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45 years since 1st Jeannie Day in Cocoa Beach

The touch of Jeanie's magic can still be found in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral.

Jeannie Days Remembered
Author's own
Barbara Eden with Lee Werner and Son
Author's collection

Everybody knows the 1960's TV series "I Dream Of Jeannie." The story begins when an astronaut, Major Tony Nelson, discovers a Genie bottle on a deserted island beach. A blond female named Jeannie vapors out of the bottle, and from then on, astronaut Major Nelson gets all that he wishes and then some.

Fewer people know that the stars of the show made occasional visits to Florida's East Coast due to the shows frequent references to Cocoa Beach and the Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

The Jeannie Day celebration made a splash in history as it demonstrated the cooperation of multiple organizations to plan a star-studded event.

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 27years before Barbara Eden was to return to the area. A three-day-event in Cape Canaveral called "Space Day 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 and cast had visited. Among the attendees were participants of previous Jeannie Days who shared their memories. On this occasion comma there was a storytelling presentation with historic photos and a raffle drawing for a replica, I Dream of Jeannie bottle.

In later years, a new sign was dedicated to her and the show and she called this author to pass on a message of goodwill. In 2013 she sent a letter that was placed in the time capsule for the City of Cape Canaveral's 50th anniversary. So people in 2063 years will read it but you the reader can read it now, in the slideshow here.

Happy Jeannie Day!

Ray Osborne read author's collected writings.

Source: Jeannie Day's Remembered by Ray Osborne.

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