Panama City Beach prepares to celebrate 50th birthday

Nathan Cobb
Walton Sun

PANAMA CITY BEACH — City officials are gearing up to celebrate five decades of success.

In August, Panama City Beach, as it is known today, will turn 50 years old, said city spokeswoman Debbie Ward.

“Employees past and present and their families will be honored for their service to the city,” Ward wrote in an email.

She added that in addition to a ceremony, which will be held Aug. 7 at Aaron Bessant Park, an anniversary logo will be revealed at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

According to Ward, PCB officially formed in August of 1970. Before then, a handful of smaller towns claimed its city limits. They included West Panama City Beach, Edgewater Gulf Beach, Long Beach Resort and Panama City Beach.

Information from the Florida legislature states that West Panama City Beach technically expanded to include the other three territories. Its name was then changed to Panama City Beach.

At that time, there was also a Board of Commissioners of West Panama City Beach, which was abolished, and the Panama City Beach City Council was created, the legislature stated.

For City Councilmen Paul Casto, people have always been attracted to Panama City Beach.

Casto’s family moved to the area from Arkansas in 1973. It was then that he got his first job as a summer lifeguard.

“(My) family started coming here in the 1960s because we liked to deep-sea fish,” he said. “Like a lot of people, we also came to vacation on the beach. One of the biggest draws we have is the beautiful beach and the water. It is a lot prettier beach than you will see in a lot of places throughout the world.”

He believes that the beach has not only sustained the community, but the entire county.

Looking ahead, Ward said that the city is still in the early stages of planning the celebration.

She added that for her, this year was nothing short of a milestone.

“Through the years, many people have come to love and embrace this beach as much as those of us who live and work here,” Ward said. “The beach has a bright future and we hope everyone will celebrate with us.”