How South Walton became a gateless gated community

Published: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 09:16 AM.

Seaside set out to become the cultural capital of Walton County, a title for which there was little competition, and when its rental program got going the community became a destination for the well-bred and affluent who enjoyed recreational eating, recreational shopping, and entertainment that did not include all-the-beer-you-can-drink for $5, wet t-shirt contests, or singers praising recreational sex. Other planned communities soon followed — WaterColor, WaterSound, Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach — spreading sophistication as they swallowed up acres of sand and scrub.

No more seclusion for the nude and the gay.

No place for the redneck to play.

Recently, Florida Travel and Life announced that 30A was the “Pearl of the Panhandle,” a place where visitors would find “southern hospitality in a trendy setting.” And when the magazine described what it called the “ethos of 30A” it focused on the “anyone-can-do-it” doings that characterize life along the route.

Well, “anyone can,” if they want to “do it” in a setting a bit more structured, better organized, more expensive and, some would argue, more self-absorbed, than you find on stretches of the coast where redneckery still survives.

However, along 30A, where communities are not overwhelmed by high-rise condos and where entertainment is more refined, people who can pay the price can enjoy what a redneckless Riviera has to offer.

C. H. McGee would be proud.



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