The Most Significant Difference in Florida’s Evolution From “Early Bird” Comedian Fodder to Cool and Sophisticated “Happy Hour” As Mainstream Post COVID

This Grandma becomes a fifty-year Florida resident this month. Half a century. Hard to believe. When I moved to what is now called the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, it was a sleepy and slow-moving southern county. In the 70s and 80s, we then young professional pioneer transplants followed the flood of retirees from the northeast and midwest who swamped the new condominium communities built on the filled in swamps of Southeast Florida. We raised our families among the palm trees and beaches and considered ourselves blessed by the sunshine. No snowsuits or boots for our children. We benefited from those northerners older and wiser around us in our lives as new Floridians.

Florida’s past (and I emphasize “past”) reputation was best described by famous comedians.

“Everything in Florida is in the 80s. The Temperature, the Humidity, the Average Age, and the IQ.” — George Carlin

“My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that’s the law.” – Jerry Seinfeld

Catering to the mass influx of many retirees on fixed incomes, early bird dinners also became the joke of Florida. Even Wikipedia, has a listing for early bird dinners.

“Early bird dinners are often stereo typically associated with elderly people, and, by association, with retirement communities in Florida, but are offered throughout the United States and Canada.”

In America, we eat dinner earlier than in most places around the world, usually between 6 and 7 pm. We young South Florida professionals loved the early bird specials, especially those with buffets from which to feed our youngsters. We had to get our children to bed early so the early bird served not only our purposes but our pocketbooks. Some of us of the younger generation back then called it, liner, a meal between lunch and dinner.

With COVID, South Florida exploded with, at some estimates, an additional population of 25% mostly northeasterners and their families. The reasons abound, including less COVID restrictions, then (but no more) less housing costs and cost of living, no state income tax, and the great outdoors year-round instead of being isolated indoors due to COVID concerns.

We Boomers’ mantra is that we are forever young, even as we begin to reach the ages of the “early bird” retirees. The new COVID influx of all ages invaded Florida to join those of us early South Florida transplants. We always considered that being long term residents “of the fountain of youth” gave us the advantage of achieving forever young. This Grandma is convinced that the fountain of youth is the South Florida humidity which lubricates our skin and our internal organs, and the Botox and filler services readily available everywhere. You can tell a true lifetime Floridian as we are always pale, knowing that staying out of the sun is key to warding off skin cancer.

The newbies learned early that Florida is the coldest state in the United States. The air conditioning is set so low wherever you find yourself indoors that you must always keep a sweater or jacket handy, even when the outside temperature hovers at 90 degrees. It seems that they are also learning, that with being outside most of the year, you are more active, and want to be in better shape. No more hiding behind bulky winter clothes, so your year-round weight has to be watched.

This Grandma opines that what was old is new again! The Florida “early bird” has morphed into just a different, albeit with less stigma, word for the same thing, the ubiquitous Florida “Happy Hour.”

First, COVID found us old and new Boomer Floridians with the ability to eat outside easily and comfortably and Florida is made for the now permanent outdoor trend.

Second, the newbies are a younger and vibrant crew, with finances and desires to join us as forever young, outside, active, and enjoying everything the Florida weather affords us.

Third, the newest research favors maintaining an early and light dinner for weight control and better health as we age.  See, for example, “Harvard study: Curb late-night eating to stave off weight gain,” By Heidi Godman, January 1, 2023, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard University. 

It seems that the rest of the country is now following Florida’s lead. See, “America Is Becoming a Nation of Early Birds: Dinner parties at 5 p.m.? More consumers of all ages are sliding activities back. Night owls wonder where the action is,” by Rachel Wolfe, Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2023. 

And what is the most significant difference in Florida’s evolution from “Early Bird” comedian fodder to cool and sophisticated “Happy Hour” as mainstream post COVID? 

We Boomers are NOT the retirees of yesterday year.  Please do not call us “seniors” or “retirees.” WE enjoy the smaller portions of the delicious food served everywhere earlier.  Most of all, WE relish what Happy Hour also connotes — earlier access (4 pm to 6 or 7 pm) to our as inexpensive as $5 wine and $7 cocktails!

On my way to a great Happy Hour with a few friends on Fort Lauderdale Beach at a favorite watering hole, The Dune, with a beautiful view of the ocean.  Try it.  A bit more costly, but one of the best with



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