Friday, September 4, 2015

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the popular TV show "I Dream of Jeannie". And the 'word on the street' is that there are special activities planned with more to be revealed soon.

It was 46 years ago this past June,27 that newspaper readers in Orlando read about the celebrity visit of Barbara Eden (star of the I Dream of Jeannie sitcom) to Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. Thus a new community celebration was started, This Jeannie Day celebration made a splash in history as it demonstrated the cooperation of multiple organizations to plan a star-studded event.

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The first visit of Barbara Eden was on June 27th, 1969, when Brevard commissioner Lee Wenner flew his small aircraft South to Miami to meet up with Barbara Eden the actress that played the character of Jeannie. Lee transported her to Brevard County where he landed his small aircraft at the Merritt Island Airport. The Florida Today newspaper headline read; "Smiling, Wide-Eyed Jeannie Wows Em in Cocoa Beach." Barbara's first activities in the area was to press a button that launched a weather rocket from Complex 43 at Cape Canaveral, and then to be the guest of honor in a parade through Cocoa Beach. Later in the evening, she was given a reception at Lee Caron's Carnival Club where she was showered with gifts. The most remarkable gift she was presented was an 8-foot (inert) rocket replica to commemorate the real one she launched earlier in the day.

Barbara Eden and cast returned to the Cocoa Beach area in November 25th 1969, for a publicity event to promote the final episode where a mock wedding was to take place. In attendance were her real life husband Mike Ansara, and actor-groom Larry Hagman, the show's producer Sidney Sheldon and other cast members. At the event were many VIPS including Florida's Governor Claude Kirk, Major General David Jones and the Astronaut, Gene Cernan.

It would be 27 years before Barbara Eden was to return to the area. A three-day-event in Cape Canaveral called "Space Days at Kennedy Space Center" was held in the second weekend in July 1996." Even the City of Cocoa Beach got involved when city officials commemorated the TV show by creating a special Jeannie Day, which included renaming Primrose Ave, to become “I Dream of Jeannie Lane.“

Other Jeannie Days were held in 2004 and 2005 although Barbara Eden could not personally attend ,a Jeannie Look-a-like contest, raffles and other events were among the festivities.

Jeannie Day was reborn in 2009 for the 40th Anniversary of the first visit by the actress. A get together was held at a restaurant called the Surf in Cocoa Beach, the original location where Barbara made their first visit. Among the attendees were participants of previous Jeannie Days who shared their memories. On this occasion there was a storytelling presentation with historic photos and a raffle drawing for a replica, I Dream of Jeannie bottle.

Jeannie Day in 2010 was even better. A telephone interview with Barbara Eden was recorded and her message was shared with the residents of the Space Coast. In addition, there was a Jeannie Look-a-Like contest, a belly dancing demonstration, a slideshow presentation with storytelling and a raffling of a replica Jeannie Bottle

In August of 2012 Joe Morgan and the County Commission installed a plague of the show at Lori Wilson park and in 2013 the author received a letter from her for the 50th Anniversary Time Capsule for the City of Cape Canaveral.


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