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Seaside, Florida turns 40 this year

In South Walton -- Seaside-- turns 40 this year.
In this week's Faces and Places of the...
In South Walton -- Seaside-- turns 40 this year. In this week's Faces and Places of the Panhandle, Kellie Sanchez shows us this beach town has grown.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 11:48 AM CDT
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SEASIDE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It started in 1981 with just the beach, the trees, and a few small businesses.

But over the last 40 years, Seaside has become an international destination.

“I think Seaside is one of the most beautiful towns in the United States,” said Erica Pierce, vice president of The Seaside Style, “I think the evolution of Seaside is organic.”

As the first “new urbanism” town, Seaside is designed to be walkable.

“So if you notice, all the streets in Seaside and pathways lead either to the town center or they lead to the beach,” said Pierce. “So you can walk anywhere in Seaside and not get in your car.”

This model has been duplicated along 30A and around the world.

Once Seaside was on the map, locals weren’t surprised when hundreds of thousands of tourists a year began flocking to the town.

“I don’t know life without Seaside,” said Makenzie Carter, who started working at the Seaside Style flagship store with her parents as a teenager.

“(Tourists) have created a livelihood for everyone here and they pay our bills and so we’re super grateful that they continue to come back and bring the next generation with them,” she said.

She feels lucky to be able to pass her Seaside memories down to her children.

“I feel so blessed that they get to do the same thing, it’s such a great hands-on experience, our parents worked all the time and we were right there with them so I think leading by example you just love to be following in your parents’ footsteps, you love to work, we love it here, we absolutely love it here,” said Carter.

Another one of the first places in Seaside was Bud & Alley’s.

“It’s an inspiring place, and it can be an inspiring place for anybody,” said Bud & Alley’s owner Dave Rauschkolb.

One person who was inspired was director Peter Weir, who filmed The Truman Show in Seaside in the 1990s.

“That was like the circus coming to town,” said Rauschkolb, “So exciting, and I had the good fortune to meet Peter Weir when he was scouting it because he’d eat at Bud & Alley’s. And that’s the other thing, here we are in this town and all these people are sort of gravitating, and you never knew who was going to walk in the door, I mean, Jimmy Buffet came while he was writing his books.”

As it’s grown throughout the years, Pierce said one thing in Seaside has remained the same:

“I think Seaside is all about the people. It’s about the shopkeepers, it’s about community, it’s about keeping things simple and real.”

Copyright 2021 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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