Goofy Name Changes and Other Tales

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, January 22, 2013 No Comment(s)

There is a bit of discussion about changing the name of Broward County to Fort Lauderdale County. If done, there should be some public benefit, namely naming rights. Former Joe Robbie Stadium Fort Lauderdale County, Browning Automatic Rifle Fort Lauderdale County – something that could produce serious revenue – would be appropriate.

Miami-Dade County has already made the move, but nobody goes there anyway, so what’s the difference? Maybe we should let Cook County change its name to Chicago County and see how that works out before we shatter tradition. One thing that can’t be argued is that, in terms of world approval, Fort Lauderdale means something; Broward doesn’t. That’s exactly what Gulfstream Media Group is arguing right now to protect the name Fort Lauderdale, which is our magazine directed to the tourist market. We took it 15 years ago after the Chamber of Commerce stopped using it. It is especially important in the Internet age as people seek vacation pleasure and information about this area. They don’t search the word Broward. Or Pembroke Park or Dania either. Maybe Pompano Beach and Hollywood get some hits.

The current dialogue reminds one of the event some years back when a New York couple bought a place in Boca Highlands or Boca Lovely or one of those silly development names trading on the image of Boca Raton. They told all their upwardly mobile northern friends that they were living in tony Boca Raton. Then comes their first mail and it has a Delray Beach address. So they sued. We forget how that turned out, but the story was amusing to Delray residents, who would not trade their classic low-key resort for the glitz and nouveau of Boca Raton.

There was another debate over a city name in the 1980s that stretched far beyond South Florida. Hollywood, Calif., made a move to stop other places from using the name Hollywood, presumably to protect its image as home to movie stars and their work. Hollywood, Fla., in what someday might be known as The Former Joe Robbie Fort Lauderdale County, appeared to be a prime target. This, despite the fact that our Hollywood was founded way back in 1925, not long after the California entity gave up its independence to become part of Los Angeles.

Hollywood, Fla., took the lead in pushing back, even arranging a big meeting of representatives from other Hollywoods around the country. That took place on Hollywood’s beach, of course. It was an entertaining day, and good press for Hollywood. The star performer was the mayor of Hollywood, Ga., a good old boy who drew on hillbilly Latin to make his point.

“Ad sudum tudulas paney ad,” he exclaimed. English translation: “I’d sue them to the last penny I had.” Nobody sued, but a good time was had by all.

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