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Ormond Beach, Florida

Ormond Beach once was a winter refuge for wealthy northeasterners and later was nicknamed ďThe Birthplace of SpeedĒ because its flat, rock-hard beach was the site of some of the earliest automobile races. Today, most people who visit, either for a short stay or in search of a permanent home, are looking for a place that offers wonderful weather and an array of cultural and entertainment opportunities. In most cases, thatís exactly what they find.

Named for James Ormond, a shipís captain who brought Spanish settlers to what is now central Florida, the area didnít boom until the arrival of the railroad in 1886. Four years later, Henry Flagler, a Standard Oil partner of John D. Rockefeller, owned the Florida East Coast Railway, as well as the spacious Ormond Hotel, which could accommodate 600 guests. Many of them traveled south to escape the brutal Northeastern winters.

Aerial photo of Ormond Beach, FLFor eight years in the early 20th century, Ormond Beach was the center of the auto-racing world, a place where innovators such as Olds, Winton, Ford and Chevrolet came to show off their inventions and compete with their peers. The city highlights its contributions to the auto industry each year with an antique car show and parade on Thanksgiving weekend.

While Ormond Beach celebrates its link to the past, it also looks to the future. Ormond Beach MainStreet, established in 1995, is a volunteer-based organization whose purpose is to develop public and private resources to drive economic growth in the cityís downtown area. The groupís activities include LuLuís 5K run, a farmersí market, the Ormond Beach Celtic Festival and the annual Riverfest Festival, featuring food, music and a host of other fun possibilities.

Ormond Beach, located on the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean, also offers its residents and visitors an opportunity to delve into art and history. The Ormond Memorial Art Museum shows the work of local, regional and national artists, while Memorial Gardens features native and exotic plants, walkways, water and a gazebo. Both were established as a tribute to local soldiers who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

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