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Jimmy Buffett will be remembered on Florida’s streets

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Ron DeSantis has signed legislation honoring the late singer Jimmy Buffett. It will designate Florida A1A as the “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway” and create a special license plate that reads “Margaritaville.”

The highway bill (HB 91), which lawmakers unanimously passed during the legislative session that ended in March, will attach Buffett's name to A1A from Key West to the Georgia border.

“With this street naming, we honor Jimmy not only as a musical icon, but also as a passionate protector of Florida's natural resources and our precious manatees,” Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, a Democrat from Davie who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, said in a statement.

The other bill (HB 403) proposes changes to the state's special license plate program and calls for the introduction of a number of new plates, including one named after the Buffett song “Margaritaville.” Buffett died on September 1 at the age of 76.

His brand was born in Mississippi and has become synonymous with the Florida Keys.

In his 1994 song “Everybody's Got a Cousin in Miami,” Buffett put it this way: “I am umbilically connected to the temperate zone. It brought me life, it brought me love. I never outgrew it.”

Twenty years earlier, he had released an album called “A1A,” which included several nautical-themed songs, including his concert classic “A Pirate Looks at Forty.”

Proceeds from the sale of the “Margaritaville” license plate will go to the SFC Charitable Foundation founded by Buffett, also known as Singing for Change.

“Margaritaville” was Buffett’s most successful solo single from his 1977 album “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”.

The state tourism agency Visit Florida is advertising Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant in Key West online, saying: “What was once just a state of mind is now a state of being.”

Buffett is already associated with the state's “Save the Manatee” license plate, which is the seventh most popular specialty plate. It benefits the Save the Manatee Club, which Buffett founded with the late Governor Bob Graham in the 1980s.

Like most specialty plates, the Margaritaville plate must sell 3,000 pre-orders before it can go into production, and that number must be maintained year after year.

The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, will also change the design of several license plates already in circulation and exempt college license plates in Florida from the 3,000-unit minimum sales requirement. The law will also allow the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to reinstate college license plates that are no longer available.

The state's specialty label program offers 113 designs, with another 30 on presale. ¦

Anna Harden

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