are somehow to blame – they are not.

In fact, they do an incredible job under difficult and dangerous circumstances – standing firm in the face of an often-untenable situation where a relative handful of officers and event staff manage to control and make safe tens-of-thousands of residents, visitors, and vehicles in what can be a powder keg.    

The idea that the Daytona Beach Visitors & Convention Bureau can feature the Truck Meet 2021 event on their official website – with the influential Daytona International Speedway and One Daytona playing official host – then, once we have the participants corralled on the beachside – demand that law enforcement set upon them like a Comanche war party and issue hundreds of traffic citations, or take draconian action on nuisance violations, as a means of dissuading these invited visitors from returning to our area seems inherently wrong to me.   

After all, we, the long-suffering residents of the Halifax area, either knew or should have known what was coming – just like our “hospitality gurus” did – even though, in our feast or famine binge tourism economy, one that is now totally reliant on special events for its very survival – we are told to expect a different outcome, time-after-time-after-time. . . 

(Spoiler Alert:  Stop reading now if you are physically nauseated by the tired and horribly redundant “we need a civic vision and identity” pitch. You have been warned. . .)

In my view, it is time for our Halifax area’s crippled brain trust – which includes those political deaf-mutes over at the Daytona Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce – to establish a true civic vision for our desperately challenged core tourist area and beyond, reimagine a “brand” which builds on our most important natural asset, The Worlds Most Famous Beach, a real multi-faceted placemaking philosophy that moves beyond the fast buck “special events” mentality, and the itinerant resort town grifters who profit from it, and transform Daytona Beach into a sustainable year-round destination.   

Having lived in the Halifax area virtually all my life, I have seen the devastating effects of this Boom/Bust cycle, the recurring economic expansion and contraction that has reduced some of the most valuable real estate on the Eastern Seaboard to overgrown vacant lots and empty strip centers – and reduced a World Class vacation mecca into a dilapidated shell of its former draw. 

This transformative change cannot happen in the leadership vacuum of the status quo. 

Clearly, the tired Old Guard of the Halifax area hospitality industry – the same clueless “visionaries” who have, time-and-again, proven they lack the imagination and basic marketing skills to capitalize on the best-known beach on the planet – have now eaten this apple to its rotten core. 

Now, it is time to demand action – and a change in direction.   

Despite Mayor Henry’s patented abdication, where he sheepishly looks at his shoes and promises to do better ‘next time’ – the shell-shocked residents of Daytona Beach who pay the bills and suffer in silence – have clearly had their fill of these raging debacles that benefit a relative few while impacting the quality of life of so many. 

We have all heard Einstein’s theory that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result” – so when are “we” going to do something about it? 

When will We, The Little People, demand that our elected and appointed officials – and those uber-wealthy insiders they take their marching orders from – stop paying hypocritical lip service and fundamentally change the destructive cycle of these horribly corrosive repeat events that continue to destroy “the brand”?     

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15 thoughts on “Daytona’s Definition of Insanity

    1. Like your post, however, there are no alternatives to Henry as mayor. No one runs against him, we are stuck with a do nothing mayor.
      The population moving into this area does not want these events.

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  1. why should we have to leave the area from our homes for every event:
    Bike week.
    biktoberfest
    daytona 500
    coke race
    jeep week
    truck week
    I did not move here to have to vacate 7 weeks per year.
    The Daytona Beach Visitors and Convention Bureau shoudl be reorganzied or eliminated.
    Daytona One has 68% vacancy shops.
    nascar, a protitute organization.
    The Daytona Council & new City manager, are not effective leaders and do not listen to citizens.
    I e mailed the mayor and he responds, “Provide me ideas”.
    This area is lame.

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  2. AMEN! I’m not going to say what I am really thinking on this, an open forum. I would quickly be labeled. But I will say, that we as a community, need to rise up against these type of bull sh&* events. I feel that the blame for this one lies with the Speedway and the Visitors and Convention gurus. We don’t need this event in our communities.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Look….. the city of Daytona needs to become more proactive and less reactive. This event has been published for some time. The Speedway advertised events there, why doesn’t the city step in and work with the promoter to ensure the event is safe and well run? Same with Take over Daytona and other “events” published through social media? It isn’t rocket science or new to the area that thrives during events. The city and county already monitor social media for these events and they can make it so these events are not a burden for residents and still enjoyable for the visitors. This is what should be expected from the “elected leaders” in this area and nothing less should be tolerated. These events can be beneficial and profitable with correct input and planning.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Deric and Derrick have to go.We had plans with friends and we live on mainland in Ormond who live two blocks from Seabreeze High School and after the gun shooting their entire area was blocked off and they could not get out of their own block because of all the trucks stuck now on their street to get away from A1A.Henry the demograhics in your city are changing big time as you drive down LPGA and soon Granada .The people moving here are moving away from shit like you .Welcome to the new world Daytona.residents.This cluster with closed bridges should never happen again.Deric Feacher you are new but you are not in your little city anymore and time to get your crap together or get out.Cant wait to see you go Derrick Henry dont blame Speedway or One Daytona you knew all about it .This is not Orlando invades Daytona because that will never work again.Cops did the best they could under the conditions they had.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My opine, contrary to Mark B on this fiasco is, the DBP Chief is very responsible in letting this get out of control, am i incorrect in thinking his job is to be proactive in keeping our city safe, why were clearly, law breaking activities not cited, arrest’s made, near zero tolerance from the very beginning? Its not like the Chief just moved into Daytona Beach from Podunk

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    1. Wow…Mark…great you left town and do not live beachside. Your “tolerance” of it was just another special event is off reality. We have lived beachside…close to A1A for 27+ years and after every special event in that time this past weekend was the worst. Nothing positive at all…this crowd destroyed our area..most of residents are beyond angry and this event cannot be saved. Police were unable to do much…they tried but….go back to temporary jails…processing tents at Ocean Center parking lots….back to the mindset of when Spring Break/BCR went beyond acceptable…no longer tolerant of behavior…ZERO tolerance. Bring in extra police from other State’s…make them not want to have this event here again. Obey our laws…create stricter ones…for example no cruising…that is a start.
      Gee…isnt the promoter from Ponte Vedra? Why not have this issue there? They would never allow it.
      And another smaller BigTruck event here in Oct? Really?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You know the People that move next to a busy airport only then to complain about the noise and traffic as if the airport magically sprung up overnight without their knowledge? Well that People is you.

    As long as there has been a Daytona there has been protesting Yankee transplants and moaning senior citizens then, now, and always. It is to a point of cliché. Congratulations.

    But that being said, OPEN UP THE DAMN BEACH. We are way passed absurdity with the Grand Experiment of removing cars (thereby public access) off the beach.

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    1. Diane I am a senior and pay the county $6000 a year in property taxes plus Fed taxes and pay for your unemployment if you need it.Over 1000 people pulled over and 52 arrested.No one expects this when they move to any beach.Your mindset is just stupid.Businesses even complained.You have the beach go drive on it everyday and take your hate somewhere else.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The issue isn’t really the events but the visitors not following rules and thinking they can come here and have a free for all. I don’t have the answer to how to handle this. It’s like the parents that feel they need to be friends with their kids and the kids wind up running roughshod over them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I live off ISB beachside . This event is no different from most events beachside Daytona. Don’t bother most people who live beachside by choice mind u. Live beachside? Unhappy with events? Good time to sell. Move to ormond bumper to bumper traffic. Or Margaritaville high priced cookie cutter houses, take bus to beach. All events. Daytona events always have traffic and noise. Get a grip people.

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